Woz’s NFL Week 14 Notebook: Improving Garoppolo leads Niners to victory

John Woz, Jr.  | December 10th, 2019

Two NFC powerhouses Traded blows in a brilliant night of football. Elsewhere, the Steelers and the Chiefs kept up their challenge in the AFC playoff picture. There is no better place to start this week’s NFL Week 14 Notebook than a shootout in the NFC.

San Francisco 49ers 48 – 45 New Orleans Saints

The Saints and 49ers went back and forth in a brilliant 94 point game. If you blinked you missed it. San Francisco dominated the second quarter to take a 28-27 lead into half-time.

The 49ers defense continued to live up to their reputation by holding Drew Brees to six points in the 3rd quarter. Neither team gave up the fight, and few would have predicted a 26 point 4th quarter shootout. San Francisco came away with a huge win to move to 11-2 on the season and s 6-1 record on the road.

The Saints fall to 10-3 but they shouldn’t feel too deflated after Sunday’s loss. There was bad news for tight end Jared Cook after he suffered a concussion. Cook had two receptions for 64 yards. The Saints will need Him back for the penultimate game of the season against the LA Rams.

George Kittle moved the chains like his life depended on it. It’s been brilliant watching Kittel this season. Watch his run down the sideline, it took three Saints defenders to stop his powerful frame from scoring a touchdown.  Pro Football Focus grades Kittel at 93.8 overall.

San Francisco showed a lot of metal in New Orleans, after overturning a 13 point first-half deficit. Jimmy Garoppolo may have won over a few fans after his Gutsy performance. Garoppolo was 26-35 with 340 yards and four touchdowns. Kyle Shanahan needs more of the same from his quarterback, as San Francisco press on to maintain the #1 seed in the NFC.

Both teams were productive in the passing game. Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas both had over 100 yards receiving. I want to see a response from Sean Payton‘s side when they play the Colts (6-7) next week.

San Francisco’s division rivals the Seattle Seattle Seahawks and LA Rams went head-to-head in Sunday’s late game.

Seattle Seahawks 12-28 Los Angeles Rams

The 8-5 Rams kept their slim playoff hopes alive after recording a consecutive victory. Sean McVay’s team got off to a blistering start, taking a 21-3 lead at half-time. Russell Wilson has been in the MVP conversation, however, he couldn’t get his offense going against a resilient Rams’ defense. Wilson ran into traffic on a 3rd and 3, and it didn’t get much better from there. The Rams defense breached Seattle’s offensive line to sack Wilson five times, for a loss of 43 yards.

The Rams are resurgent. Jared Goff has had other ideas about capitulation. Seattle struggled to stop the pass on Sunday. Watch Goff’s touchdown pass to Robert Woods, the play looked effortless. The pass raises concern over Seattle’s defense. Woods’ run went unchallenged to score his first touchdown of the season.

The Rams’ 28-12 victory rocked the Seahawks. The defeat drops Seattle to 10-3 and 2nd place in the NFC West. Pete Carroll has got three games to figure out how to get Seattle moving in the right direction. A No.5 seed in the NFC is disappointing, especially after Seattle was on a run of win straight wins.

Chiefs overcome logistics nightmare to top the Patriots

News came out of Foxborough that the Kansas City Chiefs were missing much of their equipment. The Chiefs avoided the embarrassment of a forfeit to take a 23-16 victory over the Patriots.

The Chiefs’ win secured the AFC West for a fourth consecutive season. I’m still not convinced by Andy Reid‘s team, but they keep winning tricky games. At 9-4, the Chiefs are breathing down the neck of the 10-3 Patriots.

Steve Spagnuolo’s defense exposed Tom Brady‘s sputtering offense. Brady was 19-36 with 169 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman was the only outlet for Brady in a timid offensive display.

Can either the Chiefs or the Patriots challenge the Ravens? I don’t think they can. Brady looks as though he is ready for retirement, and Patrick Mahomes suffered an injury scare. The Chiefs confirmed that their star quarterback did not break any bones in his hand.

Despite a fumble in Sunday’s game, Travis Kelce has been outstanding for the Chiefs. Mahomes has targeted his tight end 95 times for 923 receiving yards. Kelce will be a key player in Eric Bieniemy‘s postseason offense.

New England’s dependable defense was absent last night. The tape highlights how much time Mahomes had with the football. Fantasy owners should bench the Patriots defense after scoring 11 points in the last three games.

Ravens take the No.1 seed in the AFC

The Buffalo Bills can give any team a run for their money. And despite a 17-24 defeat, that’s exactly what happened in Western New York. The Bills played with heart, but they fell short to the Baltimore Ravens.

The conditions made it difficult for both teams, but it didn’t stop Lamar Jackson from reaching a milestone of 1,000 yards rushing. The Baltimore quarterback joins Michael Vick as the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season.

The 11-2 Ravens are on an incredible run of nine straight wins, it’s a streak worthy of the No.1 seed in the AFC. John Harbaugh’s team is my pick for this season’s Super Bowl.

The Bills occupy the AFC No.5 seed. Sean McDermott has two tricky road games coming up, at New England and Pittsburgh. The Bills close out the regular season with a home game against the New York Jets. I take the Bills to win two of those games.

Two-minute drill

My standout play of Week 14 goes to a quarterback on defensive duties. Ryan Tannehill made a Joey Bosa style tackle to stop Maurice Hurst from scoring a touchdown.

Tannehill led the 8-5 Titans to a whopping 552 total yards, as they destroyed the Raiders, 42-21. Tennessee’s win keeps their playoff hopes alive as the No.7 seed.

The NFC South is tight, especially after the Houston Texans got torched at home by the 5-8 Denver Broncos. Has John Elway finally found his franchise quarterback? Drew Lock is finding his feet in the NFL, and Bill O’Brien‘s team found themselves down by 28 points at half-time. Lock is 2-0 on the season.

The Steelers won’t give up. Devlin Hodges was 16-19 with 159 yards and a touchdown.  Hodges’ performance was good enough for Mike Tomlin to watch his side improve to 8-5, after a 23-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Pittsburgh is the AFC No.6 seed heading into Week 15.

Both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers continue to challenge for the NFC North division. The Vikings improved to 9-4 after cruising to victory over the hapless 3-9 Detroit Lions. Aaron Rodgers led the 10-3 Packers to an uneasy win over the 3-10 Washington Redskins.

Jason Sanders won the ‘Field Goal Bowl’ for the 3-10 Miami Dolphins after making seven attempts. However, Sanders’ efforts were futile in an ugly 21-22 loss to the 5-8 Jets. Sam Ficken kicked all three of his field goal attempts for the Jets. The football purists will want to avoid watching highlights of this game.

Final Word

There are three weeks left of the regular season. That’s enough time for more twists and turns in the NFL. Philip Rivers had his best game of the season for the 5-8 Chargers. Despite failing to make the playoffs, I’d like to see Rivers closing out the season with three more good performances.

The Ravens and 49ers have the best records in the league. Both teams have played great football, but can they maintain the momentum heading down the home-stretch? Check back on The Scorecrow for all the latest news and reaction.

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