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I can’t remember a season with more teams in playoff contention after 14 Sundays of NFL action. There are nine AFC teams between 8-5 and 7-6, making all of them still very much alive for a playoff berth. In the NFC, there are seven teams between 7-6 and 6-7, including the leader in the NFC South. It’s going to be a wild end to the season. 

Did any teams help their playoff stock this weekend? Find out in my stock up or down report for Week 14. 

STOCK UP

Dallas Cowboys

Ok, Dallas, you have my attention. The Cowboys dominated their division rival Eagles on Sunday to pull even with them in the NFC East standings. Heading into this matchup, I needed to see the Cowboys beat a team with a winning record, and they did that. The Cowboys offense was shredding the Eagles defense in the first half, with Dallas scoring on every possession while extending the Eagles’ defensive woes. The Cowboys defense played more like last season, harassing MVP candidate Jalen Hurts with all of their big dogs rushing the passer. This Cowboys’ performance is one that should get their fan base excited for a deep playoff run. It all came together on Sunday in Big D.

Brock Purdy For MVP

With another San Francisco 49ers’ win, it appears their quarterback Brock Purdy is one step closer to becoming the NFL MVP. Purdy was 19 of 27 on Sunday for an outstanding 368 passing yards against the Seattle Seahawks. That’s good for 13.6 yards per attempt. Purdy added two touchdowns along with one interception. I have long believed the voters will try to find someone else besides Purdy for this award, but for six years in a row the league MVP has been the quarterback of a No. 1 seed. After the Eagles lost to the Cowboys on Sunday night, the 49ers have the inside track for that spot in the NFC. I think Purdy will have a tougher time than most in his position to win the MVP because right or wrong whenever you talk about Purdy his weapons, system and coaching are mentioned. When you discuss Dak Prescott or Jalen Hurts, you rarely begin with “but/however he plays with these weapons.” This does not and should not diminish how Purdy has played this season. He’s legitimately played well and if he continues on this track he should take home MVP honors.

‘Turn on the film’ — 49ers’ Trent Williams on people doubting Brock Purdy

'Turn on the film' — 49ers' Trent Williams on people doubting Brock Purdy

Buffalo Bills

I was asked last week on the “Bear Bets” podcast which three teams I would wager on to win the AFC Championship Game. I said the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills. After the Bills defeated the Chiefs on Sunday, my belief in them has strengthened. The Bills still have some work to do to get into the playoffs, but they are moving in the right direction. The NFL is a quarterback league and the Bills have a great one in Josh Allen. He is one of the best in the league, and although he’s prone to turn it over at times, he’s also capable of backing away from pressure and finding a receiver open for a game-turning play in the fourth quarter. Outside of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, no one has the playmaking ability in the AFC like Allen. The Bills are playoff-seasoned, even if it hasn’t come with a Super Bowl appearance. Also, look at it this way: if your favorite team is in the postseason, are you thrilled with the Bills coming it town? No, because of Josh Allen. If you haven’t already, I’d put some money down, a small peanut wager, on the Bills to win the Super Bowl.

STOCK DOWN

Kansas City Chiefs 

The 8-5 Chiefs are down bad. They are playing their worst offensive football since Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback in 2018. The Chiefs offense displays all the characteristics of a bad offense. If you have one poor receiver, a stinky offensive lineman or a bad running back, you can come up with creative ways to overcome a single issue. But right now the Chiefs don’t have that option. One play it’s Mahomes and Travis Kelce not connecting and the next it’s a holding or offsides penalty. Then a receiver drops a pass. 

This all culminated Sunday with Kadarius Toney lining up offsides on a go-ahead touchdown with about a minute left and the Chiefs down three points to the Bills. Mahomes found Kelce over the middle of the field and while defenders were closing in on Kelce he threw the ball backward to Toney, who was standing about 20 yards away from Kelce. Toney caught the ball and waltzed into the end zone. The play did not count because it was ruled Toney lined up offsides, which was absolutely the correct call. Toney was offsides. You can argue whether or not the Chiefs should have been warned before it was called, but this is an easy fix. Just line up onsides. Fairly simple process. Look at where you are standing in relation to the ball and make sure you’re behind it. The Chiefs all need to have some public accountability. Enough blaming the officials for the loss and poor play.  

Detroit Lions

The Lions just aren’t ready to contend for the NFC crown right now. After starting 8-2 and there being talk about Jared Goff as an MVP candidate, Dan Campbell for Coach of the Year and the Lions being in the mix for the No. 1 seed, they narrowly beat the Chicago Bears for their eighth win and have now dropped two of their last three. The Lions lost to the Green Bay Packers, held off a late New Orleans Saints’ drive in a win last week and then dropped a game to the Bears on Sunday. Goff has never played well in the cold and it showed in this one. Not the crispiest game from Goff, who went 20 of 35 for 161 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The biggest disappointment for the Lions this season has been their defense, which is quickly backsliding after starting strong. They just allow too many yards and points. It’s simple. Also worth noting, the Lions have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season. They are ripe for a wild card round loss if they can wrap up the NFC North soon. 

Justin Fields registers two TDs in Bears’ 28-13 win over Lions

Justin Fields registers two TDs in Bears' 28-13 win over Lions

Offensive line depth

Albert Breer of the MMQB tweeted that he’s noticed offensive line depth is nowhere to be found in the NFL and the blame for this is the new CBA. Welcome to the club, bud. If you practice less, spend less time working on your craft, spend less time in the facility studying together… you lose much-needed preparation time. Successful offensive linemen need continued practice to hone their technique and skill. That doesn’t happen unless you’re practicing, and there’s less practice time now in the NFL. There’s less hitting in practice as well, so even when you’re getting work in, it’s not what it used to be. 

This was all predictable when the NFL players negotiated less practice time starting with the 2011 CBA. Players like myself, a seventh-round pick, would have gotten less overall reps in camp with no more double days (I’m not advocating for double days) and fewer days in pads. Players like myself would have taken longer to develop if we had developed at all. Offensive linemen coming from college aren’t as ready-made anymore with college offenses choosing tempo over technique. Lastly, NFL teams would rather pay young guys than keep veterans around. Almost no offensive line squads keep that old wiley veteran who can play almost every position and if you had to play him you wouldn’t totally be screwed. There’s also no easy solution because they are not adding more practice time. Players and coaches have to adapt or die. 

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.



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