By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Each week I bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.
Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 12
(Thu – Thanksgiving) 4pm: Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys (Sports Animal)
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills (Sports Animal)
(Sun) Noon – Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (News Talk 98.7)
WEEK 12 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 29-30
(All times Eastern)
Thursday, Thanksgiving, November 26
Houston Texans at Detroit Lions 12:30 PM CBS
Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys 4:30 PM FOX
Sunday, November 29
Las Vegas Raiders at Atlanta Falcons 1:00 PM CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM CBS
New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 PM FOX
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts 1:00 PM CBS
Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 PM CBS
Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 PM FOX
Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots 1:00 PM FOX
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets 1:00 PM CBS
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers 1:15 PM NBC
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos 4:05 PM FOX
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams 4:05 PM FOX
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4:25 PM CBS
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers 8:20 PM NBC
Monday, November 30
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles 8:15 PM ESPN
Vince’s View: Certainly thankful we have football, regardless of lack of fans or teams with winning records. Enjoy it. Chiefs at Bucs, Titans at Colts and Ravens at Steelers are the marquee matchups, but there are plenty more of interest and with playoff hope ramifications.
Week 10 Prediction Record: 8-6 (57%)
Season Record: 107-54 (66%)
THANKFUL FOR CLOSE GAMES, ELECTRIFYING PLAYERS,
NFL GAINING MOMENTUM FOR STRETCH RUN
The National Football League is thankful for many things. Thrilling games decided in the final minutes and players with gleaming futures making significant contributions in the present are high on that list.
Through 11 weeks, only one other season in NFL history has produced more games within one score (eight points or fewer) in the fourth quarter. And, through 11 weeks, only two other prior years have produced more games decided by one score.
|MOST GAMES WITHIN EIGHT POINTS IN FOURTH QUARTER, THROUGH 11 WEEKS, NFL HISTORY||MOST GAMES DECIDED BY EIGHT POINTS OR FEWER, THROUGH 11 WEEKS, NFL HISTORY|
RARIFIED AIR: When the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS travel to play the DENVER BRONCOS on Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High (4:05 PM ET, FOX), Saints quarterback TAYSOM HILL can continue a unique climb within an exclusive group.
- Making his first NFL start at quarterback last week, Hill passed for 233 yards, rushed for 51 yards and had two rushing touchdowns.
- Pro Football Hall of Famer PAUL HORNUNG entered the NFL as the first-overall selection in the 1957 draft. Among those who began their careers since Hornung joined the league, Hill is one of only 10 players with at least 500 career rushing yards, 300 career passing yards and 300 career receiving yards.
The players with at least 500 career rushing yards, 300 career passing yards and 300 career receiving yards, among those that entered the league since 1957:
|PLAYER||YEARS||PASS YARDS||RUSH YARDS||REC. YARDS|
|John David Crow||1958-68||759||4,963||3,699|
- Last week, New Orleans wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS had nine receptions for 104 yards while running back ALVIN KAMARA rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ 24-9 win over Atlanta.
- Thomas has 489 career receptions and surpassed JARVIS LANDRY (481) for the most receptions by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.
- Kamara has 531 rushing yards and 648 receiving yards this season and is the first player with at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons in NFL history. He is also the sixth running back with four-or-more consecutive seasons with at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the Super Bowl era (1966-2020).
FIRST PLACE ON THE LINE IN INDY: The TENNESSEE TITANS and INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, both 7-3 and tied atop the AFC South, meet in a key showdown on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). It’s the teams’ second meeting in three weeks. In Week 10 on Thursday Night Football, Indianapolis defeated Tennessee, 34-17, as running back NYHEIM HINES totaled two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). Last week, each team won an overtime thriller.
- In that win last week, the Colts overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Green Bay, 34-31, in overtime. This season in the NFL, there have been 12 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 14 points to win, tied with the 1996 and 1979 seasons for the third-most such games through Week 11 in NFL history. Only the 1987 (15 games) and 2011 (14) seasons had more.
- The Titans, meanwhile, overcame an 11-point deficit to defeat Baltimore, 30-24, in overtime. This season, there have been 33 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win, the most through Week 11 in NFL history.
- Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for 133 yards, including the game-winning 29-yard touchdown in overtime, last week. He leads the NFL with 1,079 rushing yards this season.
- Henry, who also registered a 5-yard overtime touchdown run in Week 6, is the first player with multiple overtime rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.
- This season, the Titans have won an NFL-high five games in which they’ve scored the game-deciding points in either overtime or the last two minutes of regulation. Through the season’s first 11 weeks, the league has produced 28 games – or 2.54 per week – in which the winning team earned the deciding points in either the final two minutes of regulation or overtime.
The games in which the deciding points were scored in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime this season:
|1||Chi 27, Det 23||TD pass||1:54||4||6||Ten 42, Hou 36||TD run||6:30||OT|
|1||Ten 16, Den 14||FG||0:17||4||7||Ari 37, Sea 34||FG||0:15||OT|
|2||Dal 40, Atl 39||FG||0:00||4||7||Cle 37, Cin 34||TD pass||0:11||4|
|2||KC 23, LAC 20||FG||1:55||OT||7||Det 23, Atl 22||TD pass||0:00||4|
|2||Ten 33, Jax 30||FG||1:36||4||7||Phi 22, NYG 21||TD pass||0:40||4|
|3||Buf 35, LAR 32||TD pass||0:15||4||8||Den 31, LAC 30||TD pass||0:00||4|
|3||Chi 30, Atl 26||TD pass||1:53||4||8||NO 26, Chi 23||FG||1:36||OT|
|3||Det 26, Ari 23||FG||0:00||4||9||NE 30, NYJ 27||FG||0:00||4|
|3||Sea 38, Dal 31||TD pass||1:47||4||10||Ari 32, Buf 30||TD pass||0:02||4|
|3||Ten 31, Min 30||FG||1:44||4||10||Det 30, Was 27||FG||0:00||4|
|5||Chi 20, TB 19||FG||1:13||4||11||Dal 31, Min 28||TD pass||1:37||4|
|5||Dal 37, NYG 34||FG||0:00||4||11||Ind 34, GB 31||FG||7:10||OT|
|5||NO 30, LAC 27||FG||5:08||OT||11||KC 35, LV 31||TD pass||0:28||4|
|5||Sea 27, Min 26||TD pass||0:15||4||11||Ten 30, Bal 24||TD run||5:21||OT|
STRIKING DISTANCE: Through 11 weeks, 23 of 32 teams are either in first place or within three games of first place.
- In five of eight divisions – the AFC East, AFC South, NFC East, NFC South and NFC West – the gap between first and second place is no more than a game and a half.
BRADY-MAHOMES IV: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the Chiefs against TOM BRADY and the Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium (4:25 PM ET, CBS). Including their 2018 AFC Championship contest, Mahomes and Brady are meeting for the fourth time, with Brady having won two of the three previous games, all with his former team, the Patriots.
- The Buccaneers are allowing the NFL’s fifth-fewest yards per game (310.5), while the Chiefs on offense are averaging 414.1 yards per game, second in the league.
- Kansas City is 5-0 in road games this season, tied with Pittsburgh for the best road record in the NFL. Chiefs head coach ANDY REID has the fifth-most wins (110) on the road in NFL history, including postseason.
The head coaches with the most wins on the road, including postseason, in NFL history:
MEN OF STEEL: The PITTSBURGH STEELERS can clinch the first NFL playoff berth this week, needing a win plus a Miami loss or tie and a Las Vegas loss or tie (and assuming both the Dolphins and Raiders don’t tie). The 16th team since the 1970 league merger to begin a season 10-0, Pittsburgh hosts the BALTIMORE RAVENS on Thanksgiving night (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Over the past 50 seasons, only 11 teams have opened 11-0. Nine of those teams reached the Super Bowl, and five brought home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The teams that began a season 11-0 since 1970:
|2015||Carolina||15-1||Advanced to Super Bowl 50|
|2011||Green Bay||15-1||Advanced to NFC Divisional playoffs|
|2009||Indianapolis||14-2||Advanced to Super Bowl XLIV|
|2009||New Orleans||13-3||Won Super Bowl XLIV|
|2007||New England||16-0||Advanced to Super Bowl XLII|
|2005||Indianapolis||14-2||Advanced to AFC Divisional playoffs|
|1998||Denver||14-2||Won Super Bowl XXXIII|
|1991||Washington||14-2||Won Super Bowl XXVI|
|1985||Chicago||15-1||Won Super Bowl XX|
|1984||Miami||14-2||Advanced to Super Bowl XIX|
|1972||Miami||14-0||Won Super Bowl VII|
THE CLOSE-GAMES BAROMETER: Good teams win close games, and the data proves it. The CLEVELAND BROWNS, who travel to play Jacksonville on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), are off to their best start since 1994, when they opened 8-2. One of the hallmarks of their overall success in 2020 has been winning close games. The Browns (4-0, 1.000) are one of seven teams this season with a winning percentage of at least .700 in games decided by seven points or less. The PITTSBURGH STEELERS (5-0, 1.000), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-0, 1.000), TENNESSEE TITANS (6-1, .857), NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (4-1, .800), BUFFALO BILLS (4-1, .800) and LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-1, .750) are the others.
- Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002, 86 of 103 teams (83.5 percent) that finished with a .700-or-better winning percentage in games decided by seven points or less have made the playoffs.
In Week 11, Cleveland defensive end OLIVIER VERNON registered three sacks and a safety, while linebacker SIONE TAKITAKI returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in the Browns’ 22-17 win. Cleveland, which also recorded a safety and an interception return for a touchdown in Week 5, is the fourth team in NFL history to produce two games in the same season with both a safety and an interception-touchdown, joining the 1997 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, 1996 NEW YORK GIANTS and 1947 PITTSBURGH STEELERS.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville rookie running back JAMES ROBINSON has 1,011 scrimmage yards this season and is the fifth undrafted rookie with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in the common-draft era, joining DOMINIC RHODES (1,328 scrimmage yards in 2001), PHILLIP LINDSAY (1,278 in 2018), CLARK GAINES (1,124 in 1976) and LEGARRETTE BLOUNT (1,021 in 2010).
STELLAR YOUNG QUARTERBACKS FACE OFF IN BUFFALO: The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS and BUFFALO BILLS renew a rivalry that dates back to their AFL roots on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
- Last week, Chargers rookie quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT passed for a career-high 366 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 116.5 rating. Meanwhile, Chargers wide receiver KEENAN ALLEN had a career-high 16 receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown.
- With at least 300 yards passing on Sunday, Herbert can match ANDREW LUCK (six games in 2012) for the most 300-yard passing games by a rookie in NFL history. His five such games this year are tied with JOE BURROW (2020), DANIEL JONES (2019) and KYLER MURRAY (2019) for the second-most in league annals.
- Herbert has five games with at least three touchdown passes this season, the most by a rookie in NFL history. Herbert, who has 22 touchdown passes this season, is also the first rookie quarterback with at least two touchdown passes in seven consecutive games in NFL history. He can make it eight straight on Sunday.
- Allen, who leads the NFL with 81 receptions this season, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least 15 catches in two career games, joining ANTONIO BROWN, BRANDON MARSHALL, WES WELKER and JASON WITTEN. Allen has six career games with at least 13 receptions, surpassing ANTONIO BROWN (five games) and WES WELKER (five) for the most in NFL history.
- Buffalo is coming off a bye. In the Bills’ Week 10 game at Arizona, quarterback JOSH ALLEN passed for 284 yards with two touchdowns and had a touchdown reception. Allen, who had 20 touchdown passes and nine rushing touchdowns in 2019, has 21 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns this season and joins DAK PRESCOTT (2016-18) and DESHAUN WATSON (2018-19) as the only players with at least 20 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons in NFL history.
BOSTON COMMON: Two of the premier rushing quarterbacks in the NFL face off when the ARIZONA CARDINALS meet the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX).
- Arizona’s KYLER MURRAY leads all quarterbacks and ranks second in the NFL with 10 rushing touchdowns, trailing only DALVIN COOK (13). From Weeks 6-10, Murray became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era and fourth quarterback in NFL history to rush for a touchdown in five consecutive games. Plus, his 10 rushing touchdowns through Week 10 tied JOHNNY LUJACK (1950) for the most by a quarterback in his team’s first nine games of a season in league annals.
- Among quarterbacks this season, New England’s CAM NEWTON ranks second behind Murray with nine rushing touchdowns. Newton has 67 career rushing touchdowns, the most by a quarterback in NFL history. In 2020, Murray and Newton have established a historic pace through 10 games.
The most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in his team’s first 10 games of a season in NFL history:
|Johnny Lujack||Chicago Bears||1950||10|
|Cam Newton||New England||2020||9|
|Tobin Rote||Green Bay||1956||9|
|Steve Grogan||New England||1976||8|
- Arizona wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS leads the NFL with 912 receiving yards this season. Last week, he became the youngest player to reach 700 career receptions and the fifth player in NFL history with 700 receptions in his first eight seasons. Earlier this season, he became the third player in NFL history with at least 800 receiving yards in each of his first eight seasons, joining GARY CLARK and Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE.
DREAMERS OF THE DAY ARE DANGEROUS MEN: Quarterback RUSSELL WILSON is on the Monday Night Football marquis this week (8:15 PM ET, ESPN) as the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS travel across the country to meet the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES.
- In Week 11, Wilson earned his 93rd regular-season win as a starting quarterback, surpassing PEYTON MANNING (92) for the most wins by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history. The victory also moved Wilson past TOM BRADY (101) for the most wins including postseason over a starting quarterback’s first nine seasons in NFL annals. Since entering the NFL as the Seahawks’ third-round selection (75th overall) in the 2012 draft, Wilson is 102-50-1 (.670), including postseason.
- Wilson, who leads the league with 30 touchdown passes and ranks second in passing yards (2,986) this season, can join PEYTON MANNING as one of two quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 3,000 passing yards and 20-or-more touchdown passes in each of their first nine seasons.
RODGERS NEARS 50,000: Quarterback AARON RODGERS and the GREEN BAY PACKERS are at home on Sunday Night Football against the CHICAGO BEARS (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Rodgers needs 165 passing yards to become the 11th quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000. He enters the week with 49,835 career passing yards.
- Green Bay wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS had seven receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown against Indianapolis in Week 11. Adams is the fourth player in NFL history with at least seven receptions and a touchdown catch in five consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer CRIS CARTER (1999), T.J. HOUSHMANDZADEH (2007) and ADAM THIELEN (2018).
RAMS RECEIVERS STANDING OUT: On Monday night in Tampa Bay, teammates COOPER KUPP and ROBERT WOODS helped the LOS ANGELES RAMS to a key NFC victory to close out Week 11. This week, the Rams host the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX) with an opportunity to improve their conference record to 8-1.
- Kupp (11 receptions for 145 yards) and Woods (12 receptions for 130 yards and one touchdown) became the first pair of NFL teammates in 10 years, and the fourth pair in NFL history, to each record at least 11 catches and 130-or-more receiving yards in the same game.
The teammates each with at least 11 receptions and 130 receiving yards in a game in NFL history:
|Los Angeles Rams||11/23/2020, at Tampa Bay||Cooper Kupp||11||145||Robert Woods||12||130|
|Houston Texans||9/19/2010, vs. Washington||Andre Johnson||12||158||Kevin Walter||11||144|
|Washington||11/4/1990, at Detroit||Art MonkHOF||13||168||Ricky Sanders||11||132|
|Dallas||9/15/1985, at Detroit||Doug Cosbie||11||159||Tony Hill||11||181|
ZEKE HUNGRY FOR YARDS: Last year on Thanksgiving, Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT led the Cowboys with 137 scrimmage yards (71 rushing, 66 receiving). In three career games on the holiday, Elliott has totaled 400 scrimmage yards (133.3 per game) and three rushing touchdowns, surpassing 100 scrimmage yards in each game.
With at least 100 scrimmage yards on Thursday against Houston (4:30 PM ET, FOX), Elliott will become the first player in NFL history to record at least 100 scrimmage yards in four consecutive Thanksgiving Day games.
He would also tie Pro Football Hall of Famers MICHAEL IRVIN (four games) and BARRY SANDERS (four) for the second-most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards on the holiday in league history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer EMMITT SMITH (eight games) has more.
The players with the most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards on Thanksgiving in NFL history:
— NFL —
DESHAUN IS DEALING: Last week, Houston quarterback DESHAUN WATSON completed 28 of 37 passes (75.7 pct.) for 344 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 121.9 rating and added a rushing touchdown in the Texans’ victory. It marked his fifth consecutive game with at least 30 pass attempts and zero interceptions.
With at least 30 pass attempts and zero interceptions on Thanksgiving at Detroit (12:30 PM ET, CBS), Watson will become the third player with at least 30 passing attempts and zero interceptions in six consecutive games in a single season in NFL history, joining AARON BROOKS (2003) and DEREK CARR (2018).
The players with the most consecutive games with at least 30 pass attempts and zero interceptions in a single season in NFL history:
|Aaron Brooks||New Orleans||2003||6|
|Derek Carr||Oakland Raiders||2018||6|
In 48 career games, Watson has passed for 12,599 yards and 91 touchdowns. With a touchdown pass on Thursday, he will surpass PEYTON MANNING (91 touchdown passes) and Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHNNY UNITAS (91) for the fourth-most touchdown passes by a player in his first 50 career games in NFL history.
The players with the most touchdown passes in their first 50 career games in NFL history:
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||103#|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||101|
|Johnny UnitasHOF||Baltimore Colts||91|
|*In 48 games|
|#In 41 games|
— NFL —
3,000 IN ‘20: Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY enters Week 12 ranked fourth in the league with 2,955 passing yards. With 45 passing yards on Sunday against Kansas City (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Brady will have reached 3,000 passing yards in a season for the 18th time, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (18 seasons) for the most in NFL history.
Indianapolis quarterback PHILIP RIVERS ranks 11th in the league with 2,683 passing yards this season. With 317 passing yards on Sunday against Tennessee (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Rivers will become the fifth player in league history to reach 3,000 passing yards in 15 seasons.
The player with the most seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards in NFL history:
|Brett FavreHOF||Green Bay, New York Jets, Minnesota||18|
|Tom Brady||New England||17*|
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans||16*|
|Peyton Manning||Indianapolis, Denver||16|
|Eli Manning||New York Giants||14|
|Philip Rivers||San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers||14*|
— NFL —
#10 FOR #10: Last week, Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT passed for a career-high 366 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 116.5 rating, marking his fifth game with at least three touchdown passes, the most by a rookie in NFL history. Through nine games, Herbert leads all qualified rookies with 2,699 passing yards, 22 touchdown passes and a 104.7 rating this season.
On Sunday at Buffalo (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Herbert can move into the top-three for passing yards and touchdown passes by a player in his first 10 career games in NFL history. PATRICK MAHOMES is the only other player in the top three of both categories after 10 games.
The players with the most passing yards in their first 10 career games in NFL history:
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||3,185|
|Justin Herbert||Los Angeles Chargers||2,699*|
|*In nine games|
The players with the most touchdown passes in their first 10 career games in NFL history:
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||29|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||26|
|Justin Herbert||Los Angeles Chargers||22*|
|George Ratterman||Chicago Cardinals||21|
|*In nine games|
— NFL —
HOME COOKING: Entering Week 12, Minnesota running back DALVIN COOK leads the league with 13 rushing touchdowns and ranks second with 1,069 rushing yards. Last week, he rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown, his 10th consecutive home game with a rushing touchdown, a streak that goes back to Week 1 of the 2019 season.
With a rushing touchdown on Sunday against Carolina (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Cook will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (11 consecutive home games) for the fourth-most consecutive home games with a rushing touchdown with the same team in NFL history.
The players with the most consecutive home games with a rushing touchdown with the same team in NFL history:
|Curtis MartinHOF||New England||1995-96||13|
|LaDainian TomlinsonHOF||San Diego Chargers||2003-05||11|
|Bill Paschal||New York Giants||1943-45||10|
— NFL —