Previewing NFL Week 12

The NFL will have some tasty leftovers on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Although two division leaders – Arizona and Kansas City – have byes, there are a lot of good matchups this weekend.

CBS has three games wth playoff implications – Tennessee at New England, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati and Chargers at Denver. Its other game – Jets at Houston – has no playoff implications.

In the Fox early games, Tampa Bay at Indianapolis and Philadelphia at the Giants have playoff implications. The game pitting 5-6 Carolina and 4-7 Miami features two teams that are long shots to get in the playoffs. Ditto for 4-6 Atlanta, which plays at 2-8 Jacksonville.

Both Fox late games, Rams at Green Bay and Minnesota at San Francisco both have playoff implications.

The Sunday night game features two teams – Cleveland at Baltimore — battling for playoff spots.The Monday night game – 3-7 Seattle at 4-6 Washington – is more important for Washington.

Here’s how the games will affect the playoff races:

AFC EAST; A win by 7-4 New England will put the Patriots in first place over 7-4 Buffalo going into next week’s game between the two teams. A loss drops the Patriots a game back of the Bills in the loss column.

AFC NORTH: A win by 7-3 Baltimore over Cleveland keeps the Ravens in first place. A loss ties them in the loss column with theCincinnati-Pittsburgh winner with four losses while the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh loser would be a game back with five losses. A Cleveland upset win over the Ravens would leave the Browns a game behind the Ravens in the loss column with the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh winner with four losses while the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh loser would be a game back with five losses. A Cleveland upset win over the Ravens would leave the Browns a game behind the Ravens in the loss column while a loss would drop them to 6-6, leave them three games back of the Ravens and virtually end their division title hopes.

AFC SOUTH: An upset win by 8-3 Tennessee at New England would leave them with a two- or three2game lead over Indianapolis, depending on whether the Colts can upset Tampa Bay. A Tennessee lost and a Colts win over Tampa Bay would cut the Titans lead to a game over the Colts.

AFC WEST: The Chiefs have a bye so will stay in first place at 7-4. The Chargers can tie them if they beat Denver, which will fall three games behind the Chiefs if they lose. The Raiders are 6-5 after their upset win over Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

NFC East: Dallas once had a four-game lead in the division but it was cut to two when the Cowboys lost to the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day. The Eagles can stay two games behind in loss column with a win at Giants.

NFC NORTH: Green Bay can keep at least a two game lead over Minnesota by winning at Rams. A Viking win over San Francisco and Green Bay loss to Rams will cut the Packers lead to a game.

NFC SOUTH; Tampa Bay at 7-3 can keep at least a three game lead in loss column with a win at Indianapolis.

NFC WEST: Arizona has a bye at 9-2 – the best record in the NFL – so it will stay in first place. The Rams at 8-2 and 49ers at 5-5 need wins over Green Bay and Minnesota to stay within striking distance of the Cardinals.

NFL Week 11 in review

Imagine the hype for a Super Bowl featuring Tom Brady facing Bill Belichick and the Pats.

That happening would seem like the longest of longshots, but they are currently leading their divisions so they can’t be ruled out in this topsy turvy season.

New England started Week 11 with a Thursday night victory over Atlanta and Tampa Bay ended it Monday night with a victory over the Giants to end a two-game losing streak.

New England is now 7-4 in the AFC East with a half-game lead over 6-4 Buffalo, a team it faces twice in the next month, while Tampa Bay has 7-3 record and a two-game edge in the NFC South over 4-5 New Orleans.

The reason the Pats and Bills can’t be ruled out is that no team has emerged as the odds on favorite to make the Super Bowl.

There is so much parity that since Week 9 there have been 11 wins by a team with a .500 or below winning percentage over division leaders.

One of those teams was Houston, which upended Tennessee last Sunday. Houston and Minnesota beat teams that entered Week 11 with at least four more wins than the team they beat. There have been eight such wins this year tied for 1974 when there were also eight.

And Minnesota’s game winning field goal as time expired was the 23rd decided on the final play, the most such games since 1970 through Week 11.

Kansas City, tied for the Chargers in loss column in AFC West with four, is starting to recover its form of the past two years as it beat Dallas, but it is too early to anoint them in the AFC.

Tennessee and the Ravens have three losses and six teams have four losses so the odds are that a five loss team could grab the last playoff spot.

Arizona has the best NFC record at 9-2 while four teams — Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Dallas and the Rams –have three losses. No team has four losses and just three have five, so the five-loss teams are in midst of playoff hunt.

The last seven weeks are shaping up as a wide open race for the two bye slots.

Previewing NFL Week 11

As the teams head down the stretch in the second half of the season, one key factor will be how many players will be sidelined after testing positive for Covid.

The Cowboys were hit this week and have to live with consequences.

The Cowboys will go into Sunday’s game against the Chiefs without Amari Cooper, who wasn’t vaxxed and tested positive for Covid. It will probably mean he’ll also miss the Thanksgiving Day game against the Raiders.

Although some vaxxed players have also tested positive, it is totally irresponsible for players not to get vaxxed.

The good news for the Cowboys is that the game isn’t that important for them except in the battle for the first-round bye. They have a four-game lead in the loss column over the other three games in their division. The other three teams have all lost six games.

The Cowboys are one of the three two-loss teams in the NFC along with 8-2 Arizona and Green Bay. If they lose their third game, they could fall a game behind those two teams in the loss column. Arizona plays Seattle and Green Bay plays Minnesota.

The game, though, is critical for the Chiefs, who have struggled this year but looked like they were back last week when they routed the Raiders. Now they have to show it wasn’t a mirage. They lead their division at 6-4. But Chargers and Raiders are 5-4 and Denver is 5-5 so they have no margin for error.

Another team to watch is defending champion Tampa Bay, which has lost its last two games sandwiched around a bye to fall to 6-3, although they still lead their division.

They should stay on top Monday night since they have what happens to be an easy game against the 3-6 Giants, but they can’t afford an upset.

In the AFC, Tennessee is the only team in the division with just two losses at 8-2 and is in the lead for the battle for the top seed. But they face a tough task against 5-4 New Orleans.

Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Buffalo are all a game behind at 6-3 while the Patriots are 7-4 after their Thursday night win over the Raiders and the Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders and Bengals also have four in losses. There is no clear favorite in the AFC, especially since Tennessee will play the rest of the regular season without Derrick Henry.

Baltimore figures to beat Chicago and the Bills are expected to beat the Jets while Pittsburgh has a tough Sunday night game against the Chargers in the Sunday night game.

Another factor to watch is whether underdogs will continue to pull off upsets the way they did the last two weeks when nine teams who were in first place or tied for first lost to teams at .500 or below.

NFL Week 10 in review

This is the season of parity run wild.

Every team in the league now has at least two losses at the 10 game mark. The last one-loss team, Arizona, lost to Carolina with Kyler Murray sidelined. Cam Newton had a winning homecoming for the Panthers.

And just three other teams besides Arizona – Dallas, Packers and Titans – have two losses.

For the second straight week, four teams at .500 or below upset division leaders. And the Rams, who are now 7-3, lost to the 49ers, who were desperate at 3-5.

So it is too early to say even the two-loss teams have the inside track in the Super Bowl race although they figure to at least make the playoffs in a 14-team field.

One of the three-loss teams is Tampa Bay. The defending champions have lost two in a row sandwiched around a bye. Tom Brady threw a couple early picks and was outplayed by Washington’s Taylor Heinicke, but the Bucs defense was the real problem as Washington put together a 19-play drive that lasted over 10 minutes to wrap up the game.

The only two loss team in the AFC is Tennessee at 8-2, which edged New Orleans, 23-21, but faces the challenge of playing without Derrick Henry.

Dallas routed the Falcons 43-3 and has a four-game lead in its division and could be the team to beat in the NFC, but then they lost to Denver 30-16 a week ago.

Kansas City looked the Chiefs of the last two years when it routed Las Vegas as Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdown passes. The Chiefs now get a big test against Dallas this week.

A 6-4 team to watch is New England with rookie quarterback Mac Jones. The Patriots posted their fourth win in a row by routing Cleveland to stay a game behind Buffalo. The Patriots play the Bills twice down the stretch.

While Dallas has a four/game lead in its division, Tennessee and Green Bay have three-game leads in their divisions.

Put those three teams down for division titles and a home playoff game. They’re going for a first-round bye. The other five divisions are up for grabs in this year of parity.

Previewing NFL Week 10

The 10th week of the season started off with another upset, continuing the trend of the last two weeks.

Baltimore’s loss to 2-7 Miami Thursday night came just five days after the 1-6 Jaguars knocked off the Bills. Both Baltimore and Buffalo are now 5-3 and Tennessee is now the only AFC teams with just two losses but the Titans will play the rest of the regular season without Derrick Henry.

There are now five 5-3 teams and five more four loss teams so the AFC race continues to be wide open.

In the NFC, Arazona has the best record in the NFL at 8-1 and the Rams, Bucs, Packers and Cowboys have two losses. But those teams all seem vulnerable.

The Rams, Cowboys and Packers all lost last weekend and the Packers are dealing with the fallout of Aaron Rodgers’ positive test and his apparent lie giving the impression he was vaxed.

In the Sunday night game, the 5-3 Raiders will play the 6-4 Chiefs as they jockey for position in AFC West while the 5-3 Chargers play the 3-5 Vikings in a late Sunday game.

A Minnesota upset win wouldn’t be a surprise because all but one of the Vikings games has been decided in last minute of play. They are probably better than their record.

Another vulnerable team is the 5-4 Broncos, who face the 3-6 Eagles. The Eagles may be better than their record. A fifth loss this year would likely be a major setback to the Broncos’ chances of making a playoff run.

Tennessee also could stumble against the 5-3 Saints because they are playing without Henry and New Orleans is desperate for a win to stay in midst of NBFC playoff race.

Another game to watch is the Cleveland-New England game, a battle of four loss teams who both need to avoid a fifth loss.

In the other games, Buffalo is favored over the Jets, Indianapolis over the Jaguars, Tampa Bay over Washington, Pittsburgh over Detroit, Arizona over Carolina and Dallas over Atlanta.

Considering all the recent upsets, it won’t be a surprise if some of their favorites stub their toes.

Four teams – Cincinnati, Chicago, Giants and Houston — have byes but only Cincinnati at 6-4 has fewer than six losses and the Bengals have lost two to the Jets and Browns in a row after a fast start. They need to use the bye week to regroup.