A look back on Week 12 in the NFL:
1. The Kansas City Chiefs continued their slide with their fifth loss in the last six games, a 16-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs still lead the AFC West with a 6-5 mark and have what looks like an easy schedule except for the game against the Chargers. But the way their offense is struggling, there may be no easy games and the Chiefs are in danger of missing the playoffs. The Chiefs got one first down in the first half against a Bills team that was giving up an average of 45 points a game the last three games. Coach Andy Reid is sticking with veteran Alex Smith and the offensive woes aren’t all on him. But if Smith doesn’t get on track, the Chiefs are likely to move to Patrick Mahomes next year and Smith will be looking for a job.
2. The Philadelphia Eagles boosted their record to 10-1 with a 31-3 victory over the Chicago Bears. The Eagles have now won four in a row by 23 points or more, actually raising questions about whether the Eagles are winning too easily to be battle tested for the playoffs. They may be tested the next two weeks with road games against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. The last two times the Eagles started off 10-1, they made the Super Bowl with Ron Jaworski and Donovan McNabb although they lost both Super Bowls to the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots. Now Carson Wentz will become the third quarterback to try to take them to the Super Bowl.
3. The New Orleans Saints had their eight-game winning streak snapped by the Rams, 26-20, as Jared Goff passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns and Wade Phillips’ defense handcuffed the Saints’ offense except for rookie Alvin Kamara, who had 188 rushing and receiving yards. They held Drew Brees to 96 passing yards for three quarters, although he finished with 246 with a rebound in the fourth quarter. The Saints loss left the Minnesota Vikings, who beat Detroit, 30-23, on Thanksgiving Day, with the second seed at 9-2 while the Rams, who lost to the Vikings 24-7 last week, and the Saints are 8-3. The Saints will play the Carolina Panthers and the Vikings will meet the Atlanta Falcons in pivotal games next week.
4. It is no surprise the Dallas Cowboys missed Ezekiel Elliott on offense before Thursday night’s bounce-back, 38-14 win over the Washington Redskins. Without a running game, Dak Prescott had looked lost. They lost their third consecutive game on Thanksgiving to the Los Angeles Chargers, 28-6. Prescott had thrown five picks the last three games before Washington. In his previous 27 games, he had 39 touchdown passes and eight picks. But their defense is also struggling as Philip Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns. The Cowboys are now 6-6 and may not even get a wild-card spot this season.
5. The Denver Broncos decided to give rookie Paxton Lynch, their 2016 first-round choice, a start with the team at 3-7 against the Raiders. Lynch lost the starting job to Trevor Simeon in camp and then hurt his shoulder and was sidelined for six weeks. Lynch showed he isn’t ready as he completed only 9 of 14 for 41 yards before going out with an ankle injury in the third period with the Broncos trailing 21-0. Lynch was so distraught he was crying on the sidelines. Lynch is out two-to-four weeks, so Simeon will start again. Simeon came on and scored two touchdowns to make it close in a 21-14 loss. The Raiders are 5-6 and still alive in the playoff hunt but still don’t look like a playoff caliber team. Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib were both ejected for continuing a fight they started last year. Both were suspended for two games. Not surprising for a Jack Del Rio team to be undisciplined but it didn’t reflect well on Denver rookie coach Vance Joseph.