The NFL's Biggest Surprises Of Week 14: Division Title Twists
The Steelers Broke Loose In The Fourth Quarter Against The Bengals
A battle between two top-notch divisional rivals, the Bengals were up 21-17 at the end of the third quarter. However, the Steelers exploded in the fourth, scoring 25 points to secure a win on the road that may prove vital to their playoff run. After a few questionable games, the Steelers offense showed that they are among the league's most talented. Le'Veon Bell has 711 yards from scrimmage and five scores through the past three games, while Antonio Brown is second in the league in receiving yards. The defense has had its fair share of trouble, but their offense has more than enough firepower to make up for it.
The Saints Lost Their Fourth Straight Home Game
A week after defeating the aforementioned Steelers, the Saints fell to the lowly Panthers. After scoring no more than 21 points since Week 6, the Panthers' put up a season-high 41, while holding the Saints, a top-ten scoring team, to just 10 points. Jonathan Stewart showed some explosiveness in his 155 rushing yards, which was the back's first 100-yard game since Week 15 of 2010 and the second-highest total of his career. Cam Newton had a nice game too, going turnover-free after eight straight games with at least one. With the Falcons losing in Lambeau, the Panthers are just one game away from taking the lead in the title race, while the Saints are right behind the Falcons due to tiebreakers.
The Cardinals Are Still Atop The NFC West
With an offense that had scored a combined 21 points in the two games previous, the Cardinals were expected to fall apart against one of the league's top defenses. The Cardinals, though, managed to pull out a win and remain atop the NFC West, just one game ahead the 9-4 Seahawks and three ahead of the 7-6 49ers. Facing each of their divisional opponents in the three following weeks, the road to the playoffs will be tough. The Eagles, Cowboys, Packers, Lions, and Seahawks will all be competing with them for five playoff spots - one will be taken up by whoever wins the NFC South. Excluding the Packers, all of those teams have nine wins, so the Cardinals cannot lose anymore than one game if they are to secure a spot.
Colin Kaepernick Threw Two Picks As The 49ers Fell To The Raiders
Prior to Thanksgiving, the 49ers were expected to run side-by-side with the Seahawks and fight for a playoff spot in the NFC. However, a different story has unfolded. The 49ers have averaged just 12 points per game in the past four weeks and are now 7-6 and likely out of the playoff race. Heading to Seattle and going up against two other playoff teams, the Chargers and the Cardinals, the 49ers' playoff hopes are almost completely diminished.