Week 13 in the NFL was a wild one, with a last-second win for the Raiders, an explosive first half for the Browns and arguably the biggest upset of the NFL season in Seattle.
And as the NFL enters its final month of the regular season, playoff races across the league are tightening, and some teams are rising while others are fading away.
Still, it wouldn’t be 2020 without a few quirks along the way. Case in point, there are still three games left to play in the week, with a Monday night doubleheader and a Tuesday game between the Cowboys and the Ravens scheduled.
In the meantime, here are the Week 13 winners and losers.
New York Giants
This isn’t an overstatement: the Giants toppling the Seahawks 17-12 on the road with backup quarterback Colt McCoy starting may be the biggest upset of the year. And it also may have set up the Giants, with rookie coach Joe Judge at the helm, as the favorites to take the NFC East. The Seahawks entered Sunday ranked third in the NFL in scoring, averaging 31 points per game.
New York has allowed 46 points in the last three games and its defense has suddenly become a strength of this team. In particular, the pass rush has stepped up. Defensive end Leonard Williams, a castoff from the crosstown-rival Jets, had 2 1/2 sacks and five quarterback hits against Seattle. The Giants have 12 sacks over their last four games, all of which they have won. While the remainder of the schedule isn’t necessarily favorable, the Giants have real momentum and have a chance to get a full game ahead of Washington, which plays the 11-0 Steelers on Monday night.
The Tank for Trevor
Yes, the Jets lost 31-28 to the Raiders, but the team overall is a big winner here. With the loss, they maintained their grip on the No. 1 overall selection in the draft, putting them in position to potentially draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (or Ohio State’s Justin Fields). New York is likely set to embark on a franchise-altering rebuild, with head coach Adam Gase and his assistants very likely to be out of work.
Securing the right to draft Lawrence could be the first step in creating stability at the sport’s most important position. But Lawrence, or whomever the Jets draft, won’t solve all the issues facing this team. Just look at the way New York lost this game, holding a four-point lead with 13 seconds left to play on a third-and-10.
Keep in mind that Henry Ruggs III’s game-winning 46-yard touchdown was one play after the Jets again got beat deep but Raiders quarterback Dereck Carr missed an open Nelson Agholor. Every team wants to win games, but a meaningless victory would have hurt the team’s long-term outlook far more than this loss did to preserve it.
Taysom Hill on third down
Not only did the Saints become the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff berth with a 21-16 victory against the Falcons, backup quarterback Taysom Hill posted his best career game as a passer. Hill finished the game 27-of-37 for 232 yards and two passingi touchdowns – the first of his NFL career – and also added 83 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Though Hill’s production slowed in the second half, he was instrumental in helping New Orleans build a big enough lead in the first that Atlanta could not overcome, despite a late rally. And Hill was most impressive before intermission at extending drives. In the first half, Hill completed eight of nine his third-down passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Among the completions were conversions on third-and-13 and third-and-17. Overall, Hill was 11-of-13 for 114 yards with the score on third down, and the Saints converted eight of 17 tries. Most important, New Orleans is now 3-0 with Hill as the starter while Drew Brees (ribs) is on the mend.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield posted the best first half a Cleveland quarterback has had since Hall of Fame passer Otto Graham did so in … December 1951. In the first half of Cleveland’s 41-35 demolition of the Titans, Mayfield had as many touchdowns (four) as he had incompletions. His performance in the second half was more pedestrian, but Cleveland didn’t need him to be anything else. Mayfield finished the game 25-of-33 for 334 yards with the four scores.
While Mayfield at times struggles in cycling through his various reads, Sunday’s performance showed how he has honed some more subtle aspects of his game. In particular, he continues to draw teams offside with hard counts and has fooled defenses with his play-action fakes and misdirection plays. The 75-yard touchdown to receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was a mastery in freezing the defensive front – and free safety Amani Hooker – to create that open space. Mayfield hasn’t thrown an interception in the last five games and Cleveland secured its first winning season since 2007. The playoffs look to be next.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and even coach Doug Pederson, typically bear most of the blame for Philadelphia’s utter incompetence this…
Read More:Giants pull off upset of the season