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 third-quarter pole of the season in sight, now is the time to separate teams into “Contenders” and “Pretenders” for coveted playoff berths. After 10 weeks of play, there are still the “Haves” including two undefeated teams (Colts and Saints both 10-0) and the “Have Nots” (nine teams with three or less wins).
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 "haves" and the "have nots" there are a couple of 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: 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 three games that were not even close.
In the most traditional matchup, 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.
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 4-game losing streak with a 26-6 win over the G-Men, who are falling apart after a 5-0 start.
10 Divisional Matchups
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
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (SNF)
Must-win Games for Playoff Hopefuls
Steelers at Ravens
Bears at Vikings
Colts at Texans
Patriots at Saints
NFL Week 12
Thurs, 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).