Check out all the games in our NFL Wrap Up.
On Thanksgiving day the Ravens D feasts on the 49ers quarterback, there's a problem with the kicking game in Cleveland, the Packers continue to roll, injuries to star players doom the Bears and Vikings and the two of the best teams in the AFC are having a problem keeping the ball moving in week 12.
Thanksgiving day game
Green Bay Packers 27
Detroit Lions 15
This seemed like the greatest matchup we could possibly get back in week 5…. Finally, a good game on thanksgiving!! Lions and Packers?!??!?!!? YEAH!!
Then thursday morning came…..and football fans across the country watched as Detroit's Matthew Stafford threw away their chances on this day, and Ndamukong Suh possibly leaving the Lion's playoff chances crushed under his feet.
The Lions defense kept it close early, going into halftime having held the Packers to only one touchdown. The problem was that their offense didn't score a single point until early in the 4th quarter, and by then Green Bay had already built up a 24-0 lead. While the Packers were their usual, efficient, undefeated selves, the Lions felt the effects of a perfect storm of unfortunate events. Matthew Stafford, who played the game with a splint on his right index finger, threw three interceptions. Running Back Kevin Smith, who ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns in week 11, went down with a high ankle sprain in the 2nd quarter. Kicker Jason Hanson missed a 47 yard field goal with a minute left in the first half that might have changed the momentum enough going into the half to keep the Lions from coming out as flat as they did in the 3rd quarter. And then to top it all off, defensive tackle Suh stomps on a Packers O-lineman in the 3rd quarter, effectively getting himself ejected from the game leaving his team further disheartened. Now Suh will reportedly be suspended for at least two games, leaving the Lions without one of their best players during a play-off race. Sorry Lions fans, but it looks like your season is slipping away.
Minnesota Vikings 14
Atlanta Falcons 24
I know I've been praising Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder quite a bit the past few weeks….but can you blame me?? Other than the week 10 drubbing at the hands of the Packers, Ponder has kept this team in every game he's played. Ponder was 17/25 for 186 yards and a touchdown in this game, not exactly all-pro numbers. But when you take into account that he had no turnovers in the game, didn't have all-world running back Adrian Peterson and still got his team to within three points late in the game, anyone would be impressed with the former Florida State Seminole. Wide receiver Percy Harvin was just as if not more impressive than his quarterback. Harvin had 8 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown and nearly returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the 4th quarter that would have brought the Vikings within 3 points, Harvin was pushed out of bounds at the three yard line and the Minnesota offense was unable to get the ball into the end-zone without Peterson and on the day only managed 2.7 yards per carry and 64 total rushing yards.
Chicago Bears 20
Oakland Raiders 25
This game would have been a lot uglier if the Bears defense didn't hold the Oakland offense to 6 field goals and only one touchdown on the day. Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie didn't look like the near miracle worker that almost took down the Packers in the playoffs last year as he had 254 yards passing and two touchdowns, but three interceptions filling in for the injured Jay Cutler. Wide receiver Johnny Knox was the only player on offense that really stood out, catching 4 passes for 145 yards including a 29 yard TD in the 2nd quarter and an 81 yard bomb that lead to another Bears touchdown in the 4th. If the Bears expect to get one of the two NFC wild card spots, they'll need to take advantage of a comparatively weak schedule to close out the season, with 3 of the last 5 games coming against teams with losing records. The Bears currently hold the top wildcard spot in the NFC.
Thanksgiving Day Game
San Francisco 49ers 6
Baltimore Ravens 16
I like a defensive battle just as much as anybody, probably more so than most people, so I'm going to blame any dozing off during the game on the tryptophan. The much hyped battle between the Harbaugh brothers (John is the head coach of the Ravens while Jim is the 49ers' field general) was just as intense as anticipated, two similar teams squaring off to smash each other in the mouth in a classic battle of attrition. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 161 yards and a touchdown, running back Ray Rice rushed for 59 yards and Anquan Boldin had 63 receiving yards, these three led all players with their respectively miniscule totals. Neither team was able to manage more than mere field goals until Flacco finally connected on an 8 yard touchdown pass with tight end Dennis Pitta to put the Ravens up for good. The Ravens defense looked as dominant as they ever have, tying a single game franchise record with nine sacks with All-Pro Terrell Suggs leading the way with three. The Ravens are currently in the #2 spot in the AFC with a decidedly weak final five games (Only the Bengals in week 17 have a winning record) and though they have the same record as the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens hold tie breakers over their rivals.
Pittsburgh Steelers 13
Kansas City Chiefs 9
The Steelers defense forces Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko into 4 turnovers and their offensive line allows only one sack on the day. If you told anyone just those two facts most would assume the Steelers winning by 2-3 touchdowns at least. Then tell them that Troy Polamalu went down with a concussion in the first quarter, would anyone expect the chiefs to have a chance to score a late touchdown and steal a win at home? If you said no, you don't understand how much this team relies on the former USC safety. The Steelers' defense gets considerably basic when they don't have Polamalu and this contest was no different as adjustments to coverage schemes without him led to their pass rush barely putting any pressure on Palko throughout the game while allowing him to complete 18 of his 28 passes. On the other side of the ball, the Steelers' Offensive line looked good statistically, but Chiefs LB/DE Tamba Hali was able to put consistent pressure on Ben Roethlisberger forcing him to scramble on multiple occasions. The Steelers were able to get large chunks of yardage through the air at times, but their inconsistency combined with turnovers in crucial situations deep in Chiefs territory led to a dissappointing day for the offense. The Steelers need to rectify this if they plan on holding onto the top wild card spot in the AFC.
Game of the Week
Cleveland Browns 20
Cincinnati Bengals 23
The Cleveland Browns are finally scoring touchdowns, and on this day they weren't just scoring touchdowns but actually had the lead on their in state rivals until the 4th quarter. But then something happened, and that something was named Andy Dalton. Dalton doesn't look like a rookie quarterback when the game is on the line, he was once again poised and efficient and didn't commit any turnovers while leading his team to a 16 point second half and their seventh victory on the season. Rookie Bengal receiver AJ Green showed once again why Cincinnati took him with the 4th overall pick in this years draft, grabbing three of the four passes thrown his way, most in circuslike fashion on his way to 110 yards and setting up a second half touchdown for tight end Jermaine Gresham as well as the winning field goal by Mike Nugent. Browns kicker Phil Dawson and long snapper Ryan Pontbriand might need to start wondering if their jobs are in jeopardy. For the second time this season a bad snap from Pontbriand has led to Dawson missing a potentially game winning field goal. If those two field goals were made, the Browns are 6-5 and in a five way tie for the final AFC wildcard spot…..think about that for a moment, all four AFC north teams over .500 and in the playoff hunt, rediculous. With the win, Cincinnati holds on to sole posession of the final wild card spot in the AFC. The Bengals are in good position to hold on to that spot too, with three of five games remaining against teams with winning records, but one of those games is against the Houston Texans, who are down to their third string quarterback. The Browns however, have to play four of their last games against the Ravens and Steelers.
Offensive Player of the Week
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay, QB) – 22/33 207 yards, 2 TDs
Another ho-hum week for offensive standouts, the methodical Rodgers has a below average day for him and it's still better than anybody else in the north. Shows you just how good he really is.
Honorable mention – Johnny Knox (CHI, WR) 145 yards, 1 TD
Defensive Player of the Week
Terrell Suggs (Baltimore, LB/DE) – 3 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Suggs was one of many players on the Ravens defense that decided to all meet at the quarterback as he led the D to a franchise record 9 sacks
Honorable mention – Julius Peppers (CHI, DE) 5 tackles, 2 sacks
Green Bay Packers 11-0
Chicago Bears 7-4 (#1 wildcard spot)
Detroit Lions 7-4
Minnesota Vikings 2-9
Baltimore Ravens 8-3
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-3 (#1 wildcard spot)
Cincinnati Bengals 7-4 (#2 wildcard spot)
Cleveland Browns 4-7
Check out the NFL Week 12 South Divisions.
Check out the NFL Week 12 West Divisions.
Check out the NFL Week 12 East Divisions.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS