The best time of the year for football is upon us. It’s Thanksgiving week, which means we are three-quarters of the way through the regular season. In the next few weeks the playoff picture will become much clearer, and we will find out who the true contenders and pretenders are.
Before we get into breaking down Week 12, here are the list of final scores in case you missed any of the action.
Cowboys 9 Patriots 13
Packers 8 49ers 37
Ravens 45 Rams 6
1. The Cleveland Browns
A win over the Miami Dolphins is not overly impressive, but the Cleveland Browns certainly have been trending in the right direction the past three weeks. Cleveland blew out Miami this Sunday, 41-24, to improve to 5-6 on the season. The biggest difference in the Browns past three weeks and the start to their season is Baker Mayfield. In their first eight games, Mayfield threw 12 interceptions. In their three-game winning streak, he has thrown just one. The former Oklahoma Sooner has also thrown for at least two touchdowns in all three of their recent wins. Cleveland’s offensive line is also protecting Mayfield better, allowing just one sack in each of their last two games. The defense will be tested without Myles Garrett for the rest of the season, but despite a 5-6 record the Browns have a real shot at making the postseason. This weekend Cleveland takes on Pittsburgh in a game that is basically do or die for both team’s postseason hopes. If the Browns win this game and improve to 6-6, three of their remaining four games on the schedule are extremely winnable. Cleveland plays Cincinnati, Arizona, Baltimore, and Cincinnati again. 9-7 could be good enough to get the second wild card spot in the AFC, so if the Browns are able to win on Sunday they could be in the drivers seat for a postseason berth.
2. The New York Jets
Just three weeks ago, the New York Jets lost to the Miami Dolphins. The team sat with a 1-7 record, and many wondered if head coach Adam Gase would even make it through the season. Flash forward to today and the Jets sit at 4-7, scoring 34 points in three straight games, winning them all. In the three-game winning streak, the Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold has been spectacular. Darnold has thrown for seven touchdowns to just one interception and has an average QB rating around 115. Now it is fair to say the Jets faced two favorable opponents in the Giants and Redskins, but their win over the Raiders on Sunday was extremely impressive. Oakland is a team who is battling for the final wild card spot in the AFC and the Jets just outmatched them Sunday. The New York defense made Derek Carr play so poorly he got benched. The Jets have two extremely winnable games next on their schedule against the Bengals and Dolphins. If they take care of business like they should, New York will be 6-7 heading into a matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. They will for sure be heavy underdogs in this game, but even if they lose and win their final two against Buffalo and Pittsburgh, 8-8 could be enough for a spot in the AFC playoffs. It is highly unlikely New York does run the table and make the postseason, but their stock has certainly been going up in the past few weeks.
Every angle of this Sam to Robby completion is so much fun to watch. pic.twitter.com/DDAiarXcS8— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 25, 2019
3. The New Orleans Saints
Lucky or not, the Saints got a huge win this weekend over the Carolina Panthers. New Orleans held a 12-point lead at one time in the game, but Carolina came back to tie it at 31. With just two minutes left, Carolina missed a chip-shot 28 yard field goal, giving New Orleans the ball. Drew Brees marched the Saints right down the field, ending up in a game-winning field goal by Will Lutz. Brees has been fantastic in the Saints past two games, throwing for six touchdowns and registering a QB Rating of 115. The New Orleans’ defense has slowed down from their hot start to the season, but still are doing just enough to win games. This win was huge for New Orleans because it puts them in control of the number two spot in the NFC. Seattle and San Francisco play again the last weekend of the season, so one of them is going to lose and get a wild card spot. As long as New Orleans can stay ahead of Green Bay, who they have a game lead over, they are a lock for a one or two seed in the NFC playoffs.
Checking in on the MVP race: Week Twelve
1. Lamar Jackson - QB Baltimore Ravens
66.9% completion percentage, 2,427 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 876 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, 9-2 team record.
If anyone else but Lamar Jackson is your MVP leader at this point, you are doing something wrong. Once again Monday night Jackson did something improbable, throwing for five touchdowns in a 45-6 rout of the Los Angeles Rams. Jackson is the clear MVP front-runner, and after his performance last night it seems like the award is his to lose.
2. Russell Wilson - QB Seattle Seahawks
67.33% completion percentage, 2,938 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 271 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 9-2 team record.
Despite a down game Sunday against Philadelphia, Russell Wilson is still a clear number two in the MVP race. The Seattle quarterback has been the heartbeat of the Seahawks this season, and without him, they are likely around a 3-8 team.
Look at this amazing #NFL #NFL100 highlight: Russell Wilson to DK Metcalf perfect pass #SEAvsPHI— Pro Football Talk Line (@ProFootballTL) November 26, 2019
More info at https://t.co/ansiKbxdlh #NFL #NFL100 #NFLHighlights #SportsTalkLine pic.twitter.com/qIMfWWbMRM
3. Aaron Rodgers - QB Green Bay Packers
64.47% completion percentage, 2,822 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 122 rushing yards, 8-3 team record.
Rodgers is a distant third in the race, but still has had a very impressive season. He has not thrown an interception since Week Six, and has had a touchdown pass in all but two games this season. He will bounce back in a big way after the embarrassing loss to San Francisco.