An Uneducated Take: Week 12

Playoff Picture in focus

by Three Point Stance Contributor Zack Couch | @ZackCouch

Another week down and the playoff picture is starting to take shape in the league.  I didn’t have the best week in picks as I went 3-2, bringing the season tally to 27-18.  I’m starting to think I should be betting more.  So, let’s dive into this week.

Anti-climactic crap
All week, the media hyped up the Houston-Baltimore matchup.  Stars of the future going head to head. First time Lamar and Watson have went up against each other since that epic game in Death Valley in 2016 that ended the Louisville Cardinals National Championship aspirations. Blah blah blah.  This was one of the most forgettable games of the season.  The Ravens did what they do.  Watson was mediocre against the Ravens defense and Lamar further makes the case for being MVP.

It seems like the Ravens defense might be getting lost in the Lamar MVP talk.  They gave up only seven points to a Texans team that average 24 points a game. And the seven points they gave up came on a long play after Baltimore was up 34-0.  They sacked Watson seven times, forced a fumble, and picked off Watson once.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  

At this moment, who can beat the Ravens?  I thought it could be the Saints or 49ers but they have both shown some flaws as of late while Baltimore seems to playing perfect.

NFC Playoff Logjam
All the top teams in the NFC held serve this past week as Minnesota and San Francisco had come from behind victories, New Orleans dispatched the Bucs, and Dallas beat a depleted Detroit team (only listing Dallas as a top team due to leading their division).  With just six games to go, the NFC has five teams at eight wins or more while the AFC only has two.  All five of those teams have a legitimate shot at being the number 1 seed.  Also, the wild card race could be intense.  Here’s a look at each team’s chances moving forward.

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys – They remain in the lead for the divisional crown, but are the least impressive division leader out there. So far this season, they are 1-3 against teams that are in the playoff hunt and still have four games to go against potential playoff teams.

Philadelphia Eagles – At this moment, they look like they have the best chance of winning their division at 5-5 and being one game back of the Cowboys.  They are 2-3 against potential playoff teams and only have two games left against those in the hunt.  Week 16 against the Cowboys will be like high noon.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers – So far, they are 5-1 this season against teams with a legitimate chance at the postseason.  Two key games remain on the schedule for them as they travel to San Francisco in Week 12 and Minnesota in Week 16.  Wins in both of these games could make the playoffs come through Lambeau.

Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings are 3-2 against potential playoff teams and are playing at an incredibly high level.  Week 13 at the Seahawks will be an important test moving down the stretch.  The crazy thing is, if they are able to win that and Week 16 against the Packers, they could end up being the #1 seed.

NFC South
New Orleans Saints – They have four games against potential playoff teams through the end of the season at the moment and are 3-1 against those in the hunt.  Key games left on the schedule for them are Week 12 against the Panthers and Week 14 against the 49ers.  If they are able to win their matchup with the Panthers, it would go a long way to knocking Carolina out of the playoff hunt and sealing up the division.

Carolina Panthers – This team is hanging on by a thread at the moment, but there is still a chance. They are 2-3 against teams in the hunt with four games left against those teams.  Week 12 against the Saints is a must win game so that they can stay in the playoff conversation.  If they are able to win that one, they get two winnable games against Washington and Atlanta followed by Seattle, Indianapolis and New Orleans in the last game of the season.  It’s incredibly unlikely, but if they are able to win all six, they could steal away the division crown.

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers – They have possibly the toughest schedule through the rest of the year.  They are 3-1 against teams with playoff aspirations and have five games against potential playoff teams moving forward. Four of those games are against teams with eight wins of more.  As good as they have been this season, current projections show this team getting the 5th seed and playing Dallas in Wild Card weekend.

Seattle Seahawks – They are 3-2 against potential playoff teams and have five games left against teams in the hunt. As of right now, they are the NFC West favorite due to the win in San Francisco, but this week’s road game against a Philadelphia team desperately needing a win could shake things up.

Los Angeles Rams – Yes, they are still in it technically. They are 2-3 against teams in the hunt and have four games against teams of this caliber.  Key games for them will be this week against the Ravens and Week 14 against the Seahawks.  If they are able to gets win in both of these games, it could give them a lot of momentum moving down the stretch.

Quick Takes
Dallas Cowboys – They had a game start at 1:00pm ET?!??!?!  This is the last one they will see until Week 17.

Maukice Pouncey – He is my nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year award.  

Bengals – They will not win a game this season.  It’s not happening.

Atlanta Falcons – They won two in a row?
Rams vs Bears on SNF – I watched a double feature of Babe and Toy Story 3 rather than subject myself to this garbage.

Vikings – Good win, but you had to come from behind at home against Denver.  Not a good look.

George Kittle – He is the number 1 receiving option for a 49ers team that is supposed to be a run first offense, yet his absence turns them into a pass first team?!?!?
Mark Ingram – Best hype man in the game.

Indianapolis Colts – Getting Jacoby Brissett back may have saved this team.

Cleveland Browns – They are still alive. Someway, somehow. They are still in the playoff hunt, you can’t call them a legitimate playoff contender.  At least not yet.

Detroit at Washington in Week 12 – Who would have thought you could pay $6 a ticket for a regular season NFL matchup?

Week 12 Look Ahead
Seven games this week with playoff implications. Let’s get at it.

Colts-Texans this week will go a long way to deciding who wins the AFC South. Houston opened at -5.5 and are currently sitting at -3.5.  I’d take the Colts on the money line.

The New Orleans Saints opened as a 7 point favorite against the Panthers and is now at -9.5 for the Saints.  I expect Carolina to cover in a close game.

The Eagles are sitting at -1.5 against the Seahawks for this week.  I would bet on Philly to cover as the Eagles need this win more than the Seahawks do.

The AFC Wild Card picture could start to come into focus or become more muddled depending on the outcome of the Jacksonville-Tennessee matchup. The line opened at Tennessee -2.5 and now sits at -3.  Jacksonville will win this game.

New England is sitting at -6.5 against the Cowboys after opening at -7.  New England will cover this easily.

Green Bay heads to San Francisco as a 3 point underdog and there’s no chance they cover.  San Francisco’s defensive line will punish Rogers as the 49ers will win by double digits.

The Rams host the Ravens on Monday night with Baltimore coming in as 3 point favorite.  I expect the Ravens to cover quite easily.

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