As Week 13 marks the beginning of December and the holiday stage of the NFL season, most teams are beginning to reevaluate their recent performances to adjust and polish different aspects of their gameplay as they head to Week 14 and approach the last stretch of the regular season.
Sunday became the perfect stage for some teams to strengthen their division lead and conference standings, while others worked hard to amplify and increase their odds for potential post-season action. The Baltimore Ravens stumbled in their attempt to separate themselves from close contenders in the division standings, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals made sure to reconfirm why they top the list as lead units to shine before the upcoming playoff stage.
Ravens’ Sudden Fall to Struggling Steelers
For the Ravens, having their ninth win of the season slip away was due to their lack of offense which once again troubled the squad. This time, even one of the most solid defenses in the league was unable to stop Ben Roethlisberger from making regular offensive connections.
It all came down to the fourth quarter in which Roethlisberger nailed two key plays with WR Diontae Johnson to grant the Steelers their victory. A 29-yard pass play followed by a short 5-yard touchdown allowed Big Ben and Johnson to reach the 20-point mark.
Lamar Jackson led the final drive by the Ravens which ended with a 6-yard TD pass to Sammy Watkins and set the score at 20-19. The Ravens’ bold attempt to go for a 2-point conversion failed and left them just one point behind the Steelers.
The Ravens remain number one in AFC North standings yet failed to take advantage of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 41-22 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers to stretch their lead to a two game margin. For the Steelers, their sixth win puts them third behind the Bengals and are now two games behind their Sunday rivals in the divisional standings.
Brady Enhances MVP Projection as Bucs Seize Ninth Victory
This game came down to Tom Brady and his innate offensive leadership. When a star steps to the plate, not much can be done to stop them. With airs of a potential MVP performance level, Brady stepped to the front and the Atlanta Falcons failed to stay close.
Despite being intercepted once, Brady still managed to throw four touchdown passes for a total of 368 yards. The former Pats’ star completed 38 of 51 passes, allowing the Buccaneers to stay ahead throughout the entire game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Falcons’ Matt Ryan was able to complete 30 of 41 passes for a total of 297 yards. Ryan was unable to make solid connections with his WRs to break Tampa’s defense. For Atlanta, this last game translates into a third spot in the NFC South and a four-game difference between them and their 2nd place rivals.
Tampa continues to lead the NFC South and is now four games ahead of their nearest division opponent. The race for second place is tight but first place may already have a solid owner with a guaranteed ticket to the playoffs and, most likely, led by the regular season MVP.
Cardinals Dominate, Become First to Hit 10-Win mark
The Arizona Cardinals continue to dominate the NFC West and have officially become the first team in the 2021-22 season to hit the 10 victory mark. Even though it does stand as quite a feat, it comes as an almost necessary action to remain at the top of their division.
With a 37-7 crushing win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles Rams are attempting to stay close to the Cardinals and not let them run away with the division title. That is why Kyler Murray rose to the challenge and led Arizona to a 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears.
Murray completed 11 of 15 passes for 123 yards and threw two touchdowns. He stated that the team needs to stay solid for what remains of the season, especially if they are looking to hold on to the best overall season record through the following weeks.