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The Hudsucker Presents NFL Weekly: Week 14 – Scoring in a Winter Wonderland

This year our writers are teaming up to bring you weekly football coverage! Each week, a few of our writers will be sharing their thoughts and highlights from games they’ve watched. Who were the winners this week? Who remains undefeated? Which team will come out victorious at the end of the 2013-2014 season? 

This past weekend was a good reminder that wintry weather doesn’t necessarily mean hard to play, or low-scoring football. It means performing harder and making sure everything is executed right. Much of the Northeastern United States was blanketed by the fluffy white dust covering stadiums from Green Bay all the way to Washington, D.C, and several places in between. In many ways it was crazy to watch as players would slip and slide, but it was also extremely fun! With the way the weather is going to be in the next few weeks, we might be seeing an NFL White Christmas. That or some more ball grabbing–brings new meaning to grab ’em by the balls, doesn’t it?

It is hard to believe though that there are now only three weeks left in the NFL’s regular season. However, we are currently seeing some of the very same teams in the top five that were there in our first week of regular season. Surprise, huh? Week 1 of football saw Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, New England and New Orleans in the mix, along with the Indianapolis Colts and of course, Kansas City Chiefs. Since then there has been quite a shuffle and we’ve seen teams win and lose, fall behind and not make much of a difference in game-play throughout the season. As we head in Week 15 later tonight with the Chargers at the Broncos, it’s evident that Denver will make it into the playoffs as they’ve already clinched the wildcard. But what about the others? How did they fair in Week 14? Our writers Chris Hill, Andrew Rogers, and Tania Hussain team up and share some highlights from their favorite games, what they thought of the plays and what’s ahead for the teams as the season starts to wind down. 

Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals

Image Credit: Getty Images America/NFL

Bengals, 42-28

Tania:

What a game changer this was, right? Great day for QB Andy Dalton who keeps his team in control of the AFC North, improving their record to 9-4. This was the first time in franchise history that the Bengals scored 40 points or more in three straight home games. They kept a safe margin between themselves and Indy, proving they got their autumn groove from October back, strengthening their offense and managing their defense.  And though the Indianapolis Colts were never able to catch up with the Bengals, they were lucky enough to clinch their division title after the Denver Broncos hammered the Tennessee Titans, 51-28. Indianapolis is in the playoffs but has some major concerns at the moment considering two games ago they were beaten to a pulp by the Arizona Cardinals, and four games ago by the St. Louis Rams. This past Sunday, they didn’t perform well enough at the Indy offense line or during the game in order to keep Cincinnati at bay, as well as the lack of receivers made available for QB Andrew Luck. Indy is the first team though to clinch a division championship! I see them doing well this weekend and it will be interesting to see them play the Texans, who sit at 2-11 this season. Ouch! My money’s on Indy (as always).

Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens

Image Credit: NFL/AP Photo

Ravens, 29-26

Tania:

When it started snowing, I was curious to see how the teams would play considering the score wasn’t very impressive even by the third quarter. However, with the unrelenting snowfall during the fourth quarter came a flurry of touchdowns on both sides! It was pretty remarkable to watch–there were five TDs over the final two minutes that really made this a one-of-a-kind game. The Ravens did win the game though. Right after QB Joe Flacco threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to WR Marlon Brown with a mere four seconds left in the game, leading Baltimore to a 29-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

That being said, both teams are having great difficulty with their offense and defense and performed at the last minute which is a shame and just not acceptable. Considering Minnesota depends entirely on RB Adrian Peterson, I’d say they need a better plan next season if they want to avoid another 3-9 record.

Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

Image Credit: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Eagles, 34-20

Chris:

I may not be a true Eagles fan, but they have always had some of the most entertaining offenses. When they had Westbrook, he was one of the most dynamic weapons in the game. But Shady McCoy is something else. He took over the 2nd half and deserves to be the NFLs leading rusher. Nick Foles is growing on me, but that pick had been coming.

A week after shutting down Eddie Lacy and the Pack, Detroit’s D got destroyed. Were they making snow angles out there? On offense, I lost count how many turnovers Stafford had.

Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots

Image Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America

Patriots, 27-26

Andrew:

I swear this team has horseshoes up their keesters. Or just Brady. It’s moves like this that have me thinking they’re still competitors for the Super Bowl. Sure, Gronk to one nasty hit there and without their big Tight End, they’re certainly not what they once were, but they survived without him for a good portion of the beginning of the season so my advice to the teams they play in the coming weeks: Never under-estimate them. That goes double for you Peyton.

Tania:

What a miracle win for the Patriots! That was an interesting game to watch because New England was down 26-14 in the fourth quarter but then really showed Cleveland that they got this. Who would have thought they’d retaliate in about the two minutes remaining? They managed to score two TDs and make it all worthwhile. Evidently though, the Patriots have a problem with their defense and need to toughen up to fix it before heading into playoffs. The New England defense was solid for six straight weeks and then plummeted into the abyss of a jockstrap, so it seems. Obviously I’m being dramatic, but seriously, what happened? New England wasn’t alone in their struggle as Cleveland too suffered from an abysmal defense and bad call from the referee. It shouldn’t have been called as a pass interference in the end zone at all. 

In my opinion, the Browns should have won, especially when you watch the tape back. Their offense started out kind of slow but with time, they managed to put some points on the board thanks to some big plays from their TE Gary Barnidge. This win wouldn’t have made any difference though to the Browns as they are at the bottom of their division with 4-9. I don’t really see them improving, especially with who they play this weekend (Bears) and in their last two games (Jets and Steelers).

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

Image Credit: Justin K Aller/Getty Images

Dolphins, 34-28

Tania:

It seems like once the Dolphins warmed up to the snow, they were able to tackle the Steelers quite well. After a field goal in the first quarter, they managed to score three more TDs soon after as TE Charles Clay caught two touchdown passes, including a 12-yard strike from QB Ryan Tannehill with less than three minutes remaining of the game. Clay isn’t someone I know very well but he was impressive. He was able to break up tackles by Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu, and Polamalu is a force on the field. Regardless, the Steelers didn’t perform all too well and their offense failed to make much of a splash as they lost their second straight game. QB Ben Roethlisberger passed for 297 yards and made three scores but it was not enough. Pittsburgh hasn’t been doing too well this season and are third in their division, sitting at 5-8. Dolphins? They’re 7-6 and play their AFC East rivals, the Patriots (10-3) this weekend and frankly, it’s all up in the air, especially with the way the Patriots have delivered their last minute magic.

Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans

Image Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images North America

Broncos, 51-28

Tania:

The Broncos have really shined this year and Manning has proved since his comeback that he’s still in the game. Currently tied at fifth in history with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers with 45 TDs, this game put him in the books and just five shy of Brady’s record with only three games left. Manning threw for 397 yards with four TDs for an eleventh win this season. Broncos LB Von Miller was extremely solid on the game, finishing it up with three tackles, a sack and a forced fumble for Tennessee. Though the defense struggled at times during the night, they pulled through and made the effort show when they charged in after the second half. RB Montee Ball is very impressive and looks like a starting running back now as he was evidently adamant on protecting the football and making impressive runs in between tackles, effectively defusing the Titans running blitzes.

Tennessee play the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday and I think the Cardinals are going to keep their record looking prim and polished by taking these Titans down. Don’t get me wrong now–the Titans have a great defense and it’s been consistent this season, however they have holes in the quarterback position and lack a steady offense as they run the ball too much without much execution. It’s too late in the season to adjust any of that.

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Image Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America

49ers, 19-17

Tania:

This was a nail-biting game and extremely close for both the Seahawks and 49ers! San Francisco may have taken the edge from the Seahawks to win the game in a 19-17 score, but their offense still needs much attention. RB Frank Gore was phenomenal in the last quarter as he rushed for 110 yards, and made 51-yard run to set up the team’s winning field goal. The 49ers have won three consecutive games now and are two wins away from beating Seattle…that is if Seattle manages to trip on their record but at this point and time, they won’t. They have been as good as they have been in recent years and San Fran may have won against their NFC West rival in this game, but Seattle remains atop the division and has clinched the wildcard.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

Image Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images North America

Saints, 31-13

Andrew:

What a sweet comeback after that whooping we took in Seattle the previous Monday. The Saints came back roaring and proved the doubters wrong by keeping Cam’s power plays to a minimum. They bundled up D’Angelo Williams almost every time the ball was in his hands and better than all that was the their offensive rhythm. It seemed Payton saw the glitches from the previous week and realized he needed to make sure that he, Brees and the front line were all thinking on the same wavelength, which is a much easier thing for them to do at home, without all that noise. Now they just need to prove they can do it on the road. They’re not in the clear yet, but if they can beat the Rams and the Buccs in the next three weeks, it won’t matter if they lose to Carolina in Charlotte, they’ll still take the 2nd seed in the NFC. That’s what I’m banking on. Oh, and a Seattle loss before we potentially have to face them at CenturyLink again.

Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears

Image Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America

Bears, 45-28

Chris:

If there is one thing you can always count on, it’s a yearly Dallas meltdown/blowout. Never fails. It doesn’t help that their secondary hasn’t been able to physically match any receiver in the NFL for seemingly a decade. Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall are beasts…but still. I felt like every receiver on the Bears offense could have scored.

Is there something wrong with Dez Bryant? Or something wrong with Tony Romo (hold laughter)? Oh well, maybe they’ll be fortunate enough to land AP before he retires.

Who are you rooting for? What games did you watch? Let us know what you thought of this third last week of NFL by sounding off in the comments below.

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