NFL Week 14 winners, losers: Saints surge into NFC’s top spot, Steelers stumble

This is the time of the NFL season during which teams not necessarily in control of their own situations do plenty of scoreboard watching.

And in a wild Sunday in Week 14, plenty of results — many of them complete surprises — had serious playoff ramifications. Here are winners and losers from a packed slate.


Kansas City Chiefs: It wasn’t so much that they beat the Ravens, a resurgent squad, 27-24 in overtime to clinch a playoff berth and improve to 11-2. It was more that the Patriots stumbled against the Dolphins, so KC’s grip on the No. 1 seed in the AFC got even stronger. The Chiefs now have a two-game lead on New England. And with a difficult remaining three games — Week 15 at home against the Chargers (10-3); Week 16 at the Seahawks (7-5); Week 17 at home against the Raiders (3-10) — picking up an extra game was huge. New England’s schedule is more forgiving, with the lone tough matchup remaining coming against the Steelers next week. So as long as the Chiefs take care of their business, the postseason in the AFC should run through Arrowhead. And that’s an environment that’s really tough in January.

Jerry Jones: The Cowboys — and Jones, specifically — caught a lot of heat for the decision to trade a first-round pick to the Raiders for receiver Amari Cooper. Well, after a thrilling 29-23 victory against the Eagles in overtime, Dallas holds a commanding two-game lead in the NFC East, is 5-1 since the trade, and no one is criticizing Jones now. Cooper torched the Eagles (10 catches, 217 yards, three touchdowns), and it’s clear his presence has opened up the entire offense. Though quarterback Dak Prescott still needs to work on protecting the ball and avoiding occasional bad misses, his connection with Cooper is undeniably a season-turning weapon. Cooper is just 24 and is set to enter his fifth-year option in 2019. The issue for Jones, now, is paying him.

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