Top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 12 NFL action

By Vincent Frank

The final Sunday of regular season NFL action in November gave us a whole heck of a lot to talk about. Tempers were running red hot. Performances varied from downright atrocious to magical.

As fans dealt with their Thanksgiving food hangover, the Chicago Bears looked just simply hungover while being absolutely routed by the one-loss Philadelphia Eagles. Later on in the early slate, the Kansas City Chiefs laid a complete egg at home against a Bills team that lost 54-24 last week.

As the day continued to unfold, we witnessed a major brawl in Oakland. We also saw the New England Patriots win their seventh consecutive game and the Los Angeles Rams remain in first place in the NFC West. These are among the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 12 NFL action.

Windy City blues

No one really expected the three-win Bears to go into Philadelphia and be competitive against the unquestioned best team in the NFC. But Chicago’s first half performance was seemingly directly out of a horror flick.

The Bears trailed 24-0 at the half, seeing themselves outgained 273-33 in the process. Heck, Chicago didn’t have a single first down while the Eagles put up 16 in the first half. It’s this lack of competitiveness that ultimately resulted in 31-3 loss and could very well lead to further speculation about John Fox’s job status.

A Bronco with no name 

It’s becoming somewhat comical what has happened to the Denver Broncos since a 3-1 start to the season. The team has now dropped seven consecutive games following Sunday’s 21-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

The game wasn’t anywhere near as close as the final score indicates. Oakland held a 21-0 lead before Trevor Siemian took over under center for an ineffective and injured Paxton Lynch late in the third quarter. Siemian went on to lead Denver to two garbage-time touchdowns.

Now, for the first time since 1967, the Broncos have lost seven consecutive games. And really, it starts at quarterback. The hope starting this week was that Denver might get a solid sample size out of the 2016 first-round pick. Lynch responded by completing 9-of-14 passes for 41 yards, including this horrible interception, while leading the Broncos scoreless for nearly three quarters of action against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. That’s just bad.

This arrowhead has gone soft

For the fifth time in six games, the first-place Kansas City Chiefs have lost. This week, it came at home against a Buffalo Bills squad that was defeated by the Los Angeles Chargers last week, 54-24. This is how deep the cliff is that Kansas City has fallen off of.

Sunday’s 16-10 loss to Buffalo was headlined by an absolutely brutal offensive effort. Alex Smith put up just 199 yards on 36 pass attempts and threw this horrible game-ending interception late in the fourth. The Chiefs’ rushing attack went for 55 yards against a Bills defense that had yielded 638 yards in the past three games.

It was just a disastrous overall performance from a team that many had pegged as being in the upper-echelon of the AFC just a few short weeks ago. Now at 6-5, Kansas City finds itself just one game up on both Los Angeles and Oakland in the AFC West. That’s just plain dumb.

Adam Gase has lost his team

It’s somewhat shocking to see what’s happened to the Dolphins a season after earning a surprise playoff appearance. The team was never in Sunday’s game against New England, eventually losing by the score of 35-17.

Sure we can point to the Ryan Tannehill season-ending injury during the summer. But it’s not like we’re talking about an All-Pro caliber quarterback here. The rest of Miami’s roster should have been able to step up and be more competitive. That has not happened.

By virtue of Sunday’s loss, Miami has now lost its past five games by an average of 19 points. One now one has to openly wonder whether Gase has lost his team, leading to speculation that he might be fired after just two seasons at the helm in South Beach. The ejection of cornerback Bobby McCain for throwing a punch at Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola in Sunday’s loss is yet another example of the emperor having no clothes in Miami.

Jimmy Garoppolo sighting 

The San Francisco 49ers have continued to play it close to the vest with their recently acquired franchise quarterback. At 1-9 heading into Sunday’s action and with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, that makes sense.

But after C.J. Beathard was hit north of a dozen times in Sunday’s loss to Seattle, the tough-as-nails rookie finally succumbed to injury. That’s when Garoppolo took over and made his 49ers debut in the final minute of a 24-6 game. He responded by completing both of his passes, including this score to Louis Murphy.

With all due respect to Beathard, it might now finally be time for San Francisco to bite the bullet and throw Garoppolo out there. He needs to be given some action as an otherwise hopeless season concludes.

Pirate ship is sinking in Tampa

Speaking of coaches being on the hot seat, Dirk Koetter’s seat is smoldering in Tampa. Fresh off a two-game winning streak, the Buccaneers absolutely laid an egg Sunday against a red-hot Falcons squad.

How do you let one receiver throw a touchdown to another receiver? In turn, how do you allow said receiver to put up 253 yards on 12 catches. Yeah, Julio Jones made the Bucs’ defense look like amateur hour at the Apollo on Sunday. When all was said and done, Tampa Bay lost by the score of 34-20 en route to yielding 516 total yards. What an absolute joke.

Fly Eagles, fly

Not only has Philadelphia proven itself to be the class of the NFC, it is now right up there with the defending champion Patriots as the Super Bowl favorites heading into December. In winning their ninth consecutive game Sunday against Chicago, the Eagles simply continue to impose their will.

Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz threw another three scores en route to completing 23-of-36 passes for 227 yards in the 31-3 win. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ suddenly dominant defense held the Bears to 140 total yards throughout the game. That came after Chicago failed to put up a single first down in the first half of the game

Philadelphia has now outscored its past four opponents by a combined 97 points. We have not seen this type of domination in Philly since Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb were at the heights of their careers. And it might very well have the Eagles as the best team in the NFL heading into Week 13.

Statement win for the Rams

The young Los Angeles Rams failed to get that signature victory against Minnesota last week, falling by the score of 24-7. Sean McVay and company definitely flipped the script Sunday against a New Orleans Saints team that had won eight consecutive heading into Week 12.

It was just a brilliant overall performance from one of the most surprising teams in the NFL. Jared Goff completed 28-of-43 passes for 354 yards with two scores. Todd Gurley added 128 total yards while rookie Cooper Kupp put up a career-best eight-catch, 116-yard performance.

Sunday’s win pushes the Rams to 8-3 on the season and keeps them one game ahead of Seattle in the NFC West. More than that, it was a big boy win for a young team that’s suddenly laden with both talent and confidence.

Browns chasing infamous history

The now 0-11 Browns couldn’t even make it close against a pedestrian Bengals team on the road Sunday. Sure it was a one-score affair in the fourth quarter, but not a single objective mind thought Cleveland had a chance here.

The Browns’ defense alllowed rookie Bengals running back Joe Mixon to put up a career-best 114 yards on the ground. Andy Dalton also played mistake-free football in hitting on all but 10 of his passes with two scores. Meanwhile, rookie signal caller DeShone Kizer was knocked to the ground 11 times and had to be checked for yet another concussion.

With two more losses, the Hue Jackson-led Browns will become the first team in NFL history to post consecutive 0-13 starts to the season. Jackson is now 1-26 as the team’s head coach. Factory of Sadness, indeed.

Wild, Wild West 

By virtue of the Chiefs’ loss on Sunday and wins for both Oakland and Los Angeles this week, Kansas City finds itself up just one game in the AFC West. That’s pretty crazy to think about considering Alex Smith and Co. held a three-plus game lead against both of these teams just a few short weeks ago.

At this point, it would not be a stretch to say that the Chargers are playing the best football of the trio. But a dangerous Raiders team is also sitting there at 5-6 with an opportunity to win the division. The final five weeks of the season will be extremely entertaining in what is otherwise a mediocre division.

Patriots continue to steamroll

If there was any question as to who the best team in the AFC was earlier in the season, the Patriots have answered that question big time heading into December. By virtue of Sunday’s 35-17 win over Miami, the defending champs have now won seven consecutive games by an average of over two touchdowns per.

This week’s effort was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Brady threw a rare interception and lost a fumble that resulted in a Dolphins touchdown. But even then, this game was never in doubt.

Starting with a fake punt on their first possession and continuing with another touchdown in the first quarter, New England almost immediately opened up a two-score lead here. Now at 9-2 on the season, the Pats are hitting their stride. That’s a scary proposition for opposing NFL teams.