The 32 things we learned from week 14 of the 2022 NFL season:
1. Who is better than the Philadelphia Eagles? Well, to quote Jim Harbaugh, “Nooooooobody”. Philly, now 12-1, became the first team this season to clinch a playoff berth – demolishing NFC East rival New York Giants 48-22 – and has two more wins than any other club. The Eagles are going to be awfully tough to roll up, and the Dallas Cowboys (10-3) might have the only realistic chance to do so.
2. One of the reasons for Philadelphia’s dominance is its array of weapons. The Eagles will make the playoffs for the fifth time in the last nine seasons, but this year is the first in that streak where they will have either a 1,000-yard rusher (Miles Sanders) or a 1,000-yard wide receiver (AJ Brown). But QB Jalen Hurts’ options go much further given his own dual threat ability plus the presence of WR DeVonta Smith and the expected return of TE Dallas Goedert – not to mention what is probably the best offensive line in the league. No way to consider Philly anything but the NFC’s Super Bowl 57 favorite at this point.
2a. On Sunday, Hurts became the first quarterback to rush for double-digit touchdowns in consecutive seasons — yet another high point on his growing MVP resume.
2b. Sanders also rushed for his 10th touchdown of 2022, Philadelphia’s first RB to hit double digits in 11 years (LeSean McCoy).
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3. And let’s not overlook the defense of the NFC favorites. The Eagles D ranked second overall in the league at the start of Week 14 before snagging seven sacks on the Giants, who earned a late cosmetic TD after retiring their starters.
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4. In the other conference, the Kansas City Chiefs all but won their seventh straight AFC West championship – and one more win Where the defeat of the Chargers (they beat Miami on Sunday night) will seal the deal. Whenever it’s official, in terms of league history, the Chiefs’ divisional reign will only follow the New England Patriots’ 11-year dominance (2009-19) over the AFC East.
5. KC outlasted the Broncos 34-28, running their winning streak against Denver to 14 – tying the Patriots’ 14-game hold on the New York Jets for the league’s longest current streak by a franchise on a other.
6. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce’s 71 receiving yards on Sunday gave him 10,045 for his career. Only four other tight ends in the NFL’s 103 seasons have surpassed the 10,000 yard mark: Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe and Jason Witten.
6a. Kelce also passed 1,000 yards for the seventh consecutive season, extending his own record among tight ends.
seven. And yet, Sunday wasn’t the finest hour for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who tied a career high with three interceptions.
8. Mahomes was dominated by his Broncos counterpart, Russell Wilson, who had probably his best game (247 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, 57 rushing yards) in a Denver uniform until he was knocked out in the fourth quarter. after being driven headfirst into the turf at the end of a 14-yard run that appeared to leave him dizzy.
9. Wilson’s day was ruined by an unfortunate injury. Tom Brady’s return to Northern California was ruined by the San Francisco 49ers almost from the first snap. The Niners looted the NFC South-leading Bucs 35-7, leaving them with a shaky one-game lead over the inactive Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. Brady threw a pair of INTs…and, dare we say it, sometimes looked like a player who should consider not playing in 2023.
ten. Sunday’s loss to Niners rookie Brock Purdy was TB12’s first against an opposing quarterback making his first NFL start. Brady had been 6-0 in such instances entering the game.
10a. The loss was also Brady’s first against a top defense after wins in his first seven meetings.
11. And while Brady’s emotional histrionics continued, he signed the balls intercepted by Niners LB Dre Greenlaw and S Tashaun Gipson after the game. “He’s a good guy to sign that ball after throwing those picks,” Greenlaw said. “The biggest. It’s the GOAT. I appreciate that.”
12. For his part, Purdy continued to act as a more-than-capable replacement for injured QB1 Jimmy Garoppolo. In that first NFL start, he threw 16 of 21 for 185 yards and two scores, keeping an effective and sometimes devastating Niners offense on track.
12a. Purdy became the first rookie in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) with multiple TD passes, a rushing TD and a passer rating of at least 125.0 in his first start.
12b. “It was surreal to stand there like, man, this is Tom Brady talking to guys and banging guys. That he had respect for what I did, that was kind of cool. I not going to lie,” Purdy said. “Being a little kid, watching this guy kill him all those years in the Super Bowl, being able to give him a high five at the end was kind of cool.”
13. And despite what looked like a painful injury that left All-Pro point guard Deebo Samuel in tears on a medical cart, it looks like San Francisco has avoided a second catastrophic injury in two weeks – coach Kyle Shanahan indicating after the match that Samuel probably has a high ankle. sprain.
14. The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) have failed to join Philadelphia in the NFC playoff field – yet – and missed a chance to mend the NFC North by losing to the Lions of Detroit on Sunday. The Vikes will almost certainly claim the division throne, but their Week 2 loss to the Eagles effectively puts them three games behind them in the hunt for home-court advantage and a first-round playoff exemption.
15. Still, big day from an individual standpoint for Vikings WR Justin Jefferson, who caught 11 balls for a career-high 223 yards — his first 200-yard game in the NFL.
16. Jefferson now has 1,500 yards on the season and needs to average 125 per game over the past four weeks to become the league’s first 2,000-yard receiver. He has yet to complete three full seasons in the NFL, but already has 13 games over 125 yards.
16a. Jefferson became the first player with at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons.
with at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of his first three career seasons
17. And welcome back to Lions rookie WR Jameson Williams, who caught his first NFL pass on Sunday and took it 41 yards into the end zone. The 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, the former Alabama star likely would have been picked sooner if he hadn’t torn an ACL in last season’s national championship game against Georgia.
18. And keep an eye on Detroit (6-7). Winners of five of the last six, the Lions can become the first team since expanding the playoffs in 1990 to reach the playoffs despite starting 1-6.
19. Congratulations to the Cincinnati Bengals, who beat Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski for the first time in six attempts.
20. And congratulations also to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who won in Nashville for the first time in nine years.
21. The long-awaited rise of Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence continues, the first pick of the 2021 draft throwing for a career-high 368 yards on the wrong wheel and matching his personal best with a trio of TD strikes in the victory over the Tennessee Titans.
22. A gruesome 36-22 loss to the Jags capped an ugly week for the Titans, who had five turnovers – four on Sunday to accompany the surprise dismissal of general manager Jon Robinson by AFC South executives.
23. Far too soon to know if QB Mike White is the Jets’ long-term answer under center given the continued presence of former No. 2 draft pick Zach Wilson and White’s own expiring contract. But without neglecting the tenacity of White. He soaked up a series of vicious shots on Sunday, two that bent him like a cheap Bills Mafia table and landed him in the hospital after the game as a precaution. Still, he came back from both hits and only missed a few shots despite his grilled ribs.
24. Otherwise, the Buffalo Bills’ 20-12 win over the Jets was pretty forgettable. In fact, it was the first game in six years to open with 10 straight punts — the teams’ collective offensive attacks hampered by rain and snow.
25. In a battle of former Jets quarterbacks, Sam Darnold’s Panthers edged Geno Smith’s Seattle Seahawks 30-24.
25a. Darnold passed just 120 yards on a Carolina rushing offense that held the ball for nearly 40 minutes but improved to 2-0 as the Panthers’ 2022 starter.
26. Now in control of their playoff fate, if the Panthers (5-8) win their last four games, they will win the NFC South.
27. Incidentally, Darnold and Smith, one of the main contenders for Returning Player of the Year, will be free agents in about two months… maybe the Jets should consider signing one of them, especially if White continues to be treated like a tackling dummy?
28. Very nice Sunday for the Washington Commanders. Hounded on their bye week, they slipped from eighth to sixth — good for the second wild card — in the NFC standings thanks to losses to the Giants and Seahawks.
29. With 10 points on Sunday, Baltimore Ravens K Justin Tucker became the franchise’s all-time leader with 1,473, surpassing another Ravens great kicker, Matt Stover.
30. Perhaps we’ve given the John Elway Hall of Fame too much credit all these years. The Cowboys and Baker Mayfield’s Los Angeles Rams mounted 98-yard drives in the fourth quarter to lead their teams to wins from behind in Week 14.
30a. But maybe not. According to the NFL, it was the first time in the past 45 seasons with multiple game-winning touchdowns from at least 95 yards with the game-winning score with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
30b. And in Mayfield’s case, it also helped against the Las Vegas Raiders — who squandered a lead of at least 13 points for the fourth time this year, tying an NFL record for most in a season.
31. According to NFL Research, Mayfield’s two-day stint with the Rams was the shortest for a new starting quarterback in at least 27 years.
31a. It’s also worth noting that QB John Wolford was credited with the win for LA … as he simply took the first three offensive snaps (and didn’t throw a pass) before making way for Mayfield on Thursday night.
32. Week 14 marks the conclusion of bye weeks, with half a dozen teams (Atlanta, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and Washington) on the couch Sunday.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
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