NFL Week 12 takeaways – What we realized, massive questions for each sport and future workforce outlooks

Week 12 of the 2021 NFL season started on Thursday with the Chicago Bears and embattled coach Matt Nagy successful on the ultimate play of the sport over the winless Detroit Lions.

The afternoon noticed the Las Vegas Raiders break a three-game shedding streak and preserve themselves within the thick of the AFC playoff race with an extra time win over the Dallas Cowboys, who’ve all of a sudden dropped three of 4 after a 6-1 begin. The Buffalo Bills bought again on the successful monitor within the nightcap with a dominating win over the New Orleans Saints.

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the takeaways and lingering questions. Plus, they every take a look at the larger image with their present workforce confidence ranking — a 0-10 grade of how they really feel about every workforce’s outlook popping out of the week. Let’s get to it.

Bounce to a matchup:
CHI-DET | LV-DAL | BUF-NO

Payments

What to know: The Payments had one other dominating victory with out taking part in their greatest soccer. Quarterback Josh Allen threw two interceptions, together with the primary of his profession within the crimson zone, but in addition completed the sport with a career-high 82.1% completion proportion. In a means, it’s consultant of a Payments season that has featured inconsistent play however, at 7-4, nonetheless has them primed for an AFC East battle with the New England Patriots down the stretch. A big a part of that success has come courtesy of the Payments protection that has now restricted 5 opponents to 12 factors or much less. All three phases had success, with coach Sean McDermott even giving particular recognition to the kickoff protection after the sport. When the Payments are rolling like this, they’re laborious to beat. Doing so constantly is the important thing. — Alaina Getzenberg

What’s the influence on this protection if cornerback Tre’Davious White misses vital time? White left the sport with a knee harm within the second quarter and didn’t return. Coach Sean McDermott mentioned that they might know extra concerning the harm within the coming days. Backup Dane Jackson stuffed in for White and performed effectively general, however there isn’t a one on the roster that may sub in for the All-Professional nook, who’s among the many high 5 protection corners within the league this season, per Subsequent Gen stats. “(White’s) such an awesome teammate,” Allen mentioned. “He talks to everyone the precise means. He simply does the little issues effectively that not many individuals see, however that is why he is so good.” If he’s out for a number of weeks and even the season, the Payments’ mighty protection — which has solely allowed eight passing touchdowns this season (fewest within the league) — will take successful, however ought to be capable of adapt to an extent beneath coordinator Leslie Frazier. — Getzenberg

Getzenberg’s confidence ranking (0-10): 7.9, up from 7.2. The rollercoaster continues, however the Payments put collectively an all-around dominant win — regardless that it was towards a banged-up workforce — on a brief week and confirmed a capability to proceed to bounce again from robust losses, though stacking wins can be required to stretch this ranking.

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Subsequent sport: vs. Patriots (Monday, Dec. 6, 8:15 p.m. ET)


Saints

What to know: It is getting uglier by the week for the Saints and their depleted offense — now 0-4 since Trevor Siemian changed the injured Jameis Winston at QB. They have been additionally with out RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II and RT Ryan Ramczyk on Thanksgiving night time, and the leftovers weren’t almost ok. They may all be again by subsequent Thursday towards Dallas — and the Saints may take into account a QB change to Taysom Hill. However at 5-6, they’re dangerously near “too little, too late.” — Mike Triplett

New week, identical query: Will they take into account a swap to Hill at QB? Siemian’s efficiency has regressed every week after a promising begin. And regardless that Sean Payton made it clear he was one in all many issues on an evening when the Saints additionally could not run, cross shield or return kicks, Payton acknowledged, “We’ll take a look at the whole lot proper now. Clearly we now have to.” However Hill has been restricted by a foot harm since Week 10 (which is why he has been relegated to the emergency backup position the previous two weeks). However he practiced totally this week, so his position should increase ASAP in a single type or one other. — Triplett

Triplett’s confidence ranking (0-10): 4.5, down from 5.5. A full-point drop for the second straight week. We all know a greater model of this workforce exists after their 5-2 begin. However even their Week 8 win over the Buccaneers, when Winston left within the second quarter, looks like a distant reminiscence.

Subsequent sport: vs. Cowboys (Thursday, Dec. 2, 8:20 p.m. ET)

Raiders

What to know: The Raiders usually are not finished. Not but, anyway. As receiver Hunter Renfrow mentioned, “I felt like we confirmed the guts of the workforce at the moment.” Certainly, it was as near a must-win scenario as one may get, and in ending a three-game post-bye shedding streak, the Raiders improved to 6-5. “However I feel we felt it a little bit bit [because] 5-6 is a complete lot worse than 6-5,” Renfrow added. “And, to beat a superb Cowboys workforce, on Thanksgiving, in prime time, it offers us numerous confidence going ahead … we now have a protracted street forward of us, however we took a step in the precise course at the moment.” — Paul Gutierrez

Is DeSean Jackson really part of the offense now? He higher be. Not solely did he take the highest off the protection with three catches for 102 yards, together with a classic 56-yard catch-and-run TD down the left sideline, Jackson’s mere presence opened issues up beneath for the likes of Renfrow, who had eight catches for a game-high 134 yards. And with one other 10 days earlier than Las Vegas’ subsequent sport, Jackson, who turns 35 subsequent week, has that rather more time to marinate within the Raiders’ system. “It positive is enjoyable to throw him the ball,” mentioned quarterback Derek Carr. — Gutierrez

Gutierrez’s confidence ranking (0-10): 7.5, up from 5.5. A full two-point leap from final week’s nadir? Certain, if you have in mind how a lot the NFL really is a week-to-week season. Beating the heavily-favored Cowboys on the street and in prime time must be an enormous confidence increase. The Raiders additionally getting their operating sport going to the tune of 143 yards is an effective omen as effectively, particularly Josh Jacobs going for 87 yards on 22 carries. Keep tuned, although, for an replace on Professional Bowl tight finish Darren Waller‘s injured left knee.

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Subsequent sport: vs. Washington (Sunday, Dec. 5, 4:05 p.m. ET)


Cowboys

What to know: The Cowboys have misplaced three of 4 and two straight following their extra time loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The offense couldn’t get going till the fourth quarter. The protection allowed too many massive performs. Complaining concerning the officers is pointless. Merely, the Cowboys must play higher. Ezekiel Elliott was requested if this workforce has misplaced its swagger. “No,” he mentioned, including, “Simply gotta focus. We gotta go get higher, we gotta go repair what occurred at the moment and turn into a greater workforce by subsequent week.” — Todd Archer

How can the Cowboys restrict the penalties? One of the best hope is to not have Shawn Hochuli’s crew once more the remainder of the best way, however penalties have been a difficulty all season. They’ve been flagged at the least seven occasions in eight video games this season, together with 14 for 166 yards towards the Raiders. Micah Parsons mentioned he does not need to see the protection change its play model. There’s a fantastic line between being aggressive and careless. Invoice Parcells used to say he does not coach penalties. No coach does, however this is a matter that must be rectified. “We have got to self-reflect and preserve the officers out of the sport,” Dak Prescott mentioned. “A method or one other, we have to be higher.” — Archer

Archer’s confidence ranking (0-10): 7.9, down from 8.4. They will speak concerning the returns of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory all they need, however there’s something off with the workforce in the mean time. The offense cannot get the run sport going. The protection cannot cease permitting massive performs. They’ve to show this round rapidly.

Subsequent sport: at Saints (Thursday, Dec. 2, 8:20 p.m. ET)

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Cairo Santos kicks a 28-yard discipline aim within the sport’s ultimate second to offer the Bears a 16-14 win over the Lions.

Bears

What to know: Andy Dalton performed effectively in aid of Justin Fields. The 34-year-old turned the primary Bears quarterback to cross for 300-plus yards (317 vs. the Lions) since Nick Foles in Week 9 of final yr. Dalton led Chicago on an 18-play drive to arrange Cairo Santos‘ game-winning 28-yard discipline aim. Dalton performed with poise and confidence — precisely what you’d count on from a participant with that stage of expertise. Fields is anticipated to reclaim the beginning job when his ribs heal, however Dalton proved on Thanksgiving that he can nonetheless get the job finished. — Jeff Dickerson

Are the Bears going to fireside coach Matt Nagy? No. Or, moderately, not but. The Bears have by no means fired a head coach throughout a season within the historical past of the franchise. The Bears let Marc Trestman end out his ultimate season. Identical with John Fox. Nagy was named coach of the yr three years in the past. He is led the Bears to the playoffs in two of his three seasons. Nagy deserves higher. Finally, he might get fired after the season, however there’s nonetheless numerous soccer left to play. Hopefully, Thursday’s win over Detroit permits Nagy and the Bears to regroup earlier than a troublesome sport versus Arizona on Dec. 5. — Dickerson

Dickerson’s confidence ranking (0-10): 3.5, up from 2. A win is a win, however the Lions are 0-10-1.

Subsequent sport: vs. Cardinals (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 5)


Lions

What to know: The Detroit Lions suffered yet one more heartbreaking loss, falling to 0-10-1 after a 3rd loss this season on a walk-off discipline aim. It occurred in Week 3 towards the Baltimore Ravens, then once more Week 5 vs. the Minnesota Vikings and now on Thanksgiving towards the Chicago Bears. Bears kicker Cairo Santos made the 28-yard discipline aim to bury the Lions Thursday. — Eric Woodyard

Ought to the Lions be apprehensive about coach Dan Campbell’s playcalling? Actually. The Lions bought off to a sizzling begin Thursday with quarterback Jared Goff discovering an early groove, finishing his first 5 passes, however the conservative development of brief passes and brief good points since Dan Campbell took over playcalling from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn in Week 10 continued in entrance of the nationwide viewers, with some followers even booing inside Ford Discipline. Campbell might need to take into account letting Lynn take again playcalling tasks if the workforce needs to win a sport. — Woodyard

Woodyard’s confidence ranking (0-10): 2, down from 2.3. As at all times, the Lions play laborious however penalties and errors are an excessive amount of to beat since they do not have sufficient ability gamers to bail them out.

Subsequent sport: vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 5)

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