NFL Week 14 winners and losers: Purdy, Justin Herbert, Deshaun Watson...
From Mr. Irrelevant’s triumph, to Justin Herbert’s clinic, we’ve got the low down on who excelled and who came up short in NFL’s Week 14.
While you might be tempted to think that Week 14 was a quieter one with six teams on their bye, the reality is the slate provided us with some critical games that resulted in some major implications for the playoff picture going forward.
The NFC threw a curved ball
If there’s one phrase, we could use to describe the NFC at present, it would have to be ‘all over the place.’ From Panthers coach Steve Wilks who has taken the team to within one game of first place in the NFC South, to the No. 1 seeded Buccaneers who suddenly seem weather, exposed and bound for some offseason changes, it’s been something to watch. Of course, we’ve also got to mention the Cowboys, who until Sunday’s unbelievable struggle against the Texans, looked like a sure bet for the Super Bowl. With all of that said, let’s take a closer look at just who was hot and who was not.
Brock Purdy has made himself relevant
Let’s be honest, since he was selected last in the NFL Draft some eight months ago, Mr. Irrelevant has well and truly established himself as someone who belongs among the big boys. Just ask seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, who Purdy just defeated. Responsible for just 21 passes, the 49ers backup QB definitely made the most of them with 185 yards and two touchdowns. Indeed, Purdy even got himself a rushing TD in a game where he spearheaded a 35-7 demolition of the Bucs. Truth be told, one never knows what you’re going to get when handing a rookie the reigns in the NFL, but with the playoffs approaching, it may just be that San Francisco are in good hands.
Tua Tagovailoa & Justin Herbert battled it out
When the Dolphins met the Chargers in Week 14, we knew we were in for something special. What we couldn’t have guessed, is that it would actually be more about the coaching than just simply these two excellent signal callers. Where the battle of the two men was concerned, we’ve got to give it to Herbert who definitely outplayed his counterpart, but the Chargers put on a clinic in game planning. Offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi has been rightly criticized this campaign, but the way in which he utilized Herbert who threw 39-of-51 passing for 367 yards and one touchdown was truly something special. Then there was coach Brandon Staley who got his corners to disrupt Miami’s timing with a more physical approach at the line of scrimmage. That’s not to say that Tagovailoa didn’t perform. Indeed, the Dolphins man in the middle came up with 10-of-28 passing for 145 yards and one touchdown.
Steve Wilks has the Panthers firing on all cylinders
Following Matt Rhule’s dismissal as Panthers coach, owner David Tepper said interim Steve Wilks could be handed the position on a full-time basis if he managed to do “an incredible job.” Well, it looks like Wilks took that to heart and with Carolina now sitting on 5-8 and in touching distance of a playoff spot, given that they sit one game out of the lead in the NFC South, we’d like to take a moment to say Wilks is one to watch. Indeed, Carolina are now actually in control of their own fate and the fact that QB Sam Darnold continues to get better, along with a defense that has been increasingly hard on opposing quarterbacks, can only mean good things.
Are the Browns better off without Deshaun Watson?
Following the conclusion of Watson’s off-the-field legal battles, the level of anticipation that surrounded his return to play was immense to say the least. The former first round Draft pick is on a mammoth $230 million contract and to be fair, one of the better QBs in the league. Yet, despite all of that, the fact remains that the Browns on 5-8 are potentially worse off now that he’s back. To be clear, in the two games that Watson has featured in this season, the Browns have only managed to score one offensive touchdown. Not a good look.
The Buccaneers are not in a good place
The cynics amongst us will likely have a plethora of jokes related to the idea that Tom Brady unretired to come back to lead his team to a 6-7 record. To be fair, there’s definitely some ironic humor in that fact. On the other hand, not all is lost for the Bucs as they can in fact still make the post season, however, whether it’s their inexplicably slow offense or the sluggish manner in which they start games, it’s now clear that their star signal caller can’t distract us from the truth: The Bucs are not a good team right now. Where Brady himself is concerned, it’s now quite clear that the pressure is beginning to tell. Between the ‘disappearance’ of WR Mike Evans and their non-existent run game - they rank 29th in rushing - Tamap Bay looks set for an offseason overhaul.
The Giants are on the decline
At 7-5-1, the Giants have actually done better in this campaign than most would have imagined they could before a ball was thrown or kicked. On the other hand, New York has lost its last four and won just once in its last six. That’s to say, by all accounts the Giants are in a downward spiral. Most recently, was a blowout loss to the high-flying Eagles on Sunday. Needless to say, there’s a long way to go for a team that started this campaign positively on the back of a superb rushing offense - an aspect that has since dried up. Consider for a moment, that the Giants were averaging 173.4 rushing yards per game across the first seven and now a paltry 117.5. We’re banking on an offseason of transition in New York.
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