Week 13 NFL takeaways: Biggest stories and lessons from every game

In a week of upsets, the Eagles, Jets and Panthers all lost to teams with two or fewer victories. The Jets allowed the Bengals to get in the win column, while the Eagles and Panthers stumbled in games important for their playoff hopes.

Elsewhere, the Ravens made a big statement by handing the 49ers their second loss and took over as the top seed in the AFC when the Texans beat the Patriots on Sunday night. The Packers took care of the Giants in the snow, and the Titans made a move in the AFC South with a victory over the Colts. In the afternoon, the Broncos might have found a quarterback, and the Rams got back on track. And looking back to Thursday, the Saints clinched the NFC South with a win over the Falcons.

Here are Week 13's biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

Seattle Seahawks 37, Minnesota Vikings 30

The NFC's No. 1 seed is very much within reach for the Seahawks. Their victory Monday over Minnesota puts them in first place in the NFC West by virtue of their head-to-head win over the 49ers, who are also 10-2. The 10-2 Saints own that same tiebreaker over Seattle for the conference's top seed and host San Francisco this weekend. A lot can change over Seattle's final four games, the last of which is the rematch with the 49ers. For now, the Seahawks are in an excellent spot after spending much of the season hanging onto a wild-card spot. -- Brady Henderson

Next game: at Los Angeles Rams (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Vikings' loss at Seattle doesn't hurt their playoff positioning, but Minnesota let an opportunity to jostle the Seahawks out of the No. 5 seed slip away. The Vikings also missed a golden opportunity to get a crucial road win that could help down the stretch. This loss exposed a handful of problem areas (fumbles, repeated issues on defense) but gives the Vikings perspective on the things that need extra attention over the final quarter of the season. "I just hope everybody in this locker room holds their heads high knowing that we could be back here again in a month and we played one of the best teams in the NFC tonight and we shot ourselves in the foot too many times," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. -- Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Detroit (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Baltimore Ravens 20, San Francisco 49ers 17

The Ravens proved they can beat the best despite not playing their best. Baltimore knocked off the team with the best record in the NFC despite quarterback Lamar Jackson fumbling and the defense looking very susceptible against the run. Baltimore is now off to a franchise-best start at 10-2, beating the likes of the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, Rams and now 49ers. No one has a more impressive résumé. -- Jamison Hensley

Next game: at Buffalo (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The 49ers lost but showed again that they can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. And if they can fix some of the mistakes they made Sunday, they can beat anyone left on the schedule or in the playoffs. "[We] definitely played against a real good team, but I was real happy with our guys and how they played," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "We had every chance to win that game. We came up a little bit short there at the end. Give credit to them. Hopefully, we can earn an opportunity to maybe get a chance to play them some other time again." New Orleans awaits next week as the Niners look to bounce back. -- Nick Wagoner

Next game: at New Orleans (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Houston Texans 28, New England Patriots 22

Tom Brady and the Patriots need an offensive spark. On a night when everyone was available, the results were especially disappointing, with the Patriots slipping to the No. 2 spot in the AFC behind the Ravens. Brady was just 7-of-19 for 82 yards with one interception at halftime, which matched the lowest completion percentage he has ever had in the first half of a game in his career. Even though there was a late comeback attempt, it sparks questions as to whether the attack can improve with the Chiefs coming to town to kick off the final quarter of the season. -- Mike Reiss

Next game: vs. Kansas City (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Texans finally beat the Patriots for the first time in six tries under Bill O'Brien. In handing New England its second loss of the season, Houston was again led in prime time by quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw three touchdowns and caught another from DeAndre Hopkins on a trick play. Watson has 21 touchdown passes and three interceptions in nine career night games. The victory keeps the Texans a game ahead of the Titans in the AFC South with two games left against Tennessee. -- Sarah Barshop

Next game: vs. Denver (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Tennessee Titans 31, Indianapolis Colts 17

The Titans have seemingly found another weapon: field goal blocking. First, defensive lineman Austin Johnson blocked a field goal. Then, defensive back Dane Cruikshank's field goal block led to a 63-yard scoop-and-score by Tye Smith. It's another part of their complementary football formula fueled by running back Derrick Henry, who is on fire right now (149 yards rushing against the Colts). Henry has 496 total yards in his past three games. With quarterback Ryan Tannehill effectively serving as a game manager, the Titans are hitting their stride at the right time. Tennessee will be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch. -- Turron Davenport

Next game: at Oakland (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

The playoffs are slowly slipping away from the Colts after they gave up 24 straight points in the loss to Tennessee. The Colts are not officially eliminated from the AFC playoff race, but they've gone from being 5-2 and in first place in the AFC South to 6-6 with two teams in front of them for the sixth and final playoff spot. Special teams continues to be a problem, as veteran Adam Vinatieri missed a 55-yard field goal and had two others blocked, the last of which was returned 63 yards for a touchdown to give the Titans the lead for good. -- Mike Wells

Next game: at Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 11

One week after the offense racked up 446 yards in a win over the Falcons, the Buccaneers relied on a playmaking defense. They notched three touchdowns off Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles' turnovers in the first half and held off a second-half surge by replacement Gardner Minshew. The Bucs have now recorded 11 sacks the past two weeks, and 29 points have come off turnovers. It was another step in the right direction for a young defense that, until two weeks ago, had been giving up a league-high 31.3 points per game. -- Jenna Laine

Next game: vs. Indianapolis (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Jaguars benched an ineffective Foles for rookie Minshew in the loss to the Bucs. Coach Doug Marrone wouldn't say whether it's for the rest of the season or just this week, but it's clear the offense is better with Minshew. The Jaguars have scored 33 points -- including just 10 in three first halves -- since Foles' return from a broken collarbone. Marrone will announce his decision later this week, but Minshew gives the team the best chance to win and is the best choice for Marrone, who is fighting to keep his job. -- Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Cleveland Browns 13

The Steelers' cast of offensive skill players Sunday was a far cry from the group that started the season, but it didn't matter. Behind quarterback Devlin Hodges, the Steelers all but ended the Browns' postseason hopes while buoying their own. Not only were the Steelers playing without quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, out since a Week 2 elbow injury, and Mason Rudolph, benched last week, but they were also down running back James Conner (shoulder) and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee). Hodges was steady in his first home start, completing 14 of 21 attempts for 212 yards to go with a touchdown and interception. But it was the defense that truly kept the season alive, thanks to Joe Haden's game-sealing interception. -- Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Arizona (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

The rematch from the ugly melee 17 days ago was relatively calm, but it also exposed the warts that have plagued Cleveland. The Browns couldn't get the ball to receiver Odell Beckham Jr. once again (three catches). They couldn't protect quarterback Baker Mayfield once again (he was sacked five times). And once again, off-the-field issues hurt them on the field, as safety Damarious Randall didn't make the trip because he skipped a practice last week, according to a source, which helped pave the way for Pittsburgh to shred the Browns with a third-string quarterback. -- Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Green Bay Packers 31, New York Giants 13

It might be a bad sign that it took the Packers until the fourth quarter to pull away from the two-win Giants, but coach Matt LaFleur didn't see it that way. Not after a snowy game at MetLife Stadium that looked closer than the final score. LaFleur said he told his team, "Hey, this is great Green Bay weather right here. So, I think they embraced that. I think they like to play in these types of conditions, and our guys did a good job with it." -- Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Washington (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Giants were overmatched in a loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Rodgers threw four touchdown passes and was pressured on five of 36 dropbacks, per NFL Next Gen Stats data. It reemphasized the Giants' need to severely upgrade their defensive personnel, both in the draft and free agency. In the meantime, the Giants dropped their eighth consecutive game as the pressure builds on coach Pat Shurmur & Co. Shurmur said he's "well aware" he's ultimately judged on wins and losses. The lack of success is leading to frustration, as evidenced by cornerback Janoris Jenkins expressing his displeasure with his role after the game. Jenkins has not been tasked with defending the No. 1 receivers in recent weeks, including Packers receiver Davante Adams (two touchdowns) on Sunday. -- Jordan Raanan

Next game: at Philadelphia (8:15 p.m. ET Monday)

Washington Redskins 29, Carolina Panthers 21

Derrius Guice has game-breaking ability -- and he and Adrian Peterson can be a nice two-headed monster. Guice snapped off runs of 60 and 37 yards, showing explosion, trucking defenders and even stiff-arming linebacker Shaq Thompson. He rushed for two touchdowns and has provided a spark in the past three games. Guice gives the Redskins another potential young building block on offense, with quarterback Dwayne Haskins and receivers Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon. It's what the Redskins needed to see in a lost season. And it at least gives them a level of hope that they do have offensive parts that perhaps did not exist two weeks ago. -- John Keim

Next game: at Green Bay (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Somewhere, Panthers owner David Tepper is seething. He hates to lose, and for the third time this season, Carolina (5-7) lost at home to a team with a losing record -- and this loss to two-win Washington was the worst. It was the fourth consecutive setback and ended any remote chance the Panthers had to make the playoffs. It will increase speculation that coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney will be fired after the season. If you need a telling stat, the Panthers gave up 248 yards rushing to a Washington team averaging 85.9 rushing yards per game. If there ever were a stat indicating a team has quit, this is it. -- David Newton

Next game: at Atlanta (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Miami Dolphins 37, Philadelphia Eagles 31

The Dolphins are in good hands under Brian Flores. The Dolphins' first-year coach has shown consistency in the face of adversity, and his players have tried to model the same vibe. The Dolphins don't have the talent to beat the NFL's best every Sunday, but they never quit, and that showed in Sunday's victory over the Eagles. Flores has started to build a culture that seems set to be mighty strong by the time they are ready to compete for the playoffs. -- Cameron Wolfe

Next game: at New York Jets (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Eagles' loss to the Dolphins was the worst of the Doug Pederson era. It's the kind of defeat that has the ability to splinter a locker room and is one that will test this team's leadership group with four games left. Facing a stripped-down 2-9 Miami team and with a clear path to the NFC East title in front of it, Philadelphia choked. The good news is the Eagles (5-7) remain a game back of the Cowboys (6-6) and, with a home game against Dallas looming, still somehow control their own destiny. They could end up division champs, but after a loss like this, it's hard to think they deserve it. -- Tim McManus

Next game: vs. New York Giants (8:15 p.m. ET Monday)

Cincinnati Bengals 22, New York Jets 6

The Bengals got everything they could have wanted in Week 13. Cincinnati picked up its first win of the season with a victory over the Jets, which put an end to the worst start to a season in Bengals history. And with wins by Washington and Miami, the Bengals still hold a two-game lead over both clubs in the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft. The Giants, who lost to the Packers, are one game behind Cincinnati for the worst record. -- Ben Baby

Next game: at Cleveland (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Jets were exposed as a bad team masquerading as a wannabe. After beating bad teams en route to a three-game winning streak, they went into Cincinnati with an inflated opinion of themselves -- and got stomped by the previously winless Bengals. There was bad coaching, bad play, bad everything. This showed the Jets have a long way to go before reaching respectability. -- Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. Miami (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Los Angeles Rams 34, Arizona Cardinals 7

The Rams proved their resilience Sunday, bouncing back from a demoralizing loss to the Ravens to dominate the Cardinals. Quarterback Jared Goff passed for 424 yards and two touchdowns to break a three-game streak in which he did not throw a TD pass. The Rams next turn their attention to Monday night's game between the Seahawks and Vikings. They will get a jump-start on scouting the Seahawks for their Week 14 matchup and hope for a loss by the Vikings, who remain two games ahead in the race for a wild-card spot. -- Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Seattle (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Cardinals played perhaps their worst game of the past two seasons, and that's saying something, considering they went 3-13 last season. For the first time this season, coach Kliff Kingsbury said he didn't think Arizona competed. The Cardinals have lost five consecutive games, and the rest of the season doesn't get any easier, with Pittsburgh coming to Arizona next weekend. There's a real possibility that the Cardinals might lose nine in a row to finish the season. -- Josh Weinfuss

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Kansas City Chiefs 40, Oakland Raiders 9

This idea seemed ridiculous a few weeks ago but deserves consideration after Sunday's win. The Chiefs might be becoming a defensive team. They had their second consecutive big defensive game in beating the Raiders, who were shut out through the first three quarters and scored their only touchdown in the final minute. That defensive power gives the Chiefs a legitimate shot of going into New England and beating quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots next week, even without a big game from Patrick Mahomes. -- Adam Teicher

Next game: at New England (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

Remember when the Raiders were a feel-good story riding a three-game winning streak and chasing an AFC West division title? Yeah, that was, like, eight days ago. Since then, the Raiders have sprung oil leaks, popped a few gaskets and lost a wheel or two. Sunday's blowout loss at Kansas City culminated a ghastly two-game road trip in which the Raiders (6-6) were outscored by a combined 74-12 by the Jets and Chiefs. Yet Oakland still finds itself one game out of the playoff race with four to go, starting with a home tilt next week against a team the Raiders are chasing in the Titans (7-5). How do the Raiders not let the past two weeks snowball at the quarter pole? "We need to treat every game like a playoff game, obviously," rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby said. -- Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Tennessee (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

Denver Broncos 23, Los Angeles Chargers 20

The Broncos were happy with rookie quarterback Drew Lock's first start, which included pair of touchdown passes. Now comes the hard part: Can Lock stop the quarterback carousel the team has had at the position for much of the past three disappointing seasons? He threw for 11 yards in the second half, even with the benefit of a home game to get his balance. Now the Broncos will go on the road the next two weeks -- to Houston and Kansas City -- and Lock's abilities to manage the line of scrimmage and dissect the coverages, as well as the defensive fronts across from him, will be tested far more than they were against the Chargers. -- Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Houston (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Chargers found yet another way to lose on Sunday. This time, a defensive pass interference call on Casey Hayward Jr. on a deep pass to Courtland Sutton set up a Brandon McManus 53-yard, winning field goal. The Chargers have lost all eight games this season by seven points or fewer and have not figured out how to win close games. At 4-8, they hit the road again to face another 4-8 team, the Jaguars, next week. -- Eric D. Williams

Next game: at Jacksonville (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Chicago Bears 24, Detroit Lions 20

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky played his best game of the season. It's easy to pick apart the handful of mistakes Trubisky committed Thursday against the Lions. Yes, Trubisky needed to run straight ahead and not bounce outside on a third-and-short scramble near the end of the first half. Last season, Trubisky probably plows ahead for the first down. This season, because of shoulder and hip injuries, it's not that simple. Trubisky also threw a bad interception on a ball intended for Allen Robinson. But he completed 29 of 38 passes for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and led Chicago on its winning drive. The Bears will take those results any day of the week. -- Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Dallas (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

The Lions still haven't figured out how to win. Two-thirds of the way through the season and the Lions are in the same place they were two months ago. As coach Matt Patricia said, they are trying to "break through that thing that's stopping us right now and smash that so we can get this thing going." Except Detroit hasn't done that, and it's different versions of the same story every week -- an offense that does well enough to win and a defense that fails at key moments. Five consecutive losses have ended the meaningful part of Detroit's season, and the next month could determine what things look like in 2020 and beyond. -- Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Minnesota (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Buffalo Bills 26, Dallas Cowboys 15

The Bills can beat good teams, too. The bulk of the criticism against Buffalo has centered on its seven wins against teams with losing records and lack of a "marquee" victory. The regular-season stage doesn't get much brighter than Thanksgiving at Dallas, and the Bills turned in their best performance -- yet they don't see it as a statement win. With 10 days to prepare for the Ravens in Week 14, Buffalo thinks it simply met its expectations. "No statement game, this is just another week in Buffalo Bills land," defensive end Jerry Hughes said. "This is what we do, this is what the [Bills] Mafia expects us to do." -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Baltimore (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will not make a coaching change with four games to play. He does not believe moving on from Jason Garrett will make a difference in how the team plays, despite Dallas losing for the sixth time in nine games with Thursday's defeat to Buffalo. "I believe in redemption," Jones said. The owner's strategy is more hope than anything else. At 6-6, the Cowboys will remain in first place in the NFC East regardless of what Philadelphia does Sunday, and they say they remain confident despite evidence to the contrary. When asked why the Cowboys haven't righted the ship yet, quarterback Dak Prescott, who also expressed confidence in Garrett, said, "It will happen." That's the closest thing to a guarantee that came from the locker room. -- Todd Archer

Next game: at Chicago (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

New Orleans Saints 26, Atlanta Falcons 18

The Saints (10-2) became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. They got to serve up some revenge on Thanksgiving night after their ugly loss to the Falcons 18 days earlier. But they were still far from perfect, thanks to another barrage of penalties, some dropped passes and a shocking inability to recover onside kicks. They need a much cleaner performance if they want to aim for a higher seed, with a crucial home date looming against the 49ers in Week 14. -- Mike Triplett

Next game: vs. San Francisco (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The best move the Falcons made Thursday night was keeping receiver Julio Jones out of the lineup because of a shoulder injury. Although the 3-9 Falcons had little to play for with the postseason essentially out of reach, they needed to be cognizant of the future of their best player. The Falcons obviously weren't the same on offense without Jones on the field. Matt Ryan didn't have his safety net, and the Saints could focus their defensive attention on closing down Calvin Ridley as the primary target. Now let's see if the Falcons continue to play it cautious with Jones moving forward. -- Vaughn McClure

Next game: vs. Carolina (1 p.m. ET Sunday)