NFL Week 12 takeaways
In case you didn't know... quarterbacks are important
Ok, yes this is obvious. However, Denver had to learn the hard way. Due to COVID-19 protocols, every QB on the Broncos' roster was ineligible to play on Sunday, and New Orleans took advantage. The Broncos were forced to run the ball more than usual and had a practice squad wide receiver playing QB. He completed just one pass on the day, while the Saints took advantage of numerous turnovers.
Raheem Morris deserves a lot of credit
Morris took over as the Atlanta Falcon's interim coach after an 0-5 start led to the firings of head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff. Since then, Atlanta is 4-2 and just had an impressive win over the Raiders. The argument can even be made that they should be 5-1 in those games, if Todd Gurley hadn't mistakenly gone into the endzone, giving the Lions time to drive down the field in Week 7. Morris has been a head coach in the league before and is establishing himself as a serious candidate for openings this offseason, whether that be in Atlanta or elsewhere.
Colts might not be so dominant
I claimed that the Colts were the best team in the AFC South in the past couple of weeks, but they let me down on Sunday. Their offense was inconsistent against the Tennessee defense, and their defense could not stop Derrick Henry on the ground. I think these teams are more even than the final score would make you believe, but either team could win the division.
Titans coming together at right time
Last season, Tennessee went 6-2 in the second half of the regular season, a run which helped fuel the team to the AFC Championship game. This year, the Titans picked up right where they left off but still struggled--losing three out of four games at one point. Tennessee seemed to find its grove in the overtime win over Baltimore and used much of that same formula against the Colts. Three of their final five opponents have losing records, and the team is once again gelling at the perfect time.
Texans poised for late season run?
Houston has won three of its last four and seems to be thriving on offense. They'll have to play the rest of the season without WR Will Fuller, which will make things more difficult; especially after releasing Kenny Stills. If the Texans can get past the Colts on Sunday, a struggling Bears team awaits them in Week 14. It's very unlikely, but with three games left in the division (2 against the Colts and 1 against the Titans), there is a path for an improbable run.
Divisions coming down to final week
It appears as if four divisions could come down to the final week to determine a regular season champ. In the AFC East, Buffalo leads Miami by a game. The Bills beat the Dolphins by three points in Week 2, but Miami has improved greatly since then. They will have a rematch in the final week of the regular season. The NFC East has been abysmal this season, but all four teams are still in the hunt. With the NFL making the last games all divisional games, the winner seems likely to be decided then. The NFC West is still technically a four team race as well, but the Cardinals are fading and the 49ers need to get hot. Seattle has a one game lead over the Rams and will play them in Week 16, followed by the 49ers in Week 17. While the Seahawks could put the division away rather quickly, all four teams have some easier opponents remaining on the schedule before playing each other.
49ers not done yet
If you thought you could write San Francisco off already, think again. Despite all the injuries to key personnel, the defending NFC champions are just a game out of the final playoff spot. That speaks great volumes for their staff and the organization. With a matchup against Buffalo this week and two more divisional games looming, it will be a tough road, but the Niners have a chance to play their way into the postseason.
Packers will win NFC North...again
They're the only team in the division currently above .500 and have beat the others rather easily. There isn't a team in the division that can keep up with Green Bay offensively or shut them down with a defensive effort. The only remaining game that will be a challenge for the Packers is Week 16 against Tennessee, so the division should be wrapped up soon.
Jets going winless
With five games left, I honestly don't see a game they can win left on the schedule. You know the Raiders will bounce back after getting wrecked by Atlanta, and the Rams, Seahawks, and Browns are all superior teams. New York finishes the season against New England. The first game ended up being close, the Patriots have been playing better of late.
Baltimore going downhill
The Ravens started out the season at 5-1 but have now fallen to 6-5. They have also lost twice to the Steelers, knocking themselves out of the AFC North race. It's now about earning a wildcard. While Wednesday's circumstances may not be fair enough to judge the state of the team, the offense has struggled to produce at the level we're used to seeing. We'll have to see how they regroup when they get some players back, but they do have some struggling defenses left on the schedule that can help. It just hasn't been the same team, and they need to figure it out.