Sunday NFL Liveblog: Bengals, Chiefs Lead Loaded Schedule

Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 13 - Last week, we were scrambling around trying to find a game to highlight -- a paltry schedule, drained by Thanksgiving, leaving us with some congealed leftovers in terms of matchups. But Week 13 in the NFL? Week 13 is a feast.

Five of the 12 games during this week's liveblog window are matchups between teams with winning records, compared to just one last week.  And even some of the ones without a pair of winning teams hold outsized importance as well!  There are quality games where divisional leaders are crashing into one another, like Eagles-Titans or 49ers-Dolphins. You have games with extraordinary importance to the postseason race, like Commanders-Giants, Seahawks-Rams or Chargers-Raiders.  You have "oh yeah? Prove it!" games like Jets-Vikings.  And you have the best of all worlds in games like the Chiefs-Bengals.

Which game do you highlight? Which game draws the eyes? It's an exceptionally difficult week to pick just one.49ers-Dolphins, one of the bigger storyline games of the year, has been relegated to regional action.  No one off the East Coast gets to watch Commanders-Giants, which may well decide the NFC wildcard race. If there was ever a week to watch RedZone...well, it'd be Week 18 with the playoff races finishing.  But if there was ever a second week to watch RedZone, it'd be trying to keep pace with this one.  Or, y'know, keep your eyes peeled to a constantly updating liveblog.  One or the other.

And, because we're live, you can participate in the discussion as well! Join in on the conversation -- either in the comment section in this article, on Twitter by tagging @FBOutsiders or @BryKno, or on our brand new Discord server, where some of your favorite writers will be hanging out and reacting live. Questions, comments, and particularly clever quips will find their way into the liveblog proper as we have a running conversation throughout gameday. 

As I said, we've got a dozen games to get through today, so let's check out that slate, which includes...

Early Window

  • Green Bay Packers (-4.5) @ Chicago Bears
  • Cleveland Browns (-8) @ Houston Texans
  • New York Jets (+3) @ Minnesota Vikings
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (EV) @ Atlanta Falcons
  • Denver Broncos (+9.5) @ Baltimore Ravens
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (+1) @ Detroit Lions
  • Washington Commanders (-2) @ New York Giants
  • Tennessee Titans (+4) @ Philadelphia Eagles

Late Window

  • Seattle Seahawks (-7) @ Los Angeles Rams
  • Miami Dolphins (+4.5) @ San Francisco 49ers
  • Los Angeles Chargers (+2.5) @ Las Vegas Raiders
  • Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals

The nightcap is the Indianapolis Colts against the Dallas Cowboys. Hurray, more Jeff Saturday in primetime! We'll be switching over to the FO Discord server to cover that one, but until then, let's dig into this!

Saturday Evening: Early Window Storylines

Oh, where to begin.

The Minnesota Vikings keep winning, and are about to waltz into the playoffs as early as feasibly possible under the current format. And yet, DVOA still has them 22nd, at -9.2%, making them by far -- by far! -- the worst 9-2 team in DVOA history.  It feels like something has to give. Meanwhile, the New York Jets maintain a top-10 DVOA despite -- or perhaps, because? -- of benching Zach Wilson for the immortal Mike White. This is the matchup between the two playoff contenders who feel the least "real" to me, which makes it my match to watch in the early window. Someone has to win this one! And the outcome will have significant impacts on the AFC wildcard race and the NFC seeding race. Plus, y'know, Sauce Gardner versus Justin Jefferson. Yes, I will take all of the Gardner-Jefferson matchup, please and thank you.  Could be Defensive Rookie of the Year versus Offensive Player of the Year, and you've got to treasure those when they happen.

If that's not your cup of tea, why not tune in the Washington Commanders and the New York Giants in the first of their two-part series that will determine the NFC Wildcard race?  The two teams play each other twice in the next three weeks, with the Commanders actually getting a bye week squeezed in between, so they're in full-on Giants mode right now. Both teams still have a negative DVOA on the season, but the Commanders have been in the positives since replacing Carson Wentz with Taylor Heinicke in Week 7; they're at 8.1% and rising. If you want the NFC East to send all four teams to the playoffs, you're rooting for a split in this series. If either team sweeps the series, they're essentially into the postseason, and the loser?  Well, the loser would be in trouble.

The Philadelphia Eagles-Tennessee Titans game doesn't matter as much from a playoff perspective, with both teams cruising into the postseason without too many issues. But it's still a matchup of division leaders, and that's always worth a look-see, even if DVOA would like to remind you that there's a difference between leading the NFC East and leading the AFC South.  This game might be over very, very quickly, too.  Not because I expect the Eagles to dominate this won, though I believe they should win comfortably. But rather because this game is likely to go fast. No team runs more frequently in neutral situations than the Tennessee Titans, and no team runs more effectively in any situation than the Philadelphia Eagles.  The run game has been used more frequently and effectively in 2022 than it has been in quite some time, and if you like that, then this may be the game for you.

And don't sleep on the Falcons and Steelers! While this isn't one of those games between winning teams, the Falcons are still in the midst of the NFC South divisional race -- we've checked the bylaws and yes, someone has to win that division. To catch Tampa Bay, Atlanta can't really afford to slip up anywhere, making this game crucial for their playoff hopes. If they win, they reach their bye week within a half game of the Buccaneers for the division lead. If they lose, we might well get to see Desmond Ridder over the back half of the season. Maybe more important for storylines going forward than actual competitive football, but this is a game I'll be keeping an eye on, for sure.

Elsewhere, the Packers and Bears play one of the least important games in their long history of matchups; the Ravens look to get their offense righted against the capsizing Broncos; the Lions and Jaguars play in a game  where the loser is essentially eliminated; and the Texans and Browns play in a game where nothing of note is occurring.

Saturday Evening: Playoffs?!

DVOA still insists the Vikings aren't quite locks to make the postseason, thanks to their terrible DVOA.  They "only" have a 98.9% chance of winning the division, by our odds, but they can clinch the NFC North this week! All it would take is a win over the Jets and a Jacksonville win over Detroit.  Neither of those results are a lock or anything, but that's not an overly difficult double to pull off.  If the Vikings DO manage it, they'll tie the record for earliest divisional win in the Super Bowl era, alongside the 2009 Colts, 2007 Patriots, 2004 Eagles, 1997 49ers, 1985 Bears and 1973 Vikings. Any and all of those teams would likely boatrace the 2022 Vikings, but they don't have to play any of them, do they?

There are 16,384 remaining combinations of results in the NFC North, barring ties.  The Vikings win the division in 16,281 of them.  That's fairly solid, all things considered.  But, for the record, here are the 103 remaining scenarios where the Vikings could LOSE the division.

There are a couple other scenarios of note today, as well:

Philadelphia can clinch a playoff berth with a win OR losses by the 49ers, Giants and Seahawks.

Minnesota can clinch the NFC North with a win AND a Lions loss.  (Both are needed to eliminate Detroit, but Green Bay can be eliminated from the division with a loss or a Vikings win)

Chicago can be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss AND a Seahawks win.

Houston can be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss OR wins by the Bengals, Jets, Ravens and Titans.

If I had to put money on it today, I'd say both the Vikings and Eagles will have to wait another week to qualify, but both the Bears and Texans will pack up shop this week.  I suppose that's why they play the games, though!

11:07 AM: Packers at Bears

Earlier this season, the Packers caught the Bears in all-time wins, and it seemed like just a matter of time before they took that record and ran into the distance. But this has been a hard season in Green Bay, and so we arrive at the second matchup between the two teams with something on the line.

Both Green Bay and Chicago have won 786 games. That means the winner of today's matchup will be the winningest team in NFL history.  That's decently exciting, innit?

Oh, and the Bears are out of the playoffs with a loss, and the Packers are out of the divisional race with a loss. These are foregone conclusions, but it's never too bad for a team to officially knock out a rival.

11:39 AM: Early Window Inactives

Looking forward to seeing Chase Young? He'll be making his season debut against the New York time.  In two weeks.  Yes, Young is out again.  The Commanders say that this time, he'll make his return for sure, 100% done deal, after the bye week. Yup, no worries, this is going to happen and there's no reason to assume otherwise; why would you assume otherwise? That's crazytalk; you're talking crazy.

Other notable inactives include Eagles EDGE Robert Quinn, Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley and LB David Ojabo, Packers OT David Bakhtiari, Jets RB Michael Carter, Titans DL Denico Autry, Texas WR Brandin Cooks, Packers WR Romeo Doubs, Broncos WR KJ Hamler, Browns TE David Njoku, and Bears QB Trevor Siemian. For real this time. We think.

12:18 PM: College Football Playoff

was going to write about the college football playoffs here, as the ESPN selection show replaced their normal pregame show. That's big football news! That's worth covering!

...18 minutes in, and they still haven't announced the teams.  It's a four hour long selection show.  What are we doing here.

For the record, I'd vote to keep TCU as the fourth seed, but this is a year where four feels like the wrong number of teams no matter how you slice it. Either just give us Georgia v. Michigan, or expand out already.

12:39 PM: College Football Playoff

OK, they finally got around to announcing things over a half-hour into their program: it's #1 Georgia versus #4 Ohio State, and #2 Michigan versus #3 TCU. As we all expected! 

Enough of that. Time for real football.

1:09 PM: Jaguars at Lions

Travis Etienne is back! The oft-injured running back gets the start...and promptly fumbles. Whoops.  The Lions cash that short field into points, though it isn't always pretty -- Jared Goff had a high pass that was barely brought down, and Amon-Ra St. Brown had another bobbling, juggling catch to move forwards. Well, whatever works -- Jamaal Williams punches it in to give the Lions an early 7-0 lead.

Cale Clinton: Jamaal Williams officially has more TDs this season (14) than he has in his previous five seasons in the NFL (13)

1:11 PM: Titans at Eagles

This game gets off to a sloppy start, with plenty of penalties and timeouts bogging the Eagles' first drive down. Until, that is, Jalen Hurts starts hooking up with DeVonta Smith, hitting him for a gain of 20, and then a 34-yard strike down the middle.

Eagles take an early 7-0 lead.

1:21 PM: Jaguars at Lions

We're having an ongoing discussion on aggressiveness and fourth down decisions in the Discord server, noting that both Dan Campbell and Doug Pederson are notoriously aggressive on fourth downs. And indeed, the Jags pick up a 4th-and-1 to keep the drive going!  And, while we're all patting him on the back...he then kicks a field goal on 4th-and-3 inside the red zone.  Whelp.  Can't win them all, I guess.  7-3, Lions.

1:26 PM: Commanders at Giants

For the Giants today, the fit is good -- it's the throwbacks, which should probably be their regular uniforms. The tackling, on the other hand...

The Commanders jump out to a 10-0 lead, and the Giants need to wake up.  This is not quite a play-in game, but it's as close as you get in Week 13!

1:27 PM: Jaguars at Lions

Jared Goff is having himself a quarter -- 8-for-9 for 101 yards and a touchdown.  The Jaguars' field goal gets counted almost immediately, as Goff hits D.J. Chark for a big 41-yard gain, and then finds St. Brown in the end zone to extend the Lions lead to 14-3.

No settling for field goals any more, guys!  Go go go go.

1:28 PM: Packers at Bears

Welcome back, Justin Fields.

The Packers, struggling with rushing quarterbacks? Unheard of.  Totally unheard of.  And the Bears, with their playoff life on the line (...OK, but stay with me here) take a 10-0 lead.

1:31 PM: Titans at Eagles

A potential pyrrhic victory here. After converting on 4th and 7, the Titans drive extends all the way to a Treylon Burks touchdown reception. But Burks is blown up in the end zone, taking a shot to his facemask from the defender's helmet, and is down and in pain.

That will tie the game at seven, pending the extra point, but there are obviously bigger concerns here.

1:39 PM: Broncos at Ravens

And, speaking of injury concerns, Lamar Jackson took a big shot and is in the medical tent. He missed some practice time this week, but this seems unrelated.  Tyler Huntley is coming in to start the second quarter, with the Ravens...down 3-0?  That can't be right.  Baltimore...

1:49 PM: Commanders at Giants

Welcome to the ballgame, New York; it's nice to have you!  After Washington opts to punt on 4th and inches, Daniel Jones immediately hits Darius Slayton for 55 yards, completely wiping out any field position advantage they were hoping to game.  A few rushing plays later -- including a scramble from Daniel Jones, which is something fans have been clamoring for for a while -- Saquon Barkley bursts through the line and finds the end zone.

Giants tie things up at 10, midway through the second quarter.

1:51 PM: Jets at Vikings

Kirk Cousins started this game 0-for-5, and he hasn't done great since then; he's now 5-for-12 for 24 yards. Justin Jefferson has even gone back to throw, though he ended up scrambling on his option.  Well, no matter -- slowly but surely, Minnesota matriculated the ball down the field and found the end zone.

I will tell you, this does not look like a game between two playoff teams, but the Vikings have a 10-3 lead.

1:54 PM: Titans at Eagles

A.J. Brown had a great, amazing catch down the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown...except they ruled he was just out of bounds, undoing a great reception.  Boo!

But on the very next play, Brown just runs right through his receiver, ends up wide open, and gets his touchdown.

Rule of cool saves the day; Eagles take a 14-7 lead.

1:58 PM: Steelers at Falcons

We said this game might be sneaky interesting. So far, uh, no.

Vince Verhei: PIT’s first two drives: 28 plays, 105 yards, two field goals. Just spinning their wheels, going nowhere.

But they have been going more places than the Falcons, who's first two drives ended in a punt and a field goal.  And then Pittsburgh finally got the offense going, and by "offense going" I mean "one long pass to Pat Freiermuth".  Hey, whatever works!  Cam Heyward scores on the next play -- yes, the son of Ironhead Heyward, scoring in the city where his dad used to play. Neat!

13-3 Steelers, midway through the second.

2:05 PM: Packers at Bears

Vince Verhei: After the Claypool fumble, the Packers get a second-and-8 at the Bears 37. But the drive ends on three straight Rodgers incompletions, two of them on deep balls. On fourth down he had Randall Cobb open in the end zone, but threw the ball a yard too far.

Well, at least that will pin the Bears deep, right? There are worse possible outcomes, and it's not like Justin Fields will make you pay with his arm...


Vince Verhei: First down, after the Packers’ failed fourth-down play, Fields goes deep to St. Brown to put Chicago in first-and-goal. St. Brown was two steps behind the defender, but Fields had to make a great throw knowing he was going to get hit. He really is looking great today. Chicago is so surprised by their own big play that they have to call their second timeout of the half, which is bad, but then David Montgomery takes the ball off tackle and crashes through defenders into the end zone, which is good. Bears up 17-3 now.

Well, 16-3, as Santos missed the extra point, but still. 

Cale Clinton: There’s a non-zero chance Rodgers came back just because it was against the Bears and he thought he’d have another “I’ve owned you all my life” game by default, regardless of injuries

2:16 PM: Jets at Vikings

So far, the Jets have gone interception, field goal, punt, punt, and they haven't been able to get anything going on a consistent basis. That's allowed Minnesota to get into gear after a slow, slow start -- Cousins is still under 100 yards passing, and we're approaching halftime.  But he hit Jalen Reagor for a big gain -- yes, Reagor is legally allowed to catch passes! I know, I'm surprised, too! -- and Alexander Mattison annoyed fantasy managers everywhere by punching it in for a score.

Vikings take a 17-3 lead.

Aaron Schatz: Vikings have a below-average pressure rate this season but they're really getting Mike White off his game today. And less of the simple stuff against zones is open compared to last week.

2:19 PM: Browns at Texans

This game has seen Cleveland do zip on offense, and a field goal and safety have kept Houston alive. Well, when your offense can't do anything, rely on your special teams!

Donovan Peoples-Jones' touchdown gives Cleveland their first lead of the day, 7-5.

2:23 PM: Packers at Bears

Aaron Rodgers is not going down without a fight!  On 4th-and-4, Green Bay goes for it...

That's Christian Watson's seventh touchdown in the past four games, and Green Bay has cut the lead to 16-10

2:27 PM: Broncos at Ravens

Vince Verhei: First half ends with the Ravens completing a pass to move into Broncos territory, but unable to spike the ball to stop the clock. Broncos have a 6-3 lead in the ugly kind of football game that they have been playing all year. What’s interesting here is that both teams have a habit of losing games like this, but one of them will (probably) have to win today. Obviously the Jackson injury is a bigger story than anything else that could happen here today

Aaron Schatz: New over/under formula keeps picking Denver overs. Denver keeps going under. They're remarkable. I actually manually changed today's pick from Over to No Pick because it was really close and I didn't want to pick another Denver over!.

JHeidelberg, via the Discord: 1 and 32. I think that Hackett wants it as much as you Bryan, goes for 42 yards FG on 4th and 1 and we have a 6-3 thriller for DEN at half

"1 and 32" references to allowing the fewest points on defense and scoring the fewest points on offense. You can do it, Denver!  We believe in you!

2:32 PM: Jaguars at Lions

We're headed to halftime here with the Lions up 23-6, but that isn't the headline. Trevor Lawrence is down and twisted his knee terrible as the half ended.  It looked bad enough to knock him out for at least the rest of the game, but because it happened just before the half, we don't really know what's going on.  That would be the worst possible outcome for Jacksonville; who cares about this season. Breath-holding time in Duval.

2:33 PM: Titans at Eagles

Penalties are the story of this one -- 9 for 60 on the Eagles, 4 for 59 on the Titans.  But the other story is Philadelphia's offense, as they've managed 21 points in the first half. The Titans haven't allowed more than 20 points in a game since Week 3.  Both of these teams are division leaders but there's a quality gap.

Eagles out to a 21-10 lead.

2:35 PM: Commanders at Giants

Carl Yedor: Halftime between the Giants and Commanders has the score tied at 13. The biggest surprise for me thus far has been watching the Giants have some success against Washington's strong run defense. It seemed like a game where Daniel Jones would have to take on a larger role today. Jones has been efficient thus far (8.8 yards per attempt and only 1 sack), but the Giants offense as a whole has exceeded my personal expectations.

2:39 PM: Commanders at Giants

On their first drive after halftime, Taylor Heinicke, uh, doesn't look great. Hit as he drops back to throw, Heinicke fumbles, giving the Giants the ball inside the red zone. From there, it's easy enough for the Giants to find the end zone, with Isaiah Hodgins coming down with the score.

20-13 Giants in a crucial game.

2:49 PM: QB Injuries

C.J. Beathard was warming up, but Trevor Lawrence has come out of the tunnel. Is he really going to give it a go here in the second half?

Elsewhere, Lamar Jackson was officially ruled out for the rest of the game.

2:56 PM: Jaguars at Lions

Detroit marches right down the field from the second-half kickoff, scores again, and it's 30-6.  This game is over; welcome to the "In The Hunt" graphic for the next couple weeks, Detroit!

2:57 PM: Broncos at Ravens

Vince Verhei: Russell Wilson completes a pass short of the stick on third down and the Broncos will punt. He’s now 11-of-14 for 118 yards, which sounds great … but only four of those completions have been for first downs! I read this week that Denver was convinced they were getting Aaron Rodgers and so designed an offense for him, then when that fell through they settled for Wilson and just stuck him into the same offense and expected it to work. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a plausible explanation for what has gone wrong in Denver this year.

3:01 PM: Browns at Texans

The Browns have not scored a single offensive point.  They lead, 14-5.

It's possible, and I stress it's still early days, that the Houston Texans aren't very good.

3:05 PM: Broncos at Ravens

Vince Verhei: Wilson completes another pass short of the sticks on third down, but they’re in Ravens territory following a Huntley interception, and they get a 50-yard field goal to go up 9-3. That’s Brandon McManus’ second 50-plus-yard field goal of the day; going to be weird when the Ravens lose because the other team’s kicker hit a bunch of long field goals.

It should be noted, as Coralskipper pointed out in the Discord, that once you knock a quarterback out of the game, it probably shouldn't be considered an upset anymore.  But still!

3:07 PM: Titans at Eagles

A.J. Brown is having himself a day. Revenge game? Rubbing salt into the wound game? Whatever you want to call it.

That's a 28-10 lead for the Eagles, and this one seems done and dusted.

3:13 PM: Steelers at Falcons

The Falcons had their first sustained drive of the game, nearly all on Cordarelle Patterson -- four rushes for 45 yards on this one, helping Atlanta actually move the ball for once. Marcus Mariota hits MyCole Pruitt to cap things off.

Imagine that, a Falcons tight end scoring a touchdown.  Steelers still lead 19-13.

3:17 PM: Packers at Bears

Green Bay is not going down without a fight!  The second half has been mostly quiet for both teams -- three punts and a Bears field goal is all to write home about -- but a big pass interference on Chicago moved Green Bay just outside the red zone. From there, it's all A.J. Dillion.

19-17, in what has been an entertaining, if almost meaningless, football game!

3:27 PM: Jets at Vikings

We keep waiting for the Vikings to slam the door on this one and put it to bed, but the Jets refuse to either do badly enough to end this one and well enough to make it a contest.  Mike White is 21-for-36 for 208 yards and an interception, and their last three drives have ended in interceptions.  Minnesota hasn't scored since the midway point of the second quarter, and the lead has been cut to 20-12.  Something has to give at SOME point...

3:36 PM: Packers at Bears

The Bears play bend-but-don't-break defense, letting Rodgers' inaccuracy do just enough to slow the Packers down.  Green Bay has to settle for a field goal in the red zone, but it's a go-ahead field goal, and the Packers led for the first time today, 20-19. 4:49 left in this one.

3:38 PM: Broncos at Ravens

Vince Verhei: Hey, Wilson is throwing deep! He hits Greg Dulcich (the only good thing to happen to the Broncos offense today or all season) for 30 yards to get across midfield, but then badly overthrows Montrell Washington inside the 20, and the Broncos punt. But that’s why I think there’s still at least a useful quarterback inside Wilson somewhere — he still has the arm, he just looks lost a lot of the time.

Aaron Schatz: Check out the new QB by pass direction stats for FO+ and you'll see Wilson has awesome numbers throwing deep this year. His numbers throwing short are so bad they counteract that.

3:42 PM: Jets at Vikings

After the Jets settle for yet ANOTHER short field goal, the Vikings finally decide to end things.

Vikings take a 27-15 lead, and that should be enough.

3:43 PM: Browns at Texans

Oh, Texans.

Texans well on their way to being eliminated from the playoffs.

3:44 PM: Commanders at Giants

A STATEMENT drive from the Commanders!  Taylor Heinicke with a big 20-yard bomb on 4th-and-4, and then back-to-back 25+ yard strikes, and we're tied at 20!

Was it too fast?  There's 1:45 left for the Giants to try to score...

3:48 PM: Packers at Bears

Well, the dream is over for Chicago. Justin Fields throws a pick, and three plays later, Christian Walker did THIS.

28-19 Packers, and this one is over.

3:53 PM: Broncos at Ravens

It took 59:32, but finally, FINALLY, someone finds the end zone.

Vince Verhei: Ravens trail 9-3 have a fourth-and-2 at the Broncos 18 with a minute and change to go. Shotgun snap, fake jet sweep, Huntley keeps and converts. Second fourth-down conversion of this drive. And then Huntley completes a pass along the sideline and Ravens have first-and-goal at the 1.

And finally, FINALLY, Huntley breaks through the line, and the Ravens score.

It's 10-9 Baltimore, and if this holds, what a gut-punch for the Broncos.

4:03 PM: Commanders at Giants

Eight million things going on; it's crazy.  We've gone to OT here; the Giant start but went backwards.  It's going to be a punt to the Commanders, needing just a field goal to win...

4:07 PM: Dolphins at 49ers

Haven't even had time to post the late game storylines, and the Dolphins have already found the endzone.  First play from scrimmage, Trent Sherfield takes a reception down the seam and goes all the way into the end zone.  Dream start for Miami!

7-0, Dolphins.

4:09 PM: Commanders at Giants

Washington's first drive ends in a punt, as well, and all of a sudden we're down to four minutes left.  A tie brewing?

4:10 PM: Jets at Vikings

The Jets' furious comeback looks like it's going to come up short -- Braxton Berrios had the ball in the end zone on fourth down, but couldn't haul it in.  The Vikings get the ball; there's timeouts left, but things are looking bad for New York.

4:13 PM: Seahawks at Rams

Season over for Los Angeles? Don't tell the Rams. They take the opening kickoff and march right down the field, 10 plays and 77 yards.  Cam Akers punches it in to cap off the drive.

Rams up 7-0.

4:17 PM: Commanders at Giants

The Giants punt from near midfield with 1:36 left in the game.  The tie draws nearer...

4:18 PM: Jets at Vikings

It's an INT in the end zone, and the Vikings are going to pull out a win.  Pixie dust and magic.

4:25 PM: Commanders at Giants

We have a TIE!  Gano's 58-yard field goal attempt fails, and we tie at 20!

That throws a wrench into things; and we'll see them again in two weeks.

4:25 PM: Catching up

Cale Clinton: One of the headline segments we covered on this week’s episode of The Takeaway was Richard Sherman calling Mike White a franchise quarterback. My whole rationale against it was that, in White’s three game sample size from 2021, we saw the ball almost completely taken out of White’s hands in Game 2 and saw his game solved by the Bills in Game 3. Last year’s game vs. BUF had White go up against the leading defense by passing DVOA through nine weeks, which makes it a tough comparison to this week’s game against the 27th ranked def. passing DVOA Vikings. But man, they definitely didn’t take it out of White’s hands, and even with the loss, I think that he gave a good enough performance to show that last week wasn’t a fluke. He’s throwing into tight windows with (sometimes too much) confidence, he’s testing deeper downfield than he did at most points last year, and, most importantly, he’s got a lot of the Jets to buy in. Putting the Jets in a position to win against good opponents is something Zach Wilson rarely did, and right now I think he’s shown enough to hold the job for this season. I definitely won’t go as far as Sherman did, but in the last two games Mike White has shown a floor Wilson’s never shown. Placement isn’t always there on those tight throws, and bookending your game with two INTs is about as bad an outcome as you can have, but he’s doing things we just haven’t seen out of Wilson in his two years as starter. Low bar to clear, but he’s earning the right to hold onto this job.

Elsewhere, Jimmy Garoppolo has been carted to the locker room, which seems less than ideal.  Brock Purdy is the backup.

Oh, and Seattle scored a touchdown.

It's 7-7, as the ending hour comes crashing down.

4:26 PM: Late Game Storylines

Where to begin, again?

I suppose we should start with the AFC Championship rematch, with the Bengals hosting the Chiefs as they begin their brutal end-of-season schedule. The Bengals don't win the NFC North last year if they don't beat the Chiefs in Week 17. And, of course, they don't get to the Super Bowl if they don't beat Kansas City in the conference championship. Do you think the Chiefs might hold some sort of grudge? This matchup feels like it has some real bad blood in it, with Justin Reid and Hayden Hurst sending shots back and forth at one another all week. Ja'Marr Chase, who will be back for this one, fired back multiple times as well, and everyone not named Mahomes or Burrow seems to be willing to scrap this one up. There could be fireworks here, and I'm looking forward to it.

The Dolphins and 49ers was an interesting game before the season, with Mike McDaniel and massive chunks of the 49ers' old backfield and playbook coming back home to take on Kyle Shanahan -- a student versus the master matchup. It's only gotten more interesting since then, as this features a top-five offense going up against a top-five defense; two division leaders trying to fend off challengers.  Over the past five weeks, the Dolphins lead the league with a 35.5% offensive DVOA...just slightly ahead of the 49ers at 30.1%.  The 49ers have been the top team in football ever since they got blown out by the Chiefs, but they haven't played any truly great teams since then. Lots to prove on both sides here. This may come down to the Armsteads -- 49ers DT Arik looks to be returning, while Dolphins OT Terron looks like he'll miss the game; he's listed as doubtful.

The descent of the Super Bowl champions continues, as the battered, beaten and beliguered Rams host a Seahawks team that suddenly finds themselves out of the playoff picture entirely. They need wins to catch the 49ers or the NFC East racers, but they haven't won a game since November 6th. They also get their first chance to see Bobby Wagner in someone else's uniform, which is just not right.

The Raiders and Chargers are also playing, in a rematch of their close Week 1 game. Ah, Week 1 -- things looked so much brighter for both teams back then, didn't they?

4:32 PM: Dolphins at 49ers

No Jimmy Garoppolo?  No problem!

OK, probably a lot of problems in the long-term, but the 49ers move the ball on their first Garoppololess drive, Brock Purdy finds Kyle Jusczyck in the end zone, and the 49ers take the lead, 10-7.

I'm still recovering from this one, give me a moment.

4:33 PM: Chiefs at Bengals

The Bengals draw first blood!  They take the opening drive 75 yards in 11 plays, with Joe Burrow rushing into the end zone to open the scoring.

7-0 Bengals, early.

4:49 PM: Chargers at Raiders

Justin Herbert is just 1-for-4 and the team as a whole has 21 yards rushing, but the Chargers have had a couple highlights already.  A fake punt gave them a new set of downs (which they did nothing with), and now, Derek Carr managed to hit Bryce Callahan on the trip drill for a pick-6.

Chargers take a 7-0 lead.

4:56 PM: Seahawks at Rams

There was a sideline shouting match between Geno Smith and Kenneth Walker, but things seem to have been smoothed out.

Geno to Noah Fant for the touchdown, and the Seahawks take a 14-10 lead.

4:57 PM: Playoff Update

The Texans' loss knocked them out, but that's not all. The Bears could only be eliminated in the early window if the Commanders and Giants tied, and what were the odds of that?  Quite high, apparenetly.

The Vikings did NOT clinch the NFC North.  To lose it now, they'd need to lose out AND see the Lions win out, which is unlikely but not ruled out yet!

4:58 PM: Chiefs at Bengals

A couple Bengals wins battered the Chiefs last season, and Cincinnati is trying to pick up just where they left off.  A roughing the passer flag kept the Bengals' drive alive, and you don't want to give the Bengals offense that many more chances.

It's 14-3 Bengals, early in the second, and the Chiefs are a little befuddled.

5:13 PM: Yet more injuries

Garoppolo has been ruled out of the game; they're calling it a foot injury, so we'll see what happens there. It didn't look as bad as the Trey Lance injury, in case you're making starting 49er QB injury comparisons!

Meanwhile, Seattle has had both Kenneth Walker and Marquise Goodwin knocked out of the game.  Last team healthy turn out the lights in the NFC West, please. 

5:17 PM: Chargers at Raiders

Hey, the Raiders decided to run the "walkoff Josh Jacobs touchdown" play!

Can't walk-off in the second quarter, but this does cut the Chargers lead to 10-7.

5:27 PM: Chiefs at Bengals

The Chiefs have been sluggish in the Red Zone for a few weeks.  Their first drive this game ended up in a field goal, and the Bengals forced them to a third down on their next trip to the red zone.  It took a while, but eventually, Patrick Mahomes is going to happen.

The touchdown cuts the Bengals' lead to 14-10.

5:35 PM: Seahawks at Rams

Vince Verhei: Pete Carroll has been losing inexplicable games to the Rams since they played in St. Louis, and he’s in severe danger of doing it again today. Seahawks lead 14-13 at halftime against a lineup you have never heard of.

On defense, the Donald-less Rams have sacked Geno Smith three times — two by former Seahawk Bobby Wagner, one by Brown alum Michael Hoecht — and have not allowed a rushing first down since Seattle’s first snap of the game.

5:36 PM: Dolphins at 49ers

Coralskipper, via the FO Discord: It feels like Purdy is getting the "there's no game film on you, so you're going to overperform until there is" boost right now

A little bit of that, and a little bit of "we're going to blitz eight, and dare you to make a play.  OK, a screen to Christian McCaffrey counts as 'a play',"

Purdy is 12-for-19 for 116 yards, about 80 of it YAC, with two touchdowns and the deep INT.  And credit where credit is due -- Purdy has been dealing with the Dolphins pass rush pinning their ears back, and has gotten the ball out and to his playmakers.  He just led a 11-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that took 2:44 of the 2:48 remaining in the half, so the 49ers enter halftime up 17-10.

Obviously, the Dolphins are more than capable of slashing this deficit. But to do so, they'll have to do something no one's been able to do for a month - score on the 49ers in the second half.  This is not the game we were expecting to see, but it's a good one.

5:40 PM: Seahawks at Rams

Vince Verhei: Seahawks running back update: Rashaad Penny out for year. Travis Home inactive today. Kenneth Walker did not play in the second quarter. DeeJay Dallas limping off the field at halftime. Tony Jones Jr., who was picked up in October after the Saints waived him, may be their only healthy runner in the second half.

5:55 PM: Chargers at Raiders

Vince Verhei: We should add that Chandler Jones got his third sack in the second quarter, though the Chargers picked up a first down afterwards and went on to kick a field goal. And Jones has now left the game. Raiders now trying a 59-yard field goal on third down with nine seconds left because they have no timeouts … and it’s no good. Chargers lead 13-10 at halftime.

6:03 PM: Chiefs at Bengals

The Bengals decide to blitz Patrick Mahomes. This is a bad plan.

The Bengals have done a good job stemming the Chiefs tide to this point, but it feels like Mahomes finally hit that deep shot he was looking for and things started opening up.  Pacheco punches the ball across the line a couple plays alter, and the Chiefs have a 17-14 lead.

6:10 PM: Chargers at Raiders

Austin Ekeler with a costly turnover, coughing up the ball while fighting for extra yards. That sets up the Raiders in Chargers territory, and it only takes one play...

The Raiders now have a 17-13 lead to start the third quarter.

6:20 PM: Seahawks at Rams

John Wolford has been trying to give it a go, but he's been pretty beat up today. Bryce Perkins is in now, as the Rams are just excavating the depths of their depth chart.

Also: Bobby Wagner did this.  They said it was an interception.  Was it?

I have no idea.  But it WAS cool.

6:24 PM: Chargers at Raiders

Best play in football always has been, and always WILL be, the flea flicker.

Davante Adams with the score, and teh Chargers extend their lead to 24-13

6:25 PM: Chiefs at Bengals

You don't win games with field goals, so the Chiefs line up to go on 4th and 2 from the 2.5 yard line.  Enter Air Mahomes...

Touchdown, Chiefs; it's 24-17.  Ball was slipping out of Mahomes' hands, but it looks like he crossed the plane.

6:35 PM: Dolphins at 49ers

The scoreless second half streak is over! As is the 49ers containing the Dolphins' deep ball, because Tyreek Hill is too good to be bottled up for four quarters.

That's not a play the 49ers have in their book right now!  Dolphins cut things back down to a 23-17 49ers lead.

6:48 PM: Seahawks at Rams

Vince Verhei: Rams go for it on fourth-and-2 near midfield. Wolford fakes to the right and takes off to the left. I think it was a rollout with a passing option, but the first down was so open he never considered throwing . First down in Seattle territory, four and a half minutes to go.

That keeps the Rams' drive alive, and Cam Akers punches it in a few plays later.

That's a 23-20 Rams lead with just 2:56 left.  Signs of life for Los Angeles, and Seattle is in trouble.

6:56 PM: Bengals at Chiefs

Travis Kelce doesn't get stripped much in the middle of the field, but he was today -- and it's a costly one.

The Bengals march right back down the field, Evans finds the end zone, and it's 27-24 Bengals with 8:54 left.  Nailbiter, here!

6:59 PM: Chargers at Raiders

The Chargers' offense had been kept out of the end zone.  Justin Herbert decides no, they don't like that.  This is 4th and 12!

Chargers are now within one touchdown as this wild afternoon slate draws to a conclusion.

7:02 PM: Seahawks at Rams

Pete Carroll looked like he was setting up for a game-tying field goal, but a big strike from Geno to Marquise Goodwin set up a first and goal and perhaps changed the calculus.  On 1st and goal from the eight...

And now the Seahawks climb back on top, 27-23, with 36 seconds left.

7:14 PM: Seahawks at Rams

That was a great horrible win for Seattle. Never should have been close against that USFL roster. But it was, and they got the kind of win they haven’t had in a long time (they didn’t have a single fourth-quarter comeback in all of 2021 either), against a team that always gives them headaches, to move into a tie with Washington (7-5 for Seattle, 7-5-1 for the Commanders) for the last wild-card spot.

7:14 PM: Dolphins at 49ers

We finally have a game here, I think.  The Dolphins managed to hold the 49ers to a field goal, but that still made it a two-score game with two minutes left.  No more time for quick throws, got to go deep, which means your line needs to block, and here comes Nick Bosa...


7:21 PM: Chiefs at Bengals

Also ballgame? The Cincinnati upset here!  Burrow hit Tee Higgins on 3rd-and-11 to keep the ball and let the clock drain.

That's a 27-24 win for Cinci, and a huge boon to their playoff hopes.  Hardest remaining schedule, hardest remaining schmedule.

7:34 PM: Chargers at Raiders

Justin Herbert gets the ball, needing to march 90 yards in 22 seconds.  The first play is some razzle-dazzle, a flip back to Ekeler to pick up an additional 15 yards and get out of bounds!  The second easily tackled in bounds, and the game ends.  Sad trombone noise.

And on that sour note, we're done!  We're headed into the discord for tonight's game, and also to recover from one of the better days of football in a long while.  Wow.


28 comments, Last at 06 Dec 2022, 12:10pm

#1 by BlueStarDude // Dec 04, 2022 - 10:06am

Yeah, what a change from last Sunday, so much better this week. For the early slate I'll be DVR-hopping between Vikings v Jets (two teams I’ve historically rooted for under neutral circumstances—the Vikings more so, but not today because of the outside shot Dallas has at climbing to a #1 seed) and Giants v Commies (mandatory divisional-interest watching).

Besides that, go Titans!

Points: 0

#2 by Paul R // Dec 04, 2022 - 1:36pm

NYJ vs MIN: Cousins and White not exactly putting on a passing clinic so far. Lots of passes fired into tight coverage behind the receivers. Many passes also bouncing off receivers' hands, so not entirely the QBs fault. Cousins is 0/5 at this point.

Points: 0

#3 by Joey-Harringto… // Dec 04, 2022 - 2:17pm

JAX vs DET: Trevor Lawerence is really good, but his receivers are not.   Kirk (his only good WR) has been bracketed, Marvin Jones can't get open, and Zay Jones has already dropped three dimes that hit him in the hands.

Points: 0

#5 by Joey-Harringto… // Dec 04, 2022 - 2:40pm

Yikes, now Lawrence goes down awkwardly while being sacked, and looks to have a serious knee injury.

Points: 0

#4 by mehnsrea // Dec 04, 2022 - 2:25pm

Eventually DVOA has to reflect the fact that the Ravens are bad offensive team. Right? 

Points: 2

#7 by Ben // Dec 04, 2022 - 3:55pm

Huntley just ran a pretty good fourth quarter comeback drive at least. 

Points: 0

#6 by Ben // Dec 04, 2022 - 3:06pm

I was curious if the Browns would have to think about bringing in Brissett if their offense kept going no where against the Texans.

A Cleveland punt return touchdown and a fumble recovery in the Texans end zone makes that question moot, I guess. 

Points: 0

#8 by Paul R // Dec 04, 2022 - 3:56pm

I haven't been watching the game, only following the box score, but the Browns/Texans matchup looks like a real wowser. Nothing but safeties, punt-return TDs, interception-return TDs... 

When Aaron puts those numbers in the DVOA computer, it's going to trigger the antivirus.

Points: 5

#9 by Cythammer // Dec 04, 2022 - 4:25pm

The disparity between the Vikings DVOA and their record will only grow after that game. The Jets were better statistically.

Points: 6

#10 by Paul R // Dec 04, 2022 - 5:33pm

The Jets offense will likely take a hit due to the lack of production in the red zone/goal-to-go.

Points: 0

#11 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 04, 2022 - 6:42pm

Purdy is 12-for-19 for 116 yards, about 80 of it YAC, with two touchdowns and the deep INT.

All SF QBs have that box score.

Points: 2

#12 by Raiderfan // Dec 04, 2022 - 8:03pm

“Davante Adams with the score, and teh Chargers extend their lead to 24-13!”

Man, you guys can NEVER give the Raiders credit, can you?

Points: 1

#13 by LionInAZ // Dec 04, 2022 - 9:49pm

Credit has to be earned when Josh McDaniels is your coach.

Points: 2

#14 by LionInAZ // Dec 04, 2022 - 9:51pm

I had hoped to learn here how the Jets blew a 1st and goal from the Vikings 4 yd line down 5. Sorely disappointed at the gap in commenting there.

Points: 0

#15 by Moridin // Dec 04, 2022 - 10:16pm

well, it's not exact, but it was so nice, they tried it twice.

I can't believe the Vikings D gave up such huge plays over the center in the 2nd half, but managed to block the Jets from getting into the EZ (sans the 1 that finally got in). When the Vikings followed the big 4th & goal stop with a very quick 3 and out, felt sure they would finally give up a GWD.

Points: 0

#21 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 05, 2022 - 9:15am

They've done it to every AFC East team except New England -- they let New England go up and down the field in the first half instead.

\and they have Patricia and Judge calling plays

Points: 0

#17 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Dec 04, 2022 - 11:03pm

The old Audibles had a lot of eyes on screens and they typically watched a small subset of games each.  The current format is one guy trying to cover everything.  Bryan does a great job of summarizing the things he sees, but (a) it's harder to see everything notable and (b) it's harder to put the things you do see in context when you're channel surfing and haven't watched the overall flow of the game.

Points: 1

#22 by AnonyRuss // Dec 05, 2022 - 10:43am

And that's why I much prefer the old format over this one. I used to love reading the conversations about games I wouldn't/couldn't watch but now it's all just one perspective and very shallow gloss. 

Points: 2

#24 by bravehoptoad // Dec 05, 2022 - 1:04pm

I think everyone prefers the old format over this one. I recall the writers saying how labor-intensive it was, and it relied heavily on e-mail, which these days is a pretty old technology. I can imagine the writers getting tired of being tied down to e-mail every Sunday.

I wish they'd find a better way to include all the writers and thread the content by game. 

Points: 3

#25 by Ryan // Dec 05, 2022 - 1:18pm

Step one might be to stop trying to make the Discord thing happen. I tried it for one five-minute stretch and I realized I was not watching football anymore. 


Bring back old Audibles

Points: 1

#26 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Dec 05, 2022 - 1:32pm

If the old Audibles is uneconomic, I'll take the current format over nothing.  Or over Discord.

Points: 2

#16 by Tutenkharnage // Dec 04, 2022 - 10:23pm

It's come to my attention that the Chiefs are 1-5 against the Bills and Bengals the last two seasons and are about a dozen seconds away from being 0-5.

(And yes, I meant 0-5. If it doesn't make sense to you yet, just give it a moment.)

Points: 0

#18 by Spanosian Magn… // Dec 04, 2022 - 11:15pm

The wheels are off for Indy in Dallas. And the doors. And the engine. Even the cupholders.

This game was 21-19 at the start of the 4th quarter.

Points: 1

#19 by Spanosian Magn… // Dec 04, 2022 - 11:26pm

Dallas Cowboys 3rd Quarter Points: 0

Dallas Cowboys 4th Quarter Points: 33

Points: 0

#20 by Stendhal1 // Dec 04, 2022 - 11:36pm

Scorigami, 54-19

Points: 2

#23 by AnonyRuss // Dec 05, 2022 - 10:46am

"Vince Verhei: Russell Wilson completes a pass short of the stick on third down and the Broncos will punt. He’s now 11-of-14 for 118 yards, which sounds great … but only four of those completions have been for first downs! I read this week that Denver was convinced they were getting Aaron Rodgers and so designed an offense for him, then when that fell through they settled for Wilson and just stuck him into the same offense and expected it to work. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a plausible explanation for what has gone wrong in Denver this year."


I'd believe that explanation more if Denver hadn't given him the monster contract before he played a single down. 

Points: 0

#27 by reddwarf // Dec 05, 2022 - 4:47pm

Yeah, and the storyline since the day after the trade has been how much influence Wilson has had in designing the playbook, and how he wanted a Rodgers style-playbook.  It does LOOK like the GB offense in many ways, but I don't think you can say they just stuck him in there because they couldn't be bothered after losing out on Rodgers and said forget about it.  It was very deliberately designed by Hackett, Wilson, and the staff to be GB-like.  

What is inexplicable to me is there absolutely stubborn determination to stick with it when it's obviously not working.  I mean, no matter how much Wilson thinks (with some justification) that's he's been screwed on MVP votes over the years he cannot possibly think he's getting more respect NOW than before!  There were a few changes yesterday at least, but...9 points.  And for all the Hackett-hate in Denver, the team has been scoring less with Kubiak calling plays than they did with him.

This season has felt like nothing EXCEPT gut-punches.  At least the announcers yesterday pointed out Bronco injuries along with the opponents (BAD day for Baltimore yesterday, and not just Jackson).  One offensive starter has played every game for Denver--and he's one of the weakest links when they are at full strength.  They get Jeudy back (some, he did not play starter snaps) and lose Sutton.  Someone at Mile High Huddle was using this site's adjusted games lost over the last decade to note how the trend line has completely changed after they changed strength and fitness coaches in 2017/2018--went from fewer injuries than average to more than average and it's gotten worse every season.  No idea how that coach and staff have survived 2 coaching and one GM change, but speaking of people who need to go...

This  3-7 in one score games.  5 losses after having halftime leads.  4 defensive collapses in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter to turn wins into losses (yes, this season is mostly about how bad the offense is, but no matter how good the defense has played in general there is something flat out WRONG about Ejiro and the D when they are trying to cling on to late leads, and it's more than just being tired--which is mostly a myth/excuse anyways).

Points: 0

#28 by scraps // Dec 06, 2022 - 12:10pm

With Seattle having basically no running backs, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf had 17 catches, with both of them having 120+ yards.

Points: 0

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