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Week 13 was full of surprises, and disappointments (depending who you are). The Niners and Ravens heavyweight showdown lived up to the billing, the Steelers are surprising the critics, and the AFC East is the worst division in football. Here are the 5 Takeaways from Week 13.
1. The Steelers Aren't Sitting Ducks
If you asked me if the Pittsburgh Steelers would be 7-5 at this point of the season with Mason Rudolph and “Duck” Hodges as their QB’s I would have laughed at your face. No Big Ben, no AB, no Bell, Connor has been hurting all season, Juju has been inconsistent, and Pouncey is suspended. I have no clue how they are winning games, but here we are.
The Steelers are in a playoff spot right now, even with third string QB Devlin Hodges as their starter. Hodges has been surprisingly efficient when called upon. He didn't turn the ball over this past week and threw for multiple touchdowns in the win. against Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
So far, a banged up Steelers team has overcome some big odds this season and are now in the thick of the wildcard race.
2. Derrick Henry Is A Man Possessed
The Titans running back has been running like a wild child this season. The last three weeks, Henry has rushed for 496 yards and 5 touchdowns. In total, Henry has rushed for 1,140 yards this season. That means 43 percent of Henry's rushing yards were from the last three games. Also, almost half of his 12 touchdowns were from the same 3 weeks as well.
Henry is now ranked 3rd in rushing and is only 35 yards behind rushing leader Nick Chubb. The only Titans offensive stat that's in the top 10 is there rushing offence and that's thanks to Henry. The big man has accounted for 33 percent of the team's total touchdowns this season and that will jump if Henry continues to play like a mad man.
3. The NFC East Should Be Disqualified
Every couple of years we get a division that bogs down the playoff picture with a host of crappy teams and is labelled the NFL's worst division. For the longest time that title belonged to the AFC South, but now that title goes to the NFC East.
Heading into week 14, none of the 4 teams are over 500. The Giants have lost 10 straight games, the Redskins aren’t any better, the Eagles just lost to the embarrassing Dolphins, and the division leading Cowboys can only beat sub .500 teams. What is usually a competitive division, the NFC East has turned into something very ugly this season.
4. Are The Texans A Legit Threat?
The Houston Texans surprised many with their win against the Patriots. It was the thirteenth meeting between the two teams, with Houston only grabbing one win against the Pats all-time, and to pile on, Houston haven't beaten New England in almost a decade.
Houston this season has been playing good football. Their defence has been a bend don't break type mentality, sure they give up a lot of yards, but points are hard to come by for opposing teams. Their offence is no slouch this year either, and leading the way is Deshaun Watson, who is tied for third in passing touchdowns and can also get the job done using his legs.
While the Texans might have been written off early in the season, they have had some big wins since their less than stellar start. They made light work of the 10-2 Pats, they beat the AFC West division leading KC Chiefs, erasing a 17-3 first quarter deficit, and they were a field goal miss away from beating a 10 win Saints team in week 1. With a talented receiving core, a decent run game, and stingy defence, the Texans could actually make a run in the playoffs.
5. Ravens Won, But Niners Should Their Worth
The Niners lost the game but their defence, for the most part, held Lamar Jackson down.The Ravens only scored 20 points and Jackson barley cracked over 100 passing yards. L-Jax did eclipse 100 yards rushing, and he got two touchdowns in total, but the Niners should have confidence going forward.
San Fran ended the Ravens 5 game streak of scoring 30 or more points, and the Ravens 283 yards of offence was their lowest total since week 5 against the Steelers. The Niners were a 4 down stop away from possibly getting the ball back and potentially going for the go ahead score. While they did give up the game winning kick with no time left on the clock, the Niners defence had a good outing containing Jackson.
After the game Lamar Jackson said that the Niners game was a "dogfight". It took a 4th down conversion and a field goal by one of the best kickers in the game to come out on top against one of the toughest defences in the league. San Fran in the loss looked better than most against Baltimore this season.