Week 12 NFL takeaways: Chiefs in hassle, Eagles are soaring
Without a ton of marquee video games on the Sunday slate, Week 12 nonetheless gave us sufficient to chew on together with the Thanksgiving leftovers. Now that the vacation has handed us by, it’s full dash mode in the direction of the postseason. There was loads of jockeying in playoff seeding and there must be extra to return in the following weeks. Let’s check out a number of issues to return out of the previous week in the NFL.
New Orleans’ secondary issues
In what was anticipated to be the sport of the week — the best leveraged sport between two prime NFC contenders — the New Orleans Saints misplaced a highway sport to the Los Angeles Rams 26-20. The loss for the Saints dropped them all the way down to the No. Four seed in the convention with an Eight-Three document. Despite the loss, New Orleans was in a position to largely grasp with Los Angeles — a late landing bought the Saints inside one rating, however the onside kick failed — with out their prime two cornerbacks.
Most of the eye in the New Orleans secondary has been targeted on rookie Marshon Lattimore, which is deserved. Lattimore has instantly made an influence at a place the place rookies don’t usually achieve this and those who do are usually particular. Per Sports Info Solutions charting from Football Outsiders, Lattimore ranks eighth amongst 66 certified cornerbacks in yards allowed per move and 28th in Success Rate. However, Lattimore’s teammate Ken Crawley — a 2016 undrafted free agent — has been even higher by each statistics: sixth in yards allowed per move and fourth in Success Rate. However, neither suited up towards the Rams on Sunday.
Without the highest two corners, New Orleans had De’Vante Harris — one other 2016 undrafted free agent — masking Sammy Watkins for a lot of the day. Watkins had one in every of his greatest days as a Ram and beat Harris simply on a slant for a landing to cap Los Angeles’s opening drive.
This takes nothing away from the Rams, who are clearly a legitimately good balanced crew, and there’s little gained by proclaiming any form of ethical victory, however the Saints appeared like a crew in a position to grasp with the most effective groups in the convention on the highway with out two of their greatest defenders.
The head-to-head tiebreaker now places the Rams over the Saints in playoff seeding, however there may not be as huge of a necessity for New Orleans to play at dwelling because it appeared earlier than.
Kansas City is in hassle and the Chargers are … sigh … charging
2017 has been a loopy soccer season. The one fixed in the start of the 12 months, although, was the Kansas City Chiefs have been good. Now we don’t even have that. After a 5-Zero begin, the Chiefs have fallen to 6-5 and are not the No. Four seed in the AFC. Kansas City has fully fallen aside whereas dropping 5 of their final six video games — together with one to the Giants.
What was as soon as a excessive powered offense full of huge performs, misdirection, and creativity now showcases little to none of that. Kansas City has struggled to run this ball over the second half of the season, between poor run blocking, a much less dynamic Kareem Hunt, and simply giving up on all of it collectively. Against the Buffalo Bills — a crew that allowed almost 300 yards on the bottom to the Saints — Hunt had 11 carries for 17 yards. Alex Smith was the crew’s main rusher 5 5 carries for 35 yards.
After being amongst one of many league leaders in yards per try to start out the season, Smith has thrown beneath 7.Zero in three of his previous 4 video games and has been beneath 6.Zero in every of the previous two. This offensive futility additionally now comes at a time when the Los Angeles Chargers are hitting their stride.
The Chargers tore by the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving with Philip Rivers averaging 13.2 yards per try. Los Angeles continues to be simply 5-6, however the crew has been taking part in a few of its greatest soccer over the previous two weeks. Even the 2 earlier video games have been a detailed loss to the New England Patriots and an time beyond regulation loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
ESPN’s Football Power Index initiatives each the Chiefs and Chargers to complete the season at 9-7, although it does give the Chiefs significantly better odds of profitable the AFC West — 72.5 p.c to 23.5 p.c. There’s a gathering between these two groups Week 15 in Kansas City that ought to imply far more to the playoff race than anybody would have guessed in Week 5. Outside of that, the schedules are shut. The Chiefs have highway video games towards the Jets and Broncos and residential contests towards the Raiders and Dolphins. Meanwhile the Chargers will host the Browns, Redskins and Raiders with a highway sport towards the Jets in Week 16.
There’s no gap in Philadelphia
Carson Wentz will get a lot of the credit score, however the Philadelphia Eagles are simply one of the best crew in the NFL proper now. It’s not simply the 10-1 document, it’s been how they’ve been beating groups in path to that recently. One of the surest indicators of a great crew isn’t carefully beating different good groups, relatively the flexibility to blow out dangerous groups. Over the previous 4 video games, the Eagles have been the San Francisco 49ers 33-10, the Denver Broncos 51-23, the Cowboys 37-9, and the Chicago Bears 31-Three on Sunday. Philadelphia holds the league’s greatest level differential (160) by a major margin, 37 factors over the Rams.
Right now it doesn’t appear like there’s a transparent weak point on this Eagles crew. That doesn’t imply they’re unbeatable, however there’s no apparent place for opponents to assault. Through Week 11, the Eagles have been first general in Football Outsiders’ DVOA — third on offense, fourth on protection, and 11th on particular groups. That’s about as balanced as an important crew can get.
Though even with the Eagles rolling, they’ll face their hardest two-week stretch developing, on the highway towards the Seahawks and Rams. Philadelphia is already favored by 4 factors in Seattle. Even a hiccup in these two highway video games can be unlikely to lose the Eagles a first-round bye. They have a one-game benefit over the Minnesota Vikings and two video games over the Rams, Saints, and Carolina Panthers.
Live by the run, die by the Bortles
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been some of the enjoyable tales of 2017: a crew constructed on a enjoyable protection comprised of younger gamers and premium free brokers carrying an offense centered round a rookie operating again. When it’s good, it was nice. There have been factors in the season when Jacksonville has the league chief in level differential. Even now they’re second in the AFC, simply 4 factors behind the Patriots.
But when that system doesn’t go precisely as deliberate, the Jaguars are in hassle. That’s what occurred in the 27-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Jacksonville trailed for a lot of the sport and needed to come again from deficits of 13-Zero, 16-Three, and 24-17. The Jaguars have been in a position to try this, however by no means come again sufficient to take a snug lead. The solely lead Jacksonville had in the sport was at 17-16 after former Cardinal Calais Campbell recovered a fumble compelled by Yannick Ngakoue for a 10-yard return landing. That lead solely lasted till the subsequent drive.
Arizona stored the Jacksonville floor sport in test — Leonard Fournette rushed simply 12 instances for 25 yards. Blake Bortles carried the load with six rushes for 62 yards and two touchdowns, however throwing the ball was a unique beast. Bortles averaged Four.Eight yards per try and threw an interception on Jacksonville’s second-to-last drive of the sport.
With the loss, the Jags are now a wild card crew after a trying like clear contender when the run sport/protection plan is working. At 7-Four, Jacksonville loses a tiebreaker to the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South lead due to a head-to-head loss in Week 2. The two groups don’t play once more till Week 17. The Jaguars nonetheless have a 97.Four p.c likelihood of creating the playoff per ESPN’s FPI, however there’s an enormous distinction for this crew internet hosting a sport on wild card weekend and having to hit the highway seemingly towards the AFC West winner.