American Football Expert & Columnist
Pick Six Week 13: Russell Wilson's growing MVP claim
Last Updated: 04/12/17 6:05pm
Very little was actually decided on Sunday night but we might look back on Week 13 in a month's time and point to this weekend as one of the key dates in the 2017 regular season.
The Minnesota Vikings became the top seed in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks resurrected their campaign with a big win at home, while the Kansas City Chiefs continued their mid-season implosion and have now been caught in the AFC West by the victorious Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders.
Those are just some of the headlines that caught my eye in a very enjoyable evening in the Sky Sports studios...
Saints loaded with weapons
One of the best performances of Sunday night came in our second game live on Sky Sports, as the New Orleans Saints recorded a 31-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers, courtesy of an even 400 yards on offense.
Drew Brees continues to spread the wealth in the Big Easy as he completed passes to nine different receivers but it was the backfield pairing of Mark Ingram and Rookie of the Year candidate Alvin Kamara that stole the show yet again as the Saints won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Ingram totalled 122 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown, while Kamara added 126 yards and two scores. Those two have given the Saints balance not seen since their Super Bowl-winning season of 2009 and New Orleans have now rushed for at least 100 yards in eight straight games.
Seahawks win big on Sunday night
The Seahawks have been far from perfect this season and have been genuinely damaged by injuries to the likes of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but they remain very much alive in the NFC playoff race after their 24-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Seahawks are not only in the wild card race as the No 5 seed but they could still yet win the NFC West. Seattle are one game back from the 9-3 Los Angeles Rams and those two meet again in Week 15, with the Seahawks winning the first meeting between the two teams earlier in the year.
That, to me, is remarkable and is testament to the wizardry of Russell Wilson, who is staking a serious claim for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award from the quarterback position. I genuinely feel that if you take Wilson out of the equation, these current Seahawks are a four-win team.
How the mighty have fallen
The Chiefs were indeed considered mighty in the early stages of the 2017 season as they raced out of the blocks with five straight wins, including an opening night defeat of the New England Patriots.
But the Chiefs have come back down to earth with a serious bump, losing six of their last seven to get pegged back by the 6-6 Raiders and Chargers in the AFC West. Sunday's 38-31 loss to the New York Jets was a depressing reverse.
Alex Smith has been under fire at quarterback but he held up his end of the deal in Week 13, throwing for 366 yards and four touchdowns in the Big Apple. But the defense failed to play tough enough, made too many dumb mistakes and a 14-0 lead early turned into a poor defeat on the road. The Chiefs have some winnable games ahead against the likes of Miami and Denver, but they are in real trouble at the moment.
Vikings chasing history
Minnesota are chasing NFL history as they bid to become the first team in league history to play in a Super Bowl in their own stadium. The Vikings moved into the top seed spot in the NFC with Sunday's 14-9 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
The defense kept the high-powered Falcons out of the endzone for 60 minutes, the running game was productive yet again but the story of this Vikings season remains the outstanding form of cast-off quarterback Case Keenum, who was signed from the Rams in the summer.
For the fourth game in a row, Keenum posted a quarterback rating of 100 or above and can no longer be viewed as merely a good story - he is turning into a bona fide star and appears very capable of leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl and a place in NFL history.
Don't write off the Pack
It has rarely been pretty in Green Bay since Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone - back-up QB Brett Hundley has often looked out of his depth and very much out of his comfort zone.
Hundley has enjoyed the occasional positive moment in relief of Rodgers but not on Sunday night as he posted a passer rating of 48.3 while passing for just 84 yards. But, the Packers found a way to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-20 in overtime, courtesy of a strong running game and impressive defense.
And now we have to consider them very much back in the NFC playoff race. If Hundley and the Packers can find a way past the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, they will be 7-6 and Rodgers will be eligible to return for the final three games of the regular season. They may yet make an improbable run to the playoffs.
Jags show offensive teeth
If the Jacksonville Jaguars can consistently produce the kind of offensive display they showed in Sunday's 30-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts, they can be a very dangerous team in the playoffs and a possible Super Bowl dark horse from the AFC.
We know that the defense has been beastly all year long - they have allowed 10 or fewer points in seven of 12 games this season - and that unit is on pace to be the best in Jags history. But, Sunday's one-sided win over the Colts showed some offensive promise for the future.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has been too hit and miss for the Jaguars this season but he was outstanding in Week 13, throwing for 309 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 119.8. It was only against the Colts and their terrible defense but it did show the Jags are capable of lighting it up through the air on their day and it gives them something to build on heading towards the playoffs.