The biggest competition of the 12th. Week is already getting chaotic with Steelers-Ravens postponed from Thanksgiving night to 1:15 a.m. Sunday afternoon due to numerous positive COVID tests in Baltimore, there is still a chance the game could be postponed to another week. This is especially unfortunate for the Steelers, who were hardest hit by the Tennessee outbreak earlier this season. Even so, the games have to go on elsewhere, and there are a handful of good games to host the from the Tennessee and Indianapolis showdown for control of the AFC South, as well as a 2018 AFC Championship Game rematch for Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes as buccaneers Chiefs. NFC East has a chance to get worse before it gets better as the Eagles are a huge underdog against Seattle on Monday night and Washington and Dallas play against each other. There remains the very real chance that the division will be won by a team with six wins – and maybe even fewer.
What You Need To Know: Houston put in an extremely sharp performance from Deshaun Watson to lead the team to a win over New England. Watson hasn’t thrown an interception in over a month and despite Houston’s poor record, his game has been strong this season. The New England win was a microcosm of what is good and what is bad about Houston. Watson is traditionally capable of hitting good defenses on his own, but more or less has to do so due to the limitations of Texans elsewhere. The Lions were arguably the worst overall performance of the 11th. Week, were expelled by Carolina and beaten by P.. J. . Walker, last seen ripping up the XFL. Matt Patrick’s job is now, and should be, very jeopardized, and the Lions, just a week after some pundits (like me) wondered if they could sneak into the postseason, are now being tossed in the scrap heap where they belong. What else is there to say about a team whose only reliable quality is that they can disappoint their fans year after year?
On site: Texan DT Ross Blacklock. Blacklock has been slow to adjust to the NFL game, and his most important moment was a bad one when he was thrown out of Houston’s pre-season loss to Baltimore for a blow. Houston has no help along the way; If Blacklock goes broke, it will be a big miss for the franchise.
Lions HC Matt Patricia: Patricia should probably start updating his résumé as the Carolina loss was the perfect microcosm for how incompetent and uninspiring his tenure as head coach of the team was.
What You Need To Know: Any other year this would be a hugely disappointing Thanksgiving matchup – ah, who I’m kidding, that’s exactly this year too – but the fact that the winner of this game will likely be, in the worst case scenario makes it surreal and funny for the first time in NFC East. Alex Smith vs Andy Dalton isn’t a terrible quarterback matchup right now, despite both men having passed their prime. Smith put up big numbers against Detroit in Week 10 and was solid, if unspectacular, against Cincinnati. Washington’s defense is also no longer just « surprisingly solid »; They are absolutely good, ranking ninth in allowed points and sixth in allowed yards. Part of this is explained by their division enemies, but only Arizona and the Rams attacked Washington more than 400 yards that year. Dalton’s return against Minnesota made Dallas a different team. He’s not Dak Prescott, but more importantly, he’s not Ben DiNucci or Garrett Gilbert either. Dalton is good enough to win football, especially when Ezekiel Elliott is doing well and Dalton’s mere presence makes Elliott’s job easier.
On site: Washington Football Team DE Chase Young. Dalton has historically done poorly under pressure, more so than most quarterbacks. Young is third on the team under pressure but if he has a big game he could get Dallas offensive out of the way.
Cowboys QB Andy Dalton: Can Dalton play two strong games in a row? If he can, Dallas’ skillful staff is good enough to lead them to one win in this game and possibly seven wins, which would likely secure a division title.
What You Need To Know: Give This To The Raiders; They’ve proven they can keep up with the Chiefs, and in some ways the fact that they gave Kansas City everything they wanted, and some in their rematch, is more impressive than their first win. The long-term development that should get Las Vegas fans excited is Derek Carr’s game. He appears to be a different quarterback than he has done in previous seasons, and while his cap may not be among the top five passers in the league, he seems able to come very close to that mark. That kind of quarterback game, coupled with Josh Jacobs’ racing, would make the Raiders a team no one wants to see make the playoffs. Atlanta did next to nothing against New Orleans, which was disappointing on two fronts; First, their defense couldn’t make Taysom Hill look like the first starter, and second, Matt Ryan was utterly incapable of defending the Saints. Julio Jones is not entirely healthy and any game in which Russell Gage leads the team on goals is unlikely to go well for Atlanta (apologies to all of the Gage fans out there).
On site: Raiders S Jeff Heath. Heath was part of a high school that had no answers for Mahomes on Kansas City’s game-changing drive, and he and the rest of the Raiders’ defensive field are put to the test by Ryan in this game.
Falcons WR Calvin Ridley: Is Ridley the best receiver on the Falcons? No, he isn’t, but if Jones can’t get into this game, that’s how he has to play for Atlanta to win what will likely be a shootout.
What You Need To Know: The Chargers failed to emphatically clear away the Jets, what a team that makes its fans, however few of them stay, sweat through every game regardless of the outcome. Justin Herbert bounced back from a subpar game against Miami to rip the Jets apart for 366 yards and three touchdowns, making his usual barrage of big throws in the process. The 2020 season will always be a « what could have been » year for Los Angeles, considering that there has been an increasing number of leads in the past. However, if Herbert can finish with at least some strong games against better competition, there is reason to be optimistic. The Bills are unlikely to stand a chance at the AFC’s top seeds – Pittsburgh and Kansas City are already too big a lead – but if they don’t win this game, they’ll toast completely in that regard. Buffalo, who wins three out of four, should be rested after their week of farewell, and a win here would give them a good chance of a season of 11 or 12 wins and an easy AFC East title.
On site: RB Kalen Ballage chargers. Ballage got the go-ahead for Los Angeles in the past two weeks and was nondescript. With 34 runs it was only 112 yards. His status for this game is a bit skimpy, but when he’s playing the chargers need more of him.
Bills WR Cole Beasley: Beasley is runner-up on the team on goals, and his ability to keep the drives alive and win against slot cornerbacks in the tightest of spaces could be vital, especially if Herbert starts early and Buffalo must try to keep the offense of chargers off the field.
What You Need To Know: The Giants are possibly the best team in NFC East, despite not having a Saquon Barkley and like every other team in the division, are not really « good » at any rational measure. Their offense has finally shown some signs of life and for a few games against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay they could see a five-game winning streak. Daniel Jones has had his two most consistent games of the season and while his stats are nothing spectacular, it is obvious that he is playing better than he did at the start of the season. Cincinnati chose to start Brandon Allen instead of Joe Burrow, which must be a real blow to Ryan Finley’s ego because Allen is very bad at football. Everyone is counted not to screw things up too badly against a good Giants defense, but if he does, head coach Zac Taylor may be persuaded to turn to Finley. Most importantly to Giants fans, none of these guys is Joe Burrow, who seemed good at football before his injury.
On site: Giants QB Daniel Jones. Jones’ game has been better lately but where he could really hurt the Bengals is with his legs. Jones averages 7. 8 yards per carry this season. He’s not a Lamar Jackson, but by comparison, Jackson averaged 6. 9 yards per carry – during its 2019 MVP season.
Bengals QB Brandon Allen: Do you remember when Burrow quartered the Bengals, and while they weren’t good, at least they were interesting? Now they are not. But everyone has the opportunity to improve their career 68. At least 3 passers-by.
What You Need To Know: The Titans took a gut-check win against Baltimore after recovering from an 11-point deficit and returning to their tried and true formula for success. to force the opposition into submission. Unlike the staggering ravens, the Colts are unlikely to beat themselves, nor are they currently dealing with an identity crisis. Tennessee can hardly afford to slow down against one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL, especially because the Colts have shown that they can really be dominant on this side of the ball if they have time to adapt to an opponent. Just ask Aaron Rodgers. The Colts’ performance against Green Bay was eye-opening. Indianapolis adjusted and shut down Rodgers, who is rightly on the shortlist of serious MVP contenders this season. Philip Rivers is still too wild a card to allow a full investment in Indy’s long-term opportunities this year and the Colts were incredibly sloppy trying to get out of the game late in regulation, but the result was impressive nonetheless. A win here essentially gives them a two-game lead in the division.
On location: Titans QB Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill, like the rest of the Titans, was bad against the Colts a few weeks ago. Unlike the other Titans, there’s enough reason to believe he’ll be a lot better this time around, and Tennessee needs him.
Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr . : Pittman had the best game of his professional career when the teams first met, and with Tennessee unlikely to produce another lifeless, sloppy performance, the Colts may need Pittman to be that good again.
What You Need To Know: Lions fans are likely to love the Panthers these days as Carolina’s 20-0 win likely sealed the fate of Matt Patricia. P. . J. . Walker won the Detroit win, but Teddy Bridgewater will regain his starting role for this game and he will not use the services of Christian McCaffrey who has already been disfellowshipped. Bridgewater will have Mike Davis to replace McCaffrey, who did a good job, and a few more. Davis could be particularly valuable in the passing game as Minnesota has struggled to defend the pass this season. Speaking of Vikings, do you remember when they beat Chicago and looked like they had the chance to make a sneaky run on a playoff spot? Neither do I. I’ve never said anything like this before. Minnesota was shredded by Dallas last week, which is particularly troubling given the fact that the Cowboys offensive line was battered, and Andy Dalton returned to the line-up and turned out to be a little rusty. Minnesota will likely have to win to reach the playoffs and with Tampa Bay and New Orleans still on the schedule it seems unlikely.
On site: Panthers WR Curtis Samuel. The Vikings cannot stop the pass, which means they will try to move heaven and earth to slow Robby Anderson and D.. J. . Moors. That should open things up for Samuel, who must take advantage of it.
Vikings CB Jeff Gladney: Gladney has got some Vikings fans excited as they try to project his future, and he’s been improving since the season started. That’s the positive. The negative? A team-worst allowed six touchdowns if targeted, and a 123. 4 passers-by rating against. Not great!
What You Need To Know: Kyler Murray was battered and the Cardinals couldn’t win the season against Seattle. While Murray was battling his way through a battered shoulder, the Cardinals’ loss was due to both of them being unable to run the ball and stopping the run. You will be in another physical battle against New England, and while the Patriots may not be in Seattle’s depth and quality in terms of offensive weapons, they are still a tough opponent and Bill Belichick will no doubt have some special looks for Murray. The Pats lost to Houston in part because they had no answers for Deshaun Watson, who extended the games, fired two touchdown blows, and generally single-handedly defeated the Patriots. For the most part, New England was unable to effectively play the ball against a suspicious Houston defense, the last in the league to come into play dead in yards per carry. The Pats are already life sustaining in the AFC, and if they can’t get a win in that game, the rest of their season will be more about draft position than anything else.
On site: Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald. Belichick loves letting opposing offenses win with something other than the best option, so Fitzgerald is still second on the team despite a 7. The Pats have to pay 8 yards per reception average.
Patriots RB James White: Arizona’s defense is based on speed, but White is the kind of backcourt threat that could hurt them, especially on screens or in situations where the Cardinals may be overwhelmed.
What You Need To Know: The Dolphins lost an ugly game against Denver and may have quarterback controversy as Brian Flores claimed Tua Tagovailoa was benched and not injured against the Broncos, but the team’s starter would stay. Miami never really got going against Denver and the loss exposed a mistake. If the Dolphins’ defense doesn’t force sales and dominates the games, their offense, at least with Tagovailoa on top, is still not clever enough to win games for itself. The Jets at least fought hard against the Chargers, but that’s about all that can be said about their performance. Justin Herbert tore up New York’s high school, and Joe Flacco didn’t deliver nearly enough firepower to keep up, despite struggling enough to make things slightly interesting in the end. Without Sam Darnold in the line-up, what can you say about a terrible soccer team with very few interesting players?
On site: Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa. Flores said after the game that Tagovailoa was sitting on a bench even though it looked like the quarterback had sustained an ankle injury. Had Ryan Fitzpatrick brought the team together in a win, the situation might have been different this week, and one way or another, Tagovailoa’s leash seems to have gotten shorter and now he has a thumb injury to deal with.
Jets RB Frank Gore: It takes Gore a little over 900 meters to overtake Walter Payton as second on the all-time rushing list. So if that’s what you’d like to see, you should have Gore a few big games up the track and then for his 245. (okay, 17th. ) Season back in 2021.
What You Need To Know: The Browns seem to have found a formula for success, and it’s all about minimizing Baker Mayfield’s role on the offensive. That’s not exactly a good sign of their long-term fate, but it has resulted in a 7-3 record and a very possible playoff spot. Cleveland cleverly draws on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as well as a talented offensive line. That might seem like an obvious strategy, but considering how awful Freddie Kitchens was last year, giving Kevin Stefanski the honor of actually understanding how to coach a team only feels right. The jaguars stink. They try to stink too and stank against Pittsburgh last week. Jake Luton was cruel and cut short one of the few promising trips out of Jacksonville, which amounted to intercepting game seals. That feat earned him a bench seat this week as Mike Glennon set to kick off a team that play like they can’t wait to be named Justin Fields next April.
On location: Browns QB Baker Mayfield. The Browns wisely bet less on Mayfield’s plate, but here I am taking time to remind everyone that he was number one overall, and if Cleveland is to make the playoffs and cause damage, their quarterback has to prove that he can pull his weight.
Jaguars QB Mike Glennon: Your guess is as good as mine as to why the Jaguars Glennon didn’t start against the Steelers last week, a team he sort of beat twice in his career. In any case, his goal this week is simple: to come up with the numbers but find a way to lose.
What You Need To Know: The Ravens fell disappointingly again as their defenses were unable to maintain an 11 point lead and nothing seriously dynamic offensive going on. Baltimore is suddenly in real playoff jeopardy, with no identity, losers of three out of four and with multiple players likely unavailable due to COVID-19. They statistically dominated when they first met the Steelers, but Jackson’s sales cost them. If they play like they have for the past few weeks, Pittsburgh could embarrass them. The Steelers have beaten two bad opponents lately, beating the Bengals and Jaguars by a total of 50 points. Pittsburgh found a semblance of an ongoing game against Jacksonville and faced Jake Luton four times. Pittsburgh’s ability to generate sales appears to have carried over from 2019. They entered the game in Jacksonville with 17 takeaways, the best in the league, and left after retaining that seat.
On site: Ravens OC Greg Roman. Almost everyone is there in Baltimore, but Roman, whose plans received so much praise last year, has lost touch this season. He must find ways to unbalance the Steelers’ defenses or Jackson and the Ravens will be in trouble.
Steelers LB Vince Williams: This should be a tough game, as almost always, when Baltimore and Pittsburgh come together. Williams is a run stuffer, but he needs to be disciplined to keep the Ravens from starting their passing game between the hash marks.
What You Need To Know: Taysom Hill passed his first test as starting quarterback and played a stable, intelligent, and ultimately unspectacular game for the Saints. As Tua Tagovailoa found out last week, playing the Broncos in Denver is a whole other beast. The Saints are better than the dolphins, of course, but Hill can hardly afford a sloppy feat lest he jeopardize New Orleans’ seemingly heavy influence on the NFC’s top seed. Denver’s win over the Dolphins came as a surprise, but the fact that they were in the game at all wasn’t. Barring one-sided losses to the Chiefs and Buccaneers, the Broncos have either won at home or suffered competitive losses this season. That they made it, even though they got little or nothing from Drew Lock, is encouraging in a micro sense, but rather a downer in the macro sense. Something tells me the Broncos would rather lose and see Lock look great than the opposite, at least for now.
On site: Saints QB Taysom Hill. Hill relied on his running ability against the Hawks last week, and to fight the Denver defenses he’ll have to do more of it in this game, although this time he’s going to have to fight the elements.
Broncos S Justin Simmons: Simmons’ interception sealed the victory over Miami, and he could have a field day with Hill in this case, especially if he is able to set some traps for the inexperienced passerby.
What You Need To Know: San Francisco is ailing, with several players remaining on the COVID / reserve list, and this season is being placed in the Super Bowl Loser Hangover category. There’s not much else to do at this point other than play spoilers and even that could be a huge challenge for a Rams team that had an even all-round performance against Tom Brady and the Bucs last week. Los Angeles proved two things against the Bucs; The first was that their defenses are terrifying and very real, and the second was that if they rely heavily on Jared Goff, they can win with no tangible running game to fall back on. Goff wasn’t perfect against Tampa, but he put up big numbers and made some big games when he was too late in the game to give the Rams the win. Los Angeles didn’t get the attention it got two years ago, but suddenly you look like one of the NFC’s most complete teams and possibly the most serious contender for the Saints’ conference favorite status.
On site: 49ers DE Kerry Hyder. Hyder is on pace for a career year at 5. 5 sacks for an injury ravaged defense. The Niners don’t have much to offer this year. So why not highlight a player who, despite the chaos and injuries, is having a good year?
Rams DT Aaron Donald: What did Donald do this year? Well, he’s got nine sacks and he’s again the top-rated Pro Football Focus defender this season. He’s not really « on the ground » because when Patrick Mahomes isn’t on the other side, Donald is always the best player on the field he’s on.
What You Need To Know: The Chiefs survived the Raiders, and in the process, Patrick Mahomes delivered a demoralizing message to fans of other potential competitors. Even when he and his team are not at their best, they are still able to perform a loud urge to destroy the dreams of an upstart looking to win. Kansas City still doesn’t look like they’re almost in top gear, which should scare the rest of the league. Tom Brady and the Bucs continue to strive for constant traction. One week Brady will look like he’s found the fountain of youth, and the next week he and Tampa Bay aren’t looking good, especially on offense, and can’t play with the edge that has been Brady’s trademark for two decades. Tampa Bay should still make the playoffs – their schedule is very weak after that game – but they haven’t turned into the kind of juggernaut some thought they were. There is still time, however, and a victory over the Chiefs would be a loud message.
On site: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce. The Buccaneers have two of the best off-ball linebackers in the league in Lavonte David and Devin White, so Kelce’s job this week will be a lot tougher than usual. If he does it, the Chiefs will likely win.
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady: This is Brady’s show, and when the Bucs fight, all eyes will be on him, fair or not. In this case, he absolutely deserves the exam and must be better in every way.
What You Need To Know: The bears can’t score, can’t really move the ball, and that fatal mistake finally caught up with them in full in a week 10 loss to the Vikings. Chicago may or may not have Nick Foles available for this game, but it doesn’t matter if Foles, Mitchell Trubisky, or someone currently in the organization plays the position. Chicago are offensively incapable and their 5-1 start seems like a lifetime ago. Matt Nagy’s seat, if it’s not already hot, should at least warm up. The Packers looked good en route to a formidable road win over Indianapolis before the Colts defenses stiffened, keeping them to three points in the second half and overtime. Green Bay may attribute the loss to sales, especially fiddling. Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s Gaffe in overtime essentially won the game for the Colts, but overall, Aaron Rodgers’ ability to play a sharp game against one of the league’s best defenses should at least be some consolation for the Packers.
On site: Bears LB Khalil Mack. Chicago’s offense is so dire that Mack the most realistic path to victory for the Bears is to push Rodgers to multiple turnovers. Mack didn’t have a sack or tackle for loss in two games, so it’s due, or at least the bears hope so.
Packers LB Za’Darius Smith: The incompetence of the Bears’ offensive line was a big reason their offense struggled so severely, and as a result, Smith may be able to force anyone who plays quarterback into turnover.
What You Need To Know: Don’t tell anyone, but the Seattle Defense played six good quarters in a row. After Seattle gave up an 88-yard touchdown ride in Week 10 to begin the second half against the Rams, the next three rides in Los Angeles gave up eight, five and eight yards. Against the Cardinals, Seattle was able to prevent Kyler Murray and Arizona’s offensive from dominating the game, and even throw Murray around quite a bit. If this is the start of a trend, and not just a fluky little sample performance, the Seahawks will again be a serious NFC contender. Philadelphia is still technically first at NFC East, but the Eagles disappointed again and Carson Wentz couldn’t take care of the ball and his pick-six made the difference in a game the Browns didn’t have all of that is going on with Baker Mayfield. Wentz’s persistently bad game is confusing and not only jeopardizes Philadelphia’s chances of success this year, but also tarnishes their future beyond this season.
On site: Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap had two sacks against Arizona and has three in three games for Seattle. He breathed some life into a previously dormant pass rush, but can he hold out the rest of the season at 31? If the answer is yes, the Seattle Defense has a chance to fight.
Eagles QB Carson Wentz: He will continue to have that designation as long as he continues to cost the Eagles games. If he can’t manage to crack a pass defense that is still considered the worst in the league despite its recent uptrend, Eagles fans might as well prepare to boo the 76ers, Flyers and Phillies.
Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL, Detroit Lions, Ravens and Steelers Rivalry, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans
World News – AU – NFL Week 12: Pick and Preview
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