NFL Winners and Losers of Week 14

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Winners and Losers of Week14

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Another exciting week of NFL action is in the books, and with playoff positions on the line, each game held a heightened level of importance. This makes the winners and losers of the week all the more meaningful.

Now is the time when big name players need to be earning their keep. Now is when the players at the top of the NFL talent pool have to play to their potential, helping their teams overcome adversity, while proving themselves to be the best the league has to offer.

The end of the season has always been like this, but with the increasing popularity of Fantasy Football, every single dropped pass, tipped interception and missed field goal takes on an even greater significance. With highlights, statistics and recaps available at our fingertips, no one can hide any longer. Every single play is under scrutiny, and at this time of year, every team, every player, every coaching staff is held to a higher standard.

The beauty of it is seeing the players and teams that rise to the challenge. It is inspiring to watch as our gridiron heroes match the intensity of the moment with clutch performances and gutsy decisions. The way these modern day gladiators take the field and put all of the fear and uncertainty aside makes it impossible to turn our eyes away.

Watching big plays in clutch moments is what makes these final few weeks so amazing. Certainly the NFL is not the only league, or sport, with such moments, but it could be argued that no one else captures these moments the way the NFL is captured. It is beautiful, heartbreaking and awe inspiring. It makes us curse and rejoice, and we refuse to pull our eyes away from it all.

Here we present 10 of the biggest winners of Week 14, and 10 of the lowliest losers. We hope you enjoy, and if you would like to argue another player or teams inclusion in this piece, please feel free to use the comment section at the bottom of the page. With that, we encourage you to click on the “next” tab and find out who was a stud, and who was a dud.

Jeff Everette is a regular contributor here at RantSports.com, following the NFL and NBA. He can be reached any time on twitter @jeverettesports, or Face Book at www.facebook.com/JeffEveretteRantSports as well as on Google+

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10. Drew Brees Falls Short Again

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Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, and another poor performance from Drew Brees. For the second week in a row, Brees struggled to find the endzone, finding it just once against the New York Giants. As has been his custom as of late, Brees threw multiple interceptions (2), and his his team lost by 20 points.

It is hard to believe the record setting quarterback has spent more time in the losers column this season than he has the winners bracket, but the entire New Orleans Saints organization has struggled this year and, unfortunately, Drew Brees has not been immune to the team's bad fortunes.

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10. Brandon Lloyd and Dante Stallworth

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Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots dismantled the Houston Texans on Monday night, crushing the AFC leaders 42-14. Such a victory would make it easy to call the entire team winners of Week 14, but two wide receivers deserve special recognition.

Recent rumors have had Brandon Lloyd being phased out of the offense. He had only had one catch in Week 13, and it looked as though he was going to become another failed experiment in the Patriots system. Instead, Lloyd connected with Tom Brady seven times on Monday night, gaining 89 yards and scoring a 37 yard touchdown. He also recovered a fumble in the endzone for another score, proving once again that when things go the Patriots way, anything is possible

Dante Stallworth only had one catch, but it was for a 63 yard touchdown. This catch has to be especially satisfying for the 31 year-old Stallworth who was cut during the Patriots training camp and brought in just last week. Unfortunately for Stallworth, he suffered a high ankle sprain at the end of his touchdown reception and the Patriots are said to be bringing Deon Branch back into the fold.

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9. Tampa Bay Gives Away Their Playoff Hopes

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of Week 11, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had won four straight games, and looked like a solid playoff contender. Since then, the Buccaneers train has been derailed; they are now under.500, and their playoff hopes have all but disappeared.

This week's lose is especially tough considering they gave up two touchdowns in the final four minutes, and gave the Philadelphia Eagles since Week 4. Giving away a game they had won is extremely discouraging for a team that was four minutes away from being in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt

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9. Cleveland Browns: Winners of Three Straight

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns are starting to look like the winners of the 2012 NFL Draft. Rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson have been impressive in their debut season, and the team as a whole has been playing at an impressive level. The two talented starters are part of a changing Cleveland culture, and even if Week 14's win was against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Browns' swagger was on full display

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8. Chicago Bears Lose Again

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears led the NFC North for most of the 2012 season, but after losing four of the last five, they have relinquished control of the division to the Green Bay Packers and they now sit as the 6th and final seed of NFC Playoff picture.

Going on a losing streak is never a good thing for any team with Super Bowl aspirations, but going on a tanking at the end of the season can become crippling to any hopes of hoisting the Lombardi trophy at season's end.

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8. The Re-Emergence of Knowshon Moreno

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In 2009 the Denver Broncos selected Knowshon Moreno in hopes the dynamic running back would be the key to Denver's ground game for years to come. Four years of key fumbles and untimely injuries bumped Moreno from the starting position, and it appeared as though he was on his way out of the Mile High City.

Fortunately for the Broncos, Moreno was still around when their starting running back Willis McGahee was lost for the rest of the season. On Thursday night, the rejuvenated Moreno reminded the team why they had selected him in the first place, carrying the ball a career high 32 times for 119 yards and a tough redzone touchdown.

Fans in Denver were nervous when McGahee went down, and rightfully so, but if Moreno is able to keep up this type of production, Denver will be a tough team for anyone to beat.

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7. Chad Henne Loses His Mojo

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Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Henne had done surprisingly well in his first few games as the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it looked as though he lost his magic on Sunday when he faced the up-and-down New York Jets.

Henne threw for less than 200 yards for the first time in a Jaguars uniform, throwing two interceptions and failing to get into the endzone against a struggling Jets defense. His quarterback rating of 41.3 is exactly what it takes to end up on the wrong side of the weekly winners and losers.

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7. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers Make A Statement

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After losing to divisions rival Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newtonwere dying for some payback. On Sunday that is just what they got.

Newton threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and then added insult to injury by rushing for 116 more yards and another score as well. He set his own career best when he took off at his Panthers' own 28 yard line and rushed down the left side for a 72 yard score, as the Panthers beat the Falcons 20-30.

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6. Pittsburgh Steelers Hanging On By A Thread

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into their Week 14 match-up against the San Diego Chargers with momentum following their emotional win against division rival, Baltimore Ravens in Week 13. They had their franchise quarterback on the field for the first time since Week 11, and having Big Ben Roethlisberger was an obvious boon for the talented wideout, Mike Wallace, who had over a hundred yards and two scores on the day. Unfortunately, all of this was not enough to secure the Steelers a win.

Any loss at this time of year becomes significant, especially when it happens to a team fighting for a wildcard spot in the playoff seeding. The Steelers are sitting in the 6th and final playoff position, and they are counting their lucky stars that the rest of the wildcard contenders lost their games on Sunday, too. Regardless, a home loss to the Chargers clearly puts them in the losers bracket.

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6. Nick Foles Wins First NFL Game In Dramatic Fashion

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It was beginning to look like the Philadelphia Eagles were not going to win another game this season. They team had lost eight straight games coming into Week 14, and rookie quarterback Nick Foles was 0-3 as a starter since taking over for Michael Vick, who has been out with a concussion. Then came the surprising win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers had lost two in a row coming into this game, but there were not many folks out there giving the Eagles a chance to win this game, and it is doubtful that anyone was surprised when they gave up a 10 point lead and found themselves losing by two scores with just four minutes left.

Suddenly, everything began to click for the Eagles quarterback, and the bounces began to go their way. Foles scored twice in those final minutes, ending the game with a touchdown pass to Jeremy Macklin.

Getting your first win as an NFL starter is something special, but having your first win come about in such an exciting manner changes it from a special win, to an epic event. Congratulations to the young starter.

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5. Cincinnati Bengals Drop A Big One

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David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

With both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens losing on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals found themselves in position to jump to the 6th seed in the playoff picture. Instead, the Bengals dropped the ball, and lost to the Dallas Cowboys on a last second field goal.

Using the term "dropped the ball" may be a sad play on words, but that is exactly what the Bengals did. Andrew Hawkins missed several key opportunities, but it was the Bengals star receiver who had the biggest drop of the game when he was unable to pull in a touchdown pass that would have pushed the win out of the Cowboys reach. Dropped touchdowns are unacceptable, especially when your team has such a perfect opportunity present itself, like the Bengals did on Sunday.

Hopefully for the Bengals, this loss will not keep them from the playoffs, but if it does, you can bet A.J. Green will be beating himself up all off-season.

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5. Kirk Cousins Validates The Washignton Redskins Drafting Strategy

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The media erupted when the Washington Redskins selected quarterback Kirk Cousins with the 102nd pick i the 2012 NFL Draft. It wasn't that people thought Cousins would be a flop in the NFL, but rather the outcry was over the fact they had selected the Heisman Trophy winning Robert Griffin III to be their franchise quarterback for years to come. Many thought the Redskins were inviting a quarterback controversy before even playing their first game, but head coach Mike Shanahan insisted RGIII was their starter, and that Cousins was too great of a value to pass up in the 4th round.

He now looks like a genius.

Cousins was forced to come into the game with just 45 seconds left, after RGIII sprained an LCL in his right knee. The 'Skins were down eight points to the Baltimore Ravens with their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. Cousins came in on a 2nd and 20 on the Baltimore 25, and completes two passes, one for a touchdown. He follows it up by running in the two point conversion, and the Redskins beat the Ravens in overtime.

It was an amazing finish for any fan of football to watch, and Cousins certainly came in with poise and led his team to a victory, but it is possible none of it would have even been possible without the incredible grit shown by RGIII leading up to Cousins appearance. Between the two rookie quarterbacks, and also their rookie running back Alfred Morris, the Washington drafting strategy looks like pure genius.

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4. Houston Texans Fail To Impress In Primetime

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Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Monday Night Football was billed to be a meeting of two AFC giants, with the conference leading Houston Texans facing off against the reigning AFC Champion New England Patriots. Instead of a battle of epic proportions, the Texans were out-played, out-hustled and out-coached from the start of the game till the end.

This is just the second loss for the Houston Texans, but both losses have been against the best of the best in the league, which is what the Texans are trying to be. The scary thing for Houston is that neither loss was even close.

Throughout the week, several Texans had come out and stated that they felt this game was the most important of their season, yet, when the ball was kicked off, it looked as thought the team forgot why they were on the field. This is not what you want to see from a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

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4. Adrian Peterson Cannot Be Stopped

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

If there is an NFL fan out there that is not aware of what Adrian Peterson is doing this season, they deserve to have their fan card pulled.

It is amazing to see Peyton Manning come back after a year off and multiple neck surgeries. It is great to see him have success with his new team, and in any other season, he would be a lock for the comeback player of the year. Unfortunately for Manning, Peterson is having the best season of his career, and it just keeps getting better.

Besides putting up jaw dropping numbers on a consistent basis, Peterson is closing in on a 2,000 yard season, something that has only been done by six other backs in NFL history. What makes this so impressive is that "All Day" Adrian Peterson is less than a year removed from a torn ACL that ended his 2011-12 campaign. There was a time when this type of injury could end a player's career, especially a running back who pounds the defense the way Peterson does. Someone failed to tell Peterson this, and he has recovered in record time, and looks better than before he went out.

Peterson scored twice while racking up another 150+ yard performance, and led his team to a victory against the Chicago Bears. Most importantly, the win keeps the Minnesota Vikings alive in the NFC playoff hunt.

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3. Detroit Lions Drop 22nd Straight Game At Lambeau Field

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions have a knack for setting records NFL records. It seems as though every season we hear how the Lions have a chance to break this record, or tie that one. The problem is, they all have to do with losing streaks.

Detroit owns the record for most consecutive losses on the road, most consecutive losses over-all and, of course, they are the only team to have ever gone 0-16. On Sunday night they added to their rich history, with a loss at Lambeau Field, making it 22 straight losses on the Frozen Tundra of the Green Bay Packers.

Not only, did the Lions set a new record for consecutive road losses to a single opponent, they broke a tie they were in with their own selves at 21 straight losses!

This is sad for fans of the Detroit Lions, and if the team ever wants to be considered a contender in the NFC, they need to start by being able to beat the Packers. Winning just seven of their 34 match-ups since 1996 is not going to cut it.

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3. David Wilson Flips Out On New Orleans

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The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie running back slash return man David Wilson had a rough start to his career as a New York Giant when he fumbled in his very first game. He was so upset about his mistake that he was seen crying on the sideline, a fact that was quick to take the internet by storm.

Wilson came into the league with very high expectations, but that fumble caused coach Tom Coughlin to bump the rookie down to the third position on the depth chart, and his opportunities have been few and far between. This may have been what motivated Wilson when he was given an opportunity to play on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The rookie knew he had a chance to shine, and that is just what he did.

Wilson created a much needed spark for the Giants, scoring three touchdowns and racking up an impressive 327 all-purpose yards in a rout of the Saints. What makes this win so special for Wilson is that he was able to impact the game in such a way in a critical time of the Giants season. Had his team lost on Sunday, they would have dropped to 3rd place in their division, and would have needed help to make the post-season. Having a career day and becoming a shining star on a roster full of bright lights is impressive, doing it with the season on the line is phenomenal.

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2. Cam Cameron Is Out As Baltimore Ravens Offensive Coordinator

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The only surprising part of the Baltimore Raven's decision to move away from their offensive play caller, is the timing. It was becoming painfully obvious Cam Cameron would not be staying in Baltimore for another season, but for him to be dropped with just three weeks left of the season, especially considering the Ravens are currently sitting as the fourth seed in the playoff picture.

Last season's loss to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round was a hard one to swallow for a team that had done everything to put themselves in position to represent the AFC at the Super Bowl, and from the first day of training camp, it has been clear, anything less than getting to the big game would be considered a failure. Letting go of their offensive coordinator is a testament to how serious this team is about achieving that goal.

The lack of touches going to the Ravens' Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has been a constant source of frustration for the Ravens, and their fans, not to mention the Fantasy owners who took Rice early in the first round of their draft. This, along with an anemic passing attack, was enough to finally cost Cameron his position, but what makes this so much worse is the fact that he was replaced with Jim Caldwell, the former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, who has never called plays at any level in his entire career.

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2. Peyton Manning Tops 5000 Career Completions

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning just continues to strengthen the argument for those who call him the greatest quarterback of all time, this time by throwing his 5,000 career completion. This puts Peyton at number two all time, behind only Brett Favre. Whether he can move into first place at some point is debatable considering a difference of over 1,000 completions between first and second place on this list.

Ask Manning and he will repeat an often heard mantra of being honored to be mentioned among such incredible quarterbacks, and how he is humbled and honored to be included among players he has idolized since his childhood. It is the type of response we have come to expect from Manning who continues to cement his legacy by surpassing another passing record every other week (or so it seems). What is important to Manning is the fact that his Denver Broncos won the game in which he achieved a personal milestone.

For Manning, the personal records are nice, but team wins and a chance at another Super Bowl is what matters to the future Hall of Fame quarterback, and that is just one of the reasons why he is a pillar of his sport.

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1. The Arizona Cardinals Are Just Plain Horrible

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Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

It is hard to remember when the Arizona Cardinals were 4-0 and were being talked about as one of the strongest teams in the NFC. It is hard to remember those times, most likely because the memory has been clouded by the nine game losing streak they have been on since.

Sunday's divisional match-up with the Seattle Seahawks was an all-time low for the Cardinals organization, with even the father of star wideout Larry Fitzgerald going on the record saying the team has quit. Looking at the final score of 58 to 0, it is hard to argue with the mans statement.

Regardless of injuries, losing mentalities or anything else that could be going on with Arizona, no professional team should ever be beaten by 58 points and shut out to boot. It is just downright shameful.

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1. Dallas Cowboys Overcome Tragedy To Pull Out Emotional Win

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Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, the NFL mourned the death of one of their own. Breaking news dominated the headlines on Saturday when Jerry Brown Jr, a member of the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, lost his life in a single car accident. The car was driven by his teammate and best friend, Josh Brent, who was subsequently charged with Intoxication Manslaughter after the accident was investigated.

The Cowboys were heading into a contest with the Cincinnati Bengals with their playoff hopes on the line, and their hearts on their sleeves. The emotions were raw and powerful, and in the end, the Cowboys were able to mount a come back, overcoming a 9 point deficit late in the fourth quarter, and walking off of the field with a one point victory as time expired.

It is in moments like this, that we are reminded of why we fell in love with this game in the first place. Good win Cowboys, you deserved it.


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