At Week 12, we’re just about 3/4 of the way through the NFL regular season. As we enter into the final quarter of the season, we have some major games on deck for Sunday. You know it’s going to be a great day of football when a game between the Seahawks and Eagles gets flexed out of the Sunday Night Football slot. So let’s jump in, starting with that game right there!
Seattle at Philadelphia
Seattle has been rolling and comes in off a bye to face a desperate Eagles squad. Philly came up short against the Patriots, but the defense has rounded into form. The Eagles’ offense remains fairly stagnant and has some concerning offensive line injuries. The absence of Jordan Howard did not help things either. Seattle and Russell Wilson should push the Eagles’ defense to the brink, so it will be dependent on the offense to keep up.
The Seahawks may have a tough time running the ball, but Wilson could set the Eagles’ secondary on fire. It will be up to Carson Wentz to step up and keep the Eagles on pace with Dallas in the division race. An interesting wrinkle is also Seattle having to travel cross country for an early game. Seattle loves playing in close games and having Wilson bail them out. Seattle should win, but this is no easy task this week.
Detroit at Washington
The Lions have been scrappy the last two weeks, but could not overcome the Bears’ defense and then could not keep up with an excellent Dallas offense. Lucky for them, they face the abysmal Redskins this week.
The Redskins do not have much to play for right now, aside from trying to get a top draft pick. They currently sit in the two slot. It will also be important for them to see what Dwayne Haskins has. The Lions’ defense has been very weak and could be a decent test for a rookie who has looked overwhelmed. Regardless, there is still so much dysfunction with Washington that the Lions should come in and handle business easily, especially given Jeff Driskel’s solid play.
Oakland at New York Jets
The Bengals gave the Raiders a game last week, but the complementary football of the Raiders won the day. The Raiders are in prime position for the playoffs and have a huge game with the Chiefs looming. A cross country, early Sunday trip to the Meadowlands could provide an unexpected stumble.
The Jets have looked better the last couple of weeks. The offensive line remains a concern, but Sam Darnold has a plethora of playmakers around him. The Jets’ defense also has fantastic individual talents like Jamal Adams who can take over games. If the Jets can shut down Josh Jacobs and force Derek Carr to win the game, this one is in reach for the Jets. Adam Gase may also be coaching for his job, so he should be pulling out all the stops.
Carolina at New Orleans
A tough few weeks have severely hurt the Panthers’ playoff push. Kyle Allen’s play has also dipped heavily. Heading to the Superdome to take on a powerhouse Saints team is not the remedy. The Saints shook off their shocking loss to the Falcons and handled the Buccaneers.
Despite Christian McCaffery’s continued excellence, the Panthers offense has stalled out, and the Saints will key in to stop him. Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray should be poised for a big game against a Panthers team that has struggled against running backs. This, plus the great Saints defense against a fading Kyle Allen, will set the Saints up to triumph.
Miami at Cleveland
Quite the eventful week for the Browns, who are now without arguably their best player for an indefinite period. Their first win against the Steelers since 2012 somehow feels like a loss. The Browns have to quickly move on, because regardless of feelings, they are still firmly in the AFC playoff hunt. Fortunately, they’ll take on the Dolphins this week.
Miami has continued a competent run. Still, the goal for the Dolphins this season is seeing what players could stick around for the future and securing a high draft pick. Cleveland should be able to outmatch the Dolphins on talent. The Browns’ defense could be problematic, but relying on Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield should secure a win for the Browns.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Just as it was for the Browns, it was an eventful week for the Steelers too. That was a huge loss – and a massive ding to their playoff chance. And the two teams face again next week. More pressing is handling the hapless Bengals. Cincy gave the Raiders everything they could handle, but fell short.
The Steelers’ defense did not play to their recent level last Thursday, but facing a weak offensive crew on top of being angry about their last performance should fuel them to a huge game. Not having James Conner, Juju Smith-Schuster, Maurkice Pouncey, and likely Diontae Johnson is a huge blow, but Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell should provide enough punch on offense for the Steelers to salt away a win. However, if Mason Rudolph plays like he did in Cleveland, the Steelers could stumble into a disastrous loss.
New York Giants at Chicago
It gets uglier and uglier for the Bears. All the good will of last season has been erased. Matt Nagy’s decision to pull Mitch Trubisky late in the Sunday Night game remains baffling, especially as it seems Trubisky is on track to play this week. They face a floundering Giants squad, coming off a loss to the Jets two weeks ago. The Giants have problems everywhere, but they have at least been capable of scoring points. The Bears have actually been fairly weak against the run recently, so Saquon Barkley could present problems for the Bears.
But the Giants’ overall defense has been quite bad, and the one thing Mitchell Trubisky has done in his career is play decent against bad defenses. If he can set Allen Robinson up for a big game, the Bears’ offense may be able to do enough. Dan Jones has proven highly turnover prone, so the hope for the Bears would be getting short fields. The Bears have no excuse to lose this game. A loss to a squad like the Giants could force huge changes for the Bears in the offseason, if those things are not already in store.
Denver at Buffalo
So close, yet so far again for the Broncos. Their season has been marred by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Vic Fangio’s game management has left a lot to be desired. The team still gives great effort every week, and as seen against the Vikings, they can catch a team off guard. Unfortunately, they have been unable to seal the deal.
The Bills are fresh off a trouncing of the Dolphins, where the offense looked great and the defense did its job. Josh Allen has played excellent recently. The sting of last week could carry over for Denver, who has to continue a road trip. Brandon Allen has filled in great for the Broncos, but they need to rely on the run against a Bills team that has been susceptible. The Broncos’ defense has actually been a weak point recently, and if the Bills carry over their play from last week, they should be able to run away from Denver comfortably.
Tampa Bay at Atlanta
The Falcons are fresh off dominating performances against two divisional rivals on the road and now head home to face the wilting Bucs. This effort is a bit late to get the Falcons to the playoffs, but it may save Dan Quinn’s job (which may not be ideal), and they can play spoiler to opponents.
The Bucs cannot get out of their own way and find fantastic new ways to turn the ball over on a weekly basis. The suddenly feisty Falcons defense could make things miserable for Jameis Winston. The Bucs still have two stud receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, but they go as Winston does. The Bucs’ run defense has remained strong, but the secondary is a disaster. That will be problematic facing Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. This one is poised to be a shootout, but with the way Atlanta has played, they could continue their trend of dominating their fellow NFC South mates.
Jacksonville at Tennessee
The return of Nick Foles was… not great. The Jaguars’ offense could not do anything against the Colts, and the defense got run over. Now they face Derrick Henry. Ryan Tannehill has also done a solid job of commanding the offense. The Titans return to action, last stealing a win from the Chiefs.
Both of these teams are still in position for the AFC South, but Tennessee has a clearer road. After the Texans win against the Colts, the Titans have the best path. They still have to play Houston twice and need every win in between. The Titans will lean on Derrick Henry, who has had huge career games against the Jags, and an opportunistic defense to take advantage of a dysfunctional Jags offense.
Dallas at New England
The Patriots’ defense remains amazing. The offense looked downright rattled against the Eagles. Offensive players continue to drop, with Mohamed Sanu now looking like he will miss time. The return of Isaiah Wynn would be a huge boost for the Pats. The Cowboys continued their offensive roll, while the defense remains concerning.
This game being in Foxborough is a huge boost for the Pats. The Patriots will need huge games from James White and Julian Edelman to effectively move the ball, and whatever Jakobi Myers and N’Keal Harry can offer. The Cowboys haven’t played a defense that is at the level of New England’s since their Saints game, where they put up 10 points. Dak Prescott has been mostly excellent since then. This is a huge test for them. The Patriots defense is excellent at every level, but if the offense cannot keep up, the Cowboys have a chance to steal this one away. Yet, the largest difference remains in coaching, with Bill Belichick versus Jason Garrett being lopsided in favor of New England.
Green Bay at San Francisco
Three straight games against divisional opponents have pushed the Niners. They were able to hold off the Cardinals again. The Packers come off their bye, heading to Santa Clara for a showdown with huge playoff implications. The NFC playoff picture is crazy stacked.
The Niners could desperately use George Kittle back. On the other hand, their defense has not been as stellar recently. They have ceded a lot of yardage on the ground, while their own run offense has heavily stalled out. After looking rattled late against Seattle, Jimmy Garoppolo played a great game against the Cardinals, and the Niners will need that. They will also need the frontline to put on a ton of pressure against Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers should look to lean on Aaron Jones, who has been sensational this year. Aaron Rodgers does not turn the ball over, and in a game like this, that could make all the difference. This is a tough one to call, but the Packers have been in moments like this before, making it hard to go against them.
Week 12 Sunday Picks
- New York Jets
- New Orleans
- New England
- Green Bay