NFL Week 12 Previews, Predictions, & Fantasy Players to Watch
Week 12 of the NFL season has arrived amid controversy as the nation’s rising COVID-19 cases continue to take their toll on the league’s players and teams. Aside from the drama surrounding the Baltimore and Pittsburgh’s Thanksgiving matchup, there are still 12 football games to be played this Sunday… at least for now.
Needless to say, the AFC North has certainly grown more interesting over the past week, beginning with Baltimore’s 30-24 overtime loss against Tennessee. As a result, the 7-3 Browns were able to surpass Lamar Jackson and company in the division standings, with their eyes set on a meeting with a mediocre Jacksonville squad.
However, Cleveland will be without 7 of its players including their star DE Myles Garrett, who will be missing his second consecutive game after being place on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. Despite his absence, Garrett still sits tied with Saints’ DE Trey Hendrickson atop the league’s sack leaders, with 9.5.
Last week, the Jaguars were trounced by Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball, with the offense only amassing a field goal in the 27-3 loss. Not much can be said about the Jags, who currently own the league’s 2nd-worst record at 1-9. Veteran QB Mike Glennon has also been named the team’s starter for Sunday, taking over the role after rookie Jake Luton’s miserable performance and as Gardner Minshew nears closer to recovery.
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Browns 28, Jaguars 16
Fantasy Player to Watch: Browns Defense
The last time these two teams met was in Week 6, resulting in a 24-point shutout for Miami. In the weeks since, Dolphins’ rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa had temporarily stepped in for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense, helping the team to a 6-4 record. Now, as Tagovailoa has been designated with a thumb injury, Fitzpatrick will once again be receiving starter reps.
Adam Gase’s days in New York are likely limited as his team holds the league’s worst record of 0-10. Upon facing his former team on Sunday, the Jets HC announced that battered QB Sam Darnold will return from a shoulder injury in hopes of earning their first win of the season.
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Dolphins 24, Jets 17
Fantasy Player to Watch: TE Mike Gesicki
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Cardinals 24, Patriots 20
Fantasy Player to Watch: WR Christian Kirk
Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater will make his return to the field after a mildly-sprained MCL injury in Week 10 to face the team that originally drafted him. In fact, it was initially a gruesome ACL tear that left him sidelined for an extensive amount of time and ultimately led to his departure from the Twin Cities, just 2 years into his career.
As the Vikings’ 2014 1st round draft selection and former starter for more than 1 ½ seasons, Bridgewater suffered the freak non-contact ACL and dislocated knee injury during an August practice session in 2016. He now finally gets his opportunity to showcase his reprised talent as the Panthers’ true starting franchise quarterback come Sunday’s homecoming, however, he’ll be without star RB Christian McCaffrey for the 3rd-straight week.
Meanwhile, Minnesota is hoping to bounce back from their 31-28 Week 11 defeat against Dallas. Following their woeful 1-5 start to the season, the Vikings have taken 3 of their last 4 games, slowly inching their way up the NFC North standings in the process. RB Dalvin Cook Although, the team will be without their red-hot WR Adam Theilen who has (unfortunately) caught everything in sight- from 4 TDs in his last 2 games, to allegedly the COVID-19 virus.
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Panthers 27, Vikings 24
Fantasy Player to Watch: QB Teddy Bridgewater (obviously)
As far as divisional matchups are concerned, one of the most significant games on Sunday will feature the AFC South’s two top teams as Tennessee hosts Indianapolis. Currently, the Colts hold a slight edge over the Titans in the standings with their head-to-head Week 10 victory proving to be the difference-maker. Now, 2 weeks later, each sits team knotted at 7-3 apiece and hopes to secure an important win that could determine playoff-fates as the season winds down.
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Colts 29, Titans 23
Fantasy Player to Watch: K Rodrigo Blankenship
The pitiful NFC East saw the Washington Football Team take control of the division on Thanksgiving night, at least for the time being. Yes, despite each team having a horrific sub-500 record this season, somebody still has to win the division in the end, right? The division title is surely still up for grabs, even if that means it’s the 3-7 Giants, who are coming off a much-needed bye week.
Without QB rookie of the year candidate Joe Burrow at the helm, it’s quite difficult to expect anything major from Cincinnati. After suffering a season-ending knee injury last week, the Bengals will turn to Brandon Allen as the starting QB for their offense. RB Joe Mixon is out again as well, leaving Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine to handle carries.
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Giants 23, Bengals 19
Fantasy Player to Watch: RB Wayne Gallman
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Bills 34, Chargers 31
Fantasy Player to Watch: WR Stefon Diggs
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Raiders 26, Falcons 24
Fantasy Player to Watch: WR Calvin Ridley
In one of the most bizzare developments of the week and perhaps professional football history, ALL of Denver’s QBs will be ineligible to play in Sunday’s game after being labeled “high-risk” for COVID-19 through close contact with fellow position mate, Jeff Driskel, who contracted the virus.
Initially, it was reported that RB Royce Freeman would start at the position, having been listed as the team’s emergency option. According to Broncos reporter Mike Klis, the team even attempted to sign their offensive quality control coach, Rob Calabrese, for the role. Instead, practice-squad WR Kendall Hinton, a former starting QB at Wake Forest during his freshman season, will get his first-ever start in the NFL as a passer.
In addition to the Broncos’ QB confusion, New Orleans overcame their own problems at the position last week as Taysom Hill powered the offense past Atlanta, rushing for 2 TDs in a 24-9 victory. The Saints’ utility-man and backup QB will now look to add another win to his resume in his 2nd career start in the Mile High City on Sunday.
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Saints 28, Broncos 10
Fantasy Player to Watch: WR Emmanuel Sanders
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Rams 32, 49ers 17
Fantasy Player to Watch: RB Jerick McKinnon
Sunday will mark the 4th installment of the Mahomes-Brady saga, with the latter and 6-time Super Bowl champion holding the 2-1 advantage. Granted, each bout occurred during Brady’s tenure in New England. Perhaps, for now, the rubber match will finally provide an ultimate conclusion to the debate.
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Chiefs 35, Buccaneers 28
Fantasy Player to Watch: WR Antonio Brown
CHI@GB- 8:20 PM
CONNOR’S PREDICTION: Packers 27, Bears 17
Fantasy Player to Watch: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling