AFC stock reports: Kansas City Chiefs pass Houston Texans for 3rd seed
Teams in the AFC that took a step back in Week 14
Bills look solid in defeat
In a battle between two playoff-caliber teams in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens continued their winning streak defeating the Buffalo Bills 24-17. The victory increased the Ravens franchise record of nine consecutive wins while also creating a team record of most wins through 13 games sitting at 11-2. The AFC North has yet to be secured as the Pittsburgh Steelers gain a victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, improving to 8-5.
By clinching their second straight playoff berth—their eighth playoff berth in 12 seasons under head coach John Harbaugh—the Ravens continue to prove that they are the top team in the NFL. While the Bills walked away with a loss falling to 9-4, they showed that they could hang tight against the top of the AFC. Buffalo’s defense struggled against the run early in the season but has improved recently, which proved to be valid against the Ravens. There’s no question the Bills have one of the best defenses in the league.
Holding Baltimore’s offense to 257 total yards gave the Ravens their lowest of the season. A team that came into the game only punting the ball 24 times this season was forced to punt seven times on Sunday. Quarterback Lamar Jackson threw 16 of 25 for 145 yards on the day with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. One thing to note, 61 of those 145 yards came on a pass to tight end Hayden Hurst who ran it for a touchdown. Jackson rushed 11 times for 40 yards, which were an average of 3.6 yards per attempt, the highest average by any Ravens rusher.
Despite a running game led by rookie running back Devin Singletary having success, the Bills elected to pass the ball 39 times. Singletary rushed 17 times for 89 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per attempt. Quarterback Josh Allen was able to carry his offense down the field down 24-9 to score a touchdown connecting with Cole Beasley. Coming out of halftime, Baltimore was able to wrangle the Bills offense in their own territory.
Buffalo struggled to finish drives in Baltimore territory, settling for field goals and a punt on four consecutive trips in the second half. On the final drive, with a chance to tie the game, Allen threw a pass over the middle to wide receiver John Brown on 4th and eight that was broken up by cornerback Marcus Peters at the goal line. Allen was sacked six times on the day as receivers struggled to get open against the Ravens aggressive secondary.
Buffalo walks away from this one frustrated, but the country was shown that Buffalo should be taken seriously in the AFC despite their easy early schedule. The defense made plays and stops against the most explosive offense in the league. If these two meet again in the playoffs, it will be a fun rematch.
Texans fall short against Broncos
Following a dominating performance hosting the New England Patriots a week ago, the Houston Texans fell short in Week 14, losing to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. In the first half alone, Denver climbed to a 31-3 lead. Making his second start in the NFL, his first on the road, former Missouri quarterback Drew Lock surprised most of the nation with his performance. Throwing 22 of 27 for 309 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, it wasn’t the quarterback that we were expecting to be talking about come Monday morning.
Rookie tight end Noah Fant was two yards shy of his best in the NFL with four catches for 113 yards and a touchdown against Houston. Even head coach Vic Fangio, who has been known to criticize Lock this year, was surprised by the rookie quarterback’s performance. Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson finished the day throwing 28 of 50 for 292 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Denver fans walk away with some optimism for their future after Lock’s performance, while Houston fans find themselves worried about the playoffs as Tennessee continues to gain ground in the AFC South.