After several weeks of chaos, it would appear order has been restored. Every matchup that had only one playoff team ended in a blowout. Of the first wave of games, only the Ravens vs Browns dared to give us an entertaining finish. The second wave gave us simultaneous overtime games. Both of those matchups were settled by a game-winning touchdown. The Sunday night game featured Aaron Rodgers still dominating the Bears. Oh, and this was the last week for teams on bye. From here on out we will get the full 16-game slate for the rest of the regular season. Without further ado, let’s jump into those winners and losers.
Winner #1 Kansas City Chiefs
Don’t look now, but the Chiefs are once again firing on all cylinders. Last season the Raiders came into Kansas City and walked away with a victory. In fact, the Raider’s bus drove around the stadium several times in celebration. Clearly the Chiefs remembered that day, as they absolutely demolished the Raiders this time around. A 48-9 victory was not only a message to Las Vegas, but to the rest of the league as well. Patrick Mahomes threw for over 250 yards with a pair of TDs. The numbers don’t seem that flattering until you realize most of the damage was done in the first half. The win puts them at the #3 seed in the conference. With their level of play recently, few would bet against them once again reigning supreme in the AFC.
Loser #1 Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens continue to tumble down the standings with this latest loss. This week it was at the hands of the Cleveland Browns. To make matters worse, Lamar Jackson injured his ankle and missed most of the game. We don’t know yet the severity of the injury, but it will be a major blow if he has to miss games. The schedule is unforgiving to finish out the year. It also doesn’t help that the AFC North is a complete dogfight right now. All four teams are within two games of each other with four games left to go. The Ravens need to turn this ship around and fast. If not, they can easily go from being the top seed to being completely out of the playoffs.
Winner #2 Los Angeles Rams
Surprise, surprise! Apparently, all the Rams needed to do was to make sure the calendar no longer said November. After having a winless November, the Rams have now won two straight to get their season back on track. Granted, the first game against Jacksonville was an easy one, but the Monday Night game victory was different. Playing on the road against the top seeded Arizona Cardinals, the Rams pulled off an impressive victory. Thanks to COVID, the Rams were without several of their starters. Yet that didn’t seem to matter as they had the lead for the majority of the game. Most importantly, it gives the Rams a viable way to win their division and avoid having a tougher road in the playoffs. If they can keep this level of play and get some players healthy, they could once again become contenders.
Loser #2 Cincinnati Bengals
The second AFC North team to appear in this week’s losers’ side is the Cincinnati Bengals. Thanks to the Ravens losing earlier in the day, first place in the division was up for grabs. All the Bengals had to do was beat the 49ers and they would be in first place, thanks to owning the tiebreaker. Unfortunately for the Cincinnati faithful, the opposite happened. The Bengals fell behind early and spent most of the game clawing their way back. Forcing overtime Cincinnati then won the coin toss and got the ball first. Despite getting deep into San Francisco territory, they could only manage an FG. That left the door open for the 49ers to eventually win the game on a TD. The loss actually drops the Bengals out of a playoff spot and makes the result all the more painful.
Winner #3 Green Bay Packers
I mentioned it earlier, but in case you missed it, Aaron Rodgers still owns the Chicago Bears. Rodgers threw for 341 yards and 4 TDs Sunday Night against his favorite opponent. Despite a fast start by the Bears, the Packers were able to win comfortably. The 45-30 victory combined with the Rams beating the Cardinals now gives the Packers the #1 seed in the conference. As I’ve mentioned before, grabbing that top seed is more important than it has ever been before. For one, the top seed is the only team that gets a bye during the wild card round. The other reason is that every single game on the road to the Super Bowl is played at home. The Packers home field advantage is unlike any other in the league. Being able to play all their games at home will be a huge boost to a potential championship.
Loser #3 Buffalo Bills
Last week the Bills lost to their old enemies the New England Patriots. This week they fell victim to their old bully Tom Brady. Meanwhile their hopes for a division title seem to be slipping further and further away. In fact, if the Bills don’t get it together sooner rather than later, they could miss the playoffs altogether. If that wasn’t bad enough, their QB Josh Allen was seen after the game in a walking boot. If he’s forced to miss time, the Buffalo faithful will have no choice but to hit the panic button. The good news for the Bills is that they have a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way. A week 16 matchup in New England against the Patriots looms large, though.