NFL

NFL Instant Reactions: Week 12 Edition

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The playoff picture is becoming clearer after 12 weeks of NFL action, so let’s take a look at how each team fared. Much like last week’s article, I have separated the teams into four different categories: True Contenders, Playoff Bound Material, Mediocre at Best, and Dead in the Water.

True Contenders: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers.

The Eagles (10-1) still hold the NFL’s best record, and look to be in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the NFC. The Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) made life hard on themselves against the Packers last night, but they did what good teams always do: find a way to win. The Patriots (9-2) are in a very familiar position of being in the running for the AFC’s top seed, while the Rams (8-3) showed they are still for real with a close win to stop the Saints (8-3) win streak. The Vikings (9-2) took care of the Lions on Thanksgiving, while the Panthers (8-3) proved they belong in this category as they are now neck-and-neck with the Saints atop the NFC South.

Playoff Bound Material: Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills.

Seattle (7-4) got back to their winning ways on Sunday with a convincing win over the hapless 49ers. Elsewhere, the Jaguars (7-4) did themselves a huge disservice by losing to the Cardinals, and now remain deadlocked with the Titans (7-4) atop the AFC South. The Falcons (7-4) continue to roll with a great home win over the Bucs, and the Bills (6-5) proved they really screwed up their quarterback situation as Tyrod Taylor helped them beat the reeling Chiefs in Arrowhead. The Ravens (5-5) can remain in the playoff picture tonight with a win over the Texans, while the Lions (6-5) may find themselves on the outside looking in by the time the playoffs roll around.  Time will tell if coach Jim Caldwell can get his Detroit team back to their winning ways.

Mediocre at Best:  Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals.

What in the world has happened to the Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)?  After lighting up the scoreboard in the early part of the season, the Raiders (5-6) and Chargers (5-6) remain just one game back of the division lead.  If coach Andy Reid can’t figure out his team’s shortcomings quickly, they may miss the playoffs altogether. Elsewhere, the Cowboys (5-6) lost on Thanksgiving, proving that Dak Prescott really needs his star running back to succeed in the league. The Redskins (5-6) remain in the hunt for the wild card after taking care of the Giants, who have not now officially been eliminated from the playoffs. The two teams who just won’t die are the Cardinals (5-6) and Bengals (5-6) who both kept their seasons alive with victories on Sunday.

Dead in the Water: Cleveland Browns, NY Giants, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, NY Jets, Miami Dolphins.

The Browns still remain a near lock for the top pick in the 2018 NFL draft, while the 49ers got a glimpse into the future with Jimmy Garoppolo making his debut after their starting quarterback (Beathard) got hurt in the fourth quarter. The rest of these teams have either been eliminated from playoff consideration, or are on the verge of looking to next season for some hope.

Be sure to check back next week to see the movement in these categories, which teams should start to be taken seriously, and the others we wish would just get off our TV screens for good.

Photo Credit: Sporting News

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