NFL Week Twelve After Action Report (AAR)
There were some upsets, a surprise showing from Brett Hundley and Green Bay, another brawl initiated by Crabtree and Aqib Talib, and more quarterback shenanigans than anyone really wants to watch, but at least Tom Savage is good.
Tennessee Titans (6-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-7); Line: Titans by 3
Prediction: Titans 20, Colts 17
Outcome: Titans 20, Colts 16
Did they cover? Titans covered
I predicted a 20-17 victory for the Titans and they won 20-16; not bad. As I mentioned on Sunday, the Titans had never won a game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Not sure if that would have swayed me, but I’m surprised I didn’t uncover that gem in my research on this game. In keeping with recent trends, the Titans were able to apply pressure throughout the game sacking Brissett eight times and forcing a fumble. With neither team coming close to 300 yards of total offense, this contest was about as vanilla as it gets so let’s move on.
Carolina Panthers (7-3) @ New York Jets (4-6); Line: Panthers by 5
Prediction: Panthers 17, Jets 13
Outcome: Panthers 35, Jets 27
Did they cover? Panthers covered
I forecasted a Carolina victory, but I expected to see the teams combine for 27 points, but the Jets hit that mark all by themselves. Defensive and special teams touchdowns saved the day for the Panthers however, as Cam struggled to throw the ball with any accuracy. Carolina was stout against the run, but allowed two 100-yard receivers (Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse) in making Josh McCown look like 2004 Peyton Manning. The Jets are going nowhere and probably don’t have another win on their schedule, but, as I mentioned, they are still playing hard. Carolina on the other hand finds itself tied for first place in the NFC South with a trip to the Big Easy looming. The early line has the Panthers as a slight underdog so I can’t wait to see how that plays out. Remember when the 0-2 Saints went to Charlotte back in Week 3 and absolutely manhandled the 2-0 Panthers on their home field? Looks a lot different 2 months later, doesn’t it?
New Orleans Saints (8-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (7-3); Line: Rams by 2.5
Prediction: Saints 31, Rams 21
Outcome: Saints 20, Rams 26
Did they cover? Rams covered
Speaking of the Saints, I should have gone with my gut instead of my research in this game. The Saints couldn’t keep winning forever and the Rams weren’t going to leave the door open for Seattle by losing two straight weeks. I really thought New Orleans would wear the Rams out with their rushing attack, but, other than a 74 yard run by Kamara, the Saints weren’t able to get anything going on the ground. Goff took advantage of Marshon Lattimore’s absence and the Rams bounced back in a convincing way. In a weekend that featured a lot of bad matchups and bad football, this game felt like a playoff game which was nice. Speaking of the playoffs, between now and Christmas we get to see the Rams play three teams in serious playoff contention—Seattle, Philly, and Tennessee. Bring on December football!!!!
Week Twelve Accuracy: 2-1
Overall Accuracy: 21-7
Green Bay Packers (5-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2); Line: Steelers by 15
Prediction: Steelers 28, Packers 14
Outcome: Steelers 31, Packers 28
Did they cover? Steelers did not cover
Over the last month Mike McCarthy has stuck by Brett Hundley and for the first time Hundley has shown why he’s got the support of his head coach. To the shock of many around the league, including myself, he actually looked like a quarterback for the most part on Sunday night. Just going by the numbers, he was efficient throwing the ball with a 65 percent completion percentage for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He avoided throwing an interception to a top-10 defense and he was able to engineer a fourth quarter drive to tie the game up at 28 all.
Strong numbers, but no, Chris Collinsworth, they’re not of a level with Aaron Rodgers and I still see plenty of room for improvement. Hundley still gives up too many sacks on key possessions, a persistent problem from his college days, and he’s only been able to connect with Davante Adams. Jordy Nelson has largely been a nonfactor in these games because Hundley doesn’t have the ability to throw receivers open, a must at the NFL level, and while they don’t show up on paper, these errors contributed to the Packers inability to capitalize on the Steeler’s turnovers. The Packers defense showed up in a big way creating three turnovers and the Packer offense wasn’t able to blow this game wide open despite the short field opportunities. If the defense hadn’t created these opportunities, we’re likely looking at a far different score line.
The Steelers defense looked vulnerable in this matchup and played some sloppy football. Pittsburgh committed several key penalties to give the Packers more chances but the Packers only had four quality drives the whole night. Their quality drives ended with a score but they’ll be disappointed with the many three and out situations they left on the field. All this is to say, there are improves and sustains to take away from this game, Hundley certainly improved over his previous performances, and he did a good job of stepping up in the pocket instead of scrambling out the back. We’ll see if he can replicate this performance next week, but I don’t think this is a sudden reversal of fortunes for the Packers.
Buffalo Bills (5-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4); Line: Chiefs by 10.5
Prediction: Bills 21, Chiefs 28
Outcome: Bills 16, Chiefs 10
Did they cover? Chiefs did not cover
The Chiefs have struggled lately and for some reason that means Alex Smith needs to go. He’s completing nearly 69 percent of his passes on the year, he has almost 3,000 yards, 19 touchdowns to four interceptions, and a 104.5 quarterback rating through 11 games. Yes, he’s not been fantastic in the last couple of weeks, but Kansas City fans apparently would rather have a 22-year-old unproven rookie who didn’t have a winning record in college, 13 and 16 for those wondering, who’s never run a west coast-style offense, let alone the textbook sized, hyper-cerebral version Andy Reid coaches.
Or maybe these same fans would rather see a veteran quarterback fresh off the street, hmm, slim pickings… how about Colin Kaepernick? I’d go over his last season stats with the 49ers, but I’m pretty sure folks get the point. The Chiefs are in a tailspin but this isn’t an Alex Smith problem. The mainstream media and even local media outlets have apparently jumped on the bandwagon, probably for clicks, but I’m flabbergasted as to why anyone would call for this guy to step aside. Losses to the Giants and Bills in back-to-back weeks are tough, but they speak to problems larger than the quarterback. If there’s a gripe, it’s with Andy and no one else.
Oh, and kudos to the Bills defense. They’ve been hit or miss this season but no one should be surprised at their ability to show up. They’ve put up quality performances against two former MVPs in Cam Newton and Matt Ryan, and last year’s golden child, Derek Carr. Their consistency has certainly been an issue in recent weeks, but you can’t sleep on many teams in this league, certainly not the Bills.
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6); Line: Jags by 5.5
Prediction: Jaguars 21, Cardinals 14
Outcome: Jaguars 24, Cardinals 27
Did they cover? Jags did not cover
Does Blaine Gabbert have an ax to grind with Jacksonville? I don’t think there are any hard feelings but he came away with the win this weekend. I had Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette as question marks heading into this one and that turned out to be the case. Fournette was ineffective in the run game, particularly when asked to run out of the shotgun, and Bortles underwhelmed with 160 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. This team hasn’t asked for much from their quarterback, but performances like these aren’t enough to manage them to a win.
It wasn’t all roses on the defensive side of the ball either, they didn’t generate pressure like they normally do and Adrian Peterson was able to grind out yards against this usually dominant defensive line. Despite the up and down performance from the Jaguars they still played this one close, but they’ll have a chance to make some adjustments before they face off with a Colts team they’ve already shutout once this season.
Week Twelve Accuracy: 1-2
Overall Accuracy: 16-12