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NFL Week 12 takeaways – What we learned, big questions for every game and future team outlooks

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Week 12 of the 2021 NFL season started on Thursday with the Chicago Bears and embattled coach Matt Nagy successful on the ultimate play of the game over the winless Detroit Lions.

The afternoon noticed the Las Vegas Raiders break a 3-game shedding streak and hold themselves within the thick of the AFC playoff race with an additional time win over the Dallas Cowboys, who’ve instantly dropped three of 4 after a 6-1 begin. The Buffalo Bills bought again on the successful monitor within the nightcap with a dominating win over the New Orleans Saints.


Our NFL Nation reporters react with the takeaways and lingering questions. Plus, they every take a look at the larger image with their present team confidence score — a 0-10 grade of how they really feel about every team’s outlook popping out of the week. Let’s get to it.

(*12*)Jump to a matchup:


What to know: The Bills had one other dominating victory with out enjoying their finest soccer. Quarterback Josh Allen threw two interceptions, together with the primary of his profession within the crimson zone, but in addition completed the game with a profession-excessive 82.1% completion price. In a approach, it’s consultant of a Bills’ season that has featured inconsistent play however, at 7-4, nonetheless has them primed for an AFC East struggle with the New England Patriots down the stretch. A big a part of that success has come courtesy of the Bills protection that has now restricted 5 opponents to 12 factors or much less. All three phases had success, with coach Sean McDermott even giving particular recognition to the kickoff protection after the game. When the Bills are rolling like this, they’re laborious to beat. Doing so constantly is the important thing. — Alaina Getzenberg


What is the impression on this protection if cornerback Tre’Davious White misses vital time? White left the game with a knee damage within the second quarter and didn’t return. McDermott stated that they might know extra in regards to the damage within the coming days. Backup Dane Jackson crammed in for White and performed effectively general, however there isn’t any one on the roster that may sub in for the All-Pro nook, who’s among the many high 5 protection corners within the league this season, per Next Gen stats. “[White’s] such an incredible teammate,” Allen stated. “He talks to all people the appropriate approach. He simply does the little issues effectively that not many individuals see, however that is why he is so good.” If he’s out for a number of weeks and even the season, the Bills’ mighty protection — which has solely allowed eight passing touchdowns this season (fewest within the league) — will take successful, however ought to be capable to adapt to an extent underneath coordinator Leslie Frazier. — Getzenberg

Getzenberg’s confidence score (0-10): 7.9, up from 7.2. The curler coaster continues, however the Bills put collectively an all-round dominant win — though it was in opposition to a banged-up team — on a brief week and confirmed a capability to proceed to bounce again from robust losses, though stacking wins shall be required to stretch this score.

Next game: vs. Patriots (Monday, Dec. 6, 8:15 p.m. ET)



What to know: It’s getting uglier by the week for the Saints and their depleted offense — now 0-4 since Trevor Siemian changed the injured Jameis Winston at QB. They had been additionally with out RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II and RT Ryan Ramczyk on Thanksgiving night time, and the replacements weren’t almost adequate. They may all be again by subsequent Thursday in opposition to Dallas — and the Saints may contemplate a QB change to Taysom Hill. But at 5-6, they’re dangerously near “too little, too late.” — Mike Triplett

New week, similar query: Will they contemplate a change to Hill at QB? Siemian’s efficiency has regressed every week after a promising begin. And though Sean Payton made it clear he was one among many issues on an evening when the Saints additionally could not run, move shield or return kicks, Payton acknowledged, “We’ll take a look at all the pieces proper now. Obviously we need to.” But Hill has been restricted by a foot damage since Week 10 (which is why he has been relegated to the emergency backup position the previous two weeks). But he practiced absolutely this week, so his position should develop ASAP in a single kind or one other. — Triplett

Triplett’s confidence score (0-10): 4.5, down from 5.5. A full level drop for the second straight week. We know a greater model of this team exists after its 5-2 begin. But even a Week 8 win over the Buccaneers, when Winston left within the second quarter, seems like a distant reminiscence.

Next game: vs. Cowboys (Thursday, Dec. 2, 8:20 p.m. ET)


What to know: The Raiders will not be completed. Not but, anyway. As receiver Hunter Renfrow stated, “I felt like we confirmed the center of the team at the moment.” Indeed, it was as near a should-win state of affairs as one may get, and in ending a 3-game submit-bye shedding streak, the Raiders improved to six-5. “But I believe we felt it a bit of bit [because] 5-6 is an entire lot worse than 6-5,” Renfrow added. “And, to beat a great Cowboys team, on Thanksgiving, in prime time, it provides us a variety of confidence going ahead … we have an extended street forward of us, however we took a step in the appropriate route at the moment.” — Paul Gutierrez

Is DeSean Jackson actually part of the offense now? He higher be. Not solely did he take the highest off the protection with three catches for 102 yards, together with a classic 56-yard catch-and-run TD down the left sideline, Jackson’s mere presence opened issues up beneath for the likes of Renfrow, who had eight catches for a game-excessive 134 yards. And with one other 10 days earlier than Las Vegas’ subsequent game, Jackson, who turns 35 subsequent week, has that rather more time to marinate within the Raiders’ system. “It positive is enjoyable to throw him the ball,” stated quarterback Derek Carr. — Gutierrez

Gutierrez’s confidence score (0-10): 7.5, up from 5.5. A full two-level leap from final week’s nadir? Sure, if you bear in mind how a lot the NFL actually is every week-to-week season. Beating the closely-favored Cowboys on the street and in prime time must be an enormous confidence increase. The Raiders additionally getting their operating game going to the tune of 143 yards is an efficient omen as effectively, particularly Josh Jacobs going for 87 yards on 22 carries. Stay tuned, although, for an replace on Pro Bowl tight finish Darren Waller’s injured left knee.

Next game: vs. Washington (Sunday, Dec. 5, 4:05 p.m. ET)


What to know: The Cowboys have misplaced three of 4 and two straight following their additional time loss to the Raiders. The offense couldn’t get going till the fourth quarter. The protection allowed too many big performs. Complaining in regards to the officers is pointless. Simply, the Cowboys must play higher. Ezekiel Elliott was requested if this team has misplaced its swagger. “No,” he stated, including, “Just gotta focus. We gotta go get higher, we gotta go repair what occurred at the moment and turn out to be a greater team by subsequent week.” — Todd Archer

How can the Cowboys restrict the penalties? The finest hope is to not have Shawn Hochuli’s crew once more the remainder of the way in which, however penalties have been a problem all season. They have been flagged a minimum of seven instances in eight video games this season, together with 14 for 166 yards in opposition to the Raiders. Micah Parsons stated he does not need to see the protection change its play model. There is a tremendous line between being aggressive and careless. Bill Parcells used to say he does not coach penalties. No coach does, however this is a matter that must be rectified. “We’ve bought to self-mirror and hold the officers out of the game,” Dak Prescott stated. “One approach or one other, we’ve bought to be higher.” — Archer


Archer’s confidence score (0-10): 7.9, down from 8.4. They can speak about Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory returning all they need, however there’s something off with the team in the mean time. The offense cannot get the run game going. The protection cannot cease permitting big performs. The Cowboys have to show this round rapidly.

Next game: at Saints (Thursday, Dec. 2, 8:20 p.m. ET)



Cairo Santos kicks a 28-yard area purpose within the game’s last second to provide the Bears a 16-14 win over the Lions.


What to know: Andy Dalton performed effectively in reduction of Justin Fields. The 34-yr-outdated grew to become the primary Bears quarterback to move for 300-plus yards (317 vs. the Lions) since Nick Foles in Week 9 of final yr. Dalton led Chicago on an 18-play drive to arrange Cairo Santos’ game-successful 28-yard area purpose. Dalton performed with poise and confidence — precisely what you’d anticipate from a participant with that stage of expertise. Fields is predicted to reclaim the beginning job when his ribs heal, however Dalton proved on Thanksgiving that he can nonetheless get the job completed. — Jeff Dickerson

Are the Bears going to fireside coach Matt Nagy? No. Or, relatively, not but. The Bears have by no means fired a head coach throughout a season within the historical past of the franchise. The Bears let Marc Trestman end out his last season. Same with John Fox. Nagy was named coach of the yr three years in the past. He’s led the Bears to the playoffs in two of his three seasons. Nagy deserves higher. Ultimately, he could get fired after the season, however there’s nonetheless a variety of soccer left to play. Hopefully, Thursday’s win over Detroit permits Nagy and the Bears to regroup earlier than a tricky game versus Arizona on Dec. 5. — Dickerson

Dickerson’s confidence score (0-10): 3.5, up from 2. A win is a win, however the Lions are 0-10-1.

Next game: vs. Cardinals (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 5)


What to know: The Lions suffered yet one more heartbreaking loss, falling for the third time this season on a stroll-off area purpose. It occurred in Week 3 in opposition to the Baltimore Ravens, then once more Week 5 vs. the Minnesota Vikings and now on Thanksgiving in opposition to the Bears. — Eric Woodyard

Should the Lions be fearful about coach Dan Campbell’s playcalling? Certainly. The Lions bought off to a scorching begin Thursday with quarterback Jared Goff discovering an early groove, finishing his first 5 passes, however the conservative pattern of quick passes and quick positive factors since Campbell took over playcalling from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn in Week 10 continued in entrance of the nationwide viewers, with some followers even booing inside Ford Field. Campbell could need to contemplate letting Lynn take again playcalling tasks if the team needs to win a game. — Woodyard

Woodyard’s confidence score (0-10): 2, down from 2.3. As at all times, the Lions play laborious however penalties and errors are an excessive amount of to beat since they do not have sufficient ability gamers to bail them out.

Next game: vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 5)

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