2018 NFL Week 12
It’s Thanksgiving, we should have been safe by now.
The Cowboys were 3-5 two weeks ago, and most everyone had written them off. Their offense looked pedestrian at best, remedial at worst and while people were screaming for a coaching change, Jerry Jones continued to be maddingly attached at the hip to Jason Garrett.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I was done with them. Their refusal to adapt to what I viewed as the modern NFL meant they deserved their middling status. Good, they should stumble along to a 6-10 record while the rest of the division blows by them in a rocket ship. Oh, they traded for Amari Cooper? Big whoop, nothing will change.
Or so I thought.
First came a win against an Eagles team that has completely bottomed out, followed by a three-point victory against a Falcons team that doesn’t have a secondary to speak of. No matter, right? The Redskins were still in control of the NFC East and were rolling.
Until Alex Smith’s horrific leg injury last Sunday. Ugh. Washington now has Colt McCoy under center and in the event he goes down with an injury, will have to turn to Mark Sanchez. Yes, the Sanchize, who they signed off the USC quarterback scrap heap this week.
And here we are. Dallas is back at .500 at 5-5, just one game back of the Redskins, who they will face on Thursday.
“We [the Cowboys and Redskins] don’t always play for a title, but to some degree, we’re playing for it out there Thanksgiving Day,” Jerry Jones said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
He’s completely correct. Thursday’s game might as well be for the NFC East title, because if the Cowboys win, here is how the remainder of their schedule looks: Saints, at Eagles, at Colts, Buccaneers, at Giants. Other than the Saints, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dallas runs the table. A 10-6 record will be good enough to hold off the Redskins with a backup quarterback and a ravaged offensive line.
This team is 14-3 when Ezekiel Elliott tops 100 yards rushing. It seems they’ve finally figured that out, as Zeke has gone over the century mark in each of the last two games. Sure, there are questions about Dak Prescott, but if they can control the clock and put games in the hands of their defense, which is among the league’s elite, things should be fine. And even Amari Cooper is contributing.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
A QUICK WORD ABOUT MONDAY NIGHT
Here’s what I’m thankful for this year: Jared Goff. The son I’ve never had.
He’s tall, he’s unflappable, he’s accurate. He has California good looks, but he’s not a dick about it like Tom Brady. And he seemingly plays his best on the big stages. On a random Sunday playing the Cardinals at home, sure he might finish with 260 yards and a couple TD tosses. Turn on the bright lights of a night game and suddenly he’s a steely-eyed missile man.
I don’t know how the hell to describe Monday night’s win over the Chiefs. I’ve been watching this game for decades and I’ve never seen anything that ridiculous in the NFL. Big plays, penalties, strip sacks, defensive touchdowns, Tyreek Hill, Sean McVay, missed extra points, interceptions, this contest had it all.
But at the end, it was Goff with the perfectly placed ball to Gerald Everett for what turned out to be the winning touchdown with under two minutes remaining. And he didn’t even seem fazed. The look on his face during postgame interviews looked more “meh” than joyful. I don’t mean “meh” in a Jay Cutler way either. He expects success and isn’t surprised when it comes.
Do I have a man crush? Yes, absolutely. Not ashamed one bit.
NFL’S TOP 10
1) Saints – I just finished slobbering over Jared Goff. Don’t worry, I’ve got enough left for Drew Brees, who keeps tightening his grip on the MVP award. What went down in New Orleans vs. Philly last Sunday can only be described as a curb-stomping. They should breeze past the Falcons on Thursday and continue to roll until their last three games of the season. They play at the Panthers, then back home to play the Steelers and then the Panthers again. Very interesting.
2) Rams – Again, don’t know what the hell I watched on Monday night. They won, that’s all that counts. Now comes a bye week and then, unless something goes wrong, the return of CB Aqib Talib. And not a moment too soon.
3) Chiefs – It’s amazing that Patrick Mahomes can throw for almost 500 yards and six touchdowns and then seemingly lose ground in the MVP race. America will never give a loser the benefit of the doubt. Too bad. I truly felt bad for him on Monday night, because while he did indeed turn the ball over five times in the loss, the only really bad one was the pass he threw off his back foot that Samson Ebukam picked off with one hand and returned for a touchdown. The Chiefs’ two losses were thrillers against the Patriots and Rams. They should return strong after their bye week.
4) Steelers – Typical Pittsburgh annoying win. Suck out loud for three quarters and then pull touchdowns out of your bum until you cause people at sportsbooks to riot. Not hating on them (even though I kinda am), but this kind of nonsense only works against the Jaguars.
5) Patriots – There’s nothing like a bye week and matchup against the Jets to build up the confidence after losing by 24 points the last time they took the field. It’s tempting to say they’re in a troublesome spot, but there’s too much football left.
6) Texans – This team is my new crush. Remember, they started the season 0-3 and are now 7-3. You should never freak out after early season losses. The season might be 16 games, but it’s a long time.
7) Chargers – People are killing Philip Rivers this week and while he obviously made mistakes, he still threw for 401 yards. I’m just trying to find a bright spot, because dropping one to Denver was rough.
8) Bears – Look at who is 7-3. Seriously, nobody who lives outside Chicago would have thought this possible. But here we are. And just as all the good feelings are building, Mitchell Trubisky is doubtful to play on Thanksgiving with a shoulder injury. Guess who is likely to start in his place? Give up? Chase Daniel, which is good since he’s been stealing NFL money for a long time. Let’s see him play for a change.
9) Panthers – They didn’t restore my faith completely as they did lose to the Lions, but they did play well and came up a failed two-point conversion of taking a late lead on the road and possibly winning the game.
10) Cowboys – Makes me upset, but they deserve to be here. I came close to putting the Colts here, too.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
Please, no: Adrian Peterson admitted he still uses corporal punishment on his child. Dude, when reporters ask you questions, just clam up. I’m not judging one way or the other, just stop talking.
Not their cup of tea: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and the Panthers’ Ron Rivera didn’t like what they saw on Monday Night Football. Not surprising, since both are known as defensive coaches who love nothing more than watching two teams trade punts for 60 minutes until a field goal as time expires wins the game 3-0. I feel there’s a happy medium out there between punting contests and offenses going wild.
Family affair: Aaron Rodgers made a video asking people to donate money for wildfire relief in Northern California. His brother Jordan decided to pipe up and criticize his brother for allegedly not checking on his mother, who apparently was home alone during the fires. Yeah … it’s ugly when a family’s dirty laundry is aired out in public. Jordan could be completely correct, but dude, don’t do stuff like that. Show some class.
I’m not buying it: Tom Brady popped up on the Patriots injury report with some kind of knee issue. Whatever. Bill Belichick is up to something and I’ve got my tinfoil hat to prove it.
Huh, ok: Carson Wentz says he wasn’t “pressing” during the Eagles’ 48-7 loss to the Saints. I agree with him. The problem was his team was getting boat-raced and he was pulling out all the stops to make something happen. Unfortunately, what happened was three interceptions. It’s fine. This season has turned into a lost cause, but that happens to defending champions sometimes. This is a strong organization and they’ll be back next season if the bottom continues to fall out of 2018.
Wasn’t me: Ravens guard Marshal Yanda denies that he spit on Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict. Would you blame him if he did? Spitting on people isn’t cool, but I imagine there are people in the NFL who would love to do much worse to Burfict.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND
Thanksgiving: I’m not going to break each of them out. Just watch all of them. That’s an order. Go! Go! Go! And pace yourself! Don’t get drunk and tap out in the second half of the Cowboys game!
Browns at Bengals: The battle of Ohio! Not sure either of these teams are going anywhere, but it’ll be fun to watch Baker Mayfield again. I missed him last week.
Giants at Eagles: Are the Eagles done? They will be officially if they choke this one.
Seahawks at Panthers: Seattle still isn’t out of it yet. And they’ve had some success in Carolina over the past few years. Both teams desperately need this win. Should be entertaining.
Dolphins at Colts: Indy is on the march and I can’t see anything going wrong against Miami. This one is a layup. Ugh … now that I think about it, this is just the type of game the Dolphins win.
Packers at Vikings: Another tasty NFC North matchup on a Sunday night. I’ll be with my in-laws this weekend and I’ll consider it a win if I make it all the way through this one.
Titans at Texans: Another delicious division offering! Enjoy this game and enjoy your holiday weekend! Stay safe and as always, have fun.
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.