I had a few topics lined up for Week 12 here, but after doomscrolling on Twitter this afternoon, I’ve lost some interest in covering them.
With COVID-19 raging, are we about to see this NFL season get indefinitely suspended, or hit with a significant drop in quality to the games?
It’s bad enough we were already entering the “Mike Glennon and Brandon Allen start games for teams going nowhere” phase of the season. It’s disappointing we could see a Tuesday game between the Steelers and Ravens with JV backfields and RGIII in place of Lamar Jackson, if the game even happens at all in Week 12. It’s even downright scary that a player with a history of cancer (James Conner) has tested positive while a player with diabetes (Baltimore TE Mark Andrews) is on a team with one of the worst outbreaks of 2020.
The NFL had some flexibility with bye weeks earlier this season to move games around, but almost all the byes are gone now, and cases are at an all-time high and popping up on multiple teams. Adam Thielen is not expected to play because of COVID. Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive for COVID.
Pretty soon, every game on the schedule will have at least one player out due to COVID. That’s where things are headed. The only question is how much more of this needs to happen before the NFL takes pause and reconsiders how to finish this season in a way that doesn’t expose a large percentage of the players, the money makers in this business, to a virus that we still don’t know the long-term effects of on our organs.
I’d say enjoy the games while they last, because it’s getting tougher by the week to keep this thing going without a bubble.
Ben Roethlisberger Is Still a Top 10 QB
I could have made a post about this, and maybe still will, but on Friday I decided to do a Twitter thread about some of the blatant disrespect over Ben Roethlisberger’s 2020 season.
While I wouldn’t pick him for MVP right now, and I’m not even sure this is the best he’s ever played, I know he’s done a great job for what the Steelers ask him to do this season. It is different from past seasons, but it’s been effective and they’re winning every week on top of it. He’s not getting easy chunk plays or tossing 2-yard touchdown passes to pad his total this season. He’s throwing with better anticipation than ever before and not taking many sacks at all to help his line out. It works for them.
Maybe some quarterbacks have better surface stats this year, but there’s a lot of hollowness to the numbers for Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Teddy Bridgewater, Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, etc. I can’t buy those guys having a better 2020 than Ben is. When I look through the divisions and how the quarterbacks are playing this year, I don’t see how Roethlisberger can be left out of the top 10.
- Josh Allen
- Drew Brees
- Derek Carr
- Justin Herbert
- Patrick Mahomes
- Kyler Murray
- Aaron Rodgers
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Deshaun Watson
- Russell Wilson
That’s my top 10 in alphabetical order. That’s a hell of a thing to say a QB is holding a team back when said team is 10-0, fourth in scoring, the best scoring differential in the league, and the QB has 24 TD to 5 INT with a barely functioning running game.
Chiefs at Buccaneers: Handshake or No?
Normally I would be amped up to write a big preview about this game, but between the COVID news and the way Tampa Bay is struggling, I’m not that hyped about it right now. Sure, it probably still is the regular-season game most likely to be a Super Bowl preview, but that’s more because the AFC North (Steelers and Ravens) is playing the hopeless NFC East, Drew Brees broke two more ribs carving the Thanksgiving turey, and Super Bowls like Bills-Seahawks or Colts-Packers feel like big longshots.
Green Bay is the only team in the last eight games to not score at least 20 on Tampa Bay, so I’m not concerned with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs being able to put up their usual scoring output on this defense. Sammy Watkins is also expected to return, so the less Demarcus Robinson, the better.
The more decisive matchup should be the Tampa Bay offense vs. Kansas City defense. The Chiefs have allowed over 30 points in their last two games, looking mystified again vs. the Raiders and giving up a lot of wild plays to a game Carolina team before that.
Tom Brady was awful on Monday night against the Rams. He was horrific in Week 9 against the Saints at home as well. Those are two of the three games since the team acquired Antonio Brown. I find it interesting that Brown has 26 targets the last three weeks, or as many as Mike Evans and four more than Chris Godwin. Yet those guys have more yards and touchdowns in that time. They’re the established Tampa Bay receivers, but Brady has to feed AB’s ego (and his own) to justify the move that was largely his making in bringing the troublemaker to Tampa. If things don’t improve soon, at what point should Evans and Godwin feel like they’re getting the shaft in this arrangement?
Speaking of egos, I will point out that Brady shook Mahomes’ hand after the Chiefs beat New England last season. That’s a rare sign of respect from Brady, because you usually have to be a Manning brother or Drew Brees to get him at midfield after beating him instead of watching him run off the field. The fact that people have brought up COVID in defense of Brady doing that after losses (but not after wins) this season is absurd. Here’s a video I put together from the 2009 season of Brady doing what he’s done for most of his NFL career after losing:
So we’ll see if this is a handshake game or not. After their first three losses this year, Tampa Bay won the next game by double digits. I just get the sense that Brady will magically look better this week against a struggling defense, and the Tampa defense will do just enough to slow down Mahomes.
Final: Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 28
NFL Week 12 Predictions
I was 2-0 ATS on Thanksgiving, but there aren’t many underdogs I like this week outside of the Patriots. Just feels like a game where they can move the ball on the Arizona defense. Cam Newton has been playing better in recent weeks.
We’ll see if BAL-PIT is still a go or not this week.