Previewing NFL Week 12

–There are no byes on Thanksgiving weekend with six national gameson tap – three on Thanksgiving and a black Friday game plus the usual Sunday and Monday night games. Unfortunately some of the matchups aren’t what the league had hoped they would be. For example, the Jets were supposed to have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback against Miami. Instead, journeymen Tim Boyle will start  for Zach Wilson, who was benched last week. The Jets defense may keep them in th game, but it figures to be an eeasy win for the Dolphins. And they expected Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow to start against the Steelers but he is out for the year after being injured last week and that should give the Steelers the edge. 

–The Lions and Cowboys will get the first two Thanksgiving Day slots as usual but the games aren’t tasty. The Lions figure to beat Green Bay and the Cowboys should rout the Commanders. The prime time game with San Francisco at Seattle could be interesting but the Forty-Niners should have the edge.The Lions-Packers-game is good for nostalgia. In 1962, the Lions crushed the Packers on Thanksgiving Day, costing them a perfect season. The Lions almost beat them twice, losing the first game 9-7, which was the focus of the classic book by W.C Heinz, “Run to Daylight.” The Lions went 11-3 and didn’t make the playoffs because there were no wild cards in those days so they didn’t get a third crack at the Packers. But Vince Lombardi decided he didn’t want to play in Detroit every year on Thanksgiving Day and pulled the Packers out of playing there every year starting in 1964. It is a coincidence the Packers will play in the game this year. This time, they are the underdogs.

–In a game that no one expected to be for first place in the AFC South, Houston will host the Jaguars. Houston won the first place and is 6-4 to the Jaguars 7-3. A Houston win would vault them into first place because they would have the tie break over the Jaguars. But the Jaguars have won six of their last seven and aren’t likely to overlook the Texans the way they probably did in the first meeting. It will be the second matchup of rookie C.J. Sroud and Trevor Laswrence. They could be dueling twice a year for the next decade.

–Will the Eagles and Chiefs be focused Sunday after their emotional Super Bowl rematch Monday night? The Eagles will host the Bills and the Chiefs will go to Las Vegas. The Eagles and Chiefs both figure to win but they could be drained. The Eagles are 9-1 but have won six games by seven points or less. And the Chiefs receivers have to show they can catch the ball. They lead the league in drops and two on the final drive in the fourth quarter against the Eagles cost them the game.

–The Sunday night game features Baltimore at the Chargers and is another matchup that looked much better when the season came out that it does now. The Chargers are one of the most disappointing teams in the league at 4-6 after last week’s loss to the Packers, 23-20. Brandon Staley figures to get fired at the end of the year because he can’t win with Justin Herbert at quarterback. But the Ravens can’t take it for granted because Herbert can keep the Chargers in games.

NFL Week 11 in review

–All the Philadelphia Eagles do is win. The Eagles boosted their record to 9-1 – best in the NFL – by beating the Kansas City Chiefs, 21-17, Monday night in a rematch of their Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs last year. But the Eagles rarely look like a dominant team. Six of their wins came by seven points or less. And the Chiefs were victims of their own mistakes as Patrick Mahomes threw a pick in the first half and in the second half when the Chiefs were blanked, Travis Kelce fumbled in the red zone and two receivers dropped passes on the final drive. The Chiefs lead the league in dropped passes, which may make it difficult for them to repeat. Meanwhile, the Eagles hope to keep finding ways to win all the way to another Super Bowl. They are trying to become the second Super Bowl loser to win the Super Bowl the following year since 1972.

–The Detroit Lions boosted their record to 8-2 – second best in the NFL – as Jared Goff led them to two drives in the last four minutes to overcome a nine point deficit to beat the Bears, 31-26. He had thrown three interceptions earlier. Meanwhile, the Lions are 8-2 for the first time since 1962, the year the crushed the Packers on Thanksgiving Day. A year later, Vince Lombardi pulled the Packers out of the annual game. It is just a coincidence the Lions will be playing the Packers this Thanksgiving Day. The loss was good  for the Bears, who currently have the fourth pick in the draft with a 3-8 record. Carolina has the first pick at 1-9 but they traded the first pick last year to the Bears, who could have two of the first four picks. 

–Dallas and San Francisco  both posted easy victories over the Panthers and Bucs to boost their records to 7-3. The Cowboys are two games back of the Eagles and seem likely to get a NFC wild card spot if they don’t catch the Eagles. The Forty-Niners are a game ahead of 6-4 Seattle with the Seahawks currently the sixth seed. Denver rallied to beat Minnesota, which is still the NFC seventh seed at 6-5. New Orleans leads the NFC South at 5-5 after having a bye last week.

–Kansas City’s loss to the Eagles dropped them to 7-3 as they fell behind the 8-3 Ravens in the battle for the top AFC seed. The Ravens who beat Cincinnati, which lost quarterback Joe Burrow for the season and felt to 5-5. Buffalo also is 5-5 after beating the Jets. Both the Bengals and Bills are currently out of the playoff chase. 

–Although 8-3 Baltimore is the top AFC seed after 11 weeks, the race is wide open with five teams with three losses. The Chiefs, Dolphins and Jaguars, who all lead their divisions, are 7-3 while the 7-3 Browns are a half game behind the Ravens. The Dolphins, Jaguars and Browns all won last week. 

–Surprising Houston overcame three C.J. Stroud three interceptions to beat the Cardinals with the help of a good defense to boost their record to 6-4. The are currently in a wild card spot but could take over first place Sunday in the AFC South with a victory over the Jaguars. Houston won the first meeting so a victory would give them the tie-break over the Jaguars.

Previewing NFL Week 11

–Could the Super Bowl rematch between the Chiefs and Eagles also be a preview of this year’s Super Bowl? When they meet Monday night in Kansas City, they will be the top seeds in each conference. And the matchup will feature two of the best quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts. The Chiefs are 7-2 and a slight favorite over the 8-1 Eagles.

–The Thursday night game is also a good one with Cincinnati at Baltimore with both teams coming off losses and desperate for a victory. Baltimore still leads the AFC North at 7-3 while the Bengals are out of the current playoff picture at 5-4.

–The surprising Vikings are playing at Denver on Sunday night. The Vikings have won two in a row with Josh Dobbs at quarterback and are currently a wild card team at 6-4. Denver upset the Bills last week when the Bills had 12 men on the field to give the Broncos a second chane at a game winning field goal. The Broncos are fighting for a wild card spot at 4-5.

–In the feature CBS early game, the Steelers go to Cleveland for the latest game in one of the best rivalries in the NFL. The Steelers have been outgained nine games in a row but somehow are 6-3. The Browns will be missing Deshaun Watson, who is out for the year. The Browns are also 6-3, so it is a pivotal division game for both teams.

–Kyler Murray, in his second game back with 2-8 Arizona, will try to upset Houston, which is 5-4 with rookie C.J. Stroud having an amazing year. If the Texans beat Arizona and then beat Jacksonville next week, they will be leading the AFC South with a tie break over the Jaguars.

NFL Week 10 in review

–The Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals are two of the most disappointing teams in the league this year. Both were touted as Super Bowl contenders but the Bills are 5-5 and the Bengals 5-4 after they both lost on a field goal on the final play to the Broncos and Texans even though they were both home and favored. A lot of survivor pools were thinned out by those two games. The Bills lost after they gave Denver a second shot at a game winning field goal when they had 12 men on the field after first one was missed. The Bills offense continued to sputter and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was fired on Monday. They both may have to fight for wild card spots.

–This is the year parity continues to run wild. Six games, including the Texans and Broncos wins, were decided on a field goal on the final play. After 10 weeks, every team but the 8-1 Eagles and 7-2 Chiefs and Lions have at least three losses. And every team except the 1-8 Panthers and the 2-7 Patriots and 2-8 Giants have at least three wins. So the rest of the teams have at least an outside shot at getting a wild card spot if they get on a roll.

–In the NFC, the Eagles, Lions and the 6-3 49ers and Cowboys seem to have the best shot at getting to the NFC title game. In the AFC, it is a different story. The race is wide open. The Chiefs, who had a bye last week, haven’t looked as dominant as they have in recent years and the 7-3 Ravens, who were being called the best team in football a week ago, blew a two touchdown fourth period lead and lost to the 6-3 Browns. The 6-3 Jaguars still lead the AFC South but had won five in a row before being crushed by the 49ers. The Steelers are 6-3 but have been outgained by in every game, which is not a formula for winning in the playoffs. The Dolphins are 6-3 but haven’t beaten a contender. There are eight teams at 5-5, 5-4 or 4-5. Only the 3-6 Titans and 2-7 Patriots appear to be longshots.  

–A surprise team could be the Houston Texans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. They beat the Bengals and Joe Burrow to go to 5-4. They are a game behind the 6-3 Jaguars, beat them in the first game and play them in two weeks. If they win the rematch, they could win the AFC South division title since they have an easier schedule the rest of the way than the Jaguars have. Stroud has a shot at becoming the first rookie MVP since Jim Brown. 

The Vikings are another team to watch. Their season seemed over when Kirk Cousins was lost for the season. But Josh Dobbs has come in and won two straight and the Vikings are 6-4 after the win over the Saints. Even though they are two games behind the Lions, they have a wild card shot.

–Bill Belichick must be wondering why he didn’t retire when Tom Brady left. Or convinced Brady to stay. Things keep getting worse for him and the picture of him rubbing his face in what looked like frustration made all the highlight shows. The team is 2-8 after losing to the Colts and Gardner Minshew in Germany. Belichick used to own backup quarterbacks like Minshew but no longer. Nobody knows what his future, but it may not be coaching the Patriots.

Previewing NFL Week 10

—This is a week of waiting for NFL fans. The Eagles and Chiefs, the top two seeds at 8-1 and 7-2, have byes this weekend and then meet in a Super Bowl rematch next week. The game will be played Monday night in Kansas City. The early line has the Eagles favored by a point and a half.

—The Ravens can go to 8-2 and take a half game lead over the Chiefs in the AFC battle for the top AFC seed by beating the Browns. The Ravens are on a four game winning streak and are favored by six points. The Ravens have a two game lead in the division since the Browns, Steelers and Bengals are all at 5-3 and currently are the three AFC wild card teams. The Steelers are three point favorites over the Packers and the Bengals are 6.5 point favorites over the Texans.

—The feature game is San Francisco, which has lost three in a row, at Jacksonville, which has won five in a row. Both had byes last week and Jacksonville leads the AFC South at 6-2 while the 49ers are tied for first place at 5-3 in NFC West. San Francisco is a three-point favorite on the road because they were shorthanded with injuries during the losing streak and now Deebo Samuels and probably Trent Williams should be back and Christian McCaffrey figures to be in top form. And Brock Purdy was probably helped by the bye week because the 49ers didn’t give a week off after he suffered a concussion. Unfortunately, the NFL decided not to flex the game to prime time and it will be played at 1 p.m. or 10 a.m. San Francisco time.

—The NFL doesn’t have one good attraction with its four national games. The Thursday nightgame is Carolina at Chicago with the Colts at New England in the 930 a.m. Sunday morninggame from Germany, followed by the Jets at Las Vegas Sunday night and the Broncos at the Bills Monday night. And the Sunday afternoon doubleheader game is the Giants at Dallas. Not a good weekend for ratings. The NFL doesn’t have enough good games to fill its prime time slots

—The 6-2 Lions, with a two-game lead in the NFC North, can move to within one game of the 8-1 Eagles in the battle for the top seed if they beat the 4-4 Chargers. Every other NFC team has at least three losses and the 5-4 Saints, who play at Minnesota, can stay on top the NFC South with a victory.