Thanksgiving offered three juicy matchups to kick off Week 12, but we’ve still got a lot of intriguing matchups on the docket for this weekend. The Jets are starting Mike White in place of Zach Wilson as they look to revitalize playoff hopes. The Falcons and Commanders are squaring off in a battle of wild-card candidates. And Aaron Rodgers is headed to Philly, desperate to keep the Packers alive while facing the 9-1 Eagles.
In anticipation of the rest of the Week 12 slate, here are five bold predictions for the games ahead:
Making his 2022 debut as Carolina’s third different starting quarterback in as many weeks, Darnold has a known chemistry with No. 1 wideout D.J. Moore, who’s endured cold stretches while fielding passes from Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker. More importantly, D’Onta Foreman is due for a rebound against Denver’s vulnerable run defense; and the Broncos’ own offense, still slumping with Russell Wilson, could be in for a long day against a Carolina front boasting elite talent in Brian Burns and Derrick Brown.
Dalton has been red hot and ice cold in eight starts replacing Winston, but after folding against stingy fronts in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, he could be due for a turnover spree against DeMeco Ryans‘ high-flying unit, which just dominated the Cardinals in prime time. Desperate to remain in the NFC wild-card hunt, Dennis Allen may finally decide he needs the upside of Winston’s arm. A switch would make for even better Week 13 drama, by the way, with the Saints set to rematch Winston’s old friends in Tampa.
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The rookie looked fluid eating into Leonard Fournette’s workload in Week 10, then had Week 11 to rest up while the latter continued to rehab a hip injury. Even if Fournette suits up Sunday, he won’t be 100 percent, and Bucs advisor/former coach Bruce Arians has publicly identified White as an offensive catalyst moving forward. Combine all that with the fact Cleveland is surrendering more than 135 rushing yards per game, and the Arizona State product could be in for a monster day.
Colts blow out Steelers on ‘Monday Night Football’
The matchup screams ugly, low-scoring affair, but consider that the Steelers could be down two key players in Jaylen Warren, who brings much-needed pop to Najee Harris‘ plodding ground game; and center Mason Cole, the first line of defense to rookie QB Kenny Pickett. Consider also that Indy boasts a top-10 “D” that just limited the Eagles to 17 points, and all Matt Ryan and Co. might need is a few scoring drives to run away with this. Pittsburgh’s porous secondary should afford opportunities for Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell to go off.
Maybe it’s not that bold, considering Cincinnati is favored even as a visitor. But it’s about time someone takes advantage of Tennessee’s No. 30-ranked pass defense. With Ja’Marr Chase set to return, Joe Burrow could be in for a big showcase, exacting revenge on a “D” that terrorized him with nine sacks in the 2021 playoffs. Derrick Henry figures to log another nice stat line, but forced to air it out to match Burrow, Ryan Tannehill could find himself in more trouble than he’s encountered in weeks.