NFL Analysis


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Biggest Winners, Losers From NFL Week 13

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) catches a touchdown pass as Washington Commanders safety Jartavius Martin (20) chases during the first quarter at FedExField. Photo by: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Football in December is always a little different. The games are a bit more physical as they start to mean more. With so many teams in the NFL still in the playoff hunt, we saw some fantastic performances in Week 13. And we also saw a few players and teams come up short. Here are the biggest winners and losers from another great week of NFL action.

Week 13 Winners, Losers

Winner: Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins

The NFL MVP award has turned into a quarterback award, and a quarterback will likely win it again in 2023. But there has not been a player in the NFL better than Tyreek Hill this season. Hill was sensational against the Washington Commanders in Week 13, recording 157 yards on just seven targets. He started the game with a 78-yard touchdown after toasting the defensive back on a double move. The ball wasn’t even well thrown, and he still managed to score. 

Hill is the NFL’s best receiver and arguably the most dangerous offensive weapon since Randy Moss. Hill stated that his mission this offseason was to record 2,000 receiving yards, and he is on pace. He needs 519 receiving yards over the final five games of the season (103.8 yards per game) to reach 2,000. That shouldn’t be too hard, considering he’s averaging over 123 yards per game. 

The MVP award will probably end up going to Jalen Hurts or Dak Prescott, but Tyreek Hill should absolutely be in that conversation. And if the Miami Dolphins end up being the No. 1 seed in the AFC, it shouldn’t even be a debate.

Loser: Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos

No team in the NFL was hotter than the Denver Broncos going into Week 13. Denver had won five straight games and was firmly in the AFC Wild Card hunt. Denver’s defense played outstanding against Houston this week, holding the high-flying Texans to 22 points. But their quarterback let them down this week.

Russell Wilson had 29 dropbacks in Week 13 but only 164 net passing yards. Worse yet, Wilson had three backbreaking interceptions, including one in the end zone on third and goal with nine seconds left. Wilson underthrew Lucas Krull, who had not received a target before that. 

The Broncos want to play a ball-control style of offense and lean on their defense to win games. To their credit, that formula has allowed them to win many games over the past two months. But the Broncos can't afford to have a bunch of turnovers, especially if their offense is going to be a low-volume attack.

If Wilson plays a "C+" game in Houston, the Broncos are 7-5 and would be the No. 5 seed in the AFC right now. Instead, they are 6-6 and out of the playoffs. If the Broncos are going to make any kind of run over the next month, they need their highly paid quarterback to play much better.

Winner: Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the day, going to Pittsburgh and beating the Steelers. A big reason why the Cardinals got their third win was Trey McBride's play. Despite dealing with a groin injury that caused him to miss most of practice this week, McBride was the Cardinals' clear-cut top option in the passing game.

On the 99-yard touchdown drive that changed the game, McBride caught five passes for 49 yards. He was robbed of a touchdown on one of the weirdest rulings of the day but immediately got back into the end zone on the next play to give the Cardinals a 10-3 halftime lead over the Steelers.

McBride finished the day with eight catches for 89 yards and a score on nine targets. The only target that didn’t result in a catch was the aforementioned touchdown the referees overturned. Other than that, he was fantastic as a receiver. 

McBride has caught fire over the last eight games, totaling more than 500 yards of offense and two touchdowns. Now that Zach Ertz is out of the way in Arizona, it has opened the door for McBride to become a full-time player. Every time he gets a chance to produce, the results get better and better. It won't be long before McBride is one of the NFL's top tight ends.

Loser: Pittsburgh Steelers Defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers were 5.5-point favorites at home against the 2-10 Cardinals. Over the last two weeks, the Cardinals had scored a combined 30 points. Meanwhile, the Steelers allowed a combined 26 points in their previous two games. Yet a Cardinals offense without multiple starters moved the ball up and down the field on the Steelers all day. 

The biggest drive started with the Cardinals getting the ball on their 1-yard-line. They stopped Najee Harris on a fourth-and-goal run to keep Pittsburgh out of the end zone. The Cardinals then went 99 yards on 15 plays, with the drive ending with a McBride touchdown. That put the Cardinals up 10-3 going into halftime. 

The Cardinals finished the game with only 282 yards, scoring 24 points and running 63 offensive plays. The Steelers allowed 150 yards on the ground and could not force a turnover. Pittsburgh lost by 14 points at home in a game that wasn't even that close. 

The Steelers are 7-5 and have scored the fewest points ever (192) for a team with a winning record through 12 games. Pittsburgh needs its defense to be elite to win games. Games like this from that side of the ball mean the Steelers won't be competitive, even against the worst teams in the league.

Winner: Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco

There was a ton of chatter between Deebo Samuel and several Philadelphia Eagles defenders heading into this matchup. And with how vocal Samuel has been during the offseason and again this week, you knew that he would show up in a big way on Sunday.

Samuel played arguably the best game of his career, racking up 138 yards from scrimmage on just seven touches. He got into the end zone three times, including on a 48-yard touchdown reception in the middle of the third quarter. Samuel caught a route near the line of scrimmage but was able to break a tackle and take it to the house. That touchdown made it a two-score game and essentially decided the outcome. 

There is no other receiver in the NFL like Samuel, and when he is healthy, he makes the San Francisco 49ers downright unstoppable. “WR Wins” isn't a thing, but the 49ers are 9-0 this season when Samuel starts and finishes a game. Their offense is hard to stop when he’s healthy and motivated. If Samuel continues to play like this, no one is stopping the 49ers this season.

Loser: Ron Rivera, HC, Washington Commanders

The Ron Rivera era is coming to an end in Washington. Rivera was hired in 2020, but Washington has lost at least eight games in all four seasons with him on the sidelines. Rivera was hired to help the Commanders have a solid defensive identity, but that has been anything but the case this season. 

Rivera fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio after the Commanders lost 45-10 to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Rivera took over playcalling duties on that side of the ball, and 10 days later, his defense gave up 45 points (again) to the Dolphins at home. 

No team in the NFL has allowed more explosive plays (10-plus-yard rushes and 20-yard receptions) than the Commanders. They’ve allowed 38 or more points in four of 13 games this season, and the defense is only getting worse. 

At this point, it seems like a lock that the Commanders will move on after this season. Washington has given Rivera plenty of time to turn this team around, and once again, the Commanders will finish near the bottom of the league. Time is up for Rivera in Washington.