NFL Week 13: Biggest Takeaways from Sunday's Games
In Week 13, a star wide receiver hosted his former team and toasted its secondary, one club may have lost its quarterback for a short period and another squad can put a lid on buzz about shutting down its star signal-caller for the season. Late Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers received unfortunate news about Jimmy Garoppolo's foot injury.
Since the Tennessee Titans traded wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles, he's acknowledged hurt feelings from the fanbase. "Oh, they hate me," Brown said of Titans fans via NFL Network's James Palmer.
Titans fans probably hate Brown a lot more after he torched their team. On Sunday, the Pro Bowl wide receiver had his best performance since he hauled in six passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens had to gut out a tight win over the Denver Broncos with Tyler Huntley under center. Is it time for the Ravens to panic if he has to start in multiple games for Lamar Jackson?
The Minnesota Vikings have distanced themselves from the competition in the NFC North, but the Detroit Lions' win prevented the division-leading 10-2 squad from clinching a playoff berth, and the Green Bay Packers pulled out a victory that should keep Aaron Rodgers on the field for the coming the weeks.
The 49ers will have to shut down Garoppolo, though. Early in Sunday's game with the Miami Dolphins, he broke his foot, which will sideline him for the rest of the season. We'll delve into what that means for San Francisco's playoff outlook and all the other major takeaways from Week 13 games.
What Does Jimmy G's Injury Mean to 49ers, NFL Playoff Picture?
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only threw four passes before the team had to cart him to the locker room after he took a third-down sack.
Brock Purdy took over for Garoppolo, engineered a couple of touchdown drives and threw an interception, completing 25 out of 37 passes for 210 yards. Ultimately, he led the 49ers to a quality 33-17 win over a red-hot Miami Dolphins team that entered the matchup on a five-game win streak.
The 49ers have to adjust for the long term without Garoppolo, likely leaning on Purdy. Remember, San Francisco lost second-year signal-caller Trey Lance in Week 2, who underwent surgery to fix a fractured ankle.
Though Purdy looked sharp during the preseason, which allowed him to beat out Nate Sudfeld for the third-string job, he's an inexperienced rookie who nearly went undrafted, carrying the Mr. Irrelevant label that goes to the final draft pick in each class.
On a positive note, Purdy has arguably the best support a young signal-caller can ask for on both sides of the ball.
Purdy will play with three pass-catchers with an All-Pro season on their résumés in running back Christian McCaffrey, tight end George Kittle and wideout Deebo Samuel. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has come along well in his third season, hauling in 56 passes for 698 yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, San Francisco came into Week 13 with the fewest points and yards allowed.
Typically, head coach Kyle Shanahan has emphasized the run game. Even though running back Elijah Mitchell is on injured reserve with a knee injury, McCaffrey and undrafted rookie Jordan Mason will likely handle the majority rushing workload for an offense that ranked 10th in total carries before Sunday’s games. Rookie third-rounder Tyrion Davis-Price, Tevin Coleman, who’s on the practice squad, and Samuel could also handle some touches on the ground.
In other words, Purdy doesn't have to carry the 49ers to the finish line. He needs to play within himself, get the ball to his playmakers and avoid costly turnovers, which will take some pressure off a stout defense. With that formula, San Francisco can get to 10 wins and clinch a playoff spot.
With that said, San Francisco has lost its Super Bowl buzz. If the 49ers reach the playoffs, Purdy will have to make several plays in the passing game to match up with some of the better teams across the league, which is a lot to ask of a player who will likely start in his first regular-season game next week.
Packers' Win Postpones Thoughts About Shutting Down Aaron Rodgers
Apparently, Aaron Rodgers still owns the Chicago Bears. Despite the Green Bay Packers falling behind 16-3 in the second quarter, they tightened up on defense and scored 18 unanswered points in the final quarter to win 28-19.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Packers and Rodgers will work together on whether to insert quarterback Jordan Love into the lineup if the team mathematically falls out of the postseason race.
Since October, Rodgers has played with a fractured right thumb; he also suffered a rib injury and exited early in a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Even with a banged-up body, Rodgers continues to gut it out with his team and for good reason. The Packers still have an outside chance to make the playoffs, and he can use the remaining weeks of the season to strengthen his rapport with rookie second-rounder Christian Watson, who's hauled in 15 passes for 313 yards and seven touchdowns since Week 10.
On Sunday, the Packers improved to 5-8 heading into a bye week. Green Bay will face the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15, and the club still has two more home games against NFC North division opponents in the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. The Packers still have something to play for in the final two months of the campaign.
A.J. Brown Shows Tennessee Titans What They're Missing in Revenge Game
The Tennessee Titans couldn't come to a middle-ground agreement with A.J. Brown's agent on a new contract, so the club traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles on the first day of the 2022 draft. Following the trade, Tennessee selected wideout Treylon Burks with the 18th overall pick.
Brown made sure to remind the Titans what they had in him. He caught eight passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-10 win over his former team. Burks caught a 25-yard touchdown pass, but he took an illegal hit in the end zone and went to the locker room with a concussion.
We saw the difference between a Super Bowl contender and a playoff team that will likely fall short of the title game.
Tennessee and Philadelphia came into this matchup with run-heavy offensive attacks, ranking within the top nine in rush attempts, but neither club ran for more than 87 yards. The Eagles averaged 2.8 yards per carry (with two touchdowns) and turned to the passing attack to break the game open with Brown on the perimeter.
Though Burks left the Week 13 contest early, he's still a rookie in his beginning stages of growth. The Arkansas product caught his first touchdown pass on Sunday. Eventually, Burks could develop into a lead receiver, but the Eagles have the real deal right now, which makes them tough to beat, even when they don't run the ball effectively.
Lamar Jackson Is Injured, Tyler Huntley Equipped to Keep Ravens' Playoff Hopes Alive
Baltimore Ravens fans took a deep breath as Lamar Jackson went into the blue tent and then the locker room after Jonathon Cooper sacked him late in the first quarter. Jackson didn't return, which thrust Tyler Huntley into the starting role.
After sputtering for much of the game, Huntley led the Ravens downfield on a game-winning drive, scoring on a two-yard run with just 28 seconds left in regulation, propelling Baltimore to a 10-9 win over the Denver Broncos.
After the game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh suggested that Jackson's injury won't sideline him for the season but a matter of "days or weeks." Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Ravens signal-caller sprained his knee, but he'll get an MRI and other exams to determine the prognosis.
In the meantime, Baltimore will have to lean on Huntley, who started four games in Jackson's absence last year, throwing for 1,084 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions with a 64.9 percent completion rate in seven outings.
Huntley isn't as polished or established as the former league MVP, but he can mimic the All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl quarterback with his rushing ability. On Sunday, the former ran for 41 yards with the game-winning score in addition to throwing for 187 yards and an interception.
Keep in mind that Jackson has averaged 198.7 passing yards over his last three outings, completed less than 55 percent of his passes in two of those contests and thrown for two touchdowns and an interception in that stretch. With the way he's played in the past few weeks, the Ravens won't see a tremendous drop-off between him and Huntley in the passing game.
Because of the Ravens' run-heavy offense, Huntley can lead Baltimore to some wins with his mobility and timely passes to tight end Mark Andrews and wideout Demarcus Robinson.
Jets, Mike White Squander Opportunities to Beat Vikings
The New York Jets had opportunities to beat the Minnesota Vikings, but they settled for far too many field goals, scoring one touchdown on six red-zone drives. Mike White started and ended the game with interceptions.
White went up against the league's most generous pass defense in yards allowed and piled up a ton of yards (369), but he failed to throw a touchdown pass. The Jets signal-caller crossed the goal line on a one-yard push in the fourth quarter that went under review after head coach Robert Saleh challenged the initial call of a turnover on downs.
Otherwise, the Jets offense left a lot of meat on the bone against a mediocre defensive unit that ranked 21st in points allowed.
On a positive note, Gang Green showed some resilience, battling back from a 17-point first-half deficit to cut the Vikings' lead down to five points in the final quarter. But in the end, the Jets couldn't hang with the better squad.
Wideout Justin Jefferson hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass to put pressure on the Jets late in the game, and White couldn't complete the comeback.
While the Jets shouldn't fret over a 27-22 loss to the Vikings, they must be able to beat playoff-caliber or surging teams down the stretch to make the playoffs. New York will face the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins in four of its five remaining games. Don't sleep on the Lions, who have won four of their last five contests.
The Jets have wins over the Bills and Dolphins (without Tua Tagovailoa), so those teams will look to avoid a season series sweep. Gang Green has to buckle down against stiff competition.
Giants Look Ahead to Biggest Game of Their Season Following Tie with Commanders
The New York Giants started 6-1 and then waned in the middle of the season, which has set them up for a tough stretch with three of their remaining five games against NFC East opponents.
The Giants had a chance to gain some separation from the Washington Commanders, but they finished in a 20-20 tie. Kicker Graham Gano missed a 58-yard field goal to beat Washington in overtime.
Though the Giants halted the Commanders' three-game win streak, they're still in a tough spot with the Philadelphia Eagles next on their schedule and Washington headed into a bye week.
If Big Blue loses to Philadelphia, it drops to 7-5-1, which matches Washington's record, setting up another big matchup between the two teams in Week 15. Commanders Pro Bowl edge-rusher Chase Young is set to return for that game, per ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
In the NFC East, every team has at least seven wins, and the Eagles (11-1) have the best record leaguewide. With three of their last four games on the road against Washington, the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia, the Giants could do themselves a big favor in a playoff push with an upset win over the Eagles next week.
Raiders' Stars Have Aligned in Three-Game Win Streak
The Las Vegas Raiders have won three consecutive games, and their key playmakers have led the way during that streak.
Josh Jacobs has rushed for at least 109 yards in each of his last three outings and has recorded 613 total yards and three touchdowns in that span. Davante Adams has racked up 141-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns in two of the previous three weeks.
Maxx Crosby has recorded 3.5 sacks since Week 11. On Sunday, against the Los Angeles Chargers, Chandler Jones had his best game of the season.
Going into Week 13, Jones had just a half-sack with 10 pressures; he finished with three sacks as a major contributor to the Raiders' 27-20 win over the Chargers Sunday.
By the way, Derek Carr has played significantly better than he did in his Week 1 performance against the Chargers, in which he threw for two touchdowns, three interceptions and completed 59.5 percent of his passes.
Raiders fans' jeers to fire head coach Josh McDaniels have simmered down as the Raiders heat up in a push to get back to the .500 mark before Christmas.
On a short turnaround, in a Thursday night game, the Silver and Black will face the injury-riddled Los Angeles Rams, who have lost six consecutive contests.
Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.