NFL Week 14 Superlatives
Handing out awards dedicated to the 14th week of action in the National Football League
By: Maxwell Argento
The “Allen/Diggs 2020” Award
During the earlier parts of the fall season while driving around my hometown of Rochester, New York I couldn’t help but see election signs in the lawns of homes and businesses. Spattered amongst them in some lawns was a blue and red sign that said “Allen/Diggs 2020”, obviously placed there to show support for Bills fan’s favorite QB/WR combo in the league. The duo has been a revelation all year, and Stefon Diggs continued it by having one of his premier games as a pro with 10 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.
Josh Allen looks as mature as a 10 year veteran, and has the ability to use every throw in the bag. Being able to lean on someone like Diggs, who can get open against any cornerback in the league and finds the holes in zone coverage, has been vital for Allen this year. Above all, I enjoyed the fact on Sunday night that once the pair knew the Steelers couldn’t stop Diggs getting open, they abused the matchup. If they continue to operate together like they have been the Bills will be a really tough team to defend in January.
The “Growing Up Before Our Eyes” Award
Even in a week that they lost in primetime, this award goes to the Cleveland Browns. The evolution of this organization since the drafting of Baker Mayfield has been pretty remarkable, and has been thrown into hyperdrive with the hiring of Kevin Stefanski.
The maturity of the organization has seeped into Baker Mayfield, who all of a sudden is a cool customer under center and with the media. Their identity on offense is clear, and the way they play on both sides of the ball benefits them in a playoff setting as the weather turns worse and worse. Having the best pair of running backs and the best pair of tight ends in the AFC is a huge asset for Stefanski, and not having the pressure of having to feed OBJ the ball seems to have the offense flowing in a natural way. I am not saying that they will win whatever playoff game they earn, but they have the pieces to match up and give problems to whoever they face. Generally the feeling in Cleveland after a Browns loss is somber, but I bet the fans this morning, despite feeling disappointed at last night’s result, feel optimistic about the next month for their team.
The “Back to the Scene of the Crime” Award
This award goes to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for going back to the site of their Super Bowl victory and beating a hungry and tenacious Miami Dolphins team that are in the thick of a playoff battle. The champions looked the better team in all of the decisive moments of the game, and showed their collective speed, talent, and ability to score points. To not score any points in the first quarter and still score over 30 is absurd, and Patrick Mahomes had a terrible game by his standards and still almost eclipsed 400 yards throwing.
If their defense can continue to turn teams over and provide enough problems for their opponents the Chiefs have as good a chance as any at repeating as Super Bowl champs. I don’t think there is a team that can truly stop Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill when they are up for it. We will see if I am right about that down the stretch of the season.
The “Batting 1.000” Award
This award goes to Jalen Hurts, who is currently batting a thousand in career starts in the National Football League. What a nice little boost of energy for the Eagles, who behind Hurts’ 273 total yards and touchdown beat one of the NFC’s best teams in the form of the New Orleans Saints.
His legs were the difference in the game, and provided enough of a spark to a team that desperately needed a win. I still have doubts about what Hurts’ future looks like in the NFL, but for now he deserves to continue to start for the Eagles down the stretch. If they can rattle off a couple of wins then who knows what will happen within their division. As it relates to Hurts, sometimes I think we forget how much experience he had at the highest level of college football and how old he is in the context of the age of some of the league’s best players. His cool demeanor and experience make him equipped to try and take up the mantle of the failing Carson Wentz and lead the team from Philadelphia towards the climax of the season.
The “King of the North” Award
This award deservedly goes to the Green Bay Packers, who fended off the Detroit Lions and claimed the title of NFC North champions. Aaron Rodgers is in the thick of the MVP Race, and for good reason. Number 12 has nine games of 3+ touchdowns and no interceptions this season and has thrown 39 TD’s on a 69.6% completion percentage. He has completely elevated those around him and there seems to be a good togetherness with this group of players which is always nice to see.
I am not sure there is a team in the league who would benefit more from home field advantage throughout the playoffs than the Packers, who would love to invite teams like the Saints and Rams to a setting like Lambeau Field. As long as their defense continues to try their best to play secure, sound football, they have as good of a chance as anyone at making an appearance in the Super Bowl. Despite being a hard team to read, the one thing I know for certain is that the Packers are certainly never going to be overmatched at quarterback.
The “Right the (Pirate) Ship” Award
This award goes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their understated 26–14 victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in the cluster of games in the 1:00pm window. The Bucs took advantage of being a terrible matchup for the Vikings, and kept Dalvin Cook somewhat quiet depsite allowing him to rush for 102 yards. Tom Brady spread the ball around to his skill players and Ronald Jones gave the home team just enough of a ground presence to set up the rest of the offense.
When push comes to shove the Buccaneers boast as good a roster as any other team in the league, and if they can continue to groove the way they want to attack they are going to be a nice underdog to bet on in the playoffs. I will always have worries about the Bucs coming up against a team with an elite offensive line that can pressure Brady and make them a one-dimensional team in the pass game, but if they can continue to get production from Jones in the backfield they will be a tough team to defend.
The “We Won the Battle, Not the War” Award
This award goes to Mitch Trubisky and the Chicago Bears for hammering the Texans (and a quarterback that will always be inextricably linked with Trubisky) and in the process doing absolutely nothing to change the fact that there is a massive quarterback problem in Chicago.
Wasting the lifecycle of one of the better defenses in the league because he cannot find a quarterback to match his system (or the other way around) is the reason why I don’t think Matt Nagy will be back coaching the Bears in 2021. Although they are still in a playoff chase and the win against the Texans was absolutely necessary, I think it just delays the inevitable; the Bears will fall short and change things going into next year. On a human level I am very happy for Trubisky, who showed a lot of intestinal fortitude in coming back and playing like he did, but on a football level I am disgusted by the Bears.