JERMAINE EVERY'S OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from the NFL's Week 13

Russell Wilson had a big week. Getty Images

Week 13 in the NFL is in the books. The playoff picture still isn’t crystal clear. In fact, it may be murkier than before. Here’s how I saw things:

The Good

-Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes in their 43-16 beatdown of the 49ers. Sure, others have thrown for more touchdowns in a game, but the fact that he was 11 of 17 and threw four touchdowns was the impressive part. Wilson was knocked for his size and proved the doubters wrong. He’s also proving he can do it without a once stout defense and run game.

-Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald may have solidified his stronghold on the Defensive Player of the Year Award with a two sack performance in their 30-16 win over the Lions. Donald has a league-leading 16.5 sacks on the year. With a 1.375 per game average, he’s on pace for 22 this season, one shy of the record.

-Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay led them to a 24-10 win over the Broncos. The hometown hero (born, raised, and played college ball in the Colorado) had 19 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Lindsay was an undrafted free agent who is fourth in the league in rushing. Talk about living the dream.

The Bad

-Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson left the game under concussion protocol after being kicked in the head by a teammate. Although he was cleared an came back, running him as much as they have in his two starts this season leave him exposed to unnecessary contact. The Ravens may want to rethink how they use him.

-The Bengals are now 5-7 and have lost stud wideout A.J. Green for three to four months. Head coach Marvin Lewis’ tenure may finally be over and I believe it’s time. However, team owner Mike Brown is notoriously cheap and may not want to pay Lewis to go away.

-The Panthers fired two defensive coaches following their 24-17 loss to the Bucs. Head coach Ron Rivera will take over calling the plays on that side of the ball. Strange to say the least considering quarterback Cam Newton threw four picks and the defense still held the Bucs to 315 yards.  

The Ugly

-The Jags beat the Colts 6-0 in an awful game. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw the ball 52 times and they still couldn’t score! The Jags had more penalties accepted on them (eight) than points!

-Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy less than three hours after his presser following an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals. The team is now 4-7-1, fully invested in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and now in need of a new coach. McCarthy accomplished a lot in his tenure, but this is a “what have you done for me lately” league.

-The Chiefs have parted ways with running back Kareem Hunt following the release of a video showing him assaulting a woman in a hotel. Hunt is an incredible talent who committed a heinous act and will be another example of an athlete squandering the opportunity of a lifetime because he chose to be stupid.

Both conferences are top-heavy, with a cluster of teams fighting for the final few spots. Four division races are just about done, while the other four are up in the air. Last few weeks will be exciting to watch because so much will be at stake. Congrats NFL on making the end of the season matter by scheduling division games in week 17.

 

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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