Detroit Lions 20, Chicago Bears 10
There were touchdowns for former Heels on both sides of this game. One was a bit more meaningful than the other, though. Eric Ebron scored his third touchdown of the season to put the Lions up 20-3. The touchdown was the tenth of his career, and he is now only 22 receiving yards away from 2,000 for his career. It also helped the Lions stay alive in the playoff hunt.
On the other side, a late Mitchell Trubisky touchdown to Benny Cunningham wasn’t enough, and he fell to 3-7 as a starter for the Bears. He threw three interceptions for the first time in his career, all of which came in the second half. It’s clear the Bears now have their quarterback—their next draft will be about getting him some help.
Safety Tre Boston didn’t miss a snap on defense and was responsible for five tackles, but the defense failed to force a turnover and the offense committed four. In the Chargers’ biggest game of the season, they came up short. Though this may be their first season in a new home, it’s comforting in a way to know that the Chargers will always be the Chargers.
Wide receiver Mack Hollins continues to fight for playing time, as he only saw 13 snaps and one target (which he did not catch) against the Giants. The Eagles could clinch the #1 seed this week; if so, it will be interesting to see how much Hollins plays in a meaningless game in Week 17.
New Orleans Saints 31, New York Jets 19
Special teams player Bruce Carter returned for the Jets, playing 20 snaps but failing to record a statistic.
Giovani Bernard led his Bengals in rushing yards (with, um, 30) and scored his first rushing touchdown of the year. Russell Bodine continued his iron man streak at center, but this was a game where other storylines won the day on each sideline. Teddy Bridgewater finally made his return for the Vikings (he threw an interception, but can you blame him for being rusty?), and Marvin Lewis made it clear he’s done in Cincinnati.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are, improbably, one of the best teams in the NFL. So it’s hard to blame T.J. Yates for losing this game. He threw his third touchdown of the year, all of which have been to DeAndre Hopkins. Outside that touchdown, though, he went a paltry 11 of 30 for 103 yards and a pick. It’s too soon to say if Yates will start the Texans’ final two games, but it’s likely.
Baltimore Ravens 27, Cleveland Browns 10
Offensive guard James Hurst, his own iron man streak, and the Ravens maintained their inside track to the AFC Wild Card by handing the Browns their 14th loss of the season. Since December of 2015, there have been three times as many Star Wars movies as Browns wins.
Against one of his former teams, Julius Peppers teamed up with Mario Addison to sack Aaron Rodgers on a late fourth-and-long and seemingly tie up the game for the Panthers. But the Panthers being the Panthers meant that we all had to sweat it out until the very end. Peppers’s sack was his tenth of the season, giving him his tenth season of at least ten sacks. If it wasn’t time already, it’s time to start referring to him as Future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers.
The door is still open for Cardinals rookie running back T.J. Logan to return from IR in either of the Cardinals’ last two games. Speaking of injury, Redskins linebacker Zack Brown was held out due to a foot injury and it’s unclear whether or not the team will play it safe for the rest of the season with one of their defensive stars. Cardinals defender Kareem Martin did see the field, though, notching five tackles.
Buffalo Bills 24, Miami Dolphins 16
Return man Brandon Tate caught a 21-yard pass against the Dolphins—his first since Week 11 and his fifth of the year. He also added 38 yards on three kick returns.
Seahawks nose tackle Nazair Jones sat out his third consecutive game because of an ankle injury, but it’s probably for the better that he missed this one. The Seahawks were outclassed in a way that hasn’t happened since the Legion of Boom came to town. Rams defensive end Robert Quinn contributed in a big way, sacking Russell Wilson twice. He now has six sacks over the last four games.
Da’Norris Searcy and Sylvester Williams combined for three tackles but could do nothing to stop the Jimmy G machine. The Titans, once certain of a playoff spot, are freefalling.
Dallas Cowboys 20, Oakland Raiders 17
Ryan Switzer got his hand on some returns but didn’t get a chance to get involved in the offense, although Jonathan Cooper still hasn’t missed a snap since taking over at left guard. Don’t look now: the Cowboys are still alive in the playoff hunt.