The 32 things we learned from Week 14 of the 2020 NFL season:
1. Sunday provided an opportunity for the Kansas City Chiefs to celebrate and regroup. Their 33-27 defeat of the Miami Dolphins gave the reigning Super Bowl champions their fifth consecutive AFC West crown. However a sloppy, four-turnover performance should provide ample critical fodder to a club that has scant margin for error if it wants to capture the AFC's No. 1 seed.
1a. K.C. QB Patrick Mahomes, who entered Sunday with two INTs on the season (against 31 TD passes), served up three to the Fins. It was only the second time Mahomes has suffered a trio of interceptions in one NFL game, and his first multiple-pick outing since the Chiefs toppled the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
1b. Mahomes is now 3-2, including playoffs, when he throws more than one INT. He's also 1-0 when he takes an awful 30-yard sack.
Patrick Mahomes has 2 interceptions through his first 7 pass attempts versus Miami. He threw 2 in his first 463 attempts prior to today.
He also lost 30 yards on a sack, the 2nd-most yards lost on a sack in the last 20 seasons (Ryan Tannehill: 38 yards vs Washington in 2015). pic.twitter.com/23U18oLmWe
1c. And keep an eye on Kansas City's run game, held to fewer than 100 yards in four of its last six contests. It may really miss postseason hero Damien Williams, who opted out of the season due to COVID-19 considerations, this January.
2. Mahomes' rough day at the office may shift momentum in the MVP race to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who's already won the award twice, after he threw a trifecta of TD passes in a 31-24 win at Detroit – one that clinched the NFC North for Green Bay while vaulting the Pack to the top of the conference standings.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers might just have become the MVP favorite. (Photo: Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports)
NFL PLAYOFF PICTURE: Packers wrap up NFC North, overtake Saints for No. 1 seed in conference
2a. Packers WR Davante Adams has a TD grab in eight consecutive games, a franchise mark that bumps Hall of Famer Don Hutson – he dominated his era, 1935 to 1945, arguably more so than any player in league history – from the record book.
3. Also back in the MVP race? Titans RB Derrick Henry, whose 215 rushing yards Sunday in Jacksonville represented the second-highest output of his career. He also became the first player in league history to own four games with both 200+ rushing yards and a pair of TDs on the ground.
3a. Henry's league-leading rushing total is now 1,532 yards, meaning he's still got a viable shot at reaching 2K given Tennessee – locked with in a race with the Colts for the AFC South title – probably can't let up over the final three weeks.
4. Home teams are now 102-103-1 in 2020.
5. The Steelers have at least one sack in 70 consecutive games, an NFL record. All previous teams with sack streaks of at least 60 games reached the Super Bowl at some point in their run of battering opposing quarterbacks.
6. The Saints' surprise loss to the Eagles sets up a compelling Week 15 meeting with the Chiefs in the Superdome. New Orleans and Kansas City are both trying to claim first-round playoff byes, and the Saints may be trying to reintegrate QB Drew Brees next Sunday after falling behind Green Bay atop of the NFC table.
7. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson bombed the Jets for four TD passes, giving him 36 on the season – a single-season record for Seattle. Wilson broke his own record (35) and now owns the top four totals in team history.
8. Air Raid offense, eh? The Cardinals broke a three-game slide and climbed back into the NFC's projected playoff field by suffocating the Giants 26-7. Arizona held the ball for nearly 38 minutes and ran the ball 54% of the time.
9. Let's also credit the Cards' raid-and-pillage defense – well, Sunday anyway – spearheaded by OLB Haason Reddick. He pretty much locked up NFC defensive player of the week honors with five sacks and three forced fumbles. No defensive player had had such a performance since 2002.
10. After winning a record 11 consecutive division titles with QB Tom Brady under center, the Patriots are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 – when a knee injury limited TB12 to one game.
11. And after winning at least 10 games in every season starting in 2003, another league standard, New England will win no more than nine since its 9-7 campaign in 2002 – the only time they failed to reach the postseason with Brady serving as their primary quarterback.
12. Meanwhile, Brady's Buccaneers stand 8-5 and are poised to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007 – the year New England went 16-0 in the regular season and TB12 won his first MVP trophy.
13. And Tampa Bay, coming out of its bye, looked more committed to a balance – the Bucs had favored a pass-heavy approach with Brady – running the ball 53% of the time against the Vikings. The Buccaneers had run on 36.1% of the offensive snaps in their first 12 games.
14. Paging Gregg Williams? The winless Jets surrendered a season-high 40 points after canning their defensive coordinator.
15. Good night, Raiders? Another late-season spiral continues – the Autumn Wind still blowing through a defective defensive mauled by a middling Colts offense. Las Vegas could have moved up to the AFC's No. 6 seed by beating Indianapolis, but the Silver and Black instead tumbled to ninth after a 17-point loss.
15a. Vegas coach Jon Gruden didn't wait long to shake things up, firing defensive coordinator Paul Guenther on Sunday night.
15b. Gregg Williams is perfect for the Raider ethos, Chucky …
16. Colts QB Philip Rivers (244 yards, 2 TDs passing Sunday) improved to 19-10 all-time against the Raiders – most of that damage, of course, coming in a Chargers uniform.
17. Nice to see Cowboys QB Andy Dalton, who has more TD passes (204) than anyone in Bengals history, notch two more Sunday in a proper sendoff before the Cincinnati fans who used to cheer him before he was summarily replaced by Joe Burrow in the spring.
18. Incidentally, let's not count Dallas (4-9) out in the NFC East just yet. The Cowboys are two back of Washington, but suddenly Dalton and the Eagles' Jalen Hurts may signify the most stable quarterback situations in this pilloried division.
19. Washington assumed first place despite both of its TDs in a 23-15 dispatching of the 49ers coming on the defensive side of the ball. A calf injury prevented QB Alex Smith from finishing a game in which the Football Team could muster neither 100 net yards through the air or on the ground.
20. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley must be one proud papa after watching recent Sooners QBs Hurts and Kyler Murray notch wins Sunday. Baker Mayfield can fuel even more pride in Norman if he leads the Browns past the Ravens Monday night.
21. Hurts' maiden NFL start made 2020 the fifth consecutive season to have at least a half-dozen rookies start a game under center. It's the longest stretch of the Super Bowl era with so many freshmen QB1s.
22. Hurts and teammate Miles Sanders both eclipsed 100 rushing yards – truly remarkable considering the Saints had not allowed even one rusher to surpass the century mark in their previous 50 games.
23. Seahawks S Jamal Adams also got some revenge against his former team, the Jets. He took down QB Sam Darnold before halftime, meaning Adams now has 8½ sacks this season – an NFL record for a defensive back.
24. Welp, Chicago is now 4-2 in 2020 with QB Mitchell Trubisky in the starting lineup.
24a. His presence has definitely had a cascading impact on the offense, which has produced at least 100 rushing yards in all of Trubisky's starts, a threshold not crossed in 2020 when QB Nick Foles has been atop the depth chart.
25. Probably no coincidence the Bears took flight in Sunday's 36-7 dismantling of the Texans while wearing those spiffy throwback threads.
The classic unis stay undefeated. pic.twitter.com/BVvQieze3z
26. The Rams are now 34-0 when leading at halftime under Sean McVay, one of the craziest enduring streaks in the league right now.
27. The rollercoaster Drew Lock experience continues for Denver, the Broncos quarterback connecting for a career-high four TD passes in Sunday's win at Carolina. Tough evaluation for a second-year player given all the personnel issues this team has had on offense.
28. Texans QB Deshaun Watson has suffered a lot of shoddy protection over the years, but Sunday's visit to Chicago marked the first time he'd ever been sacked six times in one NFL game.
29. Minnesota's Dan Bailey has been a fine NFL kicker for the last 10 years. Hard to see that continuing much longer for the Vikings, who dropped from the NFC playoff field, after he missed three field-goal tries Sunday and one extra point. He also misfired three times in Week 13. "I have a lot of faith in him, I have a lot of confidence in him," said coach Mike Zimmer, "but these last two weeks have not been good."
Dan Bailey is 0-for-3 on field goals and 0-of-1 on extra points today.
The last player with at least 3 missed field goals and a missed extra point without a make of either was John Aveni for Washington in 1961.
Bailey entered today ranked 6th (86.9%) in all-time field goal pct. pic.twitter.com/up97NQfTjK
30. Give it up for Jaguars RB James Robinson, whose 1,361 yards from scrimmage establish a record for an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era (since 1967). Nice to see at least one thing go right in Jacksonville.
30a. Robinson is also just the fourth undrafted rookie since 1967 to rush for at least 1,000 yards.
31. Good for the Chargers, finally pulling a game out of the fire – though their frenetic finish against the Falcons may not have been necessary if not for the chaos the Bolts invited before halftime amid poor clock management and bad situational awareness, preventing them from legally lining up for a field-goal try.
#Chargers just had another special teams blunder, and this might take the cake as the worst one.
They ran the ball with no timeouts and mayhem ensues.
What in the world. pic.twitter.com/LMpfps3GPF
32. Woe, leave all ye Faithful hoping for a Holiday quarterbacking miracle on the Middle American front. Our beloved @CaptAndrewLuck evidently will not be returning to the trenches, per his former commanding officer, Jim Irsay, and battery mate T.Y. Hilton, the former telling NFL Media last week, "I think that door's closed," more than two years after cavalryman's premature retirement. We continue to lament your absence and celebrate your heroic feats in the face of great bodily harm, Captain Andrew. Onward we forge whilst in the capable hands of Major Rivers.
Please heed my advice: Stay in the house. What’s more, do not hoard Squirrel Oil. I have noticed the cows grazing six-feet apart. Splendid. The hogs may be filthy, but we must stay clean, especially our hands. Please cleanse yours often. I love you.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
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