Looking back at NFL Week 12

Baltimore and San Francisco tuned up for Sunday’s showdown in Baltimore by crushing the Rams and Packers. Their matchup may be a Super Bowl preview.

The strange thing is that it is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start, so it won’t be shown in many markets.

Meanwhile, the Rams getting blown out by the Ravens makes it likely they won’t be returning to the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl.


—Lamar Jackson, drafted with the last pick on the first round just two years ago, threw five touchdown passes in the win over the Rams. Defensive coordinators seem to have no idea how to stop him.

—The 49ers boosted their record to 10-1 with the easy victory over the Packers. Jimmy Garoppolo threw touchdown passes of 42 and 61 yards and their defense handcuffed Aaron Rodgers. Now they face the Ravens and Saints in back to back games.

—The Jets won their third game in a game and scored 30 points in consecutive weeks for the first time in team history (which means Joe Namath never did it) while upsetting the Raiders.

—Devlin “Duck” Hodges replaced Mason Rudolph in the second half and led the Steelers to a victory over winless Cincinnati. He has now been named the starter.

—The Titans scored four touchdowns in six offensive plays to rout the Jaguars. They were also the third team in a row to rush for over 200 yards against the Jaguars.


—The Rams are starting to look like a one-year wonder as they were crushed by the Ravens. Jared Goff looks lost and Todd Gurley isn’t the running back he was before he had a knee injury.

—Jerry Jones wasn’t happy with his coaching staff after the Cowboys lost to the Patriots. The Cowboys had a punt blocked and coach Jason Garrett decided to kick a field goal when he was down seven in the fourth quarter instead of going for it on fourth and seven.

—The Eagles lost a chance to gain ground on the Cowboys when they lost to the Seahawks as their defense gave up 129 yards to Rashaad Penny.

—The winless Bengals benched veteran Andy Dalton earlier in the year for young Ryan Finley, but he didn’t provide a spark and after the loss to the Steelers, they’re going back to Dalton. They should have put Dalton in at halftime. The 0-11 start is the worst in Bengals history and now they have a shot at going winless although they play Miami in their Week 15 game.

—The San Francisco-Green Bay game was supposed to be a showdown, but instead it was a rout as the Packers were no match for the 49ers. The one-sided loss raised questions about whether the Packers are a Super Bowl contender.

Previewing NFL Week 12

The weekend started with the Texans bouncing back from the one-sided loss to Baltimore to beat the Colts Thursday night and take over first place in the AFC South. It was the first of four national TV games this weekend.

The late Sunday game featuring the Cowboys at the Patriots will be the only game on Fox in that time slot and will be shown nationally. The only other game in that time slot – the Jaguars at the Titans – will be on CBS.

And then there is the Sunday night game pitting the Packers at the 49ers and the Monday night game featuring the Ravens at the Rams. It will be a pre-holiday treat for the fans, who will get three national games on Thanksgiving.

So that is six national TV games in five days.

Game of the Week

The Packers go to the West Coast face the 49ers in an important game for both teams. The 49ers are only one game ahead of the Seahawks, who play at Philadelphia. The Packers are only a half-game ahead of the Vikings, who have a bye. The Packers, 49ers, Seahawks and Packers all figure to make the playoffs, but two will settle for wild card spots.

Game of the Weak

The 3-6-1 Lions go to Washington to face the 1-9 Redskins, who won’t have much of a home field edge because the Washington fans are voting with their feet on the Dan Snyder regime and staying home. The Lions will be missing Matthew Stafford for the third straight game so Washington rookie Dwayne Haskins has a chance to get a victory when he duels Jeff Driscoll

What to look for this weekend

–The spotlight will be on Tom Brady when the Patriots host the Cowboys. He is not only on the injury report as questionable with an elbow injury (he is likely to play) but he is showing signs of finally aging. Even he said the defense and special teams are carrying the team and appeared depressed after the win over the Eagles during a post-game press conference that didn’t even last two minutes. The Patriots had to rely on a trick play on a touchdown pass by Julian Edelman to beat the Eagles. How will he play against the Cowboys?

–Atlanta, which has won two consecutive games after a 1-7 start, goes for its third in a row against Tampa Bay. Owner Arthur Blank’s decision not to fire Dan Quinn during the bye week now looks like a good move. But Quinn still may not save his job at the end of the year.

–The Eagles lost to the Patriots last week and now take on Seattle at home. A victory and a Cowboy loss to the Patriots would tie the Eagles with the Cowboys at 6-5 for first place in the NFC East. The two teams are not only fighting for the division lead but a playoff spot. The second-place finisher won’t get a wild card spot. The Seattle-Philadelphia game was flexed out of prime time, an indication of how disappointing the Eagles have been.

–How many spectacular plays will Lamar Jackson make against the Rams in prime time? A loss would drop the Rams to 6-5 and would mean they won’t return to the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl.

–Mason Rudolph should thank Myles Garrett for hitting him with his helmet. It obscured the fact he played a terrible game with four picks and raised doubts that he will be the quarterback of the future for the Steelers. He tries to rebound against the winless Bengals.

Previewing NFL Week 11

The weekend got off to a rocky start with the melee at the end of the Browns-Steelers game.

It was bad optics for the NFL and shows the Browns are a team out of control.

It also takes the focus off some great matchups this weekend, including a Super Bowl rematch from two years ago and a matchup of two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

Game of the Week

New England goes to Philadelphia for a Super Bowl rematch of two years ago. The Eagles have more at stake since they are fighting Dallas for the NFC East title. At 8-1, the Patriots are virtually already in the playoffs, but they don’t want to lose two in a row. They had a soft schedule going 8-0 before getting drilled by Baltimore. Losing two in a row to winning teams would raise questions about whether they are as good as their record. Carson Wentz will make his first start against the Patriots. Nick Foles, now in Jacksonville, quarterbacked the Eagles to the Super Bowl win when Wentz was hurt. The only surprising thing is that the game isn’t in prime time, but CBS probably protected it. The only other late game CBS is showing is the Bengals-Raiders so it will be virtually a national TV game.

Game of the Weak

New York Jets at Washington. These two teams have combined for three wins, two by the Jets. That means they have a combined 3-15 record. The Redskins are starting rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins against second year quarterback Sam Darnold, who is struggling.

What to watch for

—If we didn’t have a Super Bowl matchup on the schedule, the Houston visit to Baltimore would be the headline game because it will be the first Deshaun Watson-Lamar Jackson duel since 2016 when Watson and Clemson won an epic 42-36 shootout. It is surprising the NFL didn’t schedule this game in prime time or at least in the 4:25 p.m. slot. At 1 pm, CBS will also be showing three other games.

—While Nick Foles former team, the Eagles, will be playing a Super Bowl rematch, Foles will be returning from his broken clavicle to face the Colts. At 4-5, the Jaguars need to get on a run if they’re to be a playoff contender. Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett returns for the Colts after they lost to Miami last week with Brian Hoyer at quarterback.

—The Saints failed to score a touchdown in the Superdome for the first time with Drew Brees at quarterback in a loss to the Falcons. Now they Saints go to Tampa Bay attempting to show they can bounce back.–The Bears at the Rams will be the Sunday night prime time game, but the matchup of Mitch Tribusky and Jared Goff is not likely can be compelling. The Bears won 15-6 when they played late last year and the two quarterbacks combined for seven interceptions, four by Goff.

—The Chiefs and Chargers go to Mexico City for a quarterback matchup between young Patrick Mahomes and veteran Philip Rivers. Mahomes figures to outscore Rivers since the Chargers have scored 30 points only twice this year. But the Chiefs defense is so porous that Rivers might have a big day in which could be a shootout.

Foles’ return will tell a lot — about the Jaguars

Nick Foles belongs to two of the most exclusive quarterback clubs in the world.

He is one of two quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to come off the bench late in the season because the starter was injured and lead his team to the Super Bowl title. Jeff Hostetler with the Giants in 1990 is the other after he replaced injured Phil Simms.

He is also one of two quarterbacks to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in a Super Bowl. Eli Manning, who did it twice, is the other.

And now he will attempt to join another exclusive club. He will try to become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl for the Jaguars and only the fourth to take them to the playoffs. Mark Brunell, David Garrard and Blake Bortles are the other three.

Foles’ return Sunday in Indianapolis from the broken clavicle that sidelined him for the opener couldn’t be timelier.

The Jaguars are 4-5 and their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

Despite all the Minshew Mania, he was still a rookie quarterback and didn’t beat a winning team in his eight starts.

The Jaguars have been the definition of average and predictable this year. They have played five games against winning teams and lost them all. They played four games against losing teams and won them all.

What we don’t know is whether the Jaguars are simply an average team destined to be 8-8 (they have three games against winning teams left on their schedule) or whether they just need better quarterback play to make a run to the playoffs.

Foles will provide the answer. This is his time of the year. He’s not an elite quarterback and has tended to be injury prone, but he is one of those quarterbacks who is best at crunch time.

And CBS Sports noted he has played more games in November and December (31) than in September and October (23).

The last two years, he came off the bench in Philadelphia when Carson Wentz was injured and the moment wasn’t too big for him.

He led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title two years ago and probably came within a dropped pass of leading them back to the NFC title game last year.

Some quarterbacks struggle in crunch time. Foles elevates his game. He is 9-2 the last two years come off the bench for the Eagles and only 1-1 when he started the first two games last year.

Tossing in a victory Foles had against the Jaguars in 2016 when he was with Kansas City, he is 10-2 since 2016 in November and beyond. That .833 winning percentage late in the year is the best for any quarterback with 10 or more starts, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Tom Brady is second at .794.

Granted, Brady has played a lot more games late in the year and is 27-7.

Still, Foles has shown what he can do with a good team around him like he had in Philadelphia.

Which brings us to why his return will be a good barometer of how good a team the Jaguars are.

They have three games left against winning teams – two with the Colts and one at Oakland. If they lose all three and beat the four losing teams remaining on their schedule to finish 8-8, it will be a sign they have to upgrade the team around Foles to get to the playoffs.

If Foles takes them to the playoffs, it will be a sign that the Jags have a good team to complement him.

In effect, Foles’ return will tell us more about the Jaguars than about Foles. We know what Foles can do with a good team around him late in the year.

What we don’t know if how good the Jaguars are. We will get the answer in the answer in the next seven weeks.

Ngakoue headed for riches, and Jags need to decide if it’s going to be in Jacksonville

Yannick Ngakoue decided to be on himself this year and he appears to be winning that bet.

Ngakoue turned down what he thought was a low-ball offer from the Jaguars in the offseason and decided to play out the final year of his rookie contract at $2.025 million.

He knew a big year in 2019 would set him up for a monster contract in 2020 when he becomes a free agent.

The Jaguars can franchise him but if he doesn’t sign the tender, he is not considered under contract and the Jaguars can’t fine him if he is a no show until he gets paid or traded.

Well, it looks like Nagkoue is having the type of season that will earn him a big deal next year.

Just listen to coach Doug Marrone talk about him this week.

“When you see the production by him you have to remember that teams are doing a lot to stop him, especially in the pass rush phase,” Marrone said. “He’s had a bunch of quality rushes, but he’s also had a bunch of double teams that he is fighting through or chips.

“I think he has improved greatly in the run game. I think he’s done a really good job there, and I think he has improved as a pass rusher and has done an excellent job. The numbers may not show that, but when you watch the film and you see how many people, they are putting on him, I think at times that can be very discouraging, and he has done a great job in a lot of ways.

“He has been great in the locker room, he’s been great in practice, he is doing everything he possibly can to help this team win and you couldn’t ask for more from a player.”

The numbers Marrone was talking about don’t make it look like he is having a great year. He has just four sacks, eight quarterback hits, one forced fumble and 18 tackles in nine games.

But he not only played hurt at the start of the year, Marrone makes it sound like he is having a stellar year despite the numbers. And pass rushers are at a premium.

Now the ball is in the Jaguars court. They didn’t offer him enough to get him to signed after his sacks dropped from 12 in 2017 to 9.5 last year and didn’t make the Pro Bowl again although his quarterback hits jumped from 23 and 33.

Unfortunately for Ngakoue, Marrone isn’t involved in contract talks. Tom Coughlin has the final decision and Dave Caldwell does most of the negotiating.

It remains him to be seen if they will pay him what he thinks he is worth since Josh Allen seems to be a star in the making.

Having Allen and Ngakoue as the pass rushers would the next few years would seem to be a plus for the Jaguars but it remains to be seen if the Jaguars front office sees it that way.

But assuming the rest of the league looks at his film and sees it the same way Marrone does, one thing is obvious — Ngakoue is going to get a big contract next year.

If not from the Jaguars, he will get it from a team that needs a pass rusher who has improved against the run this year.