CLOSE

USA TODAY Sports' Tom Pelissero recaps the biggest takeaways from Sunday's games. USA TODAY Sports

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

There are only three weeks left in the NFL's regular-season, but only one playoff spot has been clinched. Uncertainty abounds throughout the league, as Sunday offered little clarity.

Here are five overreactions we're pushing back on in Week 14:

With Earl Thomas out, the Packers' win over the Seahawks was less impressive than it looked

To put Green Bay’s 38-10 thrashing of the Seahawks in perspective, take a closer look at a few key numbers.

The 28-point margin of defeat was the largest Seattle has suffered since Nov. 7, 2010 — Pete Carroll's first season in Seattle, and well before Russell Wilson's reign. It was the first double-digit defeat for the Seahawks in 96 games.

Even without its star safety in Thomas, who is out for the season with a broken leg, this is still a loaded defense.

And while Thomas’ absence was significant, the Packers deserve credit for the manner in which they dismantled the Seahawks.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 18 of 23 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns despite suffering a calf injury just 90 seconds into the game. The Packers scored touchdowns on all four of their red zone trips, and the defense grabbed six turnovers, including five interceptions from Wilson.

The Packers are on a three-game winning streak, and the offense is clicking at the right time for a few reasons. Rodgers’ mobility continues to befuddle defenses, as his ability to escape the pocket and make throws is so difficult to defend. Green Bay’s receivers are finally getting open on one-on-one matchups. And perhaps most important, Rodgers and the offense are avoiding mistakes.

That may be enough to carry the Packers into the playoffs, though they're currently two games behind in the NFC North and one back for the final wild-card spot. If they reach the postseason, they could shake up the entire field.

Matthew Stafford’s injury sinks Detroit’s chances

Stafford suffered a dislocation and torn ligaments to the middle finger of his throwing hand, a person familiar with the injury told USA TODAY Sports' Tom Pelissero on Sunday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not released details of the injury. Despite that, Stafford did not miss one play in Sunday’s 20-17 victory against the Chicago Bears.

Detroit’s trainers taped the finger, and Stafford finished the game using a glove to help protect his hand and improve his grip on the football.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters on Monday that Stafford “will be able to play” in this week’s pivotal game against the New York Giants (9-4).

The injury could affect Stafford down the stretch, but his gritty game-winning drive in the final minutes – capped by a 7-yard touchdown scramble – showed that he can play through the injury, at least as long as it doesn't worsen.

Stafford completed 21 of 35 passes for 223 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Bears. And while the veteran quarterback has been instrumental in several of Detroit’s come-from-behind victories and had an MVP-caliber season, the Lions are led by a defense that has allowed just 20.6 points per game.

That unit will have to step up, and Stafford might need to alter the way he plays. But Stafford's injury doesn’t end Detroit’s shot at a run in the playoffs.

Helping matters even more, Seattle’s loss put Detroit in the No. 2 seed in the NFC. If the Lions hold onto that position, they would get a much-needed first-round bye – and a chance for Stafford to rest his hand.

The Broncos still have a clear path to the playoffs

The defending Super Bowl champs may miss the postseason after all.

The Denver Broncos dropped another disappointing game Sunday, this one 13-10 against the Tennessee Titans. Denver has now lost three of their last five games and now clings to the last of two wild-card berths in the AFC.

But how long can this team hold on?

The Broncos have one of the most challenging finishes to a season with games against the New England Patriots (10-2), at the Kansas City Chiefs (10-3), and against the Oakland Raiders (10-3).

More concerning is the disappearance of Denver’s running game. Over the past six games, the Broncos have rushed for only 73.2 yards per game. To compare, the Minnesota Vikings own the NFL’s lowest-ranked rushing offense, which gains only 73.4 yards per game.

Coach Gary Kubiak’s offense relies on a successful ground game, and that was one of the reasons why quarterback Trevor Siemian thrived earlier in the season. The lack of rushing production is the main reason why Denver suddenly has so many issues staying on the field. The Broncos have converted just four of their last 24 third-down attempts.

If that doesn’t improve in the final three weeks, Denver may be watching the postseason from home for the first time since 2010.

With three games left, the Colts still breathing in AFC South

Anything can still happen in the final three weeks of the season. But there’s no question that the postseason hopes of the Indianapolis Colts are looking bleak. Simply put, this was Indy’s chance to take control of the division.

With Sunday’s 22-17 loss against the Houston Texans (7-6), the Colts (6-7) suddenly have to hope for their AFC South rival to collapse down the stretch.

More importantly, if the Colts and Texans finish the season with the same record, Houston has a stranglehold on the tiebreaking proceedings. Since Houston has now swept the Colts in both meetings, Indy would essentially need to run the table and need the Texans to drop at least two of their next three.

The Colts finish up at the Vikings (7-6), at the Raiders (10-3), and  the Jaguars (2-11).

Houston hosts the Jaguars, the Bengals (5-7-1), and then concludes its campaign on the road against the Titans (7-6).

And it’s not only Houston that Indianapolis has to worry about.

The Tennessee Titans (7-6) are in better shape, too.

Time for Tony Romo in Dallas

After what was easily the worst game in Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott’s young career, the calls for Romo to return as Dallas’ starter have already cropped up.

But there's no reason to contemplate a switch even after Prescott and the Cowboys came up short against the New York Giants' stout defense in a 10-7 loss on Sunday night.

Prescott completed just 17 of 37 passes for 165 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. One of the turnovers was an awful decision to heave the ball into double coverage. The other wasn’t his fault, as receiver Dez Bryant slipped on the icy turf and cornerback Janoris Jenkins hauled in the pass.

Yes, Prescott was confused and flustered by the Giants. They blanketed his targets, forced him to hold onto the ball and constantly pressured him.

Removing Prescott from the starting lineup, however, would undo so much of the progress he made during Dallas’ 11-game winning streak. During that span, Prescott showed he could be efficient and make smart decisions. One poor outing isn’t enough to unseat him.

And, Romo continues to be a very good quarterback, when healthy.

But that has been the problem. Romo hasn’t been able to stay on the field. In the last 15 months, he has fractured a bone three times.

The Cowboys should take comfort in knowing that Romo is available if needed. But the time to call on him isn’t here just yet.

Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.

PHOTOS: Best of NFL Week 14

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE