NFL Week 13 Takeaways: Importance Of Star Wideouts Can’t Be Overstated

Plus: Comments from Patriots players were eye-popping

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December 6, 2022

It’s a not exactly a new idea, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked: Offenses with clear-cut No. 1 receivers are much better suited than offenses without such players.

It’s been on display throughout the 2022 campaign with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, among others, and was again in Week 13. Those who fit that No. 1 wideout criteria jump off the page, you know who they are. And they helped their teams to victories in meaningful mid-season spots.

Perhaps no example was more glaring than Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown, who went off for 119 yards on eight catches and two touchdowns against his former team in the Tennessee Titans. He’s a clear No. 1. Brown’s second touchdown catch was heavily contested with Tennessee cornerback Tre Avery draped all over him. It didn’t matter. And that came after Brown’s initial score featured a perfectly executed double move while his physicality helped him get wide open on a 41-yard touchdown.

NFL fans watching “Sunday Night Football” saw another example in Dallas Cowboys third-year wideout CeeDee Lamb. Lamb has continued to ascend with Dak Prescott back behind center (27 rec., 372 yards, three scores in last four games), but his primetime performance brought many back to his dominant days at Oklahoma. Lamb’s highlight of the night was his 20-yard second-effort touchdown in the first quarter, but not to be overlooked was a third-and-10 conversion in which he sidestepped Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin and ran over safety Julian Blackmon. (You can watch it here.) Lamb’s Week 13 numbers (five rec. on seven targets, 71 yards) would have been even better if Prescott didn’t miss him on a second-down play-action in the third quarter, too. He’s now a top wideout in the league.

Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson, a candidate to win Offensive Player of the Year, was more limited than usual Sunday as he went up against Defensive Rookie of the Year nominee in Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner. But with the game on the line — and New York opting for Gardner to not follow Jefferson for some reason — the budding superstar hauled in what proved to be the game-winning touchdown from Kirk Cousins. It was a perfectly executed route as Jefferson’s hesitation in the end zone allowed him the half second to get open in the corner. He, too, is a difference-maker.

And that’s not even to mention the obvious game-changers like Miami Dolphins wideout Tyreek Hill (nine rec., 146 yards, touchdown), Las Vegas superstar Davante Adams (eight rec., 177 yards, two touchdowns) and Cincinnati Bengals star Ja’Marr Chase (seven rec., 97 yards), who made his return from a hip injury and went off against the Kansas City Chiefs.

That is what a No. 1 wideout can do for offenses. Simply, they make plays that others aren’t capable of. And teams that don’t have those sorts of talents (cough, cough, the New England Patriots) don’t have the same sort of offensive success as teams that do. It’s a growing theme in the league, and given the offseason trades for Adams and Hill, it might prove to executives how crucial those players are.

Here are more NFL takeaways after Week 13:

— The comments made from Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne after Thursday night’s loss to the Buffalo Bills were eye-popping. Those sorts of comments — taking shots at fellow players (offensive linemen) and coaches (Matt Patricia) — are incredibly rare inside the confines of Gillette Stadium. Bill Belichick continues to fall on the sword, as he said he would, but the Patricia-called offense is terrible. Still, despite the Patriots looking nothing like a title contender through 12 weeks, New England remains in the playoff hunt.

— The Bengals proved in Week 13 they are a team to keep an eye on. Joe Burrow and company have proven they can hang with the class of the AFC in Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs. And with the injury to Lamar Jackson, Cincinnati very well could beat out the Baltimore Ravens and win the AFC North. Oddsmakers, though, still have Baltimore on the top betting line and those looking to place a wager would be wise to take the Bengals at plus-money now while it’s still available.

— You almost have to feel for Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco looked more than capable of putting together a run at the NFC title, and the season-ending foot injury to Garoppolo feels like it might hinder that. Could the 49ers ride third-stringer Brock Purdy in a game manager role behind a stout defense? Sure. But with the 49ers sure to face opposing defenses like the Eagles and Cowboys in the postseason, the rookie seventh-rounder will have a tough matchups — matchups the veteran Garoppolo would be better suited for.

— Tom Brady’s Buccaneers earned a comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints on “Monday Night Football,” and while Atlanta’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay added to its NFC South advantage. That’s probably not a great development for any team currently the NFC East team which claims the first wild card. After all, teams surely would rather play any other NFC South team rather than Brady’s experienced Buccaneers, despite how Tampa has looked at times this season.

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New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones
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