Week 12 has been and gone. With a bonus edition of Thursday night football thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday as well as all the usual action on Sunday & Monday and only two teams on bye, there’s a lot of action to cover!
Lions 16 – 23 Bears
The Bears continue to lead the NFC North with a comfortable enough win over the Lions. With Trubisky injured it was down to backup QB Chase Daniel to lead the Bears and he had a good enough day – 230 yards and two touchdowns. Stafford on the other hand is having a season to forget with another two interceptions thrown, including which was returned for a touchdown.
Cowboys 31 – 23 Redskins
Another backup QB starting in this match but Colt McCoy, in for Alex Smith for the rest of the year, didn’t have as good a time. McCoy showed moments of potential but will have been disappointed to throw three interceptions on the day. For the Cowboys, this was their third win on the bounce to go level with the Redskins atop the NFC East. Amari Cooper is showing his value and that a first round pick maybe wasn’t too much to pay for him. Two long range TDs including one for 80 yards showed that he might be getting back to the wide receiver we saw in Oakland in his first couple of seasons. Zeke continues to impress with 121 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Saints 31 – 17 Falcons
The Saints continue to march and once again score over 30 points in a game. The so called big names Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Michael Thomas didn’t score but that didn’t matter as Drew Brees could have school children as receivers and he’d probably keep throwing touchdowns. Dan Arnold, Tommy Lee Lewis, Austin Carr and Keith Kirkwood all caught a touchdown pass from Brees in the win. For the Falcons, Julio Jones continues to rack up the receiving yards with 147 this week but the Falcons defense, which continues to be injury riddled was no match for the Saints. With a record of 4-7 now, the Falcons will likely write this year off and start afresh in 2019.
Panthers 27 – 30 Seahawks
A big win for the Seahawks in the race for a wild card spot in the NFC playoff race. A last minute field goal for Seattle sealed the win after Graham Gano missed a similar opportunity for Carolina earlier in the fourth quarter. McCaffrey was in imperious form for the Panthers both on the ground (125 yards and a TD) and in the air (112 receiving yards and a touchdown) as he tore through the Seahawks defense. But it was Wilson and the Seahawks who prevailed with a fourth quarter TD pass from Wilson to David Moore on fourth down before the Janikowski field goal on the last play of the game.
Buccaneers 27 – 9 49ers
A miserable day all round for the 49ers as they released Reuben Foster after yet another arrest and lost badly to what has been a poor Bucs in later weeks. Winston was in good form against an underwhelming 49ers defence (312 yards and two touchdowns) that managed to sack the oft troubled quarterback only once in the game and not record any intercepts. Little for the 49ers to be encouraged about apart from another good showing from Matt Breida (106 yards off 14 carries). Next season can’t come soon enough.
Bills 24 – 21 Jaguars
An eventful game in Buffalo and one that condemned the Jags to being more or less out of playoff contention. Jalen Ramsey’s preseason taunt of everyone in Buffalo being trash re-emerged only for it to be shoved right back down his throat. The Jags were doing well running the ball with Leonard Fournette before he inexplicably got in a huge fight with Bills defensive lineman Shaq Lawson. Both players were rightly ejected from the game and the cursing between the two players carried on down into the tunnel where the two had to be separated. Josh Allen may not have thrown the ball that much but he’s certainly very athletic and ran the ball well – covering 99 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Bortles was Bortles, throwing a TD and a two interceptions but the cast around him really is very poor. The Jags fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett on Monday morning following the job but there’s not a lot he could have done with this bunch of players and a severe injury bug.
Bengals 20 – 35 Browns
The ‘Hue Jackson’ bowl in Cincinnati went the Brown’s way as they recorded their first road win in over three years. Baker Mayfield is really proving his worth as the No.1 pick in the draft as he another great game – 258 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. The Browns stormed into a 28-7 half time lead before a slightly calmer second half as the Browns took their foot off the gas. Highlight of the game may have been Demarious Randall picking off Andy Dalton and handing the ball back to Hue Jackson on the Bengals sideline. Dalton later came out of the game due to a sprained thumb leaving Jeff Driskel to try and pick up the pieces for a team that is rapidly going downhill after Dalton was placed on injured reserve, ruling him out for the rest of the year.
Jets 13 – 27 Patriots
A routine victory for the Patriots against their AFC East rivals. The combined age of the quarterbacks on the field was over 80 years. Getting Sony Michel back for the Pats was a positive and he gained 133 rushing yards and a touchdown. Perhaps the bigger impact return was that of tight end Rob Gronkowski who had three receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. The scoreline flattered the Jets slightly as they kept it close through most of the match though this is another team shorn of talent through injury and looking forward to 2019.
Eagles 25 – 22 Giants
Somehow the Giants lost this despite a massively inexperienced Eagles secondary and Saquon Barkley ripping through the Eagles defense at every opportunity he got. Barkley finished the game with 101 yards and a touchdown, most of that coming in the first half and was woefully underutilized in the second half. The Eagles came back with rookie running back Josh Adams performing well – 22 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. Carson Wentz was better than the previous week, but that wouldn’t be difficult. He is though, very reliant on Zach Ertz who had seven receptions (over double that of the next receiver) for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Ravens 34 – 17 Raiders
After the highs of last week the Raiders came crashing back down to earth with a loss to the Ravens and another disappointing display. The Ravens are playing a different way to most of the league with a higher emphasis on the running game. Now that Gus Edwards has come to the forefront as an RB1 with 118 yards off 23 carries. With Lamar Jackson now at QB there’s a second running threat on the Ravens offense – Jackson clocked up a further 71 yards and a touchdown. His passing game may not be as good but as long as he can run, he’s a threat. Derek Carr suffered a miserable afternoon with a pass completion below 50% and a lost fumble as the Raiders season continues to careen towards disappointment.
Chargers 45 – 10 Cardinals
He may have been sacked four times, but Phillip Rivers but on masterful display at quarterback on Sunday. 28 completions from 29 passing attempts for 259 yards and three touchdowns in a rout against a poor Cardinals team. On the other side, Josh Rosen suffered another miserable outing, passing for only 105 yards a touchdown and an interception.
Broncos 24 – 17 Steelers
The surprise result of the weekend as the Broncos ended the Steelers winning run. Phillip Lindsay is fast becoming a nominee for rookie of the year, and though he likely won’t win it he is on track to beat the rushing yards record by an undrafted rookie. On Sunday he recorded a further 110 yards from 14 carries and another touchdown. The Steelers had a touchdown ruled out after tight end, Xavier Grimble fumbled the ball out of play in the end zone and subsequently turning the ball over to the Broncos (a rule the NFL now really does have to look at in the off season). Ben Roethlisberger put up a lot of yards (462) but ultimately threw two interceptions and only one touchdown as the Steelers struggled to convert their drives into points.
Colts 27 – 24 Dolphins
The Colts continue their march through 2018 with another win, this time at the expense of the Dolphins who put up a good fight. Andrew Luck should increasingly be part of the MVP conversation, at least on the outskirts as he continues to excel with the receiving corps that he has to work with. Lions fans will wonder what on earth has happened to Eric Ebron as he caught another two touchdown passes, he’s certainly not the same player he was when he was in Detroit, or maybe it’s down to the quarterback he’s playing with now. Tannehill, on his return to the starting lineup, performed well with 17 completions from 25 attempts, 204 yards and two touchdowns. Like Luck, he doesn’t have a great cast around him but unlike Luck, he doesn’t have the quality to raise his receivers quality.
Vikings 24 – 17 Packers
Kirk Cousins thoroughly outplayed his more celebrated opponent, Aaron Rodgers in a win that probably ends the Packers chances of getting to the playoffs. The Vikings defensive line were able to get consistently get to Rodgers in the pocket, Sheldon Richardson sacking him twice. It’s Rodgers refusal to take the simple pass that’s really bothersome though. It’s all very well making the hail mary Hollywood passes but sometimes I do just wish he’d just take a checkdown once every so often. It’s likely that coach Mike McCarthy will be out at the end of the season.
Texans 34 – 17 Titans
An emotional night for the Texans in their first game since the passing of owner Bob McNair, and they didn’t disappoint. Despite Mariota having one of his best games (22 completions from 23 attempts, 303 yards and two touchdowns), the Texans were able to win out with six sacks on the night. It really was a night for the two quarterbacks to show off with Deshaun Watson throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns as well as 70 rushing yards and a touchdown. With both these teams performing well of late and the Colts resurgence ongoing, the AFC South is shaping up to be a very interesting division. Shame about Jacksonville….