All In The Cards: Week 12 Recap and Ranking Every Team By Category

Welcome to the Week 12 NFL recap! We are entering the final month of the season so that means it’s time for the NFL Playoff Machine! It also means that by now most teams have fallen into a particular category and this week I will designate which category every team falls under. In addition I’ll have my takes on last week’s games but they will be a little shorter this time. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Let’s see which category each team falls under with a month to go:

The Super Bowl Contenders: Carolina Panthers (11-0), New England Patriots (10-1), Arizona Cardinals (9-2), Denver Broncos (9-2), Cincinnati Bengals (9-2).

Obviously these aren’t the only teams that can win the Super Bowl (after all we have quite a few examples of fringe playoff teams getting hot over the last month and riding that momentum to a title), but right now I think no one would be surprised if any of these five teams hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in February. I thought about giving the Panthers their own spot as they are the only undefeated team left, but perfect season or not their goal is still to win the Super Bowl. I do think that they have become the favorite thanks to all of the Patriots’ injuries but they are not a lock by any means. The Cardinals will want revenge for losing to the Panthers in last year’s playoffs while the Patriots and the Bengals have offenses capable of overcoming Carolina’s defense and the Broncos have a defense capable of shutting down Cam Newton.

Want A Little More Than Just Make Playoffs: Minnesota Vikings (8-3), Green Bay Packers (7-4), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5), Seattle Seahawks (6-5), Indianapolis Colts (6-5), Kansas City Chiefs (6-5).

These are teams who will not be satisfied with just making the playoffs. If there is a “hot playoff team” this season, it will probably come from this group with the Seahawks and the Steelers as the likely suspects. The Vikings are here and not in the contenders group for the time being, but could easily jump if they beat the Seahawks this week and either beat or come close to beating the Cardinals next week. The Packers are also a team that could jump up but they have been so unimpressive the last few weeks I don’t think you can call them contenders at the moment. The Chiefs are currently the hot team but I wonder if they might have peaked a few weeks too early and will cool off by the start of the playoffs. The Colts are only in this group because they are still placing high expectations on themselves even though those expectations seem a little unrealistic at the moment.

Just Happy If They Make The Playoffs: Atlanta Falcons (6-5), Houston Texans (6-5), New York Jets (6-5), Chicago Bears (5-6), Buffalo Bills (5-6), New York Giants (5-6), Washington Redskins (5-6).

In college basketball this group would be called the “bubble”. At least one of these teams will make the playoffs (because the rules state someone has to win the NFC East) but there is a possibility that two or even three could play in January. What separates these teams from the group above is that there are no expectations if they make the playoffs. The Texans and Bears have turned things around and can already consider this season a success as long as they don’t self-combust over the last few weeks. The playoffs would just be icing on the cake for them. The Jets and the Bills want to make the playoffs just so they can start off their new coaching regimes with some promise for the future. The Falcons want to make the playoffs just so they don’t become one of the few teams in NFL history to start 5-0 and miss the playoffs. The Redskins just want to make their fans proud of them again and winning the division, and subsequently making the playoffs, would be the best way to do that. Finally, while you can never count out Eli Manning in the postseason, I’m pretty sure that Giants’ fans know that expecting more than a playoff berth would be asking for too much from this team.

Teams Trying To End The Season With Some Momentum: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6), Oakland Raiders (5-6), Detroit Lions (4-7), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7), San Diego Chargers (3-8).

While the Buccaneers, Raiders, and Lions all still have an outside shot of winning a wild card spot, I placed them in this category because they also still have a chance at a top-10 draft pick if they tank the rest of the season. Honestly, either direction would help the team in the long run but they need to decide now before they go 7-9 and miss out on both. The Jaguars and Chargers on the other hand would actually benefit from finishing 7-9 or 8-8 so they can gain momentum going into next season, where they would have a shot to take a step forward.

Want Nightmare Season Just To End: New Orleans Saints (4-7), Miami Dolphins (4-7), St. Louis Rams (4-7), Baltimore Ravens (4-7), Philadelphia Eagles (4-7), Dallas Cowboys (3-8).

While all of these teams theoretically still have a chance to make the playoffs, all are very unlikely to be in contention much longer due to the turmoil that is currently surrounding them. The Ravens and the Cowboys are actually decent teams that in a parallel world where they avoided injuries and bad luck would be in the thick of the playoff race. The Saints and the Rams are on the fence as to whether or not they should blow things up and start rebuilding. The Dolphins are doing their best not to have to rebuild by getting rid of coaches left and right. Then we have Philadelphia. The Eagles shouldn’t be in this category as they are only one game behind the Redskins and the Giants in the NFC East race. With neither of those teams likely to run the table, the Eagles still have plenty of chances to make up the deficit and win the division. That is, if they hadn’t imploded these past two weeks. I don’t see how they turn things around after just allowing 10 passing touchdowns to Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford back-to-back. In fact, I’d be surprised if they win another game this season. Even if this team somehow wins the division, I doubt this season would still be considered anything else than a failure unless they won a playoff game.

Fighting For Draft Position: San Francisco 49ers (3-8), Tennessee Titans (2-9), Cleveland Browns (2-9).

The difference between these three teams (since technically they aren’t yet eliminated from playoff contention) and the ones above is that the expectations for these teams were considerably lower heading into the season, making these situations nowhere near as dire. I know some may argue that the 49ers are a proud organization and so this should be considered a nightmare season for San Francisco, but everyone else knew this team would stink this season. You could also make an argument for the Titans and Browns, stating they will probably have to start over after this season. However, neither was expected to do anything this season so a rebuild was always possible from the beginning. There’s a chance that some other team earns the first overall pick, but right now these three teams are the leaders.

How I Did With My Week 12 NFL Predictions:

  • Arizona 19, San Francisco 13: This was maybe the worst officiated game I have ever seen. People have been talking about the terrible “roughing the passer “call on Quinton Dial’s sack of Carson Palmer and how the Cardinals weren’t penalized for snapping the ball after the play clock expired, but there were some equally horrendous call that went against Arizona. The referees called the 49ers’ “too many men on the field” penalty as a live ball foul and cost the Cardinals a down in the redzone and on another play an incomplete pass was ruled as “illegal touching” because they thought the receiver caught it with two feet in-bounds and you can’t review penalties. (1-0)
  • Detroit 45, Philadelphia 14: I actually thought the Lions might obliterate the Eagles but I didn’t have the guts to make the prediction last week. Now that I know that the Eagles’ defense has checked out, I won’t be afraid to make this prediction in the future. (2-0)
  • Carolina 33, Dallas 14: Maybe it’s for the best that Tony Romo got injured again so the Cowboys can tank the rest of the season and get a high draft pick instead of fighting for a useless playoff spot that will do nothing to help the franchise going forward. (3-0)
  • Chicago 17, Green Bay 13: You are on national television, during Thanksgiving, where you are retiring Brett Favre’s number and have the great Bart Starr in attendance, and you play like that? Bears deserve a lot of credit for the win, but I just don’t understand how the Packers have fallen off so much. (3-1)
  • Minnesota 20, Atlanta 10: I gave up on the Falcons last week so this didn’t come as a surprise. What did catch my eye was how the Vikings rebounded from the home loss to Green Bay. Also, I stand by what I said last week about Adrian Peterson deserving to be in the MVP conversation. (4-1)
  • Kansas City 30, Buffalo 22: The Chiefs look like the hot playoff team at the moment but I’m not sure they can keep up this level of play for the rest of the season and during a playoff run. I mean, sooner or later Alex Smith will throw another interception. (5-1)
  • Cincinnati 31, St. Louis 7: Bengals got back on track with a dominant win over a Rams team that is falling apart fast. Also, since the Texans are playing great ball and have a shot at either a division title or a wild card spot, the Bengals no longer have a bad loss on their resume. (6-1)
  • Oakland 24, Tennessee 21: Entertaining game between two young teams. However, the fact it was this hard for the Raiders to win tells me this isn’t the same team from the beginning of the season and that even though they won they probably aren’t in the playoff race anymore. (7-1)
  • Indianapolis 25, Tampa Bay 12: A humbling loss for the Buccaneers, who may have gotten caught up in all the media excitement of them possibly making the playoffs. Also, how well does Matt Hasselbeck have to play before we start talking about whether or not Andrew Luck gets his job back? (I’m talking strictly this season. It may be in the Colts’ best interest to sit him out the rest of this season and guarantee he’s healthy for next season.) (8-1)
  • New York Jets 38, Miami 20: A season-saving win for the Jets, who have somehow found their swagger after looking rather bland the last few weeks. Then again, it may just be a product of facing the Dolphins. Their game against the Giants will be a better test to see if they can make a run. (9-1)
  • Houston 24, New Orleans 6: As I already mentioned, the Texans have not only played their way into a tie for the division, but have also put themselves near the top of the wild card standings. Such a huge turnaround for a team that couldn’t decide on quarterback for the first several weeks. (10-1)
  • Washington 20, New York Giants 14: If the Redskins win the division that means they will play a home game in the playoffs. That means the Redskins will have good Kirk Cousins (11TDs, 2INTs at home) in the playoffs and will give the NFC East a chance to actually win a playoff game. (10-2)
  • San Diego 31, Jacksonville 25: What little hopes of the Jaguars somehow winning the AFC South probably ended this weekend when you combine this loss with how the Colts and Texans are playing right now. However, there’s still a lot going for this team if they finish strong. (10-3)
  • Seattle 39, Pittsburgh 30: A huge win for the Seahawks that currently has them in the final wild card spot. However, in that game they also lost Jimmy Graham (who was starting to click with the offense) and confirmed that the Legion Of Boom is no longer an elite defense, just a good one. (10-4)
  • Denver 30, New England 24: It should be made clear that the Broncos, not Brock Osweiler, beat the Patriots on Sunday night. That being said, with every win Osweiler gets, it becomes harder and harder to argue that Peyton Manning should get his job back. (10-5)
  • Baltimore 33, Cleveland 27: Just read this. It’s a list of all 43 games the Browns have lost in the last minute since they returned in 1999. I thought as a Cardinals fan I had seen heartbreak. Aside from the Super Bowl loss, I can’t begin to comprehend the amount of heartbreak the Browns have endured. (10-6)

 
Week 11 Record: 10-6
Season Record: 110-66 (.625)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2

Advertisements

All In The Cards: Thanksgiving Edition (Week 11 Recap and Week 12 Preview)

Welcome to a special addition of All In The Cards. Thanksgiving is the only time of the year when you are encouraged to get a second helping. So I’m going to twist that phrase and use it as an excuse to combine both the week 11 recap and the week 12 preview into one article (the real reason is that I’m okay with posting a preview after one game has been played but three games is too many). No in-depth preview for the Cards’ game this week (the only thing different about this week’s matchup and the one in week three is that the game is in San Francisco and Blaine Gabbert is staring instead of Colin Kaepernick) So to make up for that I will give a little blurb for every recap as well as every preview. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Let’s get started with the week 11 recap:

How I did with my Week 11 NFL predictions:

  • Arizona 34, Cincinnati 31: The Cards’ first win against a team with a winning record was much deserved as these two teams threw everything they had at each other. Seeing the Cardinals make halftime adjustments and drive down the field in the waning seconds just reminds me how much this team has grown from just a few years ago. (1-0)
  • Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 13: Jaguars have been learning how to hold on to a lead late and now they are learning how to come from behind and win in the final minutes. A lot of progress is being made in Jacksonville while some but not a lot of progress is being made in Tennessee. (2-0)
  • Indianapolis 24, Atlanta 21: I’m jumping off the Falcons’ bandwagon because I’ve seen this before (A team that starts the season undefeated and then loses steam and becomes mediocre? Please don’t make me have to remember the 2012 Cardinals). The Colts need to keep pulling these games out because the Texans are right on their trail. (2-1)
  • Denver 17, Chicago 15: I’ll admit that Brock Osweiler did a lot better than I thought he would do but people need to temper their expectations. For as much improvement the Bears’ defense has made over the last several weeks they are still an average defense at best. If Osweiler can play like he did this week against the Patriots then I’ll start buying the hype. (3-1)
  • Dallas 24, Miami 14: Tony Romo is back and so is the Cowboys’ confidence. It’s amazing how the rest of the team suddenly plays better when Romo is around. It’s a testament to their confidence in him as well as a feeling of familiarity. It’s a shame Dallas wasn’t able to muster up a single win while he was gone. (4-1)
  • Detroit 18, Oakland 13: I’m pleasantly surprised with the quick turnaround the Lions have made. That win over Green Bay has really breathed new life into them but unfortunately it is probably too late to chase a wild card. Meanwhile the Raiders have seemed to regress after making so much progress the first half of the season. (4-2)
  • Baltimore 16, St. Louis 13: After seeing Joe Flacco silently put up with all the change and bad luck the Ravens have endured, it’s a real shame he ended up with such a serious leg injury. Meanwhile I think the Rams have gone on tilt as I’m not sure what they are doing anymore. Again, how can this be the same team that beat both Seattle and Arizona? (5-2)
  • Houston 24, New York Jets 17: Speaking of playing on tilt, things have really gone south for the Jets recently. They still have the talent and the schedule to make the playoffs but I don’t know if they can take advantage of either. The Texans on the other hand are being fueled by a pair of All-pros in J.J. Watt on defense and DeAndre Hopkins (yes I think he deserves an all-pro selection) on offense. (5-3)
  • Tampa Bay 45, Philadelphia 17: The Eagles will likely win a maximum of one more game the rest of the season, they just look dead. The Bucs are becoming everyone’s darlings in the NFC wild card race but I don’t know if this team can keep up this level of play until the end of the season. Regardless, it has been a successful year for Tampa Bay with a bright future. (5-4)
  • Carolina 44, Washington 16: This was a statement by the Panthers that their offense should be feared along with their defense. Could you imagine how good this team would be if they had Kelvin Benjamin? Also the Redskins are a decent team, so don’t take anything away from this blowout. As much as I’m a Cardinals homer, the Panthers should be the favorite in the NFC. (6-4)
  • Kansas City 33, San Diego 3: Remember when the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles and were 1-4? The team is 4-1 since moving on from their star running back, but it has more to do with their defense stepping up to make up for the offensive shortcomings. Head Coach Andy Reid is also getting creative with the play calls, such as the Dontari Poe TD run. (7-4)
  • Green Bay 30, Minnesota 13: It wasn’t pretty but it was a necessary win for a Packers team that was close to a freefall after losing at home to the Lions. The defense really responded and held the Vikings in check. If the defense continues to play with that passion and Aaron Rodgers and the offense find their rhythm again this team will be just fine. (8-4)
  • Seattle 29, San Francisco 13: We really didn’t learn anything new from this game. I guess the only real thing to take away is that the Seahawks aren’t letting the heart-breaking loss at home to the Cardinals keep them down as they shift gears and chase the wild card. Meanwhile Blaine Gabbert continues to play decently well for the 49ers. (9-4)
  • New England 20, Buffalo 23: The Patriots’ offense continues to lose playmakers as Danny Amendola might miss time. Luckily the defense is playing very well to help mitigate any offensive drop-off. If this team still goes undefeated I think Bill Belichick deserves the Coach of the Year award, even if the Panthers go undefeated too. (10-4)

My Week 12 NFL predictions:

  • Arizona 31, San Francisco 10: Blaine Gabbert may be playing better than Colin Kaepernick, but it’s still nowhere near good enough to beat the Cardinals’ defense. Chris Johnson and the run game could get back on track this week.
  • Detroit 27, Philadelphia 17: Combine the Lions’ renewed energy with the Eagles’ lifelessness and this looks like a win for Detroit. This might be a must-win for Philly after the disaster against Tampa Bay.
  • Carolina 27, Dallas 24: I’m tempted to pick the Cowboys but with Tony Romo playing on a short week after just returning from an injury I think the Cowboys will start slow and the Panthers won’t let them catch up.
  • Green Bay 33, Chicago 20: Packers will want to sustain the momentum they gained from beating the Vikings last week. That plus they can’t lose the game where they are honoring Brett Favre now can they?
  • Minnesota 20, Atlanta 17: Huge game for both teams’ wild card chances. I already said that I jumped off the Falcons bandwagon so there isn’t that much more that I need to say about this pick.
  • Kansas City 17, Buffalo 13: I still think Buffalo is a good team but there is denying that the Chiefs are red hot at the moment. Plus the game is in Kansas City so I have to give them the advantage.
  • Cincinnati 34, St. Louis 10: Bengals need this win to halt their two-game losing streak. The Rams need this win to prevent their season from falling apart. I’ve seen both of these teams play and there is no doubt the Bengals are the better team and will win easily.
  • Oakland 20, Tennessee 14: This is possibly the Raiders’ last chance to regain momentum and chase a wild card spot. I think it may be too late to make a playoff push but I do think they will turn things around against the Titans.
  • Indianapolis 31, Tampa Bay 28: A toss-up game that I’m giving to the Colts because they are at home. It would not shock me at all if the Buccaneers were able to pull out the win.
  • New York Jets 22, Miami 17: Both teams are desperate for a win so I see the loser of this match being eliminated from the wild card race. I still think the Jets are talented enough to make a late-season push but they’re running out of opportunities.
  • Houston 28, New Orleans 20: The Saints may have changed defensive coordinators during the bye week but they still don’t have anyone on defense that can stop DeAndre Hopkins.
  • New York Giants 24, Washington 21: The Redskins will give them a fight, but the Giants know that with the Eagles’ implosion and the Cowboys just starting to play catch-up that this division is theirs for the taking.
  • Jacksonville 23, San Diego 16: Another toss-up game where I’ll side with the home team. That and the fact that I can’t easily forget how the Chiefs obliterated the Chargers last week.
  • Pittsburgh 30, Seattle 27: This pick isn’t a jab at the Seahawks; the Steelers are just really good and have renewed confidence now that the division title is within reach again. The Seahawks still have plenty of chances left to stay in the wild card race.
  • New England 20, Denver 17: Tom Brady is still the best in the NFL but he’ll have a tough time against a tough Denver defense without some of his main weapons. The Patriots will still win but it will be close.
  • Cleveland 19, Baltimore 16: With Joe Flacco out for the year I expect the Ravens to go into full tank mode. Then again, the Browns might also be in tank mode so this will be interesting to watch as both teams will try not to win this game.

 

Week 11 Record: 10-4
Season Record: 100-60 (.625)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2