A football Sunday without the Bears meant plenty of RedZone on the TV. It was a wonky Sunday that featured upsets by the Jaguars and Lions and a near disaster for the Cowboys against the one-win Texans in Arlington.
It also featured an MVP performance by Jalen Hurts and a laser show by Justin Herbert that helped the Chargers sneak into the AFC playoff picture.
Herbert Shines as Bolts Creep into AFC Playoff Picture
Of all the bad takes that Emmanuel Acho has spewed on national television and Twitter this season, dubbing Justin Herbert the “social media QB” was probably the worst. Herbert made sure he knew it on Sunday night when he slung it around SoFi Stadium to the tune of 367 yards and a 102.3 passer rating.
Herbert had dimes for days, completing 39-of-51 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers topped the Dolphins 23-17 in a must-win in front of the home crowd. The win for the Chargers moved them into the AFC playoff picture, jumping the Jets for the seventh and final spot with just four weeks remaining in the season.
The win over Miami would also give them the tiebreaker over the Dolphins in the AFC playoff seeding in the event that they finish the season tied, which is possible with Miami just one game ahead of Los Angeles.
Like Dominique Foxworth did earlier this year when he went after Justin Fields and the Bears on Twitter, Acho took his medicine last night after Herbert balled out on national television:
Herbert’s performance last night moved him into first place in completions (1,218) and yardage (13,056) for quarterbacks in their first three seasons in NFL history. Herbert is sitting in second place in the touchdown department with 90 and four more games to go.
On the other side, fellow 2020 draft pick Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins struggled to get anything going on offense against a bad Chargers defense. Tua completed just 10-of-28 passes for 145 yards and a 65.3 passer rating. The Dolphins offense been held under 20 points in back-to-back games and things won’t get much easier with a trip to Buffalo on tap for Miami in Week 15.
Eagles Clinch First NFC Playoff Spot
Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the playoffs for the second straight season, this time as the first NFC team to clinch their spot and likely the eventual No. 1 seed in the NFC. Their 48-22 victory over the Giants was a dominating road blowout of the Giants in the Meadowlands that started with two sacks in the first three plays and was never close from there.
Hurts completed 21-of-31 passes for 217 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and a 109.2 passer rating and added 77 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Hurts and the Eagles are clicking on all cylinders and look like a team that can run roughshod over the rest of the NFC field in the playoffs next month. Hurts looks like the leader in the MVP discussion at this point as well.
Hurts has 3,843 total yards, 33 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a league-leading 108.4 passer rating through the Eagles first 13 games of the season.
If not for a Josh Allen throw to Stefon Diggs that set Tyler Bass up for a game-winning field goal in overtime on Thanksgiving, Detroit’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday would have been their sixth in a row. Still, Detroit has won five of their last six after starting the season 1-6 and are now being talked about as a dangerous team that might squeak their way into the NFC playoffs.
A world in which the Dan Campbell Lions are playing football in January … imagine that for a minute. Detroit is 6-7 on the outside looking in right now, but the Giants who own the seventh seed are 7-5-1 and have been scuffling of late, so I can easily see them falling out of the race over the next month. If that happened, the Seahawks (7-6) would be the only team standing in the Lions way.
Detroit has the Jets, Panthers, Bears, and Packers left on the schedule. And I can see them winning three of four (easily), setting them up for a 9-8 finish. If the Lions do manage to make it, it’ll be their first playoff game since 2016. The Lions have played in three Wild Card games (all loses) this side of the millennium.
- By the way, we can’t leave the Penei Sewell catch out of this!
- Brock Purdy became the quarterback to beat Tom Brady in his first start in a 35-7 blowout over the Buccaneers. Purdy completed 16-of-21 for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Christian McCaffrey picked up 119 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the 49ers who move to 9-4.
- But the San Francisco win didn’t come without a tough setback for the 49ers, who will be without Deebo Samuel for potentially the rest of the regular season after he suffered what Ian Rapoport called a high ankle sprain that will cost him 4-6 weeks.
- After firing their head coach earlier in the year and cutting Baker Mayfield loose last week, the Panthers are somehow in a position to win the NFC South if they win out. Carolina beat the Seahawks 30-24 on Sunday, their third win in their last four games.
- Joe Burrow and the Bengals made easy work of the Browns on Sunday and Deshaun Watson was mediocre again.
- Is Kevin Stefanski on the hot seat?
- Josh Allen only needed 147 yards and a touchdown as the Buffalo defense led the way for the Bills in a 20-12 win over the New York Jets. Jets quarterback Mike White was knocked out twice on Sunday and still finished the game despite being hurried 21 times by the Bills pass rush.
- The Houston Texans nearly upset the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas. After picking Dak Prescott off with 5:45 to play they had the ball at the Dallas one yard line with a 23-20 lead and a chance to put the Cowboys away but they couldn’t get the ball across the goal line, allowing Dak and the Cowboys to march down the field for a game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play.
- Jacksonville upset the Titans with a 36-22 victory on Sunday. Trevor Lawrence was on another level with 368 yards and three touchdowns.
- With Kenny Pickett and Tyler Huntley both knocked out of the game with concussions, Anthony Brown and Mitchell Trubisky finished Sunday’s 16-14 Baltimore win over the Steelers, helping Baltimore move to 9-4 to remain tied with the Bengals atop the AFC North.