FOX Sports Betting Analyst
The San Francisco 49ers made their claim for the best win of the season while the Super Bowl champs continued to slide down the playoff standings. Week 13 in the NFL season had much of everything, as it usually does.
Here is my stock up and down following Sunday’s action.
The 49ers are the owners of the most impressive win of the season after putting a 40 burger up in Philadelphia against the Eagles. The 49ers beat the defending NFC champions 42-19, dominating the game after the Eagles got out to an early 6-0 lead. The 49ers had circled this game on the calendar when it was announced after they lost to the Eagles in last year’s NFC Championship Game. The 49ers have chirped all season about how different that game would have been with a healthy Brock Purdy at quarterback for four quarters. Well, on Sunday it was different.
The 49ers offense took a few drives to get moving and when they did, it was a rocket ship into the end zone. Brock Purdy was 19 of27 for 314 yards with four touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey had 17 carries for 93 yards and added a touchdown on the ground, While Deebo Samuel racked up three total touchdowns. The Niners just pounded on the Eagles as the game wore on. Their defense was able to harass the Eagles offense into being one-dimensional, allowing only 46 yards on the ground. When the Eagles don’t run the ball well, they are not the same offense. The 49ers had an awesome plan and out-executed their rivals. The 49ers are still one game behind the Eagles in the standings but now might be considered the favorite in the NFC. An excellent day for the Niners.
Deebo Samuel and Brock Purdy discuss dominant 42-19 win over Eagles
Tyreek Hill’s MVP case
Tyreek Hill should be firmly in the MVP discussion after another highlight-worthy day in a Miami Dolphins uniform. Hill had five receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns were home runs, a 78-yard touchdown followed by a 60-yard bomb. In a year without a clear-cut quarterback option for the Most Valuable Player Award, I believe Hill needs to be included in this discussion. With that performance, Hill is now up to 1,481 yards this season, and he’s on track for the most receiving yards in a single season in league history. His impact on this Miami offense is immense and his ability to completely destroy defensive game plans is unmatched from that position. His MVP stock is way up.
Tyreek Hill on his connection with Tua Tagovailoa and Dolphins’ success
The NFL playoff format
The NFL playoff format is simple. You have four divisions in two conferences. The regular-season schedules are as balanced as possible with playing your division twice, one other division in each conference and then three other opponents based on your division standings from the previous season. The winner of each division is in the playoff plus three wild card teams for a total of seven. Tiebreakers are built into the system and everyone accepts — with some pushback on a 7-10 division winner — the structure. It’s based solely on the results of the games, as it should be.
Contrast the above playoff format with that of FBS football. A four-team playoff bracket (and I’m not a fan of a 12-team either but that’s an article for another day) that’s chosen by 13 college football playoff committee members. In the 10 previous seasons of the four-team playoff, the decision about whom to send to the postseason tournament has not been too difficult. It had always played out well for the committee. The Power Five teams who won their games got to play in the dance. This season ended with chaos on Conference Championship Weekend, putting the playoff committee in a bind. They had at least six legit playoff contenders including a 13-0 Power Five conference champion in Florida State, who played their last two games without their starting quarterback and won both. Yes, their offense is not the same without Jordan Travis but the goal is winning the games in front of you. Yes, they would be a multiple-touchdown dog against Michigan in a potential first-round playoff game. But not giving the Seminoles the opportunity to play in the playoff is unfairly putting the blame on a single injury to their quarterback. That is not a burden he should have to carry. Florida State should be a playoff team.
New York Jets
The Jets offense is an embarrassment right now after falling 13-8 to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Now the Jets are officially without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for the rest of the season and no one expects them to play all that well on offense, but it’s far worse than it needed to be. The Jets went into the season without a backup plan for a Rodgers injury. You never go into a season expecting injury but with the Jets roster, it would have made sense to prepare for the worst. The Jets have an okay offensive line, good skill position players and an outstanding defense. They have a team good enough to be competitive with a competent backup quarterback and the Jets do not have one of those. Their decision looks even more short-sided because of the success of Joshua Dobbs or even Joe Flacco, who played decent in starting on Sunday for the Cleveland Browns. The Jets just never prepared for the worst and their decision to ride with Zach Wilson as the backup will get people fired.
Falcons defense comes up with four forced fumbles and a pick in narrow win
The Cleveland Browns’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams was understandable, but still bad news for a team fighting for a playoff berth. The Browns entered the game as short underdogs while starting their fourth quarterback of the season in Joe Flacco. The Browns offense was okay until it wasn’t, but for most of the game, it kept pace with the Rams. The Browns defense, which had held up this squad all season, was not good enough on Sunday. To be fair, their margin of error is so small because of the offensive woes in a game like this. The Browns are still firmly in the playoff hunt for a wild card spot but their stock is slowly going down.
Matthew Stafford throws for three TDs to help Rams secure victory over Browns
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Arizona Cardinals as nearly a touchdown favorite on Sunday. While injuries can be a contributing factor to the loss, it appeared the team was just not mentally ready for this game against a poor Cardinals team. At no point did it appear the Steelers were more physical or more prepared to play this game. Even after two weather delays, the Steelers never woke up to meet the Cardinals’ intensity on the field. The Steelers losing this game will hurt them in the playoff standings. While they are still the fifth seed in the AFC, they had a legit chance to compete for the division with their schedule. Doesn’t feel that way anymore.
Kansas City Chiefs
It’s simple with the Chiefs. Their offense is not good enough to overcome any mistakes. A penalty kills a drive. A wide receiver running a wrong route or dropping a pass stunts ball movement. Settling for a field goal instead of a touchdown in the red zone. This Chiefs team is just not good enough to not let any of those errors hurt them. This is why they are struggling this season. In the past when the Chiefs made mistakes, Patrick Mahomes was able to get them out of it. He can’t do that by himself right now and the Chiefs offense does not play a clean enough game to make it happen without Mahomes magic. Maybe the Chiefs will figure it out but it seems unlikely to happen this season.
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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