This past week, 11 of 14 games were within one score in the fourth quarter, nine of 14 games were decided by six-or-fewer points, and three games were won with a second-half comeback of at least 10 points. Just another weekend at the office for the National Football League.
After Week 13 concludes tonight with the DALLAS COWBOYS at the BALTIMORE RAVENS (8:05 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/Amazon), every team will have four regular-season games remaining. That’s four weeks to sort out eight division titles and six Wild Card playoff berths. Four weeks for household names to continue their dominance, for records to fall and young players to solidify their place on the NFL map. And four weeks of suspense and excitement at every turn.
Welcome to the final quarter of the NFL season.
BROWNS COMFORTABLE IN TIGHT GAMES: After a statement road win in Week 13, the CLEVELAND BROWNS (9-3) are tied with Buffalo (9-3) for the AFC’s third-best record behind Kansas City (11-1) and Pittsburgh (11-1). This week, the Browns host division rival BALTIMORE on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN) with an opportunity to take another step toward their first playoff berth since 2002. With a win, the Browns would have their best record through the first 13 games of a season since opening 10-2-1 in 1969.
This season, Cleveland owns an NFL-best 6-0 record in games decided by six-or-fewer points. The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-0), NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-0) and INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (3-0) also are undefeated in games decided by six-or-fewer points. Eighty of 191 games (41.9 percent) have been decided by six-or-fewer points, tied for the second-most games at this point of a season in NFL history.
Cleveland wide receiver JARVIS LANDRY recorded eight receptions for 62 yards and one touchdown in the Browns’ Week 13 win. Landry, who is in his seventh season, has 71 career games with at least five receptions and has surpassed STERLING SHARPE (70 games) for the fourth-most such games by a player in his first seven seasons in NFL history. Only DEANDRE HOPKINS (78), ANTONIO BROWN (72) and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (72) had more.
WATCH FOR SECOND-HALF COMEBACKS AT METLIFE: The ARIZONA CARDINALS (6-6), who play the NEW YORK GIANTS (5-7) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX), are no stranger to second-half comebacks. The Cardinals had a 13-point comeback to beat Seattle in Week 7 and a 14-point comeback to beat Buffalo in Week 10.
In addition to Arizona, five other teams – the CHICAGO BEARS, MINNESOTA VIKINGS, PITTSBURGH STEELERS, TENNESSEE TITANS and WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM – have two victories this season in which they overcame second-half deficits of at least 10 points.
Across the league in 2020, 22 games have seen the winning team come back from down at least 10 points in the second half, tied with the 1989 season (22 games) for the most in NFL annals through 13 weeks of a season (with one game remaining tonight).
Meanwhile, the Giants have won four in a row and five of their last seven, including an impressive Week 13 win at Seattle in which New York held the league’s No. 3 scoring team entering the week (31.0 points per game) to just 12 points. The Giants’ two losses in that span were by a combined three points. New York’s defense, guided by coordinator PATRICK GRAHAM, leads the league in third-down defense (25.0 percent, 10 conversions in 40 attempts) over the team’s four-game winning streak.
The Giants are attempting to author one of the most significant in-season turnarounds in league history. They could become the first team in NFL annals to reach the playoffs after opening winless through five games, and the first to reach the playoffs with one-or-fewer wins through eight games.
POSSIBLE AFC PLAYOFF PREVIEW IN BUFFALO: In a battle of division leaders, the BUFFALO BILLS (9-3) host the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-1) on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC).
- In Week 13, Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions and a 139.1 passer rating. It marked the third time this season that Allen has thrown for at least 375 yards and three-or-more touchdowns with a rating of 130 or better. Only one other player in NFL history has had three such games in a season: DREW BREES in 2013.
- Allen faces the league’s No. 2 defense against the pass (199.8 yards allowed per game). The Steelers’ defense also leads the NFL in points allowed per game (17.6), sacks (44) and interceptions (16).
- On third down, the Bills’ offense leads the NFL, having converted 68 of 138 attempts (49.3 percent), while the Steelers’ defense ranks fourth, having allowed 61 conversions on 169 attempts (36.1 percent).
- With a sack on Sunday, the Steelers will establish the NFL record with at least one sack in 70 consecutive games. They enter the week tied with the 1999-2003 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS, who had one-or-more sacks in 69 straight contests. Having led the league in sacks each of the previous three seasons (2017-19), the Steelers can become the first team in history to pace the league in sacks over four consecutive years.
CHIEFS RETURN TO MIAMI: Having secured a playoff berth last week for a sixth-consecutive season, the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-1) return to Hard Rock Stadium, where they won Super Bowl LIV in February, to face the MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
- Last week, Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE caught eight passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. He leads all tight ends with 82 catches and 1,114 receiving yards this season, while tying for the lead with eight touchdown receptions. Among all players in 2020, only DK METCALF (1,119) has more receiving yards. Kelce now has at least 80 receptions in five consecutive seasons and has joined Pro Football Hall of Famer TONY GONZALEZ (eight seasons) and JASON WITTEN (six) as the only tight ends with five career seasons of 80-or-more receptions. However, Kelce is the first tight end with at least 80 receptions in five consecutive years. He also is the first tight end in league annals with five career 1,000-yard seasons.
- Kelce needs just 264 receiving yards over the season’s final four games to surpass GEORGE KITTLE (1,377 receiving yards in 2018) for the most single-season receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history.
- Making his fifth career start last week, Miami rookie quarterback TUA TAGOVAILOA passed for a career-high 296 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions for a 97.8 rating in the Dolphins’ 19-7 win over Cincinnati. Tagovailoa became the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least one touchdown pass and zero interceptions in each of his first five career starts, joining JEFF KEMP.
- Miami tight end MIKE GESICKI had 88 receiving yards on a career-high nine catches and added a touchdown reception last week. He ranks fourth among tight ends this season with 537 receiving yards
STINGY SAINTS DEFENSE GETS TEST AT PHILLY: The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-2), who travel to meet the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-8-1) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX), clinched a playoff berth for the fourth straight season last week. New Orleans has won nine consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league.
- Since the beginning of Week 9, the Saints’ defense leads the NFL by a significant margin in fewest points allowed per game (8.8), fewest yards allowed per game (233.4) and fewest rushing yards allowed per game (55.8). New Orleans also leads the NFL since Week 9 with nine interceptions and 13 takeaways, while ranking second in that span with 17 sacks.
VIKINGS, BRADY AND BYES: The MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-6) meet the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-5) on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium (1:00 PM ET, FOX).
- The Vikings entered their Week 7 bye with a 1-5 record. Since, Minnesota has won five of six games and can see a clear path to a possible playoff berth.
- This week, Minnesota and the NFC’s leading rusher, running back DALVIN COOK (1,250 yards), face a Tampa Bay defense that ranks No. 1 in the NFL against the run, allowing just 74.2 yards per game.
- On offense, both Minnesota and Tampa Bay rank among the NFL’s top teams in the red zone. On drives penetrating the 20-yard line this season, Minnesota has scored 30 touchdowns on 40 possessions (75.0 percent, third in NFL). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has scored 32 touchdowns in 45 red-zone drives (71.1 percent, sixth in NFL).
- The Buccaneers and quarterback TOM BRADY are coming off their bye. In 18 career regular-season games after a bye, Brady is 14-4 with 4,573 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions, for a 96.4 passer rating.
- Appearing in his 12th career game last week, Minnesota rookie wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON had nine receptions for 121 yards and one touchdown in the Vikings’ win over Jacksonville. Jefferson, who ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,039 receiving yards this season, is the fifth rookie with at least 1,000 receiving yards in his first 12 career games in the Super Bowl era, joining ODELL BECKHAM JR. (2014), ANQUAN BOLDIN (2003), MARQUES COLSTON (2006) and Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (1998).
Minnesota overcame a 10-point deficit to defeat Jacksonville, 27-24, in overtime in Week 13. This season, there have been 38 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win, the most through Week 13 in NFL history.
RODGERS-ADAMS COMBINATION HEADS TO MOTOR CITY: Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS and wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS are arguably the most dangerous offensive combination in the NFL this season. The duo leads the GREEN BAY PACKERS (9-3) across Lake Michigan to meet the DETROIT LIONS (5-7) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX).
- Appearing in his 193rd career game last week, Rodgers became the seventh player in NFL history with at least 400 career touchdown passes and surpassed DREW BREES (205 games) as the fastest player to reach the mark.
- Rodgers has 36 touchdown passes this season and is the first player with five career seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes in league annals. He also accomplished the feat in 2016 (40 touchdown passes), 2014 (38), 2012 (39) and 2011 (45).
- Adams has four games with at least 10 receptions, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown catch this season, tied with ODELL BECKHAM JR. (four games in 2014) and TORRY HOLT (four in 2003) for the second-most such games in a single season in NFL history. Only MICHAEL THOMAS (six games in 2019) has more.
- Adams is the third player with at least five receptions and a touchdown catch in seven consecutive games within a single season in NFL history, joining ANTONIO BROWN (eight games in 2018) and Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL OWENS (seven games in 2007).
- Detroit quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 402 yards and three touchdowns with one interception for a 109.4 rating while running back ADRIAN PETERSON rushed for two touchdowns in the Lions’ Week 13 victory.
- Stafford is the seventh quarterback with at least 10 career games with 400-or-more passing yards in NFL history, joining DREW BREES (16 games), PEYTON MANNING (14), Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (13), BEN ROETHLISBERGER (12), PHILIP RIVERS (11) and TOM BRADY (10).
- Last week, Peterson recorded his 28th career game with at least two rushing touchdowns and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN (27 games) for the third-most such games in league annals. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (38 games) and EMMITT SMITH (36) have more. Peterson, who has six rushing touchdowns this season, has 11 career seasons with at least five rushing touchdowns, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON (11 seasons) for the third-most such seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers MARCUS ALLEN (13 seasons) and EMMITT SMITH (12) have more.
SMITH CONTINUES REMARKABLE COMEBACK SEASON: When WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM quarterback ALEX SMITH takes his club on the road against the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX) at State Farm Stadium in Arizona, he will play the team that selected him No. 1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft.
- Smith this season is 3-1 as a starter, having led Washington to three straight wins, including a 23-17 triumph over previously undefeated Pittsburgh on the road in Week 13.
- As a starting quarterback, Smith has compiled eight winning seasons since 2011, when he went 13-3 in San Francisco. That stretch includes each of his five seasons (2013-17) as the starter in Kansas City.
MR. ROBINSON’S NEIGHBORHOOD: When the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-11) host the TENNESSEE TITANS (8-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Jaguars rookie running back JAMES ROBINSON has an opportunity to make history.
- Last week, Robinson totaled 108 scrimmage yards (78 rushing, 30 receiving) and one rushing touchdown. Robinson now has seven games with at least 100 scrimmage yards this season, tied with CLARK GAINES (seven games in 1976) for the most such games by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. Robinson has 1,278 scrimmage yards this season, tied with PHILLIP LINDSAY (1,278 scrimmage yards in 2018) for the second-most scrimmage yards by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. Only DOMINIC RHODES (1,328) had more.
- Titans running back DERRICK HENRY leads the NFL with 1,317 rushing yards and has recorded at least 100 rushing yards in eight consecutive road games, tied with CHRIS JOHNSON (eight games from 2009-10) for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer BARRY SANDERS (10 games from 1996-97) has a longer streak.
KEY CONFERENCE GAME IN VEGAS: Playoff implications will be on the line when the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (8-4) head west to meet the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (7-5) on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, CBS).
- Last week, Las Vegas tight end DARREN WALLER had 13 receptions for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders’ 31-28 win. Waller became the fourth tight end in history to record at least 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a single game, joining RICH CASTER (Sept. 24, 1972) as well as Pro Football Hall of Famers SHANNON SHARPE (Oct. 20, 2002) and JACKIE SMITH (Oct. 13, 1963).
- Indianapolis quarterback PHILIP RIVERS passed for 285 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 119.3 rating in the Colts’ Week 13 win at Houston. Rivers, who has 3,263 passing yards this season, is the fifth quarterback in NFL history to record at least 15 seasons with 3,000 passing yards, joining TOM BRADY (18 seasons), Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (18), DREW BREES (16) and PEYTON MANNING (16).
- Colts defensive end JUSTIN HOUSTON registered three sacks and a safety in last week’s victory. Houston, who has at least three sacks in eight career games, is the fourth player with at least eight games of three-or-more sacks since 2000, joining JOHN ABRAHAM (10 games), JULIUS PEPPERS (nine) and DEMARCUS WARE (nine). Houston, who also recorded a safety in Week 3, is the fourth player to record two safeties in a single season since 2000, joining JARED ALLEN (2008), JUNIOR GALETTE (2014) and JAMEEL MCCLAIN (2008).