Here are five key takeaways from Week 13 in the NFL:
1. Here come the Giants
The New York Giants were shut out in the first half in Seattle, but Wayne Gallman’s 60-yard run on the opening drive of the second half ignited what became a big upset victory. After an 0-5 start to the season, the Giants have been remarkable, going 5-2 in their last seven and winning on the road Sunday without Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. Very impressive. Gallman’s performance can’t be overlooked – he finished with 135 yards on 16 carries. Defensively, the Giants had 5 sacks, kept the Russell Wilson/DK Metcalf combination under wraps and held Seattle to its lowest scoring output of the season. The Giants defense, with 20 takeaways this season, has shown great effort when it comes to getting to the football. Leonard Williams, with 8.5 sacks, is having a remarkable season.
2. Drew who?
The Saints improved to 8-0 over the last two years without Drew Brees. Taysom Hill ran for 83 yards and threw for 232, hitting seven different receivers in New Orleans’ win over Atlanta. More importantly, he had no interceptions. Hill has been incredibly valuable, because he’s helped the Saints remain in position to be the NFC’s No. 1 seed when the postseason begins.
3. Balanced Browns
Cleveland’s impressive victory over the Tennessee Titans brings the Browns one step closer to their first playoff appearance since 2002. Despite being outscored by 15 points on the season, they are 9-3. They lead the league in rushing and are fourth in turnover margin. The Browns were dominant early, with Baker Mayfield throwing four TD passes. Cleveland has run the ball well all season, so the question was whether Mayfield could step up when needed. In this game, he exploited the Titans’ propensity to bite on play-action, and the Browns scored on six straight possessions in the first half. If Cleveland remains this balanced on offense, they’ll be a tough out in the playoffs.
4. How did that happen?
The Jets were so close to coming away with their first win of the season Sunday against the Raiders, but close doesn’t count – especially with the way this game ended. With a 28-24 lead and mere seconds remaining, it was inexcusable to allow Henry Ruggs to get behind the defense and score the game-winning, 46-yard touchdown. That just can’t happen.
5. Time for Hurts
Despite Carson Wentz’s contract situation, the Philadelphia Eagles have to start Jalen Hurts next week. He’s playing at a much higher level than Wentz. Wentz has been holding the ball way too long, which is just one of the reasons he’s been sacked 50 times. He averages just 6 yards per attempt and clearly lacks confidence. Doug Pederson needs to make the change now and let Wentz get a fresh start in the spring.