This NFL season hasn't been short of excitement, thanks to incredible parity throughout the league. Through 14 weeks, there have been 92 games decided by a touchdown (six points) or less, the most all-time to begin a season -- which explains why there has only been one team that has clinched their playoff spot (Philadelphia Eagles).
Week 14 was the first week since 1977 which there were multiple game-winning touchdown drives of at least 95 yards where the touchdown was scored inside the final two minutes of regulation. In addition, 49 games have been decided by a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation -- second-most in league history.
Throughout the 2022 season, parity and mediocrity have seemed to rule the NFL. Regardless, identities for each team have been formed as the playoff picture isn't any closer toward being solved. As the home stretch nears, here's what we learned about each team after the Week 14 slate of games.
DeAndre Hopkins mistakes at forefront this week: Always seems there is something new every week that causes the Cardinals to lose games. This week, Hopkins steps into the limelight with two crucial mistakes that significantly hurt his team.
Hopkins had a fumble that resulted in not tucking the ball after the catch in a tie game late in the third quarter, resulting in a Raekwon McMillan touchdown that put New England up for good. The Cardinals wide receiver also had an illegal shift penalty that took away a 15-yard gain down two scores in the fourth quarter.
This isn't all on Hopkins, but these mistakes can't happen when the starting quarterback is out.
J.K. Dobbins makes this running game even more lethal: Dobbins returned to the lineup for the first time since Week 6 and finally looked like the dynamic running back he was prior to tearing his ACL. Dobbins finished with 15 carries for 120 yards (8.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown in leading Baltimore to 215 yards on the ground -- the second-highest total for the year.
Gus Edwards entered Sunday's game averaging 4.0 yards per carry, yet averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 13 carries with Dobbins back in the lineup. Even with Lamar Jackson out and Tyler Huntley exiting with a concussion, a healthy Dobbins and Edwards led Baltimore to 5.1 yards per carry on the ground.
Just wait until this rushing attack gets Jackson back. Dobbins is the key toward Baltimore's deep playoff run.
Pass rush was alive without Von Miller: The Bills showed they still can get after the quarterback even though Miller won't be back in 2022. Buffalo finished with four sacks and seven quarterback hits in Sunday's win over New York, against an offensive line that's 15th in pressure rate allowed (32.7%) and 13th in sack rate allowed (6.1%).
The Bills finished with 16 pressures in the win, with Gregory Rousseau leading the way with four pressures and two sacks. Buffalo will miss its closer in Miller, but the pass rush is still good enough to get after the quarterback and finish off games.
This team has an identity: Only took the Panthers 14 weeks to finally establish what this football team is, but that's expected when a team fires a coach an hires a respected interim coach to discover what's wrong. Steve Wilks has discovered what this Panthers team is -- a hard-working group that can pound the football with a turnover-causing defense.
Carolina has rushed for 185-plus yards in three of its past four games, including 223 in Sunday's win over Seattle. The defense also has six turnovers during that stretch and has allowed just 283 yards per game.
With an identity in place, the Panthers have won three of four and are back in the NFC South race. And they have the tiebreaker over the Buccaneers.
Joe Mixon isn't losing his job any time soon: There was some outside chatter about Mixon potentially losing his starting running back job to Samaje Perine after the way the No. 2 running back has performed. Mixon reminded Cincinnati why he's the starting running back.
Playing his first game since Week 11, Mixon had 14 carries for 96 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per carry. At one point in the fourth quarter, Mixon was actually averaging 8.6 yards per carry -- aided by an explosive 40-yard run that led to a field goal in to start the fourth quarter.
The Bengals found a way to mix Mixon and Perine to make the run game better -- and they trust Perine in short-yardage situations. Don't be fooled, Mixon is still RB1.
Nick Chubb is in a mini-slump: With Deshaun Watson back as the starting quarterback, the offense was supposed to open up for Chubb to thrive. In the two games since Watson's returned, Chubb has 31 carries for 114 yards with no touchdowns (3.7 yards per carry).
In Chubb's last four games, he has 71 carries for 249 yards and just one touchdown -- averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Somehow the Browns are 2-2 in this stretch.
While Chubb is trying to figure things out for the homestretch, here's a reminder he's still averaging 5.0 yards per carry, This is with his performance over the past month.
Dak Prescott struggles throwing the ball downfield: Prescott isn't the problem with the Cowboys offense, but the unit is lacking explosiveness because of his issues stretching the field. On passes of 10-plus air yards, Prescott went 6 of 13 with an interception (55.9 rating) -- one week after going 1 of 8 with a 0.0 rating.
Prescott has completed just 51.1% on the season with passes that went for 10-plus air yards with four touchdowns to eight interceptions (66.4 rating). On throws for 25-plus air yards, Prescott has completed just 21.4% of his passes with a 31.0 passer rating.
Dallas struggled to get things going against Houston Sunday, but the team's Super Bowl chances hinge on Prescott's ability to throw the ball downfield. That hasn't happened enough in the 2022 season yet.
Will the real Jerry Jeudy please stand up? Jeudy arguably had the best game of his young career, catching eight passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns as the Broncos put up a season-high in points (28). Jeudy doubled his receiving touchdown output in the process (entered Sunday's game with three scores on the year).
Jeudy had as many touchdowns in Sunday's loss as he's had in his first two NFL seasons. The overall body of work isn't impressive (42 catches, 587 yards, six touchdowns), but his performance was encouraging this week. Not only did Jeudy catch two touchdown passes from Russell Wilson, but one from Brett Rypien as well.
Not a surprise Wilson had his best game of the season the same day Jeudy had the best game of the year. Perhaps this could be a sign of things to come for an anemic Denver offense.
Bold gamble by Dan Campbell pays off: The Lions coaching staff has been questioned regarding game and clock management decisions since Campbell has taken over as head coach. Those criticisms were put on hold after what Campbell did to essentially ice the victory over the Vikings.
On third-and-7 from the Vikings' 41-yard line, right tackle Penei Sewell was listed as eligible. The play actually went to Sewell, who made a tough catch and had room to get the first down -- forcing Minnesota to burn the remainder of its timeouts with under two minutes to play in a 31-23 game. The Lions are loaded with talent on offense, yet the ball went to the right tackle.
This was just the second bold call by Campbell in this game -- a fake punt that resulted in a big gain by C.J. Moore extended the drive and resulted in a touchdown. Detroit is red hot and Campbell is pushing all the right buttons.
Jalen Pitre provides hope for the secondary: The Texans allow the fewest pass touchdowns in the league (11), part of the reason the pass defense has significantly improved this year. Pitre has played a role in the transformation, showcasing his talent in Sunday's loss.
Pitre allowed just 40% of the passes thrown his way to be caught, while finishing with 12 tackles and two passes defensed. Both of the pass breakups were perfectly timed to avoid a significant penalty to keep the Cowboys offense on the field.
The Texans have a solid foundation in the secondary with Pitre and Derek Stingley. There's a lot of work to do on this team, but they've significantly improved in the secondary.
Darious Williams thrives at outside CB: Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell made a slight change in personnel this week, going with Williams at the outside cornerback spot opposite of Tyson Campbell. Tre Herndon took Williams' spot in the slot.
Williams was excellent in his new role, allowing just two completions on his five targeted passes in his direction for 22 yards. Ryan Tannehill had just a 47.9 passer rating targeting Williams, who took advantage of a Titans team lacking playmakers at wide receiver on the outside.
Williams is worth trying out on the outside for another week.
Kansas City Chiefs
The defense had a deceiving stat line: Kansas City's defense had a good day looking at the box score. The Chiefs defense finished wiih six sacks, seven tackles for loss, seven passes defended and two interceptions -- one which was returned for a touchdown. So what wa steh problem?
The Chiefs allowed 28 points to the Broncos of all teams, an offense that failed to score over 10 points in a game since October. Two Denver touchdowns were aided by a short field off Patrick Mahomes interceptions, yet Kansas City let Denver's offense drive right down the field for easy scores.
Denver was also 6 of 17 on third down too, while finishing with just 320 yards and averaging 4.6 yards per play. The Chiefs defense did play well by looking at the statistics and teh turnovers forced, but the 28 points allowed is inexcusable.
Las Vegas Raiders
Another embarrassing collapse: The Raiders are 5-8 through 13 games and should be 7-6 -- at the very least. Las Vegas faced an Indianapolis team that hired Jeff Saturday six days after working at ESPN -- and found a way to lose to said team. To think that was the most embarrassing loss of the year was an understatement.
Baker Mayfield was barely on the Rams for 48 hours and the Raiders found a way to blow a 16-3 fourth quarter lead to a quarterback that barely knew his team's playbook, costing them any opportunity to make the postseason (and Las Vegas is still mathematically alive).
What does this say about Josh McDaniels and his ability to prepare a team? Amazing the Raiders have five wins at this point.
Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Williams and Keenan Allen back makes a difference: Williams and Allen finally got to play a full game together for the first time in months, combining for 18 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown. Williams' return to the lineup was massive, having six catches for 116 yards and a score in his first (full) game since Week 7.
Allen finished with 12 catches for 92 yards, making several crucial catches that kept the offense moving the changes. Together, they totaled 208 of the Chargers' 432 yards of offense. Justin Herbert completed 76.5% of his passes for 367 yards and a touchdown.
With Williams and Allen healthy, the Chargers have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. They could win out at this rate.
Los Angeles Rams
Playing Baker Mayfield was the right gamble: John Wolford started, but the Rams wasted no time bringing in Mayfield just two days after claiming him off waivers. Mayfield went 22 of 35 for 230 yards with a touchdown in the win, leading the Rams to a comeback victory after trailing 16-3 with 12:19 left in the fourth quarter.
The game winning 98-yard touchdown drive, which Mayfield went 5 of 7 for 80 yards and a touchdown, showcased the talent Mayfield can possess in the right system. The Rams will get the rest of the year to groom Mayfield with Sean McVay before deciding to have him stick around for the long term.
Fair to say Mayfield should start next week.
Mike McDaniel didn't run the ball enough: The Chargers allowed just 92 rushing yards in Sunday's win, this after allowing 178.2 rushing yards per game over the last six games. Why did the Dolphins only run the ball 19 times against a run defense that allows 5.4 yards per carry?
Jeff Wilson left the game with an injury and McDaniel suddenly decided Raheem Mostert and Salvon Ahmed wasn't enough to keep the run game going, not even when Tua Tagovailoa completes 35.7% of his passes.
If the Dolphins are going to win games, they have to run the ball consistently. This game plan -- or an alteration of it -- was a major flaw by McDaniel.
Nonexistent pass rush when team needed pressure: The Vikings defense has plenty of problems in the secondary, which becomes even more noticeable when no one on the defensive front is getting to the quarterback. Minnesota didn't get a single sack in Sunday's loss to Detroit, racking up just three quarterback hits.
The Vikings have just four sacks in the last four games, racking up just 44 pressures. Not a surprise Minnesota has allowed 454.3 yards per game in that stretch, with just two turnovers and 341.8 pass yards per game.
This is an issue that has to get fixed if the Vikings want to make a deep playoff run. There doesn't seem to be an answer from defensive coordinator Ed Donatell right now.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones is still frustrated with Matt Patricia: The broadcast certainly didn't miss Jones visibly showcasing his frustration with Patricia, shouting some vulgar language at Patricia in the third quarter of a game where the Patriots offense struggled to put points on the board in the early going.
Jones finished 24 of 35 for 235 yards with an interception -- not having his top two receivers and Rhamondre Stevenson didn't help matters. Patricia certainly has played a significant role in Jones' regression this year, yet New England still could find a way into the playoffs.
No matter what happens in 2022, changes need to be made this offseason.
New York Giants
Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal immensely struggled against Eagles front: The Giants offensive line allows a sack rate of 10.3% (31st in NFL) and and pressure rate of 44.3% (31st in NFL), so Sunday's matchup against the Eagles was going to be tough.
Thomas and Neal struggling was unexpected, as the pair combined to allow two sacks and 11 pressures in 66 pass blocking snaps. Neal has struggled throughout his rookie year, yet allowed no sacks and no pressures in his return to the lineup against Washington (which has a strong defensive front).
With the Eagles winning the battles against Thomas and Neal all afternoon, the depleted Giants offense didn't have a chance.
New York Jets
Mike White turns in gutsy performance: The result wasn't what the Jets desired, but Sunday's loss to the Bills could end up being a lot worse. CBS Sports NFL analyst Tony Romo thought White may have suffered cracked ribs during the game, yet delivered a performance which we went 27 of 44 for 268 yards with no turnovers in wintry-like conditions in Buffalo.
White braved the injury and elements by going back in the game twice as the Jets were able to move the ball at times in the second half. The 10 points on offense isn't something to praise, but it's hard to generate anything off the Bills defense in Buffalo.
White is clearly the leader in the locker room -- and is good enough to will New York to the playoffs with that defense.
Defense leads the NFL in sacks: The Eagles defense has been getting after the quarterback all season, but the pass rush has been red hot over the past four games. During the four-game win streak, the Eagles have 20 sacks and 61 pressures -- having a team pressure rate of over 40% in three of the four games.
Philadelphia leads the NFL in sacks with 49, the most sacks for any team through 13 games in a seaosn since the 2001 New Orleans Saints. The Eagles are second in the league in pressure rate (37.4%) and sack rate (10.1%), showcasting this isn't just a hot stretch.
The Eagles' pass rush can be considered the best in the league -- and the unit has the numbers to back it up.
Mitchell Trubisky didn't target his playmakers enough: Trubisky has his shortcomings as a quarterback, particularly his decision making. That was displayed Sunday as George Pickens and Diontae Johnson were only targeted a combined 11 times in the game -- the two combined for nine catches and 160 yards.
On a day where the run game went back to reality, Trubisky needed to target Pickens and Johnson in the offense to move the chains and put points on the board. Instead, Steven Sims finished with more targets than Pickens.
Pittsburgh isn't deep enough on offense to ignore Pickens, Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth for long stretches. Kenny Pickett understood that, but that also comes from working with the first team as well.
San Francisco 49ers
Brock Purdy passes first significant test: The 49ers couldn't have asked for more out of Purdy in his first career start. Purdy became the first rookie in NFL history with at least two touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown and a passer rating of 125-plus in his first career start, becoming just the seventh quarterback with two-plus passing touchdowns and one-plus rushing touchdown in their first NFL start since the 1970 merger.
The most impressive part of Purdy's first start was no turnovers, crucial for a 49ers team that's a Super Bowl contender. A short week will be the next challenge for Purdy, but he's tailor made to succeed in this system -- at least through this small sample size.
Geno Smith is struggling: Smith has been impressive throughout the year, clearly showing he's a starting quarterback in the NFL. Even good quarterbacks struggle protecting the football, which is the slump Smith is currently in.
Over the last four games, Smith has thrown 10 touchdown pass but he also has four interceptions and three fumbles lost. That's seven turnovers for those counting, or two more than he had through the first nine games. Smith's turnover struggles are part of the reason the Seahawks have lost three of four and fallen out of the NFC playoff race.
Smith has completed 68.3% of his passes for 1,234 yards with 10 touchdowns to four interceptions (105.9 rating) over the last four games, but the seven turnovers have been a killer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Todd Bowles makes head-scratching decision to keep Tom Brady in: The Buccaneers were down 28 points early in the fourth quarter to the 49ers with Brady getting pulverized on a wet field. Bowles decided to send his quarterback out there for what purpose?
Brady does decide when he wants to leave the game, but the Buccaneers have to think long term for 2022. Tampa Bay plays Cincinnati this week and has no shot to beat the Bengals without Brady.
Bowles should be questioned for this decision, especially for a quarterback that was pressured 19 times and hit seven. Didn't make sense to keep Brady in a game where his team wasn't scoring 35 points -- yet alone 10.
Offensive line woes continue in pass protection: The Titans were beaten badly again on the offensive line, allowing four sacks and nine quarterback hits in the blowout loss to the Jaguars. Over the last two weeks, Tennessee has allowed 10 sacks and 18 quarterback hit -- as the offense is only averaging 16 points per game.
The Titans are 27th in the league in pressure rate allowed (38%) and 29th in sack rate allowed (9.4%), not a formula for success of going deep in the playoffs. Injuries have hurt, but this unit isn't getting any better.