With 12 weeks completed, we are two thirds of the way through the 2021 NFL regular season and we are still waiting for contenders to emerge from the pack.
Just about every team comes with a “yeah but…” when assessing their Super Bowl chances which can make picking games a nightmare for punters and prognosticators alike.
The Friday triple header produced a pair of close finishes as Chicago and Vegas won on walk-off field goals before more than half of the Monday games finished with a margin of one score.
We are ready to recap all of the NFL Week 12 action below.
1 – Nobody Has Been Officially Eliminated… Yet
With six weeks remaining in the regular season, the phrase “mathematically possible” will become an increasingly popular phrase for certain teams.
Technically, all 32 teams can describe their playoff chances as “mathematically possible” or better.
That’s right, even the 0-10-1 Lions have a very slim path to postseason football… not that you would back them because it’s still the Lions and when have they ever had something go their way?
Maybe it is a case of recency bias, or maybe it is actually the situation, but the 2021 NFL season feels like more of a week-to-week proposition than ever before.
It makes crossing off any team a risky proposition, even if their sample size to date is not exactly convincing.
In the NFC the 4-7 Giants and Bears are only one game behind seventh seeded Minnesota after both teams picked up much needed wins in Week 12.
As a completely unrelated aside, the Giants should go to these uniforms full time, they are top five in the NFL.
But as for their playoff hopes, neither team has shown anything to make you think they are going on a run to leapfrog the teams ahead of them.
But if you are into storyline betting, now might be time to pick your fast finisher.
2 – Home Field Advantage Finally Meant Something
You would not have tipped it based on the Thanksgiving triple header, but home teams won the week for the first time in over a month.
In the Monday slate of games, home teams won and covered in nine of the 11 contests with only Houston losing to the Jets and Indianapolis losing to Tampa Bay, neither of which were huge surprises.
Even though the struggles of home teams have been well documented, we could see a turn in fortunes over the final month of the season.
The crowds will get more rowdy for the meaningful games as their teams chase a playoff berth and the weather will turn in the northern cities like Buffalo.
Week 13’s biggest game is unquestionably the AFC East clash between Buffalo and New England which promises to be a top quality encounter.
The Bills have gone 3-2 head to head and against the spread this season, losing their last home game to Indianapolis while the Patriots are unbeaten on their travels, only failing to cover in Week 5 in Houston.
3 – Dallas has Nothing To Complain About
It was another frustrating Thanksgiving for Jerry Jones as he watched his team drop another holiday special, making it five losses in the last seven years.
There were 28 penalties between the Cowboys and Raiders with both teams committing 14 apiece and looking at the ones called on the home team, it’s not like they were line calls that went against them.
Regular readers of this series will know that Dallas’ propensity to make stupid mistakes at the worst possible time are why they will not be taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender.
Add in an injury crisis at receiver and a hot and cold defence and it all makes for a team that could be left frustrated in the postseason once again.
How can they keep getting torched like this?
That is if they make it, defeat here opened up the NFC East with Philadelphia continuing to surge and now it becomes more important for Dallas to look over its shoulder at the chasing pack instead of trying to battle for the conference’s top seed.
4 – Taysom Hill’s Injury Must Be Worse Than Anyone Knows
That is the only reason the Saints have not gone to the guy they just signed to a four year extension.
There was no need to rush him back with Jameis Winston was performing admirably in the starting role, but Trevor Siemian is just not that good.
He was active for the Thanksgiving debacle as an emergency backup and apparently Siemian’s 17/29 for 163 yards with a touchdown and an interception did not rise to the level of “emergency” even though it probably should have.
It says a lot that they are willing to commit this much money to a guy who still doesn’t have a clear best position.
Considering he has been predominantly a gadget player in his career so far, you have to wonder why he has not been able to make the step up into a more regular role with the team needing a spark.
When he is cleared to play, he will surely be an upgrade over Siemian, so let’s see why the Saints are willing to commit money to him.
5 – Cincinnati’s Bye Week Worked Wonders
There was plenty of preseason hype for an NFL team in Ohio… just not the right one.
Cincinnati appears destined for its first playoff berth since 2015 and may wind up taking out the AFC North if they can continue to play at the level they have in the last fortnight.
After Week 7, the Bengals were the AFC’s top seed before back to back losses at the hands of the Jets and Cleveland knocked them out of the in progress playoff picture entirely.
Since their weekend off however, they have looked like the side that blasted the Baltimore Ravens 41-17.
Last week’s 32-13 win in Las Vegas was impressive, but this week’s 41-10 demolition of Pittsburgh served notice that they are for real.
It was a win that used every facet of the team from the quarterback’s legs.
The quarterback’s right arm.
Joe Mixon’s legs.
And even the defence.
Plus a little bit of creativity to get out of bad situations.
Mixon was the star of the show, rumbling for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries but it is hardly a one-man effort.
In terms of overall level of production, the Bengals might be the most complete team in the NFL… this week at least.