Week 13 of the 2021 NFL season brought the drama with upsets, blowouts, wild weather and close finishes.
Houston won the dubious honour of being the first team eliminated from playoff contention after their 31-0 defeat against Indianapolis.
At the other end of the standings Arizona continued to roll and in a boost to their playoff hopes, also saw Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins returning from injury.
We’ve broken down the box scores, checked the highlight footage and come up with our five big takeaways from the past few days in the National Football League.
1 – Clinch Time
All any NFL team can ask for heading into mid-December is a chance to secure a berth in the postseason.
After Week 13, two NFC teams will have the chance to not only book their spot in the postseason but at least one home game.
Green Bay was able to sit back on their bye week and watch results break their way with Chicago and Minnesota both losing to extend their lead at the top of the NFC North.
It means that with a Vikings loss against Pittsburgh and a win over Chicago, the Packers will claim the division again.
The story in the NFC South will follow a similar pattern after Tampa Bay won their third game in a row, defeating Atlanta by 13 points.
Sitting four games clear of the other three teams in their division, the reigning champions can also clinch this week but have a big game coming up against Buffalo.
2 – You Have To Be Happy For Detroit
Detroit has definitely earned its reputation as one of, if not the most cursed NFL franchise with their luck in games this year alone.
After multiple heartbreaking defeats, it was phenomenal viewing to see Jared Goff drive down and make this crucial throw as time expired.
When the Lions and Browns went 0-16 under the previous schedule format, they were talent deficient, just like the 2021 Lions, but they also seemed resigned to suffering the indignity of their winless campaigns.
This Lions team is not that good, but thanks to the coaching of Dan Campbell, they are least put in maximum effort just about every week.
And boy did they enjoy that win when they finally broke through.
It should not change how you approach betting on Lions games but you can at least enjoy the scenes in the Motor City.
3 – Don’t Read Too Much Into The 49ers Loss
It is tough to understand how the 49ers lost to an awful Seattle team but it might be one of those results that you don’t want to look too much into.
For starters, it was a division rivalry between two sides that know each other well and are always motivated to face off.
Secondly, it had all the makings of a “last hurrah” for this Seattle regime that appears ready to be torn down to its foundations.
They went all out early with this fake punt that paid off in a big way.
And for the 49ers, they had their moments, like this weird goal line interception.
But there were just too many mistakes that cost them, like this safety straight after the turnover.
The 49ers can bounce back immediately when they take on the Bengals in Week 14 and with George Kittle in red-hot form, they are every chance of going on a run.
4 – The Rams Got Back On Track
After going over a month without a win, Sean McVay’s team can finally stop hearing everyone ask “what’s wrong with the Rams?”
Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp were able to get their connection back on track as LA cruised to a comfortable 37-7 victory.
Jacksonville was not exactly the toughest opponent but the Rams took care of business and never gave their opponents a chance, holding them to just 197 yards of offence.
What that win also provided for LA was a chance to still steal the NFC West and they will have a potentially season defining contest on Monday Night Football in Week 14 against the NFC leading Arizona Cardinals.
5 – Harbaugh Has To Take The Criticism
The biggest coaching call of Week 13 came in Pittsburgh as John Harbaugh made an all or nothing decision late in the game.
Lamar Jackson had brought Baltimore down the field and threw this touchdown pass to make the score 20-19.
Then came the brave or stupid call depending on how you view it.
Historically there would never have been a second thought given, kick the extra point and take your chances in overtime.
The Ravens opted to attempt a two-point conversion to win the game then and there.
Before getting into the decision itself, credit has to go to TJ Watt for putting the pressure on Jackson to force the throw slightly off target.
After the game, Harbaugh explained that he had no healthy cornerbacks and was not willing to risk overtime.
If there is one thing you can give him plenty of credit for, it’s having faith in his quarterback with the game on the line, however unlike his gamble against the Chiefs in Week 2, this one backfired.
And while some advanced stats may say it was the “right call” it’s hard to have his back when it could be the result that costs his team home field advantage in the playoffs.
There will not be a whole lot of time to dwell on this result with another game against the Cleveland Browns up next.