When watching NFL games this weekend, it felt like there was one constant theme among most of the broadcasts. Networks were consistently displaying updated versions of the AFC and NFC playoff picture to let fans know where things stood, and how things could change.
The games just feel more important now that we’ve entered the month of December, and here are three main takeaways we can think about after Week 13.
San Francisco’s Victory Felt Like A Loss
One of the premier games this weekend featured two teams looking to make a deep postseason run in their respective conferences. The contest did not quite live up to the billing, but it was still an impressive win for the San Francisco 49ers over the Miami Dolphins. Running back Christian McCaffery was impactful in both the running game and receiving game, justifying the investment the 49ers made earlier in the year when they traded for him.
However, San Francisco starting quarter Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a foot injury in the first quarter, and it was revealed after the game he’ll miss the rest of the year as a result. Of course, this comes after original starter Trey Lance went down for the year in Week 2. Garoppolo was the reserve heading into the year, but brings a lot of winning experience to the lineup.
San Francisco was forced to insert Brock Purdy under center after the Garoppolo injury, and he played serviceably. Even still, the team’s chances of advancing deep into the NFC postseason appear to have taken a significant blow.
Lamar Jackson Could Regret Offseason Strategy
There are a lot of people who prefer to bet on themselves in hopes that a larger payday will come their way. It makes sense for the most talented folks in a walk of life to do this, but that’s a risky strategy when it comes to NFL competition. One play, or one hit in the wrong spot could effectively end a career.
That did not seem to happen to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on Sunday, but he did have to leave their game against the Denver Broncos with a knee injury. The extent of the damage will be revealed in the coming days, but it brings the discussion of his offseason back into relevancy at this time.
Jackson has elected not to put pen to paper on a massive contract extension, instead looking for additional guaranteed money at a later date. However, the reality of the NFL and the physical nature of the sport may remind him and others that taking the money as soon as possible might be more wise.
The Bengals Could Make It Back To The Super Bowl
The Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals squared off in a rematch of the AFC championship game from a year ago. There is a sentiment amongst some NFL fans that the Chiefs lost the game last year more than the Bengals won it, despite the excellent play from Cincinnati.
If Sunday was any indication, Cincinnati remains one of the best teams in the conference, and a dangerous contender to make it back to the Super Bowl. They got wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase back for the matchup, and he played very well in his first game back from a hip injury.
To seal the game, quarterback Joe Burrow threw a laser of a pass to receiver Tee Higgins to get the first down and secure the victory. Cincinnati doesn’t appear fazed by the pressure.