NFL Week 14 takeaways, stat leaders: Offensive outbursts for Bears and Cowboys, but letdown for Giants

Week 14 in the NFL saw offensive outbursts from the Broncos, Bears and Titans, an AFC West-clinching win for the Chiefs, a big letdown for the Giants and a huge win for the Buccaneers in their chase for an NFC wild-card spot. In all, six of the week's opening eight games -- including a Rams victory on Thursday -- were multiple-score blowouts.

In the afternoon slate, Washington moved into the NFC East lead behind a strong defensive effort,Davante Adamscontinued his stellar season, and the Colts made a statement in a win over the Raiders. The Eagles also upset the Saints, and the Packers moved into the top spot in the NFC with their win.

With a dominant win against Pittsburgh on Sunday night, the Bills' chances to make the playoffs improved to 99.8%. On Monday, some late magic by Lamar Jackson pulled off a win for the Ravens to keep them in the thick of the AFC playoff race.

All that and more in Week 14's biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:






Kansas City Chiefs 33, Miami Dolphins 27

Standout performer: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, 136 receiving yards, 1 TD

The Chiefs' defense can't finish out a game. For the second time in three weeks, Kansas City almost wasted a three-score lead in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs will have to win a lot of high-scoring games if they're going to repeat as Super Bowl champions. -- Adam Teicher

Next game: at Saints (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Dolphins traded big plays with the Chiefs largely due to their playmaking defense and a resurgent Tua Tagovailoa, but their offensive flaws were too big to overcome in the loss. The biggest lesson from Sunday's game is that the Dolphins' defense is ready to compete with and ultimately beat the AFC elite, but the offense isn't there yet. The Dolphins have been one of the NFL's best stories this year, going from a 5-11 season in 2019 to playoff contenders, but there's one key area where Miami clearly is still rebuilding and needs to target additions this offseason: offensive playmakers. -- Cameron Wolfe

Next game: vs. Patriots (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Minnesota Vikings 14

Standout performer: Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield Jr., 11 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

After two consecutive losses going into a bye week, the Bucs got back on track and improved to 8-5. The slow starts and chemistry issues that were exploited by better teams during the most grueling portion of their season weren't magically resolved during the break. But Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, and the Bucs stayed committed to the run behind Ronald Jones II, who had 80 yards on 18 carries to keep the Vikings off-balance. "We wanted to set up play-action. We didn't hit as many as we'd hoped. But when asked earlier in this week about our identity, I think we just showed our identity," coach Bruce Arians said. "We can do any damn thing we want to do." -- Jenna Laine

Next game: at Falcons (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Vikings have to make a change at kicker to keep their playoff hopes alive after Dan Bailey missed 10 points worth of kicks. There's no way for this offense (and defense) to function when the kicker's confidence is clearly shot, and the playcalling reflects a lack of trust in his ability. The Vikings were forced to make some unconventional decisions because they didn't trust Bailey after he missed an extra point and three field goals. They might be able to get away with that against some teams, but it's too much to risk when there's little to no room for error with three games remaining and the Vikings on the outside looking in at the seventh spot in the playoffs. -- Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Bears (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Arizona Cardinals 26, New York Giants 7

Standout performer: Cardinals LB Haason Reddick, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

With their win Sunday over the Giants, the Cardinals moved into the final spot in the NFC wild-card chase. They also found a recipe to keep them in the playoff picture: a defense that held the Giants to 159 total yards with eight sacks, and an offense that found a rhythm, thanks in part to Kyler Murray's running. The Cardinals are now 8-1 when Murray runs at least 10 times. -- Josh Weinfuss

Next game: vs. Eagles (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Daniel Jones was back for the Giants but clearly wasn't his normal healthy self, throwing for 127 yards after missing a game with a hamstring injury. Coach Joe Judge said he had "no regrets on playing him." The Giants knew Jones wouldn't bring his normal running element (zero carries) and wasn't going to be as mobile; he was sacked six times and limped throughout the contest. It led to an uneven offensive performance, as the Giants (5-8) had their four-game winning streak snapped. They need to get Jones right if they are going to win the NFC East. -- Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Browns (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

Chicago Bears 36, Houston Texans 7

Standout performer: Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky, 267 passing yards, 3 TDs

The Bears waited until Week 14 for the much-maligned offense to string together four respectable quarters of football. Better late than never, I suppose. Sunday's home game against the depleted Texans turned out to be a laugher. The Bears (6-7) snapped their six-game losing streak as Mitchell Trubisky passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Big picture, not much changes. But for once, it was just nice to watch the Bears play a complete football game without the usual elements of self-sabotage and confusion. -- Jeff Dickerson

Next game: at Vikings (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

There is going to be a lot of work for whomever is hired as general manager after the season. That starts by figuring out how the team can do a better job of protecting its franchise quarterback. Deshaun Watson was sacked a combined 11 times in Weeks 13 and 14 and has taken too many hard hits. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Sunday was the 13th game in which Watson was sacked five or more times, tied for the third-most such games through a player's first four NFL seasons since the merger in 1970. -- Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Colts (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Denver Broncos 32, Carolina Panthers 27

Standout performer: Broncos QB Drew Lock, 280 passing yards, 4 TDs

Broncos quarterback Drew Lock had his first zero-interception day in a full game since the season opener. And it was the way he did it -- taking the high-percentage throws early and challenging the Panthers deep once they adjusted with their safeties -- that was exactly what he needed as he tries to close out December strong to give the Broncos a little better feeling about him moving into 2021. It helped that the Broncos had a good day running the ball and kept Lock in plenty of play-action situations. -- Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Bills (4:30 p.m. ET Saturday)

The Panthers continue to find ways to lose in the fourth quarter. They had a realistic shot in Sunday's loss to Denver but again had clock mismanagement down the stretch and made too many costly mistakes. None were bigger than Teddy Bridgewater's delay of game penalty inside the Denver 10-yard line in the final six minutes and then rushing a third-down play to beat the two-minute warning when it wasn't necessary. Bridgewater was steady but again didn't prove to be good enough to win the game on his own. -- David Newton

Next game: at Packers (8:15 p.m. ET Saturday)

Tennessee Titans 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 10

Standout performer: Titans RB Derrick Henry, 215 rushing yards, 2 TDs

The Titans got a much-needed win over the Jaguars to push their playoff chances to 94% and strengthen their hold on the AFC South title. Derrick Henry posted his fourth career 200-yard rushing game to get the Titans' offense back on track. They'll need a strong performance from Henry down the stretch, but it's also important that Tennessee balances things out with the passing game. That's exactly what A.J. Brown provided with seven receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. -- Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Lions (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The play of rookie running back James Robinson is the one positive thing during an otherwise awful season in Jacksonville. He ran for 67 yards against the Titans to become just the fourth undrafted rookie to rush for 1,000 yards and third in Jaguars franchise history (he now has 1,035). Robinson has a chance to pass Fred Taylor's rookie record of 1,223 rushing yards set in 1998. He is one of the few consistent performers in 2020 for Jacksonville and a major building block for the franchise's overhaul. -- Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Ravens (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Dallas Cowboys 30, Cincinnati Bengals 7

Standout performer: Cowboys QB Andy Dalton, 185 passing yards, 2 TDs

During the week, Andy Dalton tried to downplay what his return to Cincinnati meant. But after the 30-7 win against the Bengals, he admitted, "This one was special." Dalton was one of the Cowboys' three captains for the game, delivered the last speech to the players before kickoff and -- after throwing two touchdown passes -- received a game ball. As Dalton entered the locker room, he was doused with water by his celebratory teammates. "It feels good to come back where I was for a long time and to get a win," Dalton said. At 4-9, the Cowboys can have hope in the NFC East. -- Todd Archer

Next game: vs. 49ers (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Under second-year coach Zac Taylor, the Bengals have been in a few games they arguably should have won, including Taylor's debut in 2019 in a road loss at Seattle. At the time, that performance indicated potentially good things to come for the Bengals under the young but unproven coach. But with its loss to Dallas on Sunday, Cincinnati now has just four wins over the past two seasons and likely squandered its last chance at a victory in the 2020 season. Cincinnati lost fumbles on each of its first three drives. That left Taylor as exasperated as anyone after the game. Taylor's thoughts on those turnovers: "Irate. Stunned. Irate." -- Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Steelers (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Dec. 21)

Los Angeles Rams 24, New England Patriots 3

Standout performer: Rams RB Cam Akers, 171 rushing yards (and 23 receiving yards)

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said before Thursday night's game against the Patriots that he felt "a little bit more push just for a little payback" after a crushing defeat in Super Bowl LIII. The stakes certainly weren't comparable, but Donald got his revenge. The Rams had six sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown, as the defense continues to peak at the perfect time. The team improves to 9-4 and will enjoy a long weekend before preparing for the home stretch, which includes a game against the Jets and division matchups against the Seahawks and Cardinals. The Rams remain in first place in the NFC West, holding a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, and are nearing their third division title in four seasons. -- Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Jets (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Patriots didn't look like a playoff team as the Rams ran right through them, and the limitations in the passing game on offense were glaring on a night when they saw their postseason chances dip to 6%, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. While there is still something to play for, a case could also be made that the Patriots would benefit from turning things over to Jarrett Stidham at quarterback so they can get a thorough evaluation on him heading into 2021. The Patriots aren't used to thinking big-picture like that at this time of year. -- Mike Reiss

Next game: at Dolphins (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Indianapolis Colts 44, Las Vegas Raiders 27

Standout performer: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor, 150 rushing yards, 2 TDs

The Colts are no longer clinging on to the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC. Their victory over Las Vegas, coupled with Miami's loss, moved Indianapolis to the sixth spot in the playoff race. The Colts have an identical record (9-4) as Tennessee in the AFC South with three games remaining, but the Titans are technically in first place because they are 4-1 in the division, whereas the Colts are only 2-2. It'll be tough for the Colts to catch the Titans in the division because Tennessee has only one division -- and conference -- game remaining against Houston (4-9). The Colts have three conference games, including two divisional ones, remaining against Houston, Pittsburgh and the Jaguars. -- Mike Wells

Next game: vs. Texans (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Raiders are not a playoff team. Not yet. Not with this defense. And not with this showing they put on film Sunday against the Colts. Every game the Raiders (7-6) play from here on out is essentially a playoff game just to get into the playoffs. But they got torched to the tune of 456 yards of total offense despite the return of safety Johnathan Abram, who was often a liability in coverage. No, these Raiders are not ready yet. And up next, a short week with a home rivalry game Thursday night against the Chargers. Which Raiders team shows up? -- Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Chargers (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

Seattle Seahawks 40, New York Jets 3

Standout performer: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, 206 passing yards, 4 TDs

Playing winless teams doesn't always offer much in the way of concrete takeaways, but at least this much is clear: The Seahawks didn't take the Jets lightly. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin said that was an issue last week in Seattle's upset loss to the Giants, which, if indeed the case, was a heck of a lesson for a team to learn this late in a season with Super Bowl aspirations. Nevertheless, the Seahawks took care of business Sunday for their second-biggest margin of victory under Pete Carroll. Jamal Adams got a game ball from Pete Carroll after setting the single-season sack record for a defensive back. Given the impact he has made for Seattle, what the Jets got for him and how bad they'd still be with him, that trade is looking good for both teams. -- Brady Henderson

Next game: at Washington (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Now it's pretty much official: The 2020 Jets are the worst team in franchise history. This was their 13th consecutive loss, a new franchise record. And they did it with style points, imploding in all three phases. How many teams can miss three field goals in one quarter? The only suspense left in the season is whether they become the third team to go 0-16, and whether they secure the No. 1 pick. -- Rich Cimini

Next game: at Rams (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Washington Football Team 23, San Francisco 49ers 15

Standout performer: Washington DE Chase Young, 1 TD, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defended

Washington's defense was supposed to be the foundation of its franchise this season, and it certainly has emerged down the stretch. While the stats were good for most of the season, it wasn't affecting games enough with big plays. But a huge reason why they can now is rookie defensive end Chase Young. He and fellow end Montez Sweat can be an excellent pairing for a long time. Young was bothered by a hip injury for much of the season, but it started to feel better just when Washington started its four-game win streak. He has made plays, but on Sunday, he made monstrous plays. The offense will face easier defenses in the next three weeks, but the reason Washington is emerging in the division -- and might scare teams in the first round -- is its defense. And that starts with Young. -- John Keim

Next game: vs. Seahawks (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Mathematically, the 49ers are still barely hanging on to their slim playoff hopes, but at this point, it's almost impossible to see them finding a way to defend their NFC crown. In a season that has seemed cursed from the beginning, the Niners' loss to Washington is probably a death knell to their season. At 5-8, the 49ers are two games out of the final wild-card spot in the NFC and would likely need to win out -- plus get some serious help -- to sneak in. Given how they've played the past two weeks, it's hard to envision that scenario playing out, which means it's time to look ahead to what is going to be a busy and interesting offseason by the Bay. -- Nick Wagoner

Next game: at Cowboys (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Green Bay Packers 31, Detroit Lions 24

Standout performer: Packers WR Davante Adams, 115 receiving yards, 1 TD

The Packers clinched the NFC North for the second consecutive year with their win over the Lions. Now they're looking for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. That's now within reach, as well, after the Saints' loss to the Eagles. Both Green Bay and New Orleans are 10-3 with three games to go, but the Packers hold the tiebreaker because of their head-to-head win in Week 3. Oh yeah, and it was another ho-hum 115-yard day for Davante Adams, who caught a touchdown pass in his eighth straight game to set a franchise record. -- Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Panthers (8:15 p.m. ET Saturday)

The concern for the Lions right now is quarterback Matthew Stafford, who left Sunday's loss to Green Bay with a rib injury. The Lions learned last year what life is like without Stafford as the team's starting quarterback -- they went 0-8 with him injured in 2019. Losing Stafford for any length of time would be rough considering where Detroit is in its season. Plus, the Lions have to think about their future as they prepare to hire a new general manager and head coach.-- Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Titans (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Philadelphia Eagles 24, New Orleans Saints 21

Standout performer: Eagles RB Miles Sanders, 115 rushing yards, 2 TDs

Jalen Hurts breathed life into the Eagles' offense in their upset of the Saints and provided hope that they can make a late push in the NFC East. The formula they used against New Orleans -- relying heavily on the ground game, limiting turnovers and putting their improving defense in workable situations -- proved elusive over the first 12 games while Carson Wentz was under center. If the Eagles (4-8-1) can stick with it, and keep using Hurts' legs to put stress on the defense, they'll have a shot to gain ground on division-leading Washington (6-7). -- Tim McManus

Next game: at Cardinals (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Maybe the Saints' flop in Philly can be chalked up as just one of those days. After all, it was their third consecutive road game. It was their first loss in 10 games. And they did uncharacteristic things such as allowing their most rushing yards since 2014 and missing two field goals. However, the 10-3 Saints can't really afford any of "those" days since they would lose a tiebreaker to the 10-3 Packers for the NFC's No. 1 seed -- and since things won't get any easier with the Chiefs coming to town next week and Drew Brees still not back from injured reserve. -- Mike Triplett

Next game: vs. Chiefs (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

Los Angeles Chargers 20, Atlanta Falcons 17

Standout performer: Chargers QB Justin Herbert, 243 passing yards, 2 TDs

After going 4-16 in one-score games over the past two seasons, the Chargers finally won one. Believe it.Michael Badgley, who has seven field goal misses this season, kicked a 48-yarder to beat the Falcons. It almost didn't happen except for a series of interceptions in the waning minutes, but in the end, it was Michael Davis who picked off Matt Ryan to set up the game-winning kick. The next question: Can the Chargers continue the trend through the remainder of the season? -- Shelley Smith

Next game: at Raiders (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

There are two things we know: The Falcons have trouble finishing games, and the defense has had its highs and lows this season. However, cornerback A.J. Terrell's growth has been a bright spot and something fans can feel good about beyond this season. Great teams are built through the draft, and Terrell looks like he could be an important piece of the Falcons' defense for years to come if he's able to continue to build as his rookie season nears a conclusion, with games against the talented Buccaneers and Chiefs looming. -- Harry Lyles Jr.

Next game: vs. Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Buffalo Bills 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 15

Standout performer: Stefon Diggs, 10 catches, 130 yards, TD

The Bills (10-3) are one of the AFC's elite teams, and they proved as much during a dismantling of the Steelers on Sunday. Perhaps most impressive was Buffalo's ability to bounce back from a lackluster first half and pick apart Pittsburgh's defense in the third quarter to build a large lead. Critics are running out of excuses after consecutive prime-time wins by the Bills. If that's the level of play Buffalo can bring to the field week in and week out, it will be a tough out come playoff time. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Broncos (4:30 p.m. ET Saturday)

The Steelers (11-2) have a playoff berth, thanks to the Dolphins' loss Sunday, but they dropped their game Sunday night in Buffalo. In the midst of a two-game skid, the Steelers have regressed offensively, failing to make big offensive plays or capitalize on momentum-shifting defensive plays. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was off-target in crucial times Sunday and threw two picks as a result, including his first pick-six since 2018. The on-field product from the past two -- even three -- games looks more like the group from 2019, which required a near-perfect performance by the defense to bolster an offense that couldn't move the ball. The Steelers are guaranteed a spot in the postseason, but playing like this ensures that they won't go far. -- Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Bengals (8:15 p.m. ET Monday)

Baltimore Ravens 47, Cleveland Browns 42

Standout performer: Lamar Jackson, 124 rushing yards (2 TDs), 163 passing yards (1 TD)

Jackson proved that he can lead the Ravens in a comeback when it matters most. After missing most of the fourth quarter because of cramps, Jackson emerged from the locker room to replace injured backup Trace McSorley, and he delivered his second career fourth-quarter comeback. The narrative had been that Jackson was not a polished enough passer to rally Baltimore late in games, but in the final two minutes, he completed five of six passes for 82 yards, throwing a 44-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown and then setting up Justin Tucker for the winning, 55-yard field goal. Jackson's heroics increased Baltimore's chances of making the playoffs to 86.5%. -- Jamison Hensley

Next game: vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Browns scored TDs on three consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. But that wasn't enough for them to overcome the late-game heroics of Lamar Jackson, who propelled the Ravens to a wild victory in the highest-scoring game of the NFL season. Even in a loss, the Browns demonstrated how far they've come since they were drubbed 38-6 by Baltimore in the opener. Cleveland also further showed why it seems destined to snap the league's longest playoff drought and why, from QB Baker Mayfield's emergence to a powerful running game, it could be a factor once it gets there, too. -- Jake Trotter

Next game: at Giants (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

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