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NFL Week 12 Takeaways: What We Learned Sunday

by November 28, 2022
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With the Week 12 Sunday slate now over, we have three months of data to consider as fans and sports gamblers. Below are some of our most-significant takeaways from another fun Sunday in the NFL.

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Cleveland Browns 23 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Tampa is Still Broken

Perhaps their two-week hiatus caused us to forget that these are not the Buccaneers of yesteryears. Tampa has perpetually disappointed on offense, and their defense has failed to live up to its potential. For them to allow Cleveland to march down the field in the final minutes is overwhelmingly deflating.

It has long been foolish to ever count out QB Tom Brady, but it feels as though now that it would be equally foolish to have any expectations of this team. Tampa Bay was one of the most heavily bet teams in the NFL this week, receiving nearly 70% of tickets wagered on them to cover the spread. Let’s stop doing this; the Bucs are broken.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 – Tennessee Titans 16

Titans, a Tier Below

The team’s uneven start vindicated many who believed the Bengals’ Super Bowl run of a season ago was a fluke. And Cincinnati’s play lately has surely silenced those skeptics. The Bengals have won three straight and thoroughly impressed with star WR Ja’Marr Chase sidelined. Cincy is in a similar position to replicate their 2021 run and has now tied Baltimore atop the AFC North standings.

Conversely, the Titans are a tough ass football team, but questions regarding their legitimacy as a contender are warranted. The team still has yet to beat a team with a winning record (unless you count Washington in Week 5), and we have seen them falter so many times before in the playoffs. Tennessee will have their shot when it matters most, but this was a game they needed to win to prove their record is not a result of a favorable schedule.

Miami Dolphins 30 – Houston Texans 15

Could Alabama Beat the Texans?

Let’s keep this brief Miami was favored by 14 in this contest, and even that number wasn’t big enough. The Dolphins tried to let Houston in the back door, but the Texans did not have the necessary playmakers. The Texans may not win another game this season, but they have to cover the spread at some point… Right?

New York Jets 31 – Chicago Bears 10

Addition by Subtraction

Perhaps it was a result of the Bears’ lackluster defense, but the Jets’ offense was as good as we have seen all season with QB Mike White at the helm. It was contentious at times, but the Jets pulled away because of their elite defense and White’s efficient day. New York keeps pace in the AFC, but the true test remains in the coming weeks. If the Jets continue to produce in consecutive road contests versus Minnesota and Buffalo, they would have established themselves as contenders. They may have saved their season by benching former starting QB, Zach Wilson.

Washington Commanders 19 – Atlanta Falcons 13

The Party Doesn’t End

One way or another, the Washington Commanders continue to roll. The team has now covered against the opening line in seven straight and in every one of QB Taylor Heinicke’s starts. This team has heart and now finds themselves having legitimate playoff aspirations with two matchups vs. the Giants remaining. Still, be wary of betting on the Commanders moving forward. The party has to end for Washington at some point, and despite the loss, Atlanta was the right side today.

Carolina Panthers 23 – Denver Broncos 10

The Panthers Have Options at QB 

The Sam Darnold-led Panthers played surprisingly well. Granted, it was against the Denver Broncos, but only the Raiders have scored more opposite Denver’s defense than Carolina did today. Astonishingly, the Panthers are still alive in the NFC South race and have a favorable schedule moving forward. Darnold had previously floundered in his role as Carolina’s starting QB, but he likely bought himself the job for the remainder of the season with his performance today.

I suppose we should also congratulate Denver QB Russell Wilson for his 300th career touchdown pass. It was, however, entirely inconsequential given the context of the game, as Carolina’s lead (13 points) was insurmountable for such a stagnant offense. Tonally, I don’t mean to undercut Wilson’s career accomplishments, but the Broncos have been inexcusably bad this season, and such disappointment falls squarely on Wilson’s shoulders.

Jacksonville Jaguars 28 – Baltimore Ravens 27

Trevor is the Truth

This was exactly what the Jacksonville Jaguars needed to see from second-year QB Trevor Lawrence. His boxscore was pristine, his decision-making excellent, and his game-winning touchdown drive was perhaps a glimpse into the Jags’ future with Lawrence at the helm. The Ravens are no slouch of a team, and their defense has been particularly impressive. Only once before this game had the Ravens allowed 28 points or greater, and the Jags’ efforts this day are noteworthy moving forward.

Conversely, it may be time to worry about Baltimore. The team has blown fourth-quarter leads in each of their losses, and the offense often lacks answers to the test. Expect Baltimore to bounce back versus Denver next week, but there are legitimate concerns for the Ravens moving forward.

Los Angeles Chargers 25 – Arizona Cardinals 24

Arizona Should Move

No team has been worse at home than the Cardinals throughout HC Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure. The team had an opportunity to buck this trend on Sunday but failed again in the game’s most crucial moments. It is perpetually frustrating to watch and write about the Cardinals. Blame is warranted at all levels of the Cardinals’ organization, and change is surely on the horizon in 2023. I can’t wait til we get there. The NFL is better when it’s fun to watch Kyler Murray play football. “Schematically, (they) were kind of fu**ed.”

Consequently, Arizona’s blown fourth-quarter lead keeps Los Angeles in the conversation. After falling short to the 49ers and Chiefs in previous weeks, the Chargers played to their competition on Sunday and are fortunate to have won. The decision to go for the game-winning 2-point conversion was gutsy, and it paid off. But I can only imagine the conversation if it had not. Justin Herbert was excellent, but the team needs to demonstrate more consistency before we can back them as contenders.

Las Vegas Raiders 40 – Seattle Seahawks 34

The Game Josh Jacobs Broke the RB Market

The chatter surrounding Las Vegas RB Josh Jacobs possibly missing this game must have been a front. The pending free agent submitted one of the greatest RB performances of all time and, in doing so, reignited the Raiders’ season. Las Vegas has a favorable remaining schedule, and there is once again hope for an unlikely playoff run.

Seattle, however, let down big time. The team has now lost consecutive games with a bye week in between and is much more akin to our perception of them before the season began. The Seahawks should rebound next week versus the Rams, but the concern is warranted moving forward. The seventh seed in the NFC is getting contentious.

Kansas City Chiefs 26 – Los Angeles Rams 10

Good Job, Good Effort

This was not the Chiefs’ best game. The offense struggled in the red zone. The defense allowed the Rams to sustain more offense than they deserved, and none of it mattered. The good guys still managed to cover the 15.5-point spread and continue to march atop the AFC. Kansas City can get away with marginal play against weak competition because their marginal is still elite. When needed, there is no doubt that the Chiefs will answer the call, as they have done so often in the past.

As to the Rams, I cannot recall a more disappointing reigning Super Bowl champion. Here’s hoping everything is OK with starting QB Matthew Stafford and that the Rams may play some competitive football down the stretch.

San Francisco 49ers 13 – New Orleans Saints 0

Can’t Buy the Niners

The 49ers won and covered the spread, but they were undoubtedly fortunate to do so. The Saints stalled twice deep in the 49ers’ red zone, and kicker Will Lutz missed a kick early on, which he usually would make. This game was closer than the shutout would suggest, and there was an avenue for New Orleans to win this game which they could not capitalize on. San Francisco has emerged as a trendy Super Bowl long shot, but I am not yet convinced. Their resume is marginal, and this result was less a reflection of their dominance than it was of New Orleans’ own errors. Don’t be reluctant to fade San Francisco at home in the future.

Philadelphia Eagles 40 – Green Bay Packers 33

The No.1 Seed

The Eagles beat the hell out of the Packers’ defense, and QB Jalen Hurts closed the gap on Patrick Mahomes in this year’s MVP race. Hurts accounted for 150+ yards both on the ground and through the air, and the Eagles’ offense as a whole accounted for 500 total yards en route to their 40-point night. When it’s all said and done, the Eagles will be the NFC’s top seed. The team has answers to any defense and has the personnel necessary to win it all.

Green Bay, however, is all but out of contention. 30-plus points of offense should be a sign of life, but the defense (run defense in particular) was so bad that it’s hard to swing that narrative. The organization has failed to build a competitive roster around QB Aaron Rodgers and may be forced to pivot to former first-round pick Jordan Love down the stretch.

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