This is one of the most intriguing weeks of the NFL season so far. As we head down the stretch to the playoffs there’s so much on the line, and really every game matters. Well, almost every game, because I don’t think we need to worry about what happens in Texans vs. Jets.
In any event, there are some huge stories to follow in Week 12, so here’s what I’ll be looking for.
How good are the Colts?
Indianapolis has become a serious dark horse team, and I promise that pun was not intended. It was a curious case where a playoff team from a year ago was largely written off because of Carson Wetnz, but outside of some clear gaffes Wentz has been really, really good this season.
Pair that with a breakout season from Jonathan Taylor, and now you have a dangerous offensive team with a solid defense and a division that is ripe for the taking considering Tennessee’s recent struggles.
Week 12 is a major litmus test for the Colts against the Buccaneers, who have been fairly inconsistent in recent weeks, but remain one of the best teams in the NFL. If Indianapolis can get a win here there really in potentially to ride it into the playoffs and become a very dangerous Wild Card team to face. I just want to see how they’ll fare.
Who wants it more between the Vikings and 49ers?
Both Minnesota and San Francisco are fighting for Wild Card sports, which makes their Week 12 matchup supremely interesting. It’s fairly easy to predict big things from either team, they just haven’t reached their full potential yet.
The 49ers are a really well coaches team without all the talent you’d like to see from a deep playoff run team. The Vikings have some of the best talent on paper in the league, but keep getting let down by coaching.
Of the two it’s a little easier to see a path to the playoffs for the Vikings, but that’s all moot without a win over the 49ers. Meanwhile the Niners are looking to become the third team in from the NFC West, showing the power of the conference is back again.
Is this it for the Browns?
Cleveland still has a mathematical way into the playoffs for sure, but Week 12 against the Ravens feels like a must-win. That’s a scary prospect if you’re a Browns fan. This is a divisional game, against one of the best teams in the conference, and Cleveland is coming off a narrow win over the Lions.
In order to find a way into the playoffs Cleveland HAS to win this one. Over the next month they play the Ravens twice, the Packers and the Bengals. All really tough games. Without winning all of those it’s tough to see a path in.
Are the Patriots ready to claim the AFC?
New England has been surging more than any other team in the NFL over the last six weeks, and now the Pats’ “rebuilding year” is starting to look like a serious threat for a Super Bowl. Everything is clicking for the Patriots, and Mac Jones is being given more freedom to work in the system.
This is such a scary team to face down the stretch, and their schedule is built to walk into the playoffs, with their most difficult games behind them. Week 12 is a tough one against the Titans, but a win could mean we start getting real buzz behind Bill Belichick once again.
I know I’m thinking ahead, but if he can somehow pull this off it’s probably going to go down as his best coaching performance since Tom Brady won the Super Bowl in 2002.
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