Despite an incredible week filled with playoff-calibre matchups, one season-ending injury to an MVP favourite is all people will remember. Here are the main headlines coming out of Week 14:
Eagles pay price for playoff berth
MVP candidate Carson Wentz will not play another snap this season after the 2016 2nd-round pick tore his ACL during Philadelphia’s 43-35 win over the LA Rams.
Wentz (23/41, 291 YDS, 4 TD, INT) left the game midway through the second half after a dive into the end zone between two defenders left him worse for wear.
The 24-year-old went toe-to-toe with fellow sophomore Jared Goff and played out an intense matchup filled with playoff implications.
While Goff (16/26, 199 YDS, 2 TD) brought the Rams back from a 21-7 deficit to take a 35-31 lead in the fourth, he and star running back Todd Gurley (13 CAR, 96 YDS, 2 TD) were unable to conjure up a game-winning drive in the final minutes.
The injury to Wentz means Nick Foles will assume starting responsibilities from here on in, and head coach Doug Pederson remains confident that his team push on into the playoffs as a result.
“Guys have confidence in him,” Pederson said. “I have confidence in him.” Confidence or not, the Eagles’ Super Bowl chances have just suffered a blow perhaps too significant to overcome.
Steelers maintain home field pursuit
Pittsburgh secured their second straight AFC North division title with an epic 39-38 come-from-behind win over the Baltimore Ravens.
After jumping out to an early 14-0 lead, the Ravens stormed back into the contest with authority, scoring 17 unanswered points to lead 31-20 at the end of the third quarter as the Steelers struggled to contain both Alex Collins (18 CAR, 120 YDS, TD) and Javorius Allen (6 CAR, 25 YDS, 2 TD) on the ground.
Mike Tomlin’s men needed an answer and, like so often this season, found one through their historic quarterback-receiver tandem of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
The 14-year veteran lead his team on scoring drives of five, eight, 10 and 15 plays to win the game, attempting a career-high 66 passes on the way to 506 yards and two touchdowns.
Roethlisberger relied on Brown (11 REC, 213 YDS), tight end Jesse James (10 REC, 97 YDS) and franchise back Le’Veon Bell (9 REC, 77 YDS, TD) through the air, as Chris Boswell kicked the game-winning field goal for the fourth time in the last five games.
The Steelers’ win over the Ravens, coupled with New England’s shock defeat at Miami, means they now hold the best record in the AFC (11-2) and are in with a legitimate chance of securing home field advantage through the playoffs as a result.
Jaguars are a threat
Jacksonville might play in arguably the NFL’s weakest division, but what they’ve managed to do outside it this season deserves recognition.
After claiming impressive wins over the Steelers, Chargers and Ravens respectively, their 30-24 victory over Seattle proved just how good they really are.
The Seahawks, still high off their win over the Eagles last week, came crashing back down to earth as a defiant Russell Wilson (three touchdown passes) threw three interceptions against a Jaguars defence boasting league-best 30 takeaways this season.
While Blake Bortles (16 TD, 8 INT on the season) pales in comparison to his compatriots, his defence continues to put up dominating performances week in and week out.
Tennessee’s loss to Arizona means Doug Marrone’s men now lead the AFC South division and are almost guaranteed their first playoff appearance since 2007.
Should the Jags win their three remaining fixtures, at home to the Texans and away to the 49ers and Titans respectively, a home playoff in some capacity is definitely on the cards.