An Eagles letdown in Seattle may cause some to question whether Philadelphia truly is ready to make a run at its first Super Bowl title. Otherwise it doesn't change the fact that the Eagles are headed for the playoffs as NFC frontrunners, likely to have at least a first-round bye.
Where the Seahawks stand, however, is anyone's guess. At 8-4, they're well-situated in the playoff race. Yet without most of the Legion of Boom, and with Russell Wilson getting little help on offense, it would seem like their margin of error from week to week is too thin to support a long playoff run.
It's still impossible to discount the Seahawks, given their playoff experience in recent years. It would take some doing on their part, as well as a few lucky breaks, to ensure home playoff games this season. It's still entirely possible. Seattle trails the Rams by only a game, with the second of their two meetings to go down in Week 15, in Seattle.
The Seahawks aren't the only team with recent championship experience floating around the margins of the playoff picture. The Ravens are winners of four of their past five and are the only NFL team to have posted three shutouts this season. It may be a long shot for them to catch the Steelers for the AFC North title, but the nucleus of the Ravens -- Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh, Terrell Suggs -- is still around from the 2012 team that made a championship run from the wild card round. Baltimore suffered a setback on Sunday, despite the win, with cornerback Jimmy Smith being lost for the season with an Achilles injury. Perhaps that will be too much for the defense to play at as high a level. If the Ravens are able to compensate for his loss, they should be considered every bit a factor in a conference that looks wide open once you get past New England and Pittsburgh.
Finally, there's the Chargers, a team that has benefitted from the Chiefs falling off the face of the Earth. Can Los Angeles really be thought of as a contender when it only just reached .500 on Sunday? A more optimistic way of looking at it is that the Chargers have won six of their past eight. Three of those wins were against teams that are presently, like the Chargers, 6-6. The problem is, the Bolts are 0-4 this season against teams that currently have a winning record. So while the Chargers are capable dispatching any middling team they face, it doesn't appear like they will be able to transcend that middling label themselves this season.
That is an encouraging start for Anthony Lynn. How much will that mean when Philip Rivers' window is closing? If the Chargers are able to make the playoffs in 2017, should they already go into win-now mode and chase a championship with splashy offseason moves to load up for 2018? All of this should be considerably clearer in four weeks.
McAdoo Key Card Watch
Ben McAdoo: "I'm here as long as my key card works." #Giants- Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) December 4, 2017
Reports circulated early Sunday that coach Ben McAdoo could be fired if New York lost to Oakland. Sure enough, the Giants did lose, and now restless Giants fans are hoping that Big Blue will soon have a new head coach. If that comes to pass, it would be the shortest Giants coaching tenure since the 1920s. It would also be remarkable since the Giants went to the postseason in McAdoo's first season. That's the power of the Manning family, apparently.
*Update: The Giants fired McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese on Monday.
Gronk Is Very Sorry, Should Still Be Suspended
What the hell are you doing, Gronk? pic.twitter.com/mZTgJA62eU- Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 3, 2017
Rob Gronkowski committed the most egregious late hit of the day, with the flying elbow onto the helmet of Bills corner Tre'Davious White, which put him in the concussion protocol. The resulting injury shouldn't necessarily dictate the punishment when the hit was clearly dirty even before White's condition was fully known. The officials already took heat for Gronk not being ejected for the hit.
Gronk apologized in comments to the media after the game, and Bill Belichick described the hit as "bulls---." That's nice contrition and condemnation, and good PR damage control, but it's not likely to spare Gronk from a suspension of at least a game, nor should it. If it's a one-game suspension, Gronk will only miss the rematch against the Dolphins, whom the Pats had little issue dispatching in Week 12. Should he get multiple games, Gronk will miss the game against Pittsburgh, which at this point looks like it may determine who gets home-field advantage in the AFC.
Lynch Finds New Ways To Avoid Interviews
Marshawn had a notice that he had to provide a urine sample. He got out of interviews by saying had to to go give his "ding ding sauce"- Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) December 4, 2017
After years of controversy about the subject, media members have learned to expect Marshawn Lynch's reticence in postgame. But that's the beauty of Marshawn: Even when he doesn't talk to you -- after his best performance as a Raider, with 101 yards -- he leaves you with great quotes.
When the Dolphins dealt Jay Ajayi to the Eagles midseason, they didn't have a running back who had cracked 100 yards in a game this year. Drake was a marvel against the Broncos, getting almost all of his yards after initial contract and forcing seven missed tackles. His 120 yards were highlighted by a 42-yard score at the end of the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
Seemingly every week, the Browns are reminded of great players they missed on in the draft. That's one of the many curses of perennially being at the top -- lots of talent to miss on. This week, it was Bosa, who the Browns could have had if they stayed at the No. 2 pick of the 2016 draft. Instead, Cleveland traded down, Philadelphia got Carson Wentz and the Chargers got Bosa. On Sunday, it was Bosa who forced a late fumble to stymie a Browns comeback bid.
The Cleveland Browns passed on Joey Bosa in 2016. Today, he ended them. pic.twitter.com/fNTccM5ziE- Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 3, 2017
At the start of the 2017 season, if you knew it came down to Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater, it would seem like a no-brainer to favor Teddy. Yet Keenum has played well enough to eliminate discussion. He was solid again on Sunday in a big Vikings win over the Falcons. He completed more than 80 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns. Between the hashmarks, he was 18-of-18, which is a bit of arcane history. None of his three passes of more than 20 yards connected, yet this has remained a winning formula for the Vikings. With the Eagles' misstep in Seattle, some may start talking up the Vikings as the first team to play a Super Bowl in its own stadium.
His star has continued to rise as the Saints are being recognized as Super Bowl contenders. On Sunday, Kamara became just the third rookie in NFL history to post 600 rushing and 600 receiving yards in the same season. Fittingly, he posted more than 60 yards rushing and receiving in the pivotal win over NFC South rival Carolina. His two touchdowns came on the ground, the latter of which put New Orleans up 28-14 in the third. The Panthers couldn't make it much closer.
Yeah, yeah, Jimmy Garoppolo had a fine first start as a 49er, and even guided them to a less-than-flashy victory. Ultimately, the team and its fans care more about the future of the quarterback position than a veteran kicker. Still, this was a heartening revenge game for a player who gave 11 seasons to the Bears only to be jettisoned when it made financial sense. Sure, the longest of Gould's five field goals on Sunday was 35 yards, but the last still came in the final seconds to secure the win.
The Chiefs got better results out of their offense on Sunday after Matt Nagy assumed play-calling duties. The problem is, the team's secondary was a mess. The newly signed Darrelle Revis only lasted a half against his old team, though Andy Reid said that was out of concern for limiting his snaps early on. Nelson gave up 143 yards on eight targets. Marcus Peters was also a mess, throwing a penalty flag into the crowd late in the fourth, only to disappear from the field without cause. He later returned wearing no socks, which doesn't seem like a condition to play in.
The loss to the Titans was closer than the 24-13 final would indicate. Houston had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth before Tom Savage was intercepted in the end zone. Of course, the Houston quarterback wouldn't have had to force the ball the way he had to if the Texans kicker hadn't missed two field goals earlier in the game, one of which was from a staggering 28 yards.
Denver is past the point of having any hope to contend in 2017, and its quarterback situation is accordingly dismal. The team is still waiting to get an extended look at Paxton Lynch. In the meantime, the Broncos definitely know that neither Siemian nor Brock Osweiler is the answer. In the blowout loss to the Dolphins, Siemian looked like he belongs as a backup, at best. He completed fewer than half of his passes and tossed three picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown late in the second quarter to put Denver down big going into the locker room.
Like Nelson, he's a bit of a scapegoat for a poor collective effort from the Colts secondary. After all, it takes an array of miscues to make Blake Bortles look good. And yet they did, to the tune of 26 of 35 passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Butler may not be responsible for that many of the completions, but he was awful at limiting YAC by missing tackles after the catch.
It's unfortunate that he has as tenuous a grip on his starting job as he does. Taylor has done enough to earn it, yet the Bills are always looking for opportunities to replace him. Sunday's loss to the Patriots was bad enough that Sean McDermott might have pulled him even without the knee injury for which he had to be carted off. Taylor believes he avoided a serious injury, though it's certainly possible that Buffalo uses this poor outing as an excuse to give Nathan Peterman another shot at starting after his disastrous debut.
The week in celebrations
With the Steelers inactive until Monday night and the Eagles having slightly less to celebrate than most weeks, it was a relatively quiet Sunday in end zone innovation. There were still a few standouts in Week 13.
riiide it, my poonnnyyyy pic.twitter.com/BUGe8oI2Nt- Grant Goldberg (@GrantGoldberg) December 3, 2017
For instance, there was Dolphins tight end Julius Thomas scoring against his old team in Denver, then proceeding to ride the football like a bucking bronco. It looked a little sensual, so naturally someone on Twitter turned to that old remixing chestnut, "Pony."
As for group displays, the Jaguars did a good job recreating the layout of a free throw after Leonard Fournette found the end zone. It's not the first basketball shot celebration of the season. The Falcons did one where a player served as the basket. Still, there's plenty of room for variation on a broad theme.