With only six games left for all NFL teams entering Week 12 of the 2009 NFL Season, there is definitely a sense of urgency. With the 3rd quarter pole of the season in sight, now is the time for teams to separate into “Contenders” and “Pretenders” for the NFL’s 12 coveted 2009 playoff berths. After 10 weeks of play, there are still the “Have’s” including two undefeated teams (Colts and Saints both 10-0) and the “Have Nots” (nine teams with 3 or less wins). But there are also 15 teams currently caught in the league’s parity-filled middle (records ranging from 4-6 to 6-4, entering Week 12) that still need to figure out, if they are joining or jumping out of the playoff hunt.
With all the talk of the Have’s and the Have Nots around the NFL each week there are a couple common characteristics that I have seen with many winning teams around the league.
- They don’t turn the football over
- They have balance offensively and make sure to run the football
- Constant pressure (hits and sacks) on quarterbacks where they don’t’ feel comfortable in the pocket, which leads to turnovers
- Adjustments during weekly preparation and within games too.
- Quality of Roster Depth, because every team is “banged” up and most have lost players for the rest of the season due to injury.
- Strong Special Teams – Returns (punt and kickoff) for good yardage and touchdowns plus good coverage units, punters able to play the field position game, and ice-water kickers.
Since the real fun is beginning, I thought now was a good time to look at the remaining games for all of the NFL’s contenders (10-0 to 4-6 teams)
ARI (7-3) @TEN MIN @SF @DET STL GB
ATL (5-5) TB PHI NO @NYJ BUF @TB
BAL (5-5) PIT @GB DET CHI @PIT @OAK
CAR (4-6) @NYJ TB @NE MIN @NYG NO
CHI (4-6) @MIN STL GB @BAL MIN @DET
CIN (7-3) CLE DET @MIN @SD KC @NYJ
DAL (8-3) @NYG SD @NO @WAS PHI
DEN (7-4) @KC @IND OAK @PHI KC
GB (7-4) BAL @CHI @PIT SEA @ARI
HOU (5-5) IND @JAC SEA @STL @MIA NE
IND (10-0) @HOU TEN DEN @JAC NYJ @BUF
JAC (6-4) @SF HOU MIA IND @NE @CLE
MIA (5-5) @BUF NE @JAC @TEN HOU PIT
MIN (9-1) CHI @ARI CIN @CAR @CHI NYG
NE (7-3) @NO @MIA CAR @BUF JAC @HOU
NO (10-0) NE @WAS @ATL DAL TB @CAR
NYG (6-5) DAL PHI @WAS CAR @MIN
NYJ (4-6) CAR @BUF @TB ATL @IND CIN
PHI (6-4) WAS @ATL @NYG SF DEN @DAL
PIT (6-4) @BAL OAK @CLE GB BAL @MIA
SD (7-3) KC @CLE @DAL CIN @TEN WAS
SF (4-6) JAC @SEA ARI @PHI DET @STL
TEN (4-6) ARI @IND STL MIA SD @SEA
Week 12 in the NFL:
Three Thanksgiving Games – America’s holiday featured 3 games that were not even close. In the most traditional match-up, the Green Packers invaded Detroit for a 34-12 win that now firmly puts them in the NFC playoff hunt. The Dallas Cowboys continued their dominance on Turkey Day (Romo is now 4-0 on the holiday) by throttling the Oakland Raiders 24-7. And lastly, the NFL’s nightcap featuring the Denver Broncos and NY Giants didn’t turn out to be the desperation bowl everyone thought it would be. The Broncos ended their four game losing streak with their 26-6 win over the G-Men, who are falling apart after a 5-0 start.
Ten divisional match-ups — Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions on Thursday (Packers 34-12 win), Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks at St Louis Rams, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (SNF).
Several must-win games for playoff hopefuls trying to stay in the hunt — Steelers at Ravens, Bears at Vikings, Colts at Texans and Patriots at Saints
NFL Week 12
THU, NOV 26
Green Bay (7-4) over Detroit (2-9), 34-12
Dallas (8-3) over Oakland (3-8), 24-7
Denver (7-4) over NY Giants (6-5), 26-6
SUN, NOV 29
Tampa Bay at Atlanta 1:00 PM (FOX)
Miami at Buffalo 1:00 PM (CBS)
Cleveland at Cincinnati 1:00 PM (CBS)
Arizona at Tennessee 1:00 PM (FOX)
Seattle at St. Louis 1:00 PM (FOX)
Chicago at Minnesota 1:00 PM (FOX)
Carolina at NY Jets 1:00 PM (FOX)
Washington at Philadelphia 1:00 PM (FOX)
Indianapolis at Houston 1:00 PM (CBS)
Kansas City at San Diego 4:05 PM (CBS)
Jacksonville at San Francisco 4:05 PM (CBS)
Pittsburgh at Baltimore 8:20 PM (NBC)
MON, NOV 30
New England at New Orleans 8:30 PM (ESPN)
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)