2013 NFL Grades, Week 13: Road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle
Full grades for every single team from 2013's NFL Week 13. The Seahawks are pretty good huh?
We're done here, right? The Seattle Seahawks didn't technically lock up homefield advantage on Monday night but they sure came close. Seattle throttled New Orleans at CenturyLink Field in prime time, sending the New Orleans Saints home to lick their wounds as the prepare for the Carolina Panthers . Meanwhile the Seahawks travel to San Francisco for a divisional showdown against the San Francisco 49ers but, at 11-1, they're all but locked into the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The best anyone can do in the NFC now is 13-3. That means Seattle, who clinched a playoff spot on Monday, has to lose two of their last four games to even bring a tiebreaker into play. Two of their last four games are at home. That means, even though the games are against the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams , that Seattle's taking the No. 1 seed.
That game goes off differently if it's in New Orleans, obviously. Drew Brees and the Saints offense is substantially more effective at home, in a dome. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks aren't as good away from home. Argue it all you want but he's never lost in Seattle so you'll lose.
It's also irrelevant to wonder how Brees will do at home against the Seahawks because he won't see them there now. Instead the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle.
Some more observations from Monday night:
1) This seemed a lot like the Seahawks Week 16 win over the 49ers in 2012, when Seattle hammered San Francisco 42-13. The score wasn't just similar though: Russell Wilson ran a near-perfect and expanded offensive game, the Seahawks used the read option to devastating effect and the defense absolutely stifled a potent opposing offense. It was also rainy and there was rain gear and AGGRESSIVE PETE CARROLL GUM CHEWING:
Man, if only someone was enterprising enough to spiff up that GIF with a top hat, cane and monocle ...
That GIF is obviously from last year but it represents Pete Carroll's official SWAG level quite well.
2) So what should we take from this late-season dominance? It's worth looking at the Seahawks surge last season and wondering if they can pull it off this year too. After their Week 11 bye, Seattle caught absolute fire, averaging 35.7 points down the stretch. They lobbed up a pair of 50 burgers on the Cardinals and Buffalo Bills before laying the prime time hammer on the 49ers. They appear to be trending similarly as well this year, throwing up 27, 33, 41 and 34 points respectively. That they "only" put up 34 points against the Saints on Monday is a testament to how well the defense played.
3) One of the things that stood out in terms of the offense was the early use of the read option. It threw the Saints off their defensive game and Wilson actually kept the ball to great success, causing Junior Gallette (who's been very good this season) to leave his jock on the field a few times. Really smart wrinkle from the Seahawks that got the Saints off balance early.
4) The Saints offense was ... not as good. They totaled 188 yards on the night, which is a low for a Drew Brees-Sean Payton team in New Orleans. A lot stands out here. They couldn't run the ball and when they tried, they weren't effective. Mark Ingram led the Saints with 22 rushing yards on eight carries.
5) Drew Brees had 3.89 yards per attempt. Oof. That's the lowest total for him since 2003 when he was with the San Diego Chargers . Russell Wilson had more rushing yards per attempt than Brees did passing yards per pop.
6) The way Seattle utilized Richard Sherman was really, really impressive. Stupendous defensive gameplan to have him shadow Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston at all the right times. The Seahawks were on fire defensively.
7) New Orleans was not. The Saints aggressiveness on defense played right into the Seahawks hand. Wilson is too cool and collected to be rattled. When Rob Ryan sent pressure at him, Wilson moved around, found space and made deep throws to wide open receivers all day long.
8) Even the ridiculous breaks went the Seahawks way. Derrick Coleman caught a touchdown pass that not only wasn't intended for him, but one that bounced off a teammate and into his hands, right by the pylon.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
|Jacksonville Jaguars 32, Cleveland Browns 28|
|B||Remain really impressed that Gus Bradley keeps these guys competitive despite their season struggles. They're really developing some young talent like wideout Ace Sanders and defensive backs Jonathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz . Pretty big road win|
|D||Monster outing for Josh Gordon , who became the first wideout to ever have back-to-back 200-plus yard receiving games in NFL history. But losing to the Jaguars at home? That's no bueno.|
|New England Patriots 34, Houston Texans 31|
|C+||Horrible first-half effort for the Pats again, but Tom Brady poured it on pretty good again after the break. It's crazy what a difference having Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski back makes.|
|C-||Another week, another devastating loss. The Texans had New England on the ropes thanks to a big game from Ben Tate and they completely caved. At least they were competitive this time around.|
|Minnesota Vikings 23, Chicago Bears 20|
|C-||Wasted effort from Alshon Jeffrey, who broke his own Bears record for receiving yards in a single game on Sunday, topping 200 yards for the second time this season. What was Marc Trestman thinking when he kicked that field goal on second down? This defense is a disaster.|
|C+||Adrian Peterson may not be 40 but he is a MAN. All Day topped 200 rushing yards for the fifth time in his career Sunday, walking the Vikings to a win. Blair Walsh made some clutch kicks as well in an ugly win.|
|Philadelphia Eagles 24, Cardinals 21|
|D+||The Cardinals made a game out of this one, but the mistakes that haunted them early in the season -- particularly interceptions from Carson Palmer -- really showed up on Sunday. They couldn't take advantage of Philly's mistakes on offense.|
|C+||Nick Foles nearly threw an interception but ran his streak of touchdown passes without one to start a season to 19. He's one shy of Peyton Manning's record.|
|Indianapolis Colts 22, Tennessee Titans 14|
|D+||Ryan Fitzpatrick ran the ball well but made too many mistakes -- three interceptions -- for the Titans to overcome. This game was a lot closer than it looked. The Titans have now lost six of their last eight games.|
|C+||Trent Richardson was benched but it's not like Donald Brown was crazy effective with 14 carries for 54 yards. Andrew Luck continued to struggle without Reggie Wayne but got the job done.|
|Miami Dolphins 23, New York Jets 3|
|B||Miami made quick work of a bad Jets and did a really nice job overcoming a major weakness (their lack of an offensive line) against the Jets major strength (a strong defensive line). Facing off against a team that can't score always helps.|
|F-||Brutal effort from the Jets who are in freefall right now. Geno Smith was benched for Matt Simms and the secondary got carved up by Brian Hartline and Ryan Tannehill . Rex Ryan's seat is cooking once again.|
|Panthers 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6|
|D||Tough game for the Bucs who lost their three-game losing streak Sunday. Bobby Rainey ran alright and Mike Glennon did some nice things, but Tampa had too many things not bounce their way to be competitive in this game. It was never really that close.|
|B+||Cam Newton and Carolina keep rolling, winning a franchise-record eight games thanks to their beatdown of the Bucs Sunday. Ted Ginn 's become a somewhat reliable weapon and the defense keeps surprising, succeeding without Charles Johnson in the lineup.|
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