NFL Week 13: What We Learned

The Broncos and Panthers make case for Super Bowl, Jets and Steelers lose playoff ground

By Patrick Hickey Jr.
|  Monday, Dec 2, 2013  |  Updated 3:46 PM EDT
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    Nearly every division is still up for grabs, as only the AFC East leading New England Patriots look like an early lock for postseason play. The surging Panthers, Eagles and Ravens are worth watching as the season begins its final stretch, while the Jets and Browns appear to be on their last legs.

    Here's What Else We Learned:

    Justin Tuck Eats the Skins Alive: Although the Giants have little to play for, Justin Tuck, who came into the game with just 2.5 sacks for the season, devoured the Washington offensive line for four sacks in a 21-17 New York win.

    Eric Decker Gobbles Up Chiefs: Peyton Manning lit up the usually stingy Kansas City defense for five touchdowns and 403 yards, but Eric Decker may have shined the brightest in Denver's 35-28 win this week. With an eight-catch, four-TD day, Decker led the Broncos to their second win over the Chiefs in three weeks and helped Denver take sole possession of first place in the AFC West.

    Foles Stays Perfect as Eagles Fly Higher: The Eagles have soared their way into the NFC East playoff picture. Foles threw three TDs and the Eagles' defense held on against a solid Arizona offense in a 24-21 win. 5-1 when Foles starts, the second year QB now has 19 TD passes this season and not a single interception. Philly is tied for the top spot with Dallas, as the NFC East continues to be one of the most intriguing divisions in the NFL.

    Patriots' "Miraculous" Play-Calling Questioned: Tom Brady did his best impersonation of the X-Men's Professor X this week against the Houston Texans and don't think they didn't notice. After the game, Houston defensive end Antonio Smith questioned how the Pats were one step ahead in terms of play-calling all game. ''Either teams are spying on us or scouting us,'' Smith said after the game. ''I don't know what it is.'' In the 34-31 New England win, Brady connected with eight different receivers during the game, with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman adding more than 100 yards receiving apiece.

    Simms Can't Help Jets' Ailing Offense: The 5-7 Jets have no momentum and possibly the worst quarterback situation in the NFL. Geno Smith completed just four passes in the first half this week and was benched in favor of backup Matt Simms. The 23-year-old Simms wasn't much better, going 9 -18 with an interception in a passionless 23-3 defeat to rival Miami. With the victory, the Dolphins find themselves 6-6 with a playoff berth still possible.

    Cam Newton, Panthers Have Super Bowl on Their Mind: The Buccaneers have been that bad this season, but Cam Newton and the Panthers have been that good. Behind a three-TD performance from their enigmatic QB and four sacks from their defense, Carolina won their eighth game in a row. Now 9-3, the Panthers have a Super Bowl on their mind. ''There is no roof, no sky,'' defensive end Greg Hardy told The Associated Press after the game. ''We're going up. Every person on this team, every coach on this team has the same mentality right now. I feel like it's contagious.''

    Ravens Beat Steelers in Turkey Day Clunker: Two TDs reversed by replay, coaches on the field during play and crucial mistakes capped a drama-filled Ravens win on Thanksgiving. Justin Tucker kicked five FGs against the Steelers, helping out Joe Flacco and Ray Rice, who at times seemed stifled. Now 6-6. the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens still have plenty of ground to make up to catch the 8-4 Bengals in the AFC North.

    Peterson, Vikings Hammer Down Bears: This game probably gave thousands in Chicago and Minnesota a massive migraine. The back and forth affair was fueled by Chicago's balanced offense and the sheer determination of Adrian Peterson on the ground. With 211 yards rushing, Peterson drove his team down the field in a game they could have lost several times. Alshon Jeffery (12 catches, two TD, 249 yards) and Josh McCown were stellar for the Bears, but kicker Robbie Gould couldn't nail the winning FG in OT. With Peterson securing the load in OT, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh kicked the winner for a 23-20 Minnesota win.

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