NFL Week 12: Minnesota Vikings Future, San Diego's Surge and Top 25 Questions

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2010

NFL Week 12: Minnesota Vikings Future, San Diego's Surge and Top 25 Questions

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    New England over Indianapolis? Check.

    Green Bay over Minnesota? Check.

    Philadelphia over New York? Make that a check as well.

    Week 11 is now complete, and still we are no closer to knowing who the top-tier teams are in the NFL at this point in time. What we do know, however, is that this year's regular season has been among the best in recent history, throwing questions at fans and experts alike in the form of a game show of sorts.

    Just like the past 11 weeks, this weekend has been non-stop excitement. Many teams had their finger on the button, and with even more crucial and key matchups arising in Week 12, a long list of queries and debates are already simmering as we speak.

    Can Peyton Manning get back on track? Is this Vince Young's last year in Tennessee? And who will win the famous "Galloping Gobbler" award as Thanksgiving approaches?

    Try not to fill up on turkey, and stay focused on Week 12. I know this is easier said than done, but this week's Top 25 Questions should set you up for one of America's biggest sporting weekends as we give thanks to the great game that is football.

    Follow Ryan Cook on Twitter.

    Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters, plus a contributing writer for Detroit Lions TalkGack Sports and Generation Y Sports.

25. Gary Kubiak: Is the Hot Seat Heating Up in Houston?

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    If you were to ask any player or coach around the league, most people would tell you that Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is a pretty standup guy. If you were to ask the small portion of fans who showed up to the Meadowland's in Week 11 to experience the Texans' heartbreaking 30-27 loss against the Jets, however, they may give you a totally different opinion.

    A day after Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress was fired, talk has begun to flare up for many other coaches whose teams haven't fared well in 2010. Marvin Lewis and Josh McDaniels have felt the heat recently, but at the same time Gary Kubiak has copped some criticism for his team's utter collapse in the second half of the season.

    Take a look back to six weeks ago; the Texans looked invincible. Sitting triumphantly atop the AFC South, nobody expected Houston to be sitting at 4-6 several long weeks down the track.

    Here we are, though, and to answer the question, the hot seat is more than just lukewarm in Houston. For a team with such talent to have a complete defensive meltdown, Kubiak needs to provide some answers very quickly as his team heads home to face Tennessee in Week 12.

    One more loss and Kubiak may be staring at the gun. It'd be a tough way to go, but hey, Brad Childress proves case and point.

24. What Does Denver’s Poor Season Mean for Kyle Orton’s Pro Bowl Year?

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    A serious competition between Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton was in store for this year, but who would have thought that No. 8 from Denver would emerge on top? I know most people certainly didn't.

    Believe it or not, amidst Denver's trouble-filled year sits a top-flight quarterback who has had a stellar 2010 season. After passing for 3,023 yards and 17 touchdowns throughout the past 11 weeks, Kyle Orton now has a firm chance at a Pro Bowl nomination, especially if he keeps up this impressive play.

    Of course, there is a ton of competition in front of Orton. The AFC currently boasts many big-name quarterbacks this year, and if the typical candidates of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger miss out (that would be rare), the backup spots could well go to Matt Cassel, David Garrard or even Philip Rivers.

    It's unfortunate that the Broncos' poor season has limited Kyle Orton's big-time year, but luckily most people have realized how great No. 8 has been. It goes without saying that receiver Brandon Lloyd also deserves a mention here, and if Orton is to attain a spot in Hawaii, so too should his star wide receiver.

    We'll wait and see how this story unfolds; chances are, though, that Orton stands a 50/50 shot.

23. Is Tyler Thigpen Still the Preferred Starter in Miami?

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    Shut out by the Chicago Bears last Thursday Night, Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano has endured an extended week to contemplate where his team is headed, and more importantly he's had time to sort out his quarterback mess.

    In case you missed it, Tyler Thigpen's performance on Thursday Night Football was dismal. The fourth-year pro only managed to throw for 187 yards and one interception stepping in for the injured Chad Henne and Chad Pennington, and even though Miami's loss was a team effort, Thigpen didn't live up to his "2008 Kansas City Chief" expectations that many people had placed on his shoulders.

    So now heading into a crucial and season-defining game against the Oakland Raiders, Sparano must make a realistic decision in regards to starting Thigpen or going with another option.

    But what are those options, exactly?

    Seeing as though the Dolphins acquired Patrick Ramsey midway through last week, the former Jacksonville Jaguar may be asked to suit up in Week 12. It would be more than a questionable move, but with the season on the line it could be Miami's last-ditch effort to get their AFC Wild Card campaign back on track.

22. Will Shawne Merriman Play for the Bills At All This Season?

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    Signing star linebacker Shawne Merriman was a big-time move for the Buffalo Bills organization. Little did they know, though, that Merriman was in the thick of some serious fitness issues that would sideline him for a major period of time.

    In Week 11, good news for the Bills came from all fronts. Buffalo came back hard against the Cincinnati Bengals to win the game by a 49-31 score, and with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fitting comfortably in the starting role, head coach Chan Gailey may not have the luxury of waiting for the 2011 season.

    Just as quickly as the Bills celebrated, all of their wishful thinking was dampened a little thanks to Merriman. Yesterday reports arose that Merriman is likely to miss a third straight team practice this week, and now speculation of him missing the remainder of the season is beginning to creep in.

    Perhaps at the end of the day this won't hurt the Bills too much. Let's face it, the playoffs are long gone, and, more to the point, the Bills' ninth-ranked passing defense hasn't struggled all that much without their newest recruit.

    One day Merriman will suit up, and that could be a glorious day for the Buffalo Bills. Eventually that day will come, though, unfortunately for the Bills, it may not be this season.

21. Should the Carolina Panthers “Tank” the Rest of the Season?

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    Some may say that the word "tank" could easily be replaced with the word "quit" for the Carolina Panthers this year, but nonetheless there are still six weeks to go this season, and the Carolina Panthers are by far the worst team in the league.

    For those folks that aren't familiar with the concept of "tanking," it basically means to purposely lose the remaining games in the year in order to earn a top draft pick when April rolls around.

    Luckily for the Panthers, if they do intend to partake in this method, the job is half done. Still, with big games coming up against Seattle, Atlanta and Pittsburgh, the Panthers may be wise to let it all slip this year to focus on truly rebuilding.

    Currently Carolina sits at 1-9 on the season, and, unlike many of the league's below-.500 teams this year, the Panthers are the only squad to show very little promise on both sides of the ball, even though the team at one point had the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL.

    Now, an embarrassing loss to Baltimore last week was the fate, and the tanking concept has arisen from out of the woodwork. Agree with it or not, it's a theory that could help the Panthers in the long run, especially considering that so many promising quarterbacks are up for grabs in this year's draft.

20. Can We Now Place LeSean McCoy Among the League’s Best RBs in 2010?

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    In Week 10, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was in top form against the Washington Redskins. In Week 11, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy followed in his footsteps.

    Against a tough New York Giants defense, the Eagles were always in store for a hard-fought game against their division rivals. Looking back now, it could be said that Philadelphia for the most part completely dominated, but when the Giants took the lead and nearly stole the victory, things did look shaky for a while.

    That is until LeSean McCoy stepped in.

    One Eli Manning turnover and a massive breakout run from LeSean McCoy turned the game around, and No. 25 ended his day with 111 yards and one touchdown—big stats for a running back that his been looking to come out of his shell in recent weeks.

    But is McCoy an elite runner?

    To many, there are different definitions to this term. Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson are of course at the top of the class, accompanied by Michael Turner, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew on the very next level. As for LeSean McCoy, he fits in on this second-tier level at the moment.

    After a big day on Sunday night, McCoy now sits with 726 yards and six touchdowns on the year. For a second-year player to be so close to the 1000-yard mark is remarkable, and it has earned the Eagles' main man a "good" spot in many people's books.

    If it keeps up, the Eagles will have a well-rounded football team. And if they make the playoffs, expect McCoy to play a significant factor.

19. Will the New York Jets Finally Post Big Points Against Cincinnati?

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    New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez flew the American flag onto the field this past Sunday against the Houston Texans.  This patriotic emotion didn't spill over onto the playing field, though.

    If you've been keeping track of the Jets' past month, you may have noticed their struggles on offense.  Yes, the Jets haven't lost a game since that disappointing 9-0 shutout against Green Bay in Week 8, but the three wins since haven't been all that convincing.

    For the most part, the Jets' true struggles have been on the scoreboard.  Sanchez's woes have cost New York points, and seeing as though the Jets have two overtime victories and a near-loss against Houston occupying their past month, Rex Ryan needs to be a little concerned.

    In Week 12 the Jets will now remain home to take on the Cincinnati Bengals.  Marvin Lewis' crew is an absolute mess right now, meaning that this is the fourth straight week in a row that sees the Jets take on a considerably weaker opponent.

    Will they actually rack the scoreboard up, though?

    One would like to think so.  Sure, Santonio Holmes' last-minute brilliance is exciting to watch, but as much as Rex Ryan likes to hide the fact that his team has been close to losing, kinks do need to be ironed out fast if the Jets want to maintain top spot in the AFC East.

    A perfect opportunity presents itself this week, so let's see if Santonio Homes can extend the scoreboard wider than his arms against the Bengals.

18. Troy or Alex: Which Smith Will Mike Singletary Choose?

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    Shut out at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the weekend, the San Francisco 49ers are now sent back to the drawing board, after notching two consecutive wins in weeks prior that began to spur a last minute playoff push.

    That will have to wait, though.

    With a poor performance in hand, head coach Mike Singletary now has a week to devise a plan ahead of the team's clash with the Arizona Cardinals—and, more importantly, attempt to decide on a starting quarterback after Troy Smith's poor performance against Tampa Bay.

    Smith, who passed for only 148 yards and one interception in the 49ers' 21-0 loss, is now being doubted for his ability even though he was phenomenal for San Francisco in previous weeks.

    As for the options that present themselves, it's really between Alex Smith and Troy Smith at this point in time.  The Bay Area may be cringing at the very thought of Alex Smith stepping back in, but hey, maybe a second chance will spur some kind of talent out of No. 11. It's worked in the past.

    Singletary isn't one to make snap decisions, and in all fairness Troy Smith should be awarded at least one more start.  A shutout loss is one thing, but a quarterback controversy is another, and I think you'll agree that is one big hornets nest the 49ers need to stay away from.

17. Are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a Playoff Sleeper Pick?

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    Sticking with the team that toppled San Francisco on Sunday, the very underrated Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently sit third in the NFC South, although a 7-3 record is certainly favorable for a big-time playoff opportunity.

    If you're looking at the Buccaneers and wondering where all of this sudden explosion has come from, look no further than Josh Freeman, who is having a spectacular second year under center.  Currently Freeman has thrown for 2,099 yards and 14 touchdowns, and if he does somehow get lucky he may actually make a Pro Bowl appearance.

    But aside from what Freeman has been able to pull off, not all of the Bucs' hard work has come from the quarterback position.  Rookie running back LeGarrette Blount has stepped up at a crucial time in the season, and receivers Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow Jr. have managed to accommodate Freeman in the passing game.

    So now the question is simple: Are the Buccaneers a sleeper pick for the postseason?

    If you're a man of optimism, Tampa Bay is right up your alley.  If you're a man of common sense, though, chances are that you realize what a tough test stands in front of Raheem Morris' team, what with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints still causing a threat.

    Even if the Bucs miss out this year, it won't take away from a great season. Their 7-3 mark through 10 games was never predicted for a team that went 3-13 a year ago, and a lot has been done to make Tampa Bay a serious playoff contender in the years to come.

16. Welcome Back Julius Peppers?

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    From Carolina to Chicago, Julius Peppers was an easy pick to excel in the Windy City.  When the big man took his foot off the gas a little midway through the year, though, some concern began to play a factor for the Bears' defensive star.

    As quickly as people question Julius Peppers, however, almost instantaneously the big man turned it around.  The Bears are 7-3 on the year, and even though Jay Cutler has been stealing the limelight in recent weeks, Peppers' three big sacks against the Miami Dolphins last week didn't go unnoticed.

    Heading into Week 12 the Bears now return home to face one of the (if not the) hottest teams in football—the Philadelphia Eagles.  Quarterback Michael Vick produced his first turnover of the year against the Giants on Sunday night, so perhaps Peppers will take on a shark-like mentality knowing that a quick-witted quarterback awaits him.

    Peppers is definitely back, and it couldn't come at a better time for Lovie Smith.  Ranked third in overall defense, the hard-hitting ways of the old-school Chicago defense have returned, and you can thank Julius Peppers for that.

15. Which Teams Are Poised for the Playoffs After 11 Weeks?

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    Eleven weeks down, and still the NFL playoff picture is as clear as a stormy summer's day. 

    At this point in time, the following teams are perhaps the biggest certainties to be playing January football three months down the track:

     

    NFC

    East - Philadelphia Eagles (7-3)

    South - Atlanta Falcons (8-2)

    West - Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

    North - Green Bay Packers (7-3)

     

    AFC

    East - New England Patriots (8-2)

    South - Indianapolis Colts (6-4)

    West - Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

    North - Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

     

    With this all being said, there are several other teams who are in the hunt.  The Chicago Bears stand a shot in the NFC North, the Giants aren't out of contention in the East, New Orleans is keeping pace with Atlanta and the St. Louis Rams aren't totally out just yet in the West.

    As for the AFC, this a hot contest.  The Jets could easily outplay the Patriots in the upcoming weeks, Jacksonville sits atop the division even though the Colts are still the favorite, San Diego is surging in the West and no one can discount the always-strong Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Week 12?  It should determine a lot more.  While we wait, though, these are the main playoff favorites, until further notice.

14. With CJ Spiller Returning, Can the Bills Make It Three Straight Wins?

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    The Buffalo Bills have enjoyed their recent winning streak, knocking off the dismal Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 for one of the biggest comeback victories of the 2010 season. 

    However, with the bad news of Shawne Merriman's absence still plaguing Chan Gailey's team, the Bills have found some happiness knowing that their run game is about to pick up immensely with the expected return of C.J Spiller this weekend.

    For some, the return of Spiller doesn't mean all that much.  Fred Jackson has been the better running back in Buffalo this year, and seeing as though quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick sits near Spiller in rushing yards, this statistic pretty much sums up the rookie's season.

    Still, gaining Spiller back means that the Bills can continue to renovate their offense.  With only 164 yards and zero touchdowns on the year, the remaining six weeks can help Spiller gain some confidence and prepare for the 2011 season that looks so promising for the Bills.

    In Gailey's mind, perhaps Spiller won't see much of the field this Sunday when the Bills take on the Steelers at home, but if Gailey is smart, he'll look to develop his first-round rookie pick against one of the league's top defenses.

13. Can Randy Moss Step Up Against the Houston Texans?

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    It's been a question that has plagued the Top 25 list since his signing with the Tennessee Titans, but God help us, Randy Moss continues to create controversy toward the end of the regular season.

    In case you are blissfully unaware, Moss had a stagnant Week 11.  No. 84 caught zero passes against the Washington Redskins, and as unfortunate as Vince Young's injury is, it is still no excuse for a receiver of Moss' caliber.

    What is next for Moss?

    The Houston Texans.  Not only is this an opportunity for Moss to really open up his account as a Tennessee Titan, it is also a chance to expose the league's 32nd-ranked pass defense and cut holes in Gary Kubiak's secondary.

    More to the point, though, it is a chance for Randy Moss to eliminate the Titans' division rivals from playoff contention.  Love them or hate them, Tennessee still has playoff aspirations, even though they sit at 5-5 and third place in the AFC South.

    Moss must get on his bike this weekend and play—hard.  Anything short of this will result in even further criticism.

12. Terrell Owens vs. Darrelle Revis: And the Winner Is?

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    Terrell Owens is no stranger to slamming his opponents off the field, and when he managed to do just that against Darrelle Revis recently, the stage was set for a big-time clash this Thursday night.

    Realistically, you'd think Owens would have learned from Chad Ochocinco's trash-talk tactics in the playoffs last year.  Revis was the victim of some "friendly" words, but at the end of the day he embarrassed the Bengals' star wide receiver.

    So now Owens has tried his hand at Revis, and even though this time around Revis hasn't had a spectacular year, throwing fuel onto an open fire could be a mistake for T.O.

    Thursday Night Football will play host to this game, and you can expect that these two will be talking it up on the field.  Owens has 897 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on the year, while Revis has zero interceptions.

    The tides have been turned, but that isn't to say Revis can't make a comeback in Week 12.  Make sure you don't miss this one.

11. What Is Up with the New York Giants?

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    Plummeting head-first into the turf was Eli Manning's choice of play on Sunday night; that certainly isn't how Tom Coughlin envisioned his season to finish up, though.

    Meet the New York Giants, a typical team who has a tendency to lose plenty of games in the months of November and December.  Why is that?  Mainly due to the Giants' tough scheduling, also thrown in with a bit of bad luck and a few silly errors that continue to plague the team.

    This time around, the errors that the Giants have seen are turnovers, and as if Eli Manning's last-minute fumble wasn't enough, now New York falls to second in the NFC East, having to claw back to the top spot over the Philadelphia Eagles.

    The Giants will take a trip back home now to race the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team who is ranked first in the AFC South.  Not only has New York become turnover-savvy, its hard-hitting defensive ways have taken a slight detour. The Giants must get back on track as soon as possible.

    Coughlin may not be on the hot seat just yet, but if he blows a playoff opportunity this season, Giants fans may be tired of going bust at the end of the season.  It isn't panic stations just yet, but boy is it getting close.

10. Who Is The Favorite To Take Home the Galloping Gobbler Award?

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    Thanksgiving football is just two days away, and with it comes a humorous discussion of who may win the Galloping Gobbler award this season.

    In 2009 the Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver took home the honors after his big-time performance against the Detroit Lions.  This time around, however, the Packers won't be making their annual visit to Detroit; instead, the Lions will be taking on the New England Patriots at Ford Field.

    Personally, one of the biggest favorites for Gobbler would have to be Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant.  As far as rookie seasons go, Bryant has been phenomenal, and his 547 yards and six touchdowns have been a compliment of a fantastic year.

    Sleeper picks to focus on would have to be BenJarvus Green-Ellis of New England, and of course Calvin Johnson from Detroit.  Normally this award goes to an offensive player nowadays, so if you're going to place some money on a favorite, stick with a big-name guy like "Megatron."

    Thanksgiving football is always a highlight of the season, and three crucial matchups await.  New England at Detroit, New Orleans at Dallas and Cincinnati at New York.  The Galloping Gobbler is up for grabs, but keep an eye on Dez Bryant.

9. Will the Browns Win Another Game Without Colt McCoy?

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    Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy was unfortunate enough to feel the pinch of the Cleveland injury bug last week, as he now feels the side effects of an injured ankle sustained against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    If McCoy was on any other team, this injury may not be as significant.  Considering that No. 12 has provided such a positive momentum boost for the Browns this year, though, losing their go-to quarterback will surely hurt the Browns in the long run.

    On the positive side, no one knows for sure how long McCoy will be out, and for the record it only appears to be a week-long absence at the most.  Still, as we know with these injuries, McCoy may be plagued by an ankle sprain for quite some time, and the question of the Browns' win total is up for discussion.

    Cleveland travels back home to face the weak Carolina Panthers in Week 12, so at least the Browns don't have a tough task to face right now.  In all likelihood Jake Delhomme will start, and funnily enough he'll get to face his former team.

    More news to come from McCoy's injury, but it isn't as serious as first thought.

8. Can the Oakland Raiders Bounce Back from a Week 11 Blowout?

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    Sitting atop the AFC West after Week 10 was a huge feat for the Oakland Raiders to achieve; unfortunately for Raider Nation, though, there was a short-lived honeymoon following an ugly loss to Pittsburgh in Week 11.

    In all fairness to Tom Cable's team, a trip to Pittsburgh is never an easy task.  Richard Seymour let his emotions get the better of him, and once Jason Campbell was benched due to a poor performance, the Raiders more or less shot themselves in the foot at Heinz Field.

    Following on from the Raiders' 35-3 blowout, head coach Tom Cable stated that there is no quarterback controversy in Oakland, stating that Campbell is still the preferred starter heading into Week 12.  Not only is this good news for The Black Hole, it also means that the Raiders can recover from last week's disappointment and still push for the playoffs without any major personnel changes to worry about.

    The Miami Dolphins now await Darren McFadden and Co., and considering how poor the Dolphins looked against the Chicago Bears over a week ago, this game is certainly favoring the Raiders in more ways than one right now.

    Be cautious, however; the Dolphins have had an extended week and can still pack a punch.  With San Diego coming strong and the Chiefs still hanging on atop the division, the Raiders need this win to solidify their playoff chances even more.

7. Are the Jacksonville Jaguars Playoff-Bound?

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    Why do we love the NFL?  Because a team that no one expected to do well sits atop their division and has outmuscled the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts to gain the top spot in recent weeks.

    Ah, the Jaguars.  Who would have thought?  April looked dismal for Jack Del Rio, and after a rather unsuccessful draft campaign, the Jaguars were solid picks to fall below .500 this season, featuring a ton of turmoil throughout the process.

    Boy, were we wrong.

    Twelve weeks into the year the Jaguars have a 6-4 record, making their playoff chances known ahead of the upcoming six weeks that are absolutely crucial to David Garrard's offense.

    To answer the question, yes, Jacksonville is playoff-bound—for now.  As much as I'd like to sit here and tell you all that the Indianapolis Colts won't rally in the next several weeks, that theory is a total myth, because we all know how strong Peyton Manning can be.

    If Jacksonville are to make the big dance, they must win the easy games.  I know it sounds cliche, but as long as the Jaguars stay two or three games above .500, a Wild Card chance becomes all that more feasible.

    At the moment, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say the playoffs are a distinct possibility.  What will occur in the next six weeks, though, is anybody's guess.

6. Will Peyton Manning Go Three Consecutive Weeks with a Poor Performance?

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    Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Peyton Manning knows that.  Three interceptions last week against New England was very uncharacteristic of the Sheriff, and after only passing for 185 yards against Cincinnati the week prior, certainly isn't like the No. 18 we all know.

    The biggest problem for the Colts offense right now is a lack of options.  Injury-riddled and missing some serious big names, Peyton Manning has struggled with what is left of the wide receiver corp, and he is obviously missing Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark and 100 percent of Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne.

    Things don't get any easier for the Colts, though.

    The San Diego Chargers now make a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium after blowing out the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.  It's a good ol' AFC clash, and the Colts are in serious danger of letting their playoff chances slide.

    Just like his brother Eli, the panic button hasn't been pushed, but by looking at Peyton Manning's track record in the month of November, no one envisioned this. 

    Three weeks with poor performances?

    It's a distinct possibility, and with Vincent Jackson now suiting up for Week 12, the Colts better bring some mustard on Sunday Night Football.

5. Cincinnati’s Collapse: Is There Any Chance the Bengals Can Win in Week 12?

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    Struggling, criticized and absolutely pathetic—that's the 2010 version of the Cincinnati Bengals.

    If you told most folks at home that the Bengals would be 2-8 looking into Week 12, they probably would have laughed at you.  Here was a team that featured two of the league's top receivers, a bundle of good draft picks, and a quarterback that could still get the job done despite some questioning.

    I guess it was all one big illusion, though.

    To add salt to an already-open wound, the Bengals now have to travel to the New York Jets on Thanksgiving Thursday.  The Buffalo loss have brought out the paper bags in Cincinnati, and now that the term "Bungles" is back in full swing, this Thursday night could be an absolute disaster.

    Finally, head coach Marvin Lewis is facing a big time hot seat, even though it should have come many weeks ago.  Minnesota Vikings head man Brad Childress felt the boot this week, so perhaps one more loss will cancel out Marvin Lewis for the remainder of the year.

    Terrell Owens is talking trash (for some unknown reason), and it probably isn't wise to taunt a 8-2 team.  One more loss and even more controversy is a big-time likelihood.

4. What Should You Watch for When the Packers Travel to Atlanta?

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    The AFC soaked up most of the spotlight in Week 11, but heading into Week 12 it's the NFC's turn to shine loud and proud.

    In case you haven't taken a quick glimpse at the schedule, one of the most meaningful games of the season is set to get under way in the Georgia Dome, where the 7-3 Green Bay Packers will take on the 8-2 Atlanta Falcons for NFC bragging rights.

    For most people, the Falcons are the best team in the NFC.  Matt Ryan and Roddy White are rolling, and although some serious tests await, the Falcons have by far been the epitome of a solid football team all season long.

    But can we say that about the Packers?

    Yes, though some hiccups have occurred.

    For the moment, though, Green Bay is playing the best football it has all year. Aaron Rodgers dismantled Brett Favre and the Vikings last week, and Green Bay continues to storm over teams like it's nobody's business.

    Will Week 12 see another win for the green and gold?

    Away trips aren't easy, especially to the Georgia Dome, but keep in mind this is the same team that shut out the New York Jets in the Meadowland's a month ago.

    If the Packers take this victory, count them in for the playoffs; confidence will be sky high for Mike McCarthy's team.

3. Can the Tennessee Titans Survive Without Vince Young?

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    Controversy has struck Tennessee in the past two days, following an overtime loss to the Washington Redskins and a Vince Young injury that has aggravated head coach Jeff Fisher.

    Keeping this scenario simple and short, the Titans will most likely struggle without Vince Young.  Yes, Young did have a tendency to throw a few games away due to inconsistency, but at least the Titans knew what they were getting from the former Texas Longhorn.

    Who will replace No. 10 this weekend?

    Rookie quarterback Rusty Smith, as veteran Kerry Collins is still absent with injury.

    At the end of the day this injury to Vince Young could cost the Titans a lot more than just the 2010 season.  Head coach Jeff Fisher told Young not to attend a team meeting on Monday, and it appears that tensions are thick down south.

    The offseason should be meaningful for the Vince Young saga, and right now the playoffs are beginning to fade away for the Titans.  We'll wait and see what Rusty Smith can produce, but a rookie at the helm 12 weeks into the year isn't a good sign.

2. Come One, Come All to the San Diego Show?

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    The San Diego Chargers are back in full swing, and if you didn't duck on Monday night after Norv Turner's team hammered the Denver Broncos, I suggest you move out of the way when the Chargers head to Indianapolis this week.

    In the past two weeks, the San Diego show has been rising.  From a below-.500 record to dead even at 5-5, the Chargers do have some serious work ahead of them if they are to outplay the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in their division.

    But as for what the Chargers have in their favor, well, they have a very firm statistical advantage.  Ranked third in points, first in yards and most importantly first in defense, the San Diego Chargers are an underrated threat not to be taken lightly.

    Better yet, the Chargers also have Philip Rivers.  The MVP talk may be surrounding Michael Vick right now, but surely the Chargers' leading man deserves some recognition with 3,177 yards and 23 total touchdowns to his name.

    A tough trip to the heartland of the Colts awaits, and some good ol' southern hospitality could await the Chargers.  At the same time, San Diego is one of the strongest teams heading into December, and, as we all know, when Norv Turner smells the playoffs he doesn't take his foot off the accelerator.

1. What Does the Minnesota Vikings' Immediate Future Hold?

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    The news of the week has of course surrounded the Minnesota Vikings, as Brad Childress now finds himself in the unemployment line with Wade Phillips, replaced by interim head coach Leslie Frazier for the rest of the season.

    In regards to the future for the Minnesota Vikings, things aren't bright at all.  The Green Bay Packers slayed any playoff chances last week in a blowout victory, and with Brett Favre throwing turnovers in every fixture, postseason status is a long way away.

    But for now, the immediate future could look better.  If we gauge a guess off of Jason Garrett's past two weeks in a Dallas Cowboys outfit, a new head coach can easily spark a small ounce of skill in a team throughout the season.

    Frazier, though, may be a different story, and until the Vikings defense can shut down the pass for an entire game, the job will always be tough.  Favre, on the other hand, is facing his last six weeks in the NFL, and with a game in Washington awaiting, things don't get easier.

    Wish the best of luck to Frazier; he'll need it.  Whether or not he excels is a totally different ball game.