The 32 lessons we took away from the NFL’s Week 12 in 2022 include:
1. The AFC and NFC playoff scenarios are starting to take shape with two-thirds of the regular season remaining. Three teams from each conference that didn’t make it in 2021 would proceed into the postseason if it started today, which it doesn’t (Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington Commanders).
1a. Since 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs each season after missing out the year prior.
2. What are the (very) early reactions to the Jets’ choice to replace Zach Wilson with Mike White as a reserve? Spectacular. White had a brilliant 149.3 quarterback rating as the New York Jets thrashed the Chicago Bears 31-10. White completed 22 of 28 throws for 315 yards and three touchdowns (two to rookie WR Garrett Wilson, who has yet to catch a scoring pass from Zach Wilson).
Zach Wilson has made 20 starts in the NFL and has never had a day with three touchdown passes. He has also only once had a passer rating above 100.0 (101.1). White also made his first career start in a 34-31 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last season while Wilson was sidelined with a knee injury, passing for 405 yards and three touchdowns (107.9 rating).
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3. New York returned to the AFC bracket as the seventh seed (third wild card) after the Jets’ victory and the New England Patriots’ defeat on Thanksgiving night, leaving the Pats on the outside looking in.
4. Of course, Jets supporters should contain their enthusiasm given that their team was spared Justin Fields, the Bears’ starting quarterback, who missed Sunday’s game while nursing a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury. Fields defeated fellow 2021 quarterback draft picks Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers), Davis Mills (Houston Texans), and Mac Jones (New England Patriots) to lead Chicago to three victories this season. Nine picks after Wilson went to the Jets at No. 2 in 2021, Fields was selected as the 11th overall pick.
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5. Sam Darnold, the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback who took Wilson’s place, made his 2022 debut on Sunday after missing the majority of the year due to a high ankle sprain sustained during the preseason. However, even after shaking off the rust, Darnold still outperformed Wilson, throwing for a touchdown and recovering his own fumble for another score while avoiding the mistakes that marred his time with the Jets. The Panthers’ victory even at 4-8 moved them within 112 games of the NFC South lead.
6. Since Matt Rhule, the new Nebraska coach, was fired, Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks’ record has improved to 3-4. In 2018, Wilks’ lone season as Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, his team went 3-13.
7. Separately, would the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets’ decision to kick free agency wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. off a plane on Sunday effectively exclude them as potential suitors? seeking a friend.
8. The Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers entered Sunday as two teams that were mired at 500 or lower but still had a chance to contend for a playoff spot. With a 25-24 win, the Bolts were the ones to advance in the desert. And give LA coach Brandon Staley credit; despite the fact that many of his analytics-based choices leave you scratching your head, his decision to go for two points and the victory after the Chargers scored a touchdown with 15 seconds left was successful and crucial.
The fading Cards (4-8) are three back in the NFC, while the Bolts (6-5) are one game out of the final AFC playoff place.
9. The Chargers are currently Hollywood’s favorite team, all things considered. Coach Sean McVay and the defending champion Rams struggled once more, falling to the Chiefs 26-10 in Kansas City. In McVay’s six seasons, this is the first time the Rams have lost five straight games. It’s also the first time he has been punched in the jaw by one of his players while coaching.
10. Despite moving to 9-2, the Chiefs didn’t play very well, misplacing the ball twice against Rams QB3 Bryce Perkins, who was making his first NFL start.
To be honest, these clubs were never going to match the Rams’ 54-51 shootout victory in the LA Coliseum four years ago, the first game in league history in which both teams scored 50 points.
11. On Sunday night, quarterback Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles made league history by amassing at least 125 yards in both passing and rushing in a single half.
Hurts and the RB Additionally, Miles Sanders made history as the first Eagles teammate to surpass 125 yards of individual rushing in a game.
12. Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, was unable to complete the game against the Philadelphia Eagles due to an oblique injury, and in the second half, he was replaced by backup Jordan Love. With the Pack now 4-8, it could be time to give Love a closer look. Depending on Rodgers’ health, this decision might be necessary.
13. The advancing San Francisco 49ers defeated the New Orleans Saints 13-0 to win their fourth straight game and take sole possession of first place in the NFC West. With a perfect division record, the San Francisco 49ers will be even more difficult to beat by the second-place Seattle Seahawks.
14. The Saints had not been shut out in 332 games, the longest active stretch in the NFL dating back to the 2001 season. San Francisco was the last club to defeat them, thanks to WR Terrell Owens and QB Jeff Garcia.
15. Alvin Kamara of the Saints fumbled twice in a single game for the first time in his six-year career, once on the opening drive and once at the goal line. The 49ers got both back.
16. The Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Seattle Seahawks 40-34 in overtime, giving them their first victory in Seattle since 1998 when both teams were still members of the AFC West.
Josh Jacobs, a running back for Vegas, supplied the backbreaker when he blasted up the gut for an 86-yard touchdown with half the overtime remaining. Jacobs concluded with a franchise record 229 rushing yards despite the Raiders’ new management team declining his fifth-year option over the offseason. Additionally a team record, his 303 yards from scrimmage rank seventh among all players in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
17. ICYMI, although you already knew this, Russell Wilson, the Denver Broncos’ quarterback, threw one touchdown pass in Sunday’s defeat at Carolina. Wilson, though, passed the mark of 300 regular-season touchdown passes to become the 14th player in league history.
Given that Wilson tied Hall of Famer John Elway for second place on the all-time list, Broncos fans will certainly groan. We should ride.
18. Due to the Cleveland Browns’ overtime victory over the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all four NFC South teams now have losing records. Even while it may be a weak division, the fact that only one of its members will likely advance to the postseason should provide for intriguing drama as the season progresses. No team had more or fewer victories than five.
19. Ko Kieft, a rookie tight end for the Bucs, became the 96th man to catch a touchdown throw from Tom Brady in his 23-year career.
20. RB First for the Browns since 1991, Nick Chubb’s game-winning touchdown in overtime.
21. The Browns’ win against Cleveland brings their record to 4-7 and ends Deshaun Watson’s ban. With six games remaining, Watson and company have a lot of ground to make up since their new squad is currently three games outside of the AFC’s final wild-card spot.
22. The members of the NFC East and AFC East all managed to stay above after the Commanders’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons.500.
The NFC East would make history if it sent all four of its teams to the playoffs as things stand right now (see 22a).
23. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Tennessee Titans 20-16 in a rematch of the playoffs despite missing running back Joe Mixon (concussion) and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (hip). Cincinnati (7-4) climbed into a first-place tie in the AFC North after defeating the top-seeded Titans in Nashville in January.
24. Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens seems to have a near-perfect grasp of the game. In Detroit last year, he kicked a field goal from 66 yards, which set an NFL record. In Sunday’s 28-27 setback for Baltimore, Tucker’s 67-yard (outside) game-winning try in Jacksonville fell just short. 13 of the Ravens’ points came from Tucker.
25. But give credit to the Jaguars. With 14 seconds left in the one-point victory, second-year QB Trevor Lawrence concluded his best performance as a pro (321 yards, 3 TD passes, and a 129.8 rating) with a 10-yard TD pass and following a two-point pass.
26. Also, it’s understandable that the Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville and its banana hammock terrified the Ravens on Sunday.
27. Several games were decided by two-point scores following touchdowns in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, which occurred for the first time since 1994, when the NFL implemented the option for two-point conversions.
28. Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills became the first quarterback to record victories over Detroit, the Dallas Cowboys, and in prime time on Thanksgiving after edging off the Lions on Thursday. These three victories were all achieved throughout the previous four seasons.
29. With 13 times spent in the paint, NFL touchdown leader Jamaal Williams needs four more to tie Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ 1991 Lions single-season record.
30. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants game on Thursday afternoon was the most watched NFL regular season game ever with an average of 42 million viewers across broadcast and digital platforms. Not a major surprise when America’s Team is combined with the nation’s largest media market.
What a showing for Dallas wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who is beginning to assert that he possesses the league’s best hands following a six-catch performance (106 yards) in the 28-20 victory over the Giants.
31. The Thanksgiving tripleheader was the NFL’s highest-viewed Turkey Day ever, with the Vikings defeating the Patriots 33-26 in the late game. The 138 million overall unduplicated audience figure, according to Nielsen, broke the previous record (126 million in 2016) and was a 34% increase from the prior year.
The trio of games that ended with one-score margins on Thanksgiving was also the first since 1926.
32. It has been 15 years since South Florida resident and Washington Pro Bowl S Sean Taylor was fatally murdered by a bullet during a break-in at his home. Since then, the team for whom he spent his entire four-season career has effectively tried to deify him. Determine for yourself if they succeeded with what appeared to be a rushed unveiling of a tribute to him that was presented on Sunday at FedExField in front of Taylor’s family. It was announced last week.