Monday, November 28, 2016

NFL Week Twelve Changes Everything

And suddenly the NFL season is becoming what a lot of people thought would not happen when thirteen teams were 1-3 and it appeared the same teams were going to make the playoffs yet again. Thanksgiving weekend left a lot of thanks for a lot of teams to give.

The New England Patriots became the first team born in the American Football League to reach 500 franchise wins - and did so against the franchise against whom in September 1960 that got their first win.

In that process Tom Brady tied Peyton Manning for most career wins at 200, and did so in vintage clutch matter.

While the Patriots still lead the AFC East at 9-2, that lead is no longer comfortable, nor is the top seed in the AFC secure; the AFC South is now in flux as well, because....................

The Miami Dolphins clawed to a 31-24 lead and needed a goalline stand to win the game against a 49ers team that's 1-9 yet now playing better, despite the poor quarterbacking quality and worse intellectual views of Colin Kaepernick, who insulted Miami's Cuban community by supporting the late unlamented Cuban dictator and Soviet-era stooge Fidel Castro.   

Meanwhile the Tennessee Titans raced to a 21-7 lead at the Bears and led 27-21 late, but they too needed a goalline stand to win the game.   They are now 6-6 and within striking range of the AFC South with yet another poor performance by Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans. 

The Dolphins are now the six seed in the AFC playoffs, because........

The Denver Broncos fell in one of the bitterest grinders of a game they've had in years against the Kansas City Chiefs.    Trevor Siemian exploded with two huge touchdowns in the second half, but Alex Smith stormed down in the final minutes and nailed a controversial late touchdown, then a two-point conversion that forced overtime.   The exchange of field goals led to a missed 62-yarder by the Broncos.................

..........then the Chiefs pulled off the most preposterous field goal in years for the 30-27 win.  

The Broncos thus fell out of the playoffs at 7-4 on the conference tiebreaker with the Dolphins.  

The Oakland Raiders secured their first winning season since their 2002 Superbowl season and did it in one of the wildest games of the year.   The Raiders won despite blowing a 17-point lead; they trailed by eight late, tied the game, booted a go-ahead field goal, then stopped Cam Newton hard.   They nonetheless fell to the #2 seed in the AFC on the conference record tiebreaker with the Patriots.

Meanwhile the Bucs have clawed into potential playoff contention while puncturing the myth of Seahawks invincibility - the Seahawks have now failed to win in four road games, this even though nobody could score once the two teams it 14-5.    Alterraun Verner picked off Russell Wilson, an especially bittersweet moment for him given tragedy that befell him days earlier.  

The Bills are also still in playoff contention after a spirited duel with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So the net result of all this is shown below -


#1 New England Patriots - East
#2 Oakland Raiders - West 

#3 Baltimore Ravens - North, vs. #6 Miami Dolphins
#4 Houston Texans - South, vs. #5 Kansas City Chiefs


Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans


#1 Dallas Cowboys - East
#2 Seattle Seahawks - West

#3 Detroit Lions - North, vs. #6 Washington Redskins
#4 Atlanta Falcons - South, vs. #5 New York Giants


Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings

And looking at this list, the Titans look good enough to steal the AFC South; the Steelers and Bills are too uneven; the Broncos are still tough but no longer the juggernaut thought of them - while the Vikings no longer look like a playoff team.  

There are still five games left so the season is yet again subject to revision, but it also looks like a lot of teams are going to light up the scoreboard in that process.

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