Ten biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 14
With the postseason looming large in the minds of players of teams on the playoff bubble, pressure was a major factor in NFL Week 14.
Some handled the pressure well, putting on brilliant shows. Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Stellers was a one-man wrecking crew in Buffalo, while Matthew Stafford put together yet another come-from-behind fourth quarter victory for the Detroit Lions.
Others crumbled, such as Andrew Luck, who turned the ball over three times in a pivotal AFC South battle against the Houston Texans.
These are just a few of the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 14. Here are the rest.
Winner: Titans buck Broncos, inch closer to playoffs
The Tennessee Titans are gaining some serious momentum heading into the final few weeks of the season. Coming into Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos tied atop the AFC South with a record of 6-6, they look like the front-runner to claim the division with a 13-10 win over last year’s Super Bowl champs.
Denver came into the game with some desperation, having lost to both the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs the past few weeks. With a record of 8-4 before Sunday’s loss, they were clinging to an AFC Wild Card spot.
Apart from a dirty play by Titans receiver Harry Douglas that led to a mini brawl (watch here), Tennessee was nearly flawless executing its game plan. Marcus Mariota predictably struggled against Denver’s No Fly Zone defense, but DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry and Co. did not.
Tennessee played ball-control offense, while the defense forced two turnovers that led to three points — the difference in the game — and absolutely shut down Denver’s running game. While Trevor Siemian was tremendous leading the Broncos back after falling down 13-0, the team’s one-dimensional offense wasn’t good enough to garner a much-needed win.
The Titans now control their own destiny. Win their final three games and they’re guaranteed to get into the playoffs, as a Week 17 home game against Houston could determine the division.
Loser: Andrew Luck hands win to Texans in critical AFC South showdown
As we predicted, the Houston Texans were able to pull off a win despite a mediocre showing from Brock Osweiler. The reason they were able to do this is because the Colts handed them the victory on a silver platter.
Andrew Luck threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on a gorgeous sack by Jadeveon Clowney. His three turnovers resulted in nine points. On the other side, Houston’s only turnover of the game — a terrible interception by Osweiler — resulted in a punt by Indy three plays later.
In the most-important game of the year, the Colts were unable to execute the simple things. Now with two losses to the Texans, Indy is more than a game behind its AFC South rival.
We cannot put the blame on Luck entirely, because he’s gotten terrible protection all year. But he does have a tendency to hold on to the ball too long as he tries to make plays happen. That was in full effect in this game. And it cost his team dearly.
Winner: Le’Veon Bell puts up video game numbers against Bills
Le’Veon Bell sure picked a good week to explode.
Ben Roethlisberger put together a miserable outing in the snow at New Era Stadium, failing to throw for a single touchdown while giving the Buffalo Bills three extra chances on offense with three interceptions.
While his quarterback struggled to perform at a high level, Bell took the game over with a performance for the ages — he actually outgained the Bills all by himself.
In addition to tallying 298 yards from scrimmage, Bell rushed in three touchdowns to help the Steelers win their fourth game in a row.
Since returning to Pittsburgh’s lineup following his suspension, the running back has put himself in rare company with his all-around play.
If Bell continues playing this way, then the Steelers are going to be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Loser: Russell Wilson’s road woes continue
It wasn’t very long ago that the very notion Russell Wilson might struggle to carry Seattle’s offense was considered to be a hot take.
We’re now 13 games into the 2016 season. Wilson is averaging just one passing touchdown per game, and the past two road games have been nothing short of disastrous.
After a no touchdown, two interception performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 12, he bounced back at home to lead the Seahawks to a big win against the hapless Carolina Panthers. Back out on the road again Sunday in Green Bay, Wilson was awful.
Now, credit is due to the Green Bay Packers, who are starting to play some good ball at the right time for a potential playoff run. But Wilson threw five interceptions at Lambeau Field — that’s a level of gruesome play most NFL quarterbacks will never experience.
“We can’t turn the ball over,” he said after the game, per Stephen Cohen of SeattlePI.com. “I put that on me. That game was on me.”
You’ll hear no argument from us on that point. That said, we’d be foolish to count out Wilson and the Seahawks, who have experienced much more success in recent years than failure.
However, outside of their first playoff game as NFC West champs, it is a guarantee that the Seahawks will have to win at least one game on the road to reach another Super Bowl. Heading into the final three weekends of play, Seattle is the No. 3…