5 NFL Teams That Will Definitely Lose in Week 12
NFL Regular Season Week 12
Week 12 Bye Teams: Buffalo Bill, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks
Much like that one continental holiday that you’ve waited all year for, the NFL regular season is positively flying by.
The league is taking shape and evolving on a weekly basis whilst all eyes turn toward the all-important postseason picture that ultimately acts as the judge, jury and executioner where our 32 respective teams are concerned.
With just six weeks to go until business really picks up, some teams are living up to our early expectations. The Seattle Seahawks were widely tipped to be outside contenders this year after coming on leaps and bounds in 2012; Pete Carroll’s men are heading into a well-earned break after winning 10 of their 11 games this season and are sitting pretty atop the NFC.
There was many-a-pundit and experts that chalked in the Denver Broncos as opposition for the Seahawks in a retrospective preseason Super Bowl outlook, and Peyton Manning and company have reinforced those premature musings. The Broncos overcame the potential banana skin that was their undefeated divisional rivals Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11, allowing head coach John Fox a sense of pride as he watched his team reclaim the top spot in the AFC whilst in recovery from heart surgery; we of course wish him all the very best.
Aside from the Broncos and Chiefs making noises out West, the remainder of the AFC picture is as tight as the proverbial ducks backside. The leaders of all three remaining divisions each have seven wins this season, creating an interesting race for that much-vaunted first-round playoff bye. This is where things really start to get interesting; assuming that the inevitable occurs and the fifth place spot in the AFC postseason comes out of the West, we are left with nine teams competing for that final Wild Card place. Just to stoke the fires even more, the nine viable candidates are separated by just a single game as things stand, making for a tense finale as we move into the business end of the season. Such is the strength — or lack of, depending on which way you look at it — competition in the AFC, there are only two teams (Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars) who cannot stake a realistic claim for postseason glory after 11 weeks of football.
Some of you may think this is absurd, but those two aforementioned teams that are scraping the barrel in the AFC with just three wins between them, do not make the list of five teams most likely to lose this week — this may have something to do with the fact they are playing each other. Nevertheless, we've thought outside the box a little for Week 12, that and slating the Jacksonville Jaguars is one of the most tiresome topics of not only this season, but many before it.
Stay tuned for five teams, for differing reasons and by calculated judgement, that are on a hiding to nothing in Week 12 of the NFL regular season.
Atlanta Falcons (vs. New Orleans Saints)
We shall begin, fitting, at the beginning.
The Georgia Dome is the setting for Thursday Night Football as the NFL week opens up with the hometown Atlanta Falcons hosting their divisional rivals and NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints.
With seasonal records that perfectly mirror each other, the contest holds little hold for the 2-8 Falcons against the 8-2 Saints. If the season ended today, Sean Payton's Saints would have a first-round bye heading into the playoffs whilst last year's No. 1 team in the NFC find themselves with the joint-worst record in the conference.
For a true insight into this matchup, look no further than last week; whilst the Saints competed on both sides of the ball to topple their NFC playoff rivals San Francisco 49ers, the Falcons flopped on the road allowing the lowly Buccaneers just their second win of the season and their highest points total in a single game since Week 9 of last season.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith will be forgiven for leaning on the injury excuse a little more than most; their ground game has been nonexistent due to the sporadic influence of Steven Jackson, whilst any team in the league would have felt the pinch of having Julio Jones moved to injured reserve.
When it comes to a transformation on defense, what a difference a year makes. Under the new leadership of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Saints have jumped from the bottom-ranked total defense in 2012 up to the distinction of fourth-overall this season. This significant hike makes the Saints the statistically the most-balanced team in the the league this season as they are set to unleash their offense which ranks second overall on the Falcons 26th-ranked defense.
Oh, and has it been mentioned that the Saints are 6-0 against NFC opponents this season and 2-0 against their divisional rivals? The Falcons are finished for the season and the clock is ticking on Mike Smith's time in the Big Peach.
Minnesota Vikings (at Green Bay Packers)
2013 has been a major comedown for the Minnesota Vikings after the over achievement of their playoff venture one season ago.
Eleven weeks into the season and the stat lines make for grim reading for Vikings fans: they are bottom of the NFC North, carrying the joint-worst seasonal record in the NFC and have the second-worst net points (-80) on the season so far.
The Vikings wouldn't go down quietly in Week 11 putting up an admirable 20 points on the road against the Seattle Seahawks in what is arguably the toughest stadium for visiting teams to operate in. Unfortunately, the Vikings' defense is as penetrable as a wet paper bag and allowed 41 points to come the other way as they dropped to 0-5 away from home in 2013. Their match-up with the Green Bay Packers in Week 12 is a double-edged sword; not only are the Vikings winless on the road, the fact that they are 0-3 in divisional games this season is another burden for this Sunday's showdown at Lambeau Field.
The Packers aren't having it all their own way either this season either. They fell to 5-5 with a third defeat in a row against the New York Giants last week, looking lost in the absence of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers had originally targeted this contest for his return from a shoulder injury, though he has since been ruled out for at least another week.
That being said, despite his three interceptions in Week 11, stand-in quarterback Scott Tolzien showed enough competency to suggest he can pick holes in the league's 30th-ranked defense. Tolzien passed for 339 yards against a much-improved Giants secondary, building his rapport with the likes of Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin for over 200 combined receiving yards. In addition, Tolzien also has rookie running back sensation Eddie Lacy to lean on who will be salivating at the prospect of facing a Vikings defense that gave up three touchdowns to Marshawn Lynch in Week 11.
The Vikings have lost four-straight on the road in Green Bay, all things considered, it's difficult to see them halting that skid in 2013.
San Diego Chargers (at Kansas City Chiefs)
The San Diego Chargers find themselves setting a precedent for the 2013 season as the first team to oppose the Kansas City Chiefs following a loss.
Though it was far from detrimental to their stellar season, the Chiefs will undoubtedly be stinging after collecting their first loss and relinquishing control of the AFC West to the Denver Broncos. Head Coach Andy Reid will take solace in the fact that his Chiefs weren't blown out of the game at Mile High and will have this home tie against another divisional rival chalked in as the perfect opportunity to flex their muscles as the eyes of the league await their response.
The Chargers surprised us with a competent start to the season, though, the honeymoon period is well and truly over for Mike McCoy as they've fallen to 4-6 and the bottom of the AFC West following three-straight losses. The Chargers are 0-2 against the division this season as they head into their first of two meetings with the Chiefs.
One interesting mini-battle you might want to keep an eye on is the Chargers' offensive line which has allowed the fourth-fewest sacks on their quarterback this season, going up against a revered Chiefs pass rush that has recorded the second-highest team sacks total of 2013.
The Chiefs have been far from spectacular through their nine wins this season and will have to guard against a Chargers offense that has put up the seventh-highest total yardage in games this season. Don't expect a huge score in this one, but a Chiefs team fueled by the hurt of the previous week will get back on track and could possibly regain the top spot in the division if the New England Patriots do their bit in the late game this Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys (at New York Giants)
The bye week is traditionally supposed to be a time for relaxation, a time to kick back and enjoy watching everyone else go to work. There was no such chance for the Cowboys in Week 11 as they sat at home cursing their luck as they watched the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles emerge victorious from their respective matches.
The Eagles leapfrogged the Cowboys into first place in the NFC East with a convincing win over the Washington Redskins, whilst the Giants closed the gap to within one game after toppling the Green Bay Packers at Metlife Stadium.
I don't know whether it's ever come to light, but the Tony Romo-led Cowboys tend not to cope in tight, high-pressure situations very well; you will of course detect the complete irony in my tone. A humbling 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints was hardly the ideal way to enter their bye week, and the Cowboys remain in search of an identity in what, just a few short weeks ago, was their division to lose.
They travel to Metlife Stadium on Sunday afternoon for their annual road tie against the New York Giants in an arena that has served up mixed fortunes; the Cowboys have won two of their three meetings in the league's newest arena but lost famously on New Years Day in 2012 in a winner-takes-all contest to close the 2011 regular season.
After beginning the season in comical fashion, Tom Coughlin's Giants have transformed to 4-6 with four-straight victories that has snapping at the heels of their divisional rivals. The Giants defense that had allowed 30-plus-points in their opening five games of the season, have conceded less than 12 points per game on their win streak and have elevated into 11th place in the overall rankings.
A Giants offense that is much-improved with the return of their ground game thanks to RB Andre Brown, have the perfect opportunity to build on their good work in Week 11 against a Cowboys defense that ranks dead-least in the NFL.
The Giants have been efficient if not spectacular during their four wins this season, though they are breeding confidence and momentum through that efficiency and nothing would bring more satisfaction than to extend their streak to five games with victory over the Cowboys.
Cue the annual cracking up of Jerry Jones' franchise.
Baltimore Ravens (vs. New York Jets)
The Ravens return to the solitude of their home surroundings after a turbulent road game against the Chicago Bears last time out.
After a tornado warning and severe weather took its tole on Soldier Field, if a game that spanned over five hours was not enough to deflate the Baltimore Ravens, the fact they lost in overtime surely will. In a game that was far from aesthetically pleasing, the Ray Rice-inspired Ravens took a 10-0 lead into the storm before rescuing the game late in the fourth quarter on the boot of Justin Tucker. The defeat leaves John Harbaugh's world champions as one-of-three teams at 4-6 in the AFC North and three games behind the divisional leaders as the Super Bowl hangover lingers on.
The Jekyll-and-Hyde New York Jets were a mess in Week 11 as they were humbled 37-14 against their divisional rival Buffalo Bills, in a mistake-laden contest that saw quarterback Geno Smith benched for the first time this season. His replacement Matt Simms did his chances of a first start no harm by completing four-of-six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, though the damage was done long before he entered the field as the Jets turned the ball over four times and missed a field goal.
The Ravens are 3-1 at home and the Jets 1-4 on the road, despite their recent woes why on earth am I picking Gang Green in this one? This is effectively what the Jets do and what they have been doing all season. Unless you are one of the many baffled Jets fans you may missed the fact that they have a perfect W-L streak forming this season; every win in which they appear to be the real deal has been followed directly with a calamitous loss, or the other way around depending on how you want to look at it.
Rex Ryan and his Jets operate most effectively as considerable underdogs, a tag which hangs around their neck in Week 12. The same team that has battled so courageously to victory over the Patriots, Falcons and Saints this season, has also flopped against the Bills, Titans and Steelers (who had just one win at the time).
By the law of sporting patterns, a loss in Week 11 for the Jets means only one thing for Week 12. Prepare to be amazed this week as the Jets defy the odds once more and leave M&T Bank Stadium with an unlikely victory.
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