Week 14 TNF Recap

Written by: William Petersen

Player Updates

TNF on Prime

Week 14 of the NFL season comes to many as the last week of the regular season for fantasy football and a week that would define how the New England Patriots would move forward after a 2-10 start. After inconsistent quarterback play from Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe got the starting nod from Bill Belichick after the Patriots held their last three opponents to 10 points or less but still managed to lose all three games. Zappe came into a hostile Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh looking to cement himself as the New England starter for the remainder of the 2023 season. Zappe made Belichick’s decision to start the backup more clear as Zappe finished 19/28 for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns to grind out a 21-18 win for the Patriots. Bailey Zappe secured the Patriots third win of the season but also gave the struggling offense a little bit of continuity after finally seeing a signal caller that could move the chains and hit wide-open receivers. New England will have major questions to answer and decisions to make for the rest of their disappointing season after a little bit of deja vu is culminating after we witnessed this in-season quarterback carousel last year when the Patriots were in a similar situation.

Bailey Zappe seized every second of his opportunity Thursday night after finally showing Patriots fans what it is like to have a quarterback that can convert on third down and move the chains multiple times in one game. The Pats only went 4-13 on third down conversions but managed to produce 303 yards of total offense, normally averaging 291 yards per game marking them at 28th in the league. Zappe found a favorite target early in tight end Hunter Henry who finished the game with only 3 receptions for 40 yards but hauled in 2/3 Patriots’ touchdowns to be the spotlight of the Patriots’ offensive unit. Bill Belichick’s squad now sits at 3-10 and will continue to fight for a top three draft pick but this win will help the New England head coach further affirm that their front office needs to draft a quarterback in the first or second round of the next NFL Draft. The carousel of switching between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe was not sustainable last season and continues to be a temporary solution for a permanent problem. As long as the Patriots continue to change who is breaking the huddle every week, this team will continue to be one of the worst offenses in the league and I will not be surprised to see them only win a total of five games once the regular season is finished. The Patriots continue to get put through the ringer as they host a fired up Kansas City Chiefs squad who are hot after losing a tight game to Buffalo Bills on a controversial offside penalty that was not really controversial at all. Expect the Chiefs to beat the breaks off the Patriots and even if the spread is double digits, I’d still take the Chiefs to cover.

The Pittsburgh Steelers now move to 7-6 and 4-4 at home for a team that loves home primetime games under head coach Mike Tomlin. Kenny Pickett sat out due to his ankle sprain he sustained in their 24-10 loss last week against the Arizona Cardinals, so backup Mitch Trubisky was handed the keys to a Steelers offense that has struggled to put up 20 points per game this season, averaging 18.1. Maybe a fresh face in the huddle catalyzed this mediocre offense, as Trubisky finished 22/35 for 190 yards, two total touchdowns, and an interception to cause Steelers fans to maybe question why Pickett has had such a tough time producing on offense this year. The Steelers now move to 7-6 and are now tied with the Cincinnati Bengals in a AFC North division where everyone has a record above .500. Mike Tomlin has never finished a season with a losing record and I would be hard pressed to believe that Tomlin will not find a way to keep this streak alive. The Terrible Towels go on the road next week to face a 7-6 Indianapolis Colts squad that are within the weeds of the playoff hunt as well as winning their division after the Jaguars have now lost two straight. Look for this game to be a shootout and expect Gardner Minshew to outplay whichever quarterback is under center for Mike Tomlin next Sunday.