Week 12 brought us the Thanksgiving tripleheader as well as the regular slate on Sunday. The three games on Thursday went from terrible (Lions vs Bears) to entertaining (Cowboys vs Raiders) down to being dull (Saints vs Bills). Sunday wasn’t much better, as there were very few nail biters. Perhaps we were due for a weekend like this after seeing absolute chaos the previous three weeks. We are nearing the end of the bye week stage with only a handful of teams yet to enjoy their week off. That means we will soon have the full number of games and more opportunities for entertainment. Before we get too ahead of ourselves with promises of excitement, let’s look at this week’s results. There were certainly some winners and losers of this week, so let’s break it down.
Winner #1 San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco’s win over the Minnesota Vikings gives this team’s playoff hopes yet another boost. The Niners will be sad to see the month of November end as they went 3-1 to revive their season. With a 6-5 record, the Niners find themselves in the 6th seed, which is good enough to make the playoffs. The schedule is also in the Niners favor as it is relatively soft compared to their competitors. Perhaps the biggest boost in their chances of moving forward is their confidence. After that big win on Sunday night a few weeks ago over the Rams, this team’s belief has been sky high. Now, I wouldn’t say that they are poised for a playoff run, but it’s not out of the question to see the 49ers in the playoffs come seasons end.
Loser #1 Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles came into this week winners in three of their last four games. Only a last second FG by the Chargers denied Philly from being on a 4-game winning streak. The Eagles saw the Cowboys lose on Thanksgiving, giving them a glimmer of hope to steal the division title. The Eagles responded by laying an egg against an inferior Giants team. Jalen Hurts was abysmal, only throwing for 129 yards without a touchdown. He did however have three interceptions, including one at the end of the first half, denying his team three valuable points. Those three points cost Philly the option of kicking a late FG to tie the game. The loss drops the Eagles to 5-7 and they are currently out of the seven playoff spots. Wasted opportunities like this have a way of biting you in the end.
Winner #2 Denver Broncos
In an AFC West showdown, it was the Broncos who came out victorious. The win keeps them firmly in the playoff hunt as the race for those playoff spots start to get tighter. It also deals a blow to their division rival Chargers, which is always a boost. As of right now they are in a three-way tie for that last playoff spot with the Raiders and Chargers. The 28-13 win over Los Angeles showed the blueprint for how this team will find success moving forward. The Denver defense won their team this game by holding firm at crucial moments. The Broncos will need their defense to keep stifling opposing offenses as their schedule does them no favors. Five of their last six games are against teams that are in direct competition for those valuable playoff spots. The future may be tough, but just for one week Denver can smile.
Loser #2 Los Angeles Rams
Unlike the San Francisco 49ers, I’m sure the Rams will be happy to see the end of November. When October ended the Rams were 7-1 and flying. Fast forward to the present and the Rams now sit at 7-4 with plenty of questions being asked. In the span of a month the Rams went from Super Bowl contenders to there being a legitimate question as to whether this team will even make the playoffs. The offense has struggled to find consistency amid this three-game losing streak. Opposing offenses are starting to figure out how to beat the Rams defense, which doesn’t bode well moving forward. Oh, and the Rams have one of the worst special teams units in the NFL. It’s too early for the doomsday siren to sound, but they are trending the wrong way. The good news is that they play Jacksonville next week.
Winner #3 Miami Dolphins
No one has risen from the dead quite like Miami. After starting the season 1-7 the Dolphins have won four straight games. That includes taking care of a Cam Newton-led Panthers team 33-10. The Tua Tagovailoa-to-Jaylen Waddle connection is really starting to heat up. Waddle racked up 137 receiving yards and a touchdown this past Sunday. The defense kept Panthers QB Cam Newton befuddled all game long. At 5-7 they still find themselves on the outside looking in, but a favorable schedule is the key here. Back-to-back games against New York teams open up a possibility of being 7-7. With the Saints and Titans suffering key injuries, the pathway has really opened up for Miami. The Dolphins will need to take care of business in some winnable games. If they can accomplish that, they have a good chance of securing an unlikely playoff spot.
Loser #3 Seattle Seahawks
After losing Monday night to the Washington Football Team 17-15, the Seahawks season is just about over. Now, there is still a chance they could sneak into the playoffs, but they would need divine intervention to do so. This will probably be the first time in Russell Wilson’s career that Seattle has a losing record. This will also raise questions regarding his future with the organization. It’s no secret that Wilson has begun to kick the tires on suiting up for another team. Whether or not Seattle grants his wish by trading him is up for discussion. It will also bring up the difficult question of Head Coach Pete Carroll. There will likely be a debate on whether to move on from the franchise’s most successful coach. What isn’t up for debate is the end of an era for Seattle.