WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL WEEK 12
BY ADAM GREENE
This week saw some good teams take some big tumbles, but there’s still plenty of games to play. In fact…
WEEK 12 ISN’T EVEN OVER
Yeah. How stupid is that? I’m writing the wrap up article for a week of the NFL season that still has a game to be played thanks to the Baltimore Ravens’ players and staff tongue kissing every toilet seat within the Province of Maryland.
I’m talking everywhere from Towson to La Plata to Ellicott City. From Upper Marlboro to Princess Anne to Snow Hill, not a single toilet seat has gone without a solid example of French-style mouth love from each and every member of the Baltimore Ravens organization. Yes, even Leonardtown. ESPECIALLY Leonardtown.
But we’re still playing this game, as the NFL has done everything in its power not to rob the Pittsburgh Steelers of their Week 12 match up. So now we get Wednesday Afternoon Football, because NBC, the broadcasting station, needs the game to wrap up before they light that pathetic disaster of a Christmas Tree they dumped off at Rockefeller Center a few weeks ago.
Baltimore had two more positive COVID-19 cases Tuesday, but still boarded the plane to Pittsburgh to bring their Typhoid Mary Tribute tour to Western Pennsylvania. Supposedly the two positive results were “not unexpected and not a concern for the game,” so I assume they’ve started putting trackers on every bidet and squatty potty within a 200 mile radius of M&T Bank Stadium.
If you’re wondering why this game was pushed around like Hector Salamanca looking for a fresh pudding cup when the Denver Broncos were forced to take the field with a guy they just pulled from the local Fudrucker’s grill at quarterback, here’s why; The Broncos weren’t a danger to any other team. They just screwed themselves, or specifically, their QB room did.
The Ravens have been nothing short of a patient zero for a week and to play this game any earlier would have possibly caused multiple infections on the Steelers’ roster. And that’s a potential Super Bowl team over there. No one wants that.
There was also talk of a Baltimore forfeit, which could still be on the table. While that would go down as a “win” for Pittsburgh, none of their players would get paid. The players, as you can imagine, are against that scenario.
So we’re playing a game and the Ravens’ playoff hopes now rest in the hands of Robert Griffith III for at least the next two weeks.
THE RAMS WILL GO AS FAR AS JARED GOFF CAN TAKE THEM
While that might sound like a “sky is falling” statement for the Los Angeles Rams, it’s not. While Rams fans and media are down on their quarterback, even going as far as asking head coach Sean McVay if he considered benching him, there’s no reason to panic just yet.
Goff is capable of elite performances and, by my account, has had three this year; a 37-19 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, a 30-10 victory over the Washington Football Team and a 35-32 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Now, those two wins aren’t over quality opponents, but those are also not LA’s only victories. No, the Rams have won five more games outside of those with Goff being average to above average and they’ve come against playoff caliber opponents like the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If Goff plays OK, Los Angeles’ defense is good enough to beat anyone. If they can get a great game out of him, they can beat everyone. All the QB has to do is protect the football. Which is why McVay has stressed that this week and put the blame of last week’s 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers directly on Goff’s butterfingers. In his last four starts, Goff has turned the ball over 10 times.
Jared Goff doesn’t have to be a Top 10 quarterback for the Rams to go to the Super Bowl in a wide open NFC. He has to be a Top 15 QB and not serve the ball up on a silver platter with a side salad and loaded baked potato.
A PLAYOFF LOOK
In spite of the fact that the Steelers and Ravens haven’t played, I’m going to go out on a limb here and look at the current playoff standings as if an 11-0 Pittsburgh squad can defeat a Baltimore team missing around 11 starters including their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, and his best weapon in the passing game, tight end Mark Andrews.
In the AFC, the Steelers still lead the way as the No. 1 seed, with the Kansas City Chiefs at two, the Tennessee Titans at three and the Buffalo Bills slipping to No. 4. The top Wild Card spot now belongs to the Cleveland Browns. The Miami Dolphins are the sixth seed and the Indianapolis Colts are the seven.
The Ravens and the Las Vegas Raiders are currently outside looking in.
In the NFC, the New Orleans Saints remain the No. 1 seed and the Seattle Seahawks have taken over No. 2 after the Rams’ loss Sunday. The Green Bay Packers are third and the New York Giants are No. 4. The aforementioned squad from LA is now the fifth seed, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are six and the Arizona Cardinals are seven.
That means our opening playoff round would look like this:
Colts at Chiefs
Dolphins at Titans
Browns at Bills
Cardinals at Seahawks
Buccaneers at Packers
Rams at Giants
Short of the wheels completely coming off the Rams, Seahawks or Bucs, the only realistic change to the NFC bracket would be the Bears or 49ers sneaking in over Arizona. Which is possible. The Cards have a tough contest against an angry LA team Sunday.
In the AFC, this week sees a key match up between the Titans and Browns that could shake things up. Jackson’s absence could very well cost Baltimore a chance at a Wild Card, but they do host the Cowboys next Tuesday night. The Colts must knock off the Houston Texans to hold onto their spot and, I hate to write it, but the New England Patriots are still lurking in the background until they’re not.