NFL Week 13 overreactions, reality checks: Brock Purdy league MVP? Eagles no longer best in NFC East?

Week 13 of the NFL wasn’t one to write home about, even as some narratives were created. The San Francisco 49ers established themselves as the top dogs in the NFC with a convincing win over the Philadelphia Eagles, while the Miami Dolphins moved atop the AFC with their third straight win coming out of the bye.

The AFC South looked impressive while the AFC North took a tumble. The Los Angeles Rams look to steal a playoff spot in the NFC, while the Indianapolis Colts are proving they should be playing in mid-January.

Which overreactions are going to stick for this week? There are plenty of developments form the 49ers’ win over the Eagles — and all the Sunday afternoon NFL games:

49ers will win out the rest of the regular season

Overreaction or reality: Reality

The 49ers had a beatdown of the Eagles on Sunday, which was clearly their biggest test the rest of the way. San Francisco is 9-3 and looking like the best team in the NFL, winning its last four games by a combined 85 points — three of those wins against teams .500 or better. 

The 49ers play the Seahawks (home), Cardinals (away), Ravens (home), Commanders (away), and Rams (home) to close out the season. Baltimore is the toughest game left, but San Francisco beats the good teams convincingly. They are the second team since 1970 to win all four games against teams that entered the contest multiple games over .500 by 18-plus points (2014 Patriots) and the first team since the 2007 Patriots with eight wins by 13+ points in their first 12 games.

San Francisco has the looks of a 14-3 team. 

Overreaction or reality: Reality

Purdy had another incredible game in the 49ers’ rout of the Eagles, finishing 19 of 27 for 314 yards with four touchdowns to zero interceptions and a 148.8 passer rating. Purdy has completed 70.2% of his passes for 3,185 yards with 23 touchdowns to six interceptions and a 116.1 passer rating this season, leading the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt (9.6) and passer rating. 

Why shouldn’t Purdy be MVP? Who cares how much talent he has around him on offense? Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott have that same amount of talent, right? Purdy leads his teams to victories too — convincing ones to boot. 

Purdy has the most yards per attempt (9.6) by any quarterback in a team’s first 12 games of a season since Norm Van Brocklin in 1954 (minimum 250 attempts) and is the first quarterback with four games having three-plus passing touchdowns, no interceptions and averaging over 10.0 yards per attempt (per CBS Sports Research).

Purdy’s MVP case is just as good as anyone’s right now. He deserves more credit than he’s getting. 

Eagles will lose the NFC East 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Even with the blowout loss to the 49ers, the Eagles control their own destiny in the NFC East race. The rematch with the Cowboys looms, but a win in Dallas essentially locks up the division with four games to play since the Eagles have the tiebreaker and a two-game lead on the Cowboys (with three losing teams left on the schedule). 

What if the Cowboys win next week? Both teams will be tied for first in the division with a split in the season series. The division tiebreaker would come into play, as the Eagles have two games against the Giants left. If both the Eagles and the Cowboys finish 14-3 and 5-1 in the division, common games is the next tiebreaker. The Cowboys are 4-1 against common opponents while the Eagles are 4-2. 

The Cowboys have the Bills, Dolphins and Commanders as common opponents left while the Eagles have the Giants (twice), Seahawks and Cardinals. The Cowboys also have the tougher schedule remaining after the Eagles (at Bills, at Dolphins, vs. Lions, at Commanders).

An Eagles loss isn’t the end of the NFC East race, but Philadelphia can certainly seal the division next week. 

AFC North gets one team into the playoffs

Overreaction or reality: Reality

The AFC North has seen better days. The Browns lost poorly to the Rams with Joe Flacco being the fourth quarterback to start this year, while the Steelers fell at home to the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Colts and Texans won in the AFC South to put them in a tie with the Steelers and Browns at 7-5. 

The Steelers are currently the No. 5 seed in the AFC, yet have the look of a team that could miss the playoffs, especially with Kenny Pickett expected to miss multiple weeks. Pittsburgh plays Indianapolis in two weeks and also has Seattle and Baltimore remaining on the schedule. Cleveland has Jacksonville next week and Houston in three weeks, struggling to get by without Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Both the Steelers and Browns are fighting for their playoff lives with the emergence of the Colts, Texans and Broncos (who had their five-game win streak snapped). The Bills can’t be counted out of the equation either. 

If the AFC South teams take care of business when they play their AFC North counterparts, Pittsburgh and Cleveland will be on the outside looking in. Indianapolis and Houston have too favorable of a schedule going forward. 

Shane Steichen is NFL Coach of the Year

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Steichen really should get more consideration for this award. The Colts are 7-5 with a backup quarterback leading the team to four straight victories, including an overtime win over the Titans on Sunday to keep Indianapolis at the No. 7 spot in the AFC. Who would have thought the Colts were a playoff team this season? 

The Colts also beat the Texans and DeMeco Ryans — who is the favorite for Coach of the Year. Indianapolis is actually ahead of Houston in the AFC South, and the Colts haven’t had franchise quarterback Anthony Richardson take a snap since Week 5. 

If the Colts and Texans both make the playoffs, Ryans will likely win the award over Steichen. That shouldn’t discredit what Steichen has done in Year 1 in Indianapolis. Steichen took over a 4-12-1 team with the 30th-ranked offense and 28th-ranked defense in points. The defense is still near the bottom at 27th, but the offense is eighth. 

Indianapolis has the look of a playoff team in the AFC. That couldn’t be said five weeks ago. 

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