B/R NFL Staff's Biggest Winners and Losers of Week 13

NFL StaffContributor IDecember 7, 2020

B/R NFL Staff's Biggest Winners and Losers of Week 13

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    What a wild and wacky slate the NFL experienced in Week 13. 

    The New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars did everything in their power to lose the right to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft.

    Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams came to his senses and made sure to give the Las Vegas Raiders exactly what they needed by leaving first-round wide receiver Henry Ruggs III one-on-one with undrafted free-agent cornerback Lamar Jackson just to make sure the tank job continued, or something along those lines. The Jaguars, meanwhile, took the Minnesota Vikings to overtime only to fall for the 11th time this season. 

    The Cleveland Browns scored a franchise-record 38 first-half points before nearly squandering a massive second-half lead against the Tennessee Titans. Still, the Browns...yes, the Browns...are 9-3 after an unexpected victory in Tennessee. 

    Chicago's free-fall continued with the Bears' sixth straight loss. 

    Bleacher Report's team of NFL writers—Brad Gagnon, Brent Sobleski, Gary Davenport and Kalyn Kahler—identified their winners and losers from professional football's latest unpredictable action. 

Brad Gagnon

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Winner: New Orleans Saints

    New Orleans is now 8-0 in its last eight games without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, and the defense deserves the lion's share of the credit for that. Dennis Allen's unit seems to get better every year in November and December, and that's again the case in 2020.

    After allowing the Atlanta Falcons to score just one touchdown on four red-zone possessions in a 21-16 victory sans Brees, the Saints have surrendered just 8.8 points per game since Week 9.  

    The Saints have given up touchdowns on just two of their last 59 defensive series. They're deep, balanced, opportunistic and peaking at just the right time.              

            

    Loser: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz

    Duh. In the Philadelphia Eagles' biggest game of the 2020 season thus far, the team's $32-million-a-year franchise quarterback was benched in favor of rookie second-round pick Jalen Hurts. While the Oklahoma product didn't perform much better than Wentz, he did at least complete a deep touchdown pass and connected with rookie first-rounder Jalen Reagor on another deep ball.

    Wentz, meanwhile, completed just six passes on 15 attempts (sacked four times as well) as the Eagles were again defeated quite easily by the Green Bay Packers. Head coach Doug Pederson wouldn't name a starter after Sunday's 30-16 loss, either. 

    I don't think I've ever seen an elite quarterback fall off a cliff as abruptly as the 27-year-old Wentz, who is pretty much locked in at a rate of $34.7 million next season. Oops.

Brent Sobleski

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Winner: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson

    Move over, Justin Herbert, because you have company for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. 

    In his last two games against quality opponents, Herbert completed less than 60 percent of his passes with a one-to-three touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

    Jefferson continues to chug along with one of the best seasons we've ever season from a rookie wide receiver. With Sunday's 121-yard performance in the Vikings' 27-24 overtime victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, this year's 22nd overall draft pick has the second-most receiving yards (1,039) through a player's first 12 games. 

    Only Odell Beckham Jr.'s 2014 campaign still trumps Jefferson's. It's never a bad thing when you're ahead of Anquan Boldin and Randy freakin' Moss in a rookie-year stat. 

    Herbert has been great, but he's come back to earth as of late. Jefferson has been a consistent receiving threat all season. This could very well be a situation in which co-rookies of the year are named. 

       

    Loser: Los Angeles Chargers special teams

    Coaches love to wax poetic about special teams and how it's a third of the game. The Los Angeles Chargers staff may feel this way, but it doesn't have an inkling of how to properly prepare its players when they're not on offense or defense. 

    According to Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz, the Chargers entered Sunday's contest against the New England Patriots with the worst special teams in the league per DVOA, and not by a close margin. The Chargers imploded in this phase of the game during their 45-0 loss. 

    Los Angeles missed a field goal, allowed a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown, failed to properly protect a field-goal attempt that resulted in a block and another Patriots touchdown and had the wrong number of players on the field twice during New England punts. 

    A performance this bad, especially with how poorly Los Angeles continues to play on special teams overall, is a fireable offense.

    At 3-9 after coming off a 5-11 season, change seems inevitable.

Gary Davenport

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    Winner: Cleveland Browns

    The second half of Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans wasn't pretty for the Browns, but it didn't need to be after Cleveland opened a can with the most points in the first half of a game in franchise history.

    That first half paved the way for Cleveland's first winning season since 2007, but it did more than that. Baker Mayfield showed he can move the ball through the air, passing for 334 yards and four touchdowns. The Browns showed they can beat a quality team—on the road, no less.

    Is Cleveland a threat to the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers? Not with that defense. But the Browns are on track to make the postseason for the first time since 2002. Two more wins over the last four games would give the Browns their best season since re-joining the NFL in 1999.

    The Browns are a legitimate playoff team, and that's not a sentence that gets typed often.     

                    

    Loser: New York Jets

    The Jets went next-level with their Jets-ness in Week 13.

    You can argue the merits of the winless Jets jeopardizing their chances of getting the first overall pick in 2021 by messing around and winning a game. But New York was going to do it anyway, scratching and clawing its way to a 28-24 lead over the stunned Raiders at Met Life Stadium.

    But nobody, and I mean nobody, out-chokes the Jets, so the New York secondary decided to let Raiders wideout Henry Ruggs III run right past everyone and into the end zone for a game-winning 46-yard score with five seconds left. 

    It was comically atrocious defense from a laughably bad team that is now 0-12 for the first time in franchise history. With the Seahawks, Rams, Browns and Patriots left on the schedule, that may have been New York's last best chance to avoid 0-16.

    And if Trevor Lawrence was watching this game, going back to Clemson in 2021 has to be looking better by the week.

Kalyn Kahler

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Winner: Detroit Lions

    The downtrodden franchise desperately needed a spark after firing head coach Matt Patricia just after Thanksgiving, and the Lions got it with a 34-30 come-from-behind win at Chicago.

    Under Patricia this season, Detroit had squandered four double-digit leads. In their first game free of him (the Fox broadcast crew reported players described the feeling like a window had been opened with fresh air), the Lions completed a double-digit comeback.

    It wasn't always pretty, but Matthew Stafford and T.J. Hockenson made some beautiful plays and the defense came up with two game-changing plays. Romeo Okwara's strip-sack of Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in the final two minutes gave the Lions the ball at Chicago's 7-yard-line and led to the game-winning score.

    And then, on the Bears' final drive, the Lions defense stopped running back David Montgomery short on 4th-and-1 to seal the win.

       

    Loser: Chicago Bears

    That's six straight losses after starting the season with a 5-1 record. If this losing streak doesn't force a complete turnover in personnel and coaching, I don't know what will.

    Trubisky and the offense were having one of their better, more efficient games of the season. The Bears put up 30 points, something they had only done once before this season, yet still lost.

    In Chicago's last two games, the vaunted defense hasn't played with the same fight that the team has built its identity around for the last few seasons. The Bears are officially in crisis mode. 

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