NFL Week 14 takeaways: Danger zone for Redskins and Panthers?

Miami pulled off a miracle against New England. Kansas City needed overtime to take down Baltimore. Dallas outlasted Philadelphia, while Pittsburgh was shocked in Oakland. And bad losses for the Panthers and Redskins have both teams nearly out of the playoff picture.

All that and more in Week 14's biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

Seattle Seahawks 21, Minnesota Vikings 7

These Seahawks aren't the same as previous iterations but the blueprint for success is and it could make them a problem in January. Offensive tackle Duane Brown said after the win against Minnesota that it took some time for the team to find its identity but it's starting to feel like the Seahawks are there. That identity centers on a stingy defense and a power running game, both of which worked well Monday night. If Seattle can build off of that and Russell Wilson can regain his usual form, the Seahawks will be a tough out in the postseason. -- Nick Wagoner

With three games remaining in the regular season, it's difficult for coach Mike Zimmer to pinpoint how the Vikings can quickly fix their issues on offense. "That's a good question," Zimmer said following a loss in which Minnesota was 2-for-10 on third down, 0-for-2 on fourth down and 1-for-2 in the red zone. Because of the way things are shaping up elsewhere in the NFC, the Vikings still have a high chance of making the playoffs as the No. 6 seed but haven't done enough this season to show that they can sustain a deep run in the postseason. Execution was a problem all night, from the way Kirk Cousins performed under pressure to the way the Vikings failed to carry out plays that killed drives. "We've got to put it together," said Dalvin Cook, "we've got to go back to the drawing board and we've got to figure out what to do." -- Courtney Cronin

Chicago Bears 15, Los Angeles Rams 6

There is zero question the Bears have the NFL's best defense. Chicago dominated the Rams' offense Sunday night, holding Los Angeles to almost 29 points below its season average. The Bears now have 25 total interceptions on the year, and cornerback Kyle Fuller leads the team with seven picks. Chicago will be dangerous to play in the postseason -- the Bears can clinch a playoff berth next week with help -- because of its defense. Just ask the Rams, who the Bears might very well face again in January, albeit likely in Los Angeles. -- Jeff Dickerson

The Bears stopped the Rams in their tracks Sunday night and handed them their second loss of the season. Jared Goff threw a career-high four interceptions, and Todd Gurley II rushed for 28 yards on 11 carries -- his fewest rushing yards since the 2015 season. A victory would have secured the Rams a first-round bye in the playoffs. Instead, they return to L.A. to face the Eagles while locked in a battle with the Saints for NFC home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. -- Lindsey Thiry

New Orleans Saints 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

The Saints (10-2) appear to have gotten their mojo back with a 25-0 run over the final 20 minutes at Tampa Bay on Sunday. The offense completely flopped for six-plus quarters -- in Tampa and in Week 13 at Dallas -- before a late explosion on Sunday. Combined with how well the Saints' defense has been playing over the past month, New Orleans is still in contention for the NFC's No. 1 seed as the Saints head toward another date with a division rival next Monday night at Carolina. -- Mike Triplett

The Bucs (5-8) couldn't have put together a better game plan to stop Drew Brees and the Saints, and it was working, as they held New Orleans to three points in the first half. But the Bucs' offensive line let them down with penalties and protection issues.QB Jameis Winston struggled to connect with receivers. Cairo Santos missed two field goals. Things really started to unravel after a blocked punt by the Saints' Taysom Hill -- New Orleans scored 25 unanswered from there. "The blocked punt switched that momentum," Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries said. "We didn't respond well to that adversity." -- Jenna Laine

Kansas City Chiefs 27, Baltimore Ravens 24

The Chiefs (11-2) can win with grit rather than flash. That should serve them well in a difficult two-game stretch that begins with Thursday night's home game against the Chargers. The Chiefs might not be able to overwhelm the Chargers and Seahawks, their Week 16 opponents, with offensive might. But they have the will to overcome what's put in front of them, as they showed in Sunday's win against the Ravens. -- Adam Teicher

The Ravens (7-6) are now tied for the AFC's No. 6 seed, but they feel they made a statement in taking the Chiefs to overtime. Lamar Jackson threw multiple touchdown passes for the first time in his career, and the NFL's No. 1 defense held Kansas City to a season low in points. Baltimore has to have the mentality that it needs to win out in order to end a three-year playoff drought, starting with Sunday's home game against the Bucs. -- Jamison Hensley

Indianapolis Colts 24, Houston Texans 21

Indianapolis' victory to end Houston's nine-game winning streak coupled with Baltimore's overtime loss to Kansas City has the Colts (7-6) in a four-way tie for the final playoff spot with three games to go. "Right now, what we're focused on is next week [against Dallas]," Colts coach Frank Reich said. "That's all that matters. We talked about it before this last game; we do have a goal of going 4-0 in the fourth quarter [of the season]." -- Mike Wells

The Texans (9-4) missed an opportunity to gain ground in the AFC playoff race. Deshaun Watson and the Texans' offense were not consistent, playing "terrible" on first down, according to coach Bill O'Brien, and going 5-of-13 on third down. Houston's nine-game win streak ended, but the Texans can clinch the AFC South with a victory on Saturday against the Jets and losses by the Colts and Titans. -- Sarah Barshop

Green Bay Packers 34, Atlanta Falcons 20

"There's a lot of fight left in this squad." That's what Aaron Rodgers said after the Packers' victory over the Falcons in the first game of the post-Mike McCarthy era. Indeed, they showed more spark than a week earlier during a listless performance in the loss to Arizona that ended up being McCarthy's final game. But while the Packers are 1-0 in the Joe Philbin era, they're still just 5-7-1 and barely alive for the playoffs with three games to go. -- Rob Demovsky

The Falcons simply aren't getting the message from their coach after dropping their fifth straight and falling to 4-9 on the season. Dan Quinn preached winning the turnover margin, executing better on offense and playing disciplined football after last week's loss to the Ravens. Well, Matt Ryan had a pick-six, there was a botched snap fumbled over to the Packers, and the Falcons had 13 penalties for 101 yards. Now they can't even finish .500. -- Vaughn McClure

Miami Dolphins 34, New England Patriots 33

The Dolphins are making a playoff push, and they keep finding a way to win despite mounting injuries. "There's no quit in me and there's no quit in this team," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. Miami is 7-6 and tied for the No. 6-seed in the AFC, and despite a difficult road game at Minnesota upcoming, the Dolphins have proven they shouldn't be counted out. -- Cameron Wolfe

A questionable coaching decision of putting the Hail Mary unit on the field for a final 69-yard Dolphins' scoring play contributed to a shocking loss, which had players saying in the locker room saying the team's character would be tested heading into next Sunday's game at Pittsburgh. Could a crushing loss like this sink the Pats? "I certainly don't believe so," captain Matthew Slater said. -- Mike Reiss

Cleveland Browns 26, Carolina Panthers 20

Football is starting to be fun again in Cleveland. Baker Mayfield has thrown for more than 500 yards and two touchdowns in his past six quarters, and the Browns' win over Carolina gives them three wins in four games. At 5-7-1, do the Browns dare think playoffs? "Always thinking playoffs, man," cornerback T.J. Carrie said. "That's why you play the game." -- Pat McManamon

The Panthers (6-7) have three games remaining, but it's time to start looking ahead to next season after Sunday's loss to Cleveland. While they're still mathematically alive for a wild-card spot, a five-game losing streak with New Orleans up next and twice in the last three weeks makes any hope seem slim. This simply is not a sound team fundamentally. Losses to lower-echelon teams such as the Browns, Lions and Buccaneers during this skid reinforce it. While coach Ron Rivera's job doesn't appear in imminent danger, it doesn't bode well that the defense continues to make the same mistakes with him calling plays. -- David Newton

New York Giants 40, Washington Redskins 16

Saquon Barkley proved Sunday that the Giants' offense should revolve around him. They scored 40 points without Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup during a demolition of the Redskins. It was in large part because of Barkley, who had 170 rushing yards, including a 78-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. That opened up the passing game and allowed the Giants (5-8) to reach 40 points for the first time since 2015. "We have to keep doing that," wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. It also made it clear the Giants' offense operates best around Barkley. -- Jordan Raanan

The Redskins (6-7) have lost four consecutive games and are in playoff contention on paper only. They will be starting their fourth quarterback this season in Week 15 at Jacksonville. Their defense has shown no sign of turning its bad play around and looks nothing like the unit that started strongly. The Redskins have hit free-fall mode, and if they don't turn it around, no one in the organization -- from president on down -- should be spared speculation about their future. -- John Keim

New York Jets 27, Buffalo Bills 23

Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold provided a glimmer of hope amid the Jets' miserable 4-9 season, delivering the first fourth-quarter comeback win of his career. He made plays with his arm and legs, leading two long touchdown drives to snap a six-game losing streak. This was his signature win. -- Rich Cimini

Rookie quarterback Josh Allen is setting records with his legs -- on Sunday, he became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to run for at least 100 yards in back-to-back games -- but as the No. 7 overall pick said after a loss to the Jets, the records don't matter if Buffalo (4-9) isn't winning games. The Bills' offense needs more than Allen and likely won't get reinforcements until the offseason. -- Mike Rodak

Los Angeles Chargers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21

The Chargers earned their 10th victory of the season, setting up an AFC West showdown against the Chiefs on Thursday night. Los Angeles has lost nine straight against Kansas City. However, the Bolts have a shot to return Melvin Gordon, who has missed the past two games with a sprained right knee. Gordon's replacement, Austin Ekeler, finished with 94 total yards from scrimmage, including a 5-yard touchdown run, in his team's win over the Bengals. -- Eric D. Williams

The Bengals looked like a different team against the Chargers, playing more aggressively and putting on one of their best defensive performances in weeks. But with a winning season out of the cards, it's certainly too late for moral victories. The Bengals proved they were capable of playing much better than they have throughout the second half of this season, but it's too little, too late. -- Katherine Terrell

San Francisco 49ers 20, Denver Broncos 14

In a season that's offered little in the way of luck, the 49ers finally have some working in their favor. The Niners beat the Broncos in a game that will mean little in the grand scheme of things, but because the Raiders beat the Steelers, the 49ers still remain firmly in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft (though Arizona is now back in the picture). For a team in need of difference-making talent, the importance of picking first can't be overstated. And to get a confidence-building win while still maintaining that possibility ... well, that qualifies as a good day in Niners Land. -- Nick Wagoner

The Broncos promised they wouldn't have a letdown. They said they couldn't afford it. They even said they finally were ready to show what kind of team they were with their three-game win streak in hand. The Broncos didn't keep their promise against the 49ers. The loss to San Francisco on Sunday was filled with everything the Broncos had hoped they had left behind this season: penalties, mistakes and inconsistent play. They say they have some fight left in them, but the proof will be in what they do against Cleveland in six days. -- Jeff Legwold

Dallas Cowboys 29, Philadelphia Eagles 23

The Cowboys are in position to clinch a playoff spot with a win next week against the Colts. At the midway point of the season, the Cowboys were 3-5, but they have won five straight, their longest win streak since an 11-game run in 2016, and could be a hard out if they make the postseason. "We never wavered, we never blinked," QB Dak Prescott said. "We knew the team we had in training camp and we knew the team we had when we were 3-5. And we didn't stop. We never want to stop." -- Todd Archer

Familiar issues finally knocked the Eagles off the high wire. They were sluggish on offense to start the game and let down late defensively, putting them at 6-7 on the year and dropping their playoff chances to 5.1 percent, per ESPN FPI. With a game at the Rams up next, things are looking bleak for the defending Super Bowl champions. -- Tim McManus

Oakland Raiders 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21

Did the Raiders lose by winning? At least when it comes to securing the top pick in the NFL draft, potentially. But so what. To quote Herm Edwards, you play to win the game. By beating an ancient AFC rival in the Steelers in such heart-stopping fashion and keeping Ben Roethlisberger winless in Oakland at 0-4, the Raiders showed improvement. And with three first-round picks, they still control the draft. -- Paul Gutierrez

With a brutal three-game stretch vs. New England, at New Orleans and at home against Cincinnati looming, the only certainty with the Steelers' playoff push is they're at their best with the ball in Ben Roethlisberger's hands. At least the Steelers are brutally honest in regard to their three-game losing streak, including Sunday's loss to 3-10 Oakland. Safety Sean Davis called the locker room "sick," and coach Mike Tomlin promised the Steelers will "look at all aspects of what we're doing." -- Jeremy Fowler

Detroit Lions 17, Arizona Cardinals 3

The Lions kept their faint playoff hopes alive in beating Arizona on Sunday, improving to 5-8. With losses by Carolina, Washington and Philadelphia, Sunday's win at least gives Detroit a chance if it wins its final three games against Buffalo, Green Bay and Minnesota. But it'll take a lot of work and a good deal of help. -- Michael Rothstein

Another game, another slew of offensive issues for the Cardinals. Any momentum built with their big win in Green Bay last week was squandered in a loss to the Lions, which dropped Arizona officially out of playoff contention at 3-10. From here on out, the Cardinals' focus will be securing the No. 1 pick in the draft. -- Josh Weinfuss

Tennessee Titans 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 9

The Titans found a way to get production from Derrick Henry as he rushed for a career-high 238 yards, including a 99-yard TD run. Running the football effectively in addition to playing suffocating defense is the formula for winning games in December. Being able to do both is a good sign for the Titans, who have to win next week on the road against the Giants to stay on pace for a wild-card spot. -- Turron Davenport

The Jaguars have lost four in a row and six of the past seven to the Titans, and they can't compete physically with Tennessee. How else to explain Henry's 238 yards and four rushing touchdowns, and the fact that the Jaguars managed just 60 rushing yards and gave up four sacks? The Jaguars' offensive and defensive lines were dominated, and that has been the case the past four times they've played. -- Mike DiRocco