Bill Belicihick, Deshaun Watson
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

NFL Week 13 featured all 32 teams in action. What did we learn and what’s worth keeping an eye on? Here’s a little insight, review, and preview.

Russell Baxter

Four weeks remaining in NFL 2019. That’s a total of 64 regular-season contests. But what about last week when the schedule featured 16 games for the first time since late September? There was an interconference showdown on Sunday at Baltimore, another scoring free-for-all involving the intriguing Seattle Seahawks, and a Thanksgiving Day tripleheader where all three road teams came out on top.

So here are some more observations and a few numbers as well when it comes to Week 13 (and beyond) in regards to the NFL’s 100th season.

5. Patriots’ defensive issues?

There has been a lot of discussion the last few days regarding the Patriots’ 28-22 loss in Houston to a Texans team that they have dominated throughout the years. Kudos to Bill O’Brien’s club for coming out with a solid gameplan on both sides of the football. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel knows Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as well as anyone. His defense took advantage of a New England offense that has been sputtering in recent weeks.

But it’s also hard to ignore what Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson did against the Pats on Sunday night. The third-year pro connected on 68% of his throws (18-of-25) for 234 yards and scores to running back Duke Johnson (14 yards), tight end Darren Fells (13 yards) and wide receiver Kenny Stills (35 yards). Throw in DeAndre Hopkins’ six-yard completion to Watson in the fourth quarter and that’s four touchdown passes by the Texans in their six-point win.

It’s also as many touchdown passes as the Patriots surrendered in their first 11 games this season. And it’s also worth noting that Belichick’s team has allowed an NFL-low 145 points this season: A mere 80 points in their 10 wins and a combined 65 points in the losses to the Ravens (37) and Texans (28).

4. Thomas as good as promised

The NFL record for receptions in a season belongs to Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Back in 2002 with the Indianapolis Colts, the star hauled in a gaudy 143 passes. A year ago, New Orleans Saints wideout Michael Thomas led the league with 125 grabs. This year, and with four games to go, the talented performer has totaled 110 receptions for 1,290 yards and six scores. That means Thomas needs 33 catches in these next four games to tie Harrison’s record.

3. Call it plenty of comebacks

It began on Thanksgiving afternoon in the Motor City when the Chicago Bears rallied from a 17-7 deficit to defeat the Detroit Lions, 24-20. On Sunday in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, the Tennessee Titans and Steelers both trailed by 10 points in their respective contests against the Colts and Cleveland Browns. Both Mike Vrabel’s team and Mike Tomlin’s club came back to win.

However, those were the biggest comebacks of the weekend. The Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins, both sporting 2-9 records entering the afternoon,  rallied from 14 points down to defeat the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

2. Disappointment in Los Angeles

It’s been an up-and-down year for the defending NFC champions. But the Rams are coming off a 34-7 victory at Arizona and at 7-5, still has very realistic playoff aspirations.

It’s the other NFL team that resides in the City of Angels that has already lost twice as many games as it did all of last season. Anthony Lynn’s Los Angeles Chargers, 12-4 and a wild-card entry in 2018, have lost three straight games and at 4-8, have already been eliminated from winning the AFC West—something the franchise hasn’t managed since 2009.

Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers has committed 17 of the team’s 22 turnovers and has been particularly dreadful against the team’s divisional brethren. The Bolts are 0-4 in AFC West games and in those contests, Rivers has thrown five touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. So what does the future hold for the feisty signal-caller? There are rumblings he could be benched sooner than later.

1. Déjà vu Carolina?

After losing their first two games this season, the Carolina Panthers reeled off four straight wins and were led by quarterback Kyle Allen. He did more than his share for a team that struggled with a hurting Cam Newton at the helm and Ron Rivera’s offense appeared a lot healthier in more ways than one.

But since that 4-2 start, the Panthers own a 1-5 mark and are in the midst of a four-game skid. A year ago, Rivera’s team opened 6-2, lost their next seven games and a season-ending winner at New Orleans (over Sean Payton’s resting team) saw the Panthers finish a disappointing 7-9. At 5-7 and with the Saints already NFC South champions, the organization recently fired Rivera, whose tenure had its good and bad moments.