It’s Thanksgiving week, which provides each workforce within the NFL a pleasant alternative to take inventory of what they’re grateful for as Week 11 rolls over to Week 12 and we get the most effective slate of turkey day video games we’ve had in a very long time.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-2)
(Last week: 1)
It’s straightforward as a result of it’s true. They’re the explanation it felt like a fait accompli that the Chiefs would rating the go-ahead landing once they received the ball on their very own 25-yard line down 4 factors with 1:46 to go Sunday night time — and it solely ended up taking them six performs to get it finished. Kelce has already tied his profession excessive with 11 receiving touchdowns and is on monitor to set a profession excessive in receiving yards. Though Kelce has now handed Rob Gronkowski for the No. 5 spot in receiving yards amongst tight ends (and is 101 yards away from passing Shannon Sharpe for No. 4), he and Mahomes are nonetheless fairly a bit away from catching as much as the Gronkowski-Tom Brady duo for landing receptions. Kelce has caught 45 touchdowns from Mahomes within the common season, 56 together with the playoffs. Gronkowski had 90 regular-season landing receptions from Brady, 105 together with the playoffs.
Up subsequent: vs. Los Angeles Rams, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET
2. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
(Last week: 2)
Thankful for: The strikes they didn’t make
At completely different factors this offseason, the Eagles made pitches for Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson to interchange Jalen Hurts as their quarterback. Before buying and selling for A.J. Brown, they regarded into Calvin Ridley, Allen Robinson and Christian Kirk. Some mixture of luck and self-discipline led them to the place they’re now, with the most effective document within the league after their slim, uneven win in Indianapolis. And with spectacular debuts by Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, the Eagles’ string of profitable Plan Bs continues.
Up subsequent: vs. Green Bay, Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET
3. Miami Dolphins (7-3)
(Last week: 3)
Thankful for: Two bye weeks in a row
Up subsequent: vs. Houston, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
4. Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
(Last week: 8)
Thankful for: The greatest go rush within the league
The Cowboys have so much to be glad about after a dominant 40-3 win in Minnesota that showcased why they’ve as excessive an upside as any workforce within the league. Dak Prescott appears to be like nice and Tony Pollard has lastly been allowed to totally shine. But the Cowboys’ go rush is why they’ll be such a feared opponent come playoff time. Micah Parsons made an early play that began the snowball downhill, culminating in a single-game stress charge of 60 p.c, in response to Pro Football Focus — the best charge in a recreation this season. The Cowboys lead the league in stress charge, sacks and quarterback hits. Watch out.
Up subsequent: vs. New York Giants, Thursday 4:30 p.m. ET
5. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
(Last week: 5)
Thankful for: A house away from house
After a sluggish begin of their thundersnow-forced house recreation in Detroit, the Bills settled in behind a non-Josh Allen working recreation for the primary time shortly. Devin Singletary and James Cook mixed for 172 speeding yards on 29 carries whereas Allen rushed simply 3 times — his fewest since Week 2. Then once more, this was in opposition to the Browns’ run protection, which is among the many worst in trendy historical past. Maybe snowblowers are the reply.
Up subsequent: at Detroit, Thursday 12:30 p.m. ET
6. San Francisco 49ers (6-4)
(Last week: 6)
Thankful for: Good vibes
Everything appears peachy for the Niners after their 38-10 blowout of the Cardinals in Mexico City. Jimmy Garoppolo threw 4 landing passes and no interceptions in a recreation for the second time in his profession (additionally in opposition to the Cardinals, again in 2019) and ranks fourth within the league in EPA (anticipated factors added) per dropback, in response to TruMedia. The all of a sudden spry George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk every had two touchdowns whereas Elijah Mitchell, Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel all made issues occur within the backfield. The protection appears to be like scary and issues appear to be shaping up nicely for Kyle Shanahan and firm. While the Eagles and Vikings hit one thing of a dip, the Cowboys and Niners have entered the dialog as critical Super Bowl contenders.
Up subsequent: vs. New Orleans, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET
7. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)
(Last week: 7)
Thankful for: A fourth-quarter shutout
It was in opposition to one of many worst offenses within the league, however the Ravens lastly saved an opponent from scoring within the fourth quarter once they beat the Panthers 13-3 on Sunday. They have been apparently hoping for a full-game shutout, however it was good for the Ravens to show they might win on the backs of their protection. Roquan Smith had seven tackles and a sack and continues to impress early on in his Baltimore tenure.
Up subsequent: at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
8. Tennessee Titans (7-3)
(Last week: 11)
Thankful for: An id
There won’t be a workforce within the league that’s extra itself than the Titans, who proceed to overachieve relative to the title recognition of the gamers on their roster. With the league’s No. 1 DVOA (defense-adjusted worth over common) run protection and a grind-it-out type that drags opponents into the mud with them, Mike Vrabel has one other case for coach of the yr. But if the Titans are going to do extra within the playoffs this time round, they most likely want one further aspect on offense. Which is why Treylon Burks’ performance against the Packers was such a welcome sight.
Up subsequent: vs. Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
(Last week: 9)
Thankful for: The greatest younger quarterback in soccer?
If we semantically outline “young” as 25 or below, Joe Burrow is just eligible for one more two weeks or so. For now, the eye paid to breakout gamers resembling Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa or the glint of Lamar Jackson can distract from the quarterback who led his workforce to the Super Bowl final season behind one of many worst offensive traces in soccer. Burrow has excelled of late, even with out Ja’Marr Chase (who will return to practice this week), and ranks fifth in EPA per dropback.
Up subsequent: at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
(Last week: 12)
Thankful for: Not following Tom Brady’s funding recommendation
No marvel he threw these tablets.
Up subsequent: at Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
11. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
(Last week: 13)
Thankful for: The Broncos’ first-round decide
Of the 5 groups that traded away their 2023 first-round decide, just one — San Francisco, which gave up its decide within the trade-up for Trey Lance — is within the present playoff image. The different 4 — Denver (owned by Seattle), the Rams (owned by Detroit), Cleveland (owned by Houston) and New Orleans (owned by Philadelphia) — would all be top-10 picks if the season ended immediately. Right now, the Broncos’ can be the best: No. 5 total.
Up subsequent: vs. Las Vegas, Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET
12. New England Patriots (6-4)
(Last week: 16)
Thankful for: Marcus Jones, and the Jets for kicking to him
Jones’ game-winning 84-yard punt return within the last seconds continued the Patriots’ domination of the Jets. It was additionally, apparently, exactly what Bill Belichick had in thoughts when the Patriots used a third-round decide on a return specialist who could moonlight as a nickel corner. Thanks to Jones, the Patriots can be a wild-card workforce if the season ended immediately. If solely Jones might assist their Twenty sixth-ranked offense (by DVOA).
Up subsequent: at Minnesota, Thursday 8:20 p.m. ET
13. New York Jets (6-4)
(Last week: 10)
Thankful for: Taking the gloves off
After one other Zach Wilson efficiency that left his teammates and Jets followers questioning how good the workforce could possibly be with simply league-average quarterback play, head coach Robert Saleh instructed reporters Monday: “We’re keeping everything on the table,” concerning the place shifting ahead. Wilson accomplished 9 of twenty-two passes for 77 yards and led an offense that gained 2 whole yards within the second half of the 10-3 loss to the Patriots. Bad quarterback efficiency early in a participant’s profession is just not essentially prohibitive of them changing into a purposeful participant finally — Eli Manning has the worst completion share for any quarterback this century within the first two years of his profession, as an illustration — however Wilson has positively been unhealthy. He ranks thirty second of 34 qualifying quarterbacks in EPA per dropback. Saleh owes it to his gamers to prioritize what’s greatest for them over what’s greatest for Wilson.
Up subsequent: vs. Chicago, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
14. New York Giants (7-3)
(Last week: 14)
Thankful for: December video games that matter
The Giants haven’t been over .500 in December since 2016, so even after their disappointing 31-18 house loss to the Lions, these are related occasions. With a four-game stretch beginning this week in opposition to all NFC East groups, the Giants don’t have loads of time to really feel sorry for how injured they are.
Up subsequent: at Dallas, Thursday 4:30 p.m. ET
15. Los Angeles Chargers (5-5)
(Last week: 15)
Thankful for: The mixed 31-40-1 document of their last seven opponents
The Chargers regarded higher with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams again on the sector, however better wasn’t good enough against one of the league’s best teams. Only two of the Chargers’ remaining opponents have a successful document they usually’re finished seeing Mahomes for the yr.
Up subsequent: at Arizona, Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET
16. Washington Commanders (6-5)
(Last week: 18)
Thankful for: A drama-less quarterback choice
Ron Rivera’s decision to continue riding with Taylor Heinicke was a simple one from the surface. Washington was 2-4 earlier than Carson Wentz was positioned on injured reserve with a finger damage. The Commanders are 4-1 in video games since, together with Sunday’s blowout win in Houston. Heinicke is just not solely accountable for that turnaround — the protection ranks fifth in TruMedia’s defensive EPA per drive over that span. And now that Chase Young is coming back, the Commanders are actual playoff contenders (and only a half-game from the No. 7 seed). But odds are we haven’t heard the final from Wentz simply but.
Up subsequent: vs. Atlanta, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
17. Detroit Lions (4-6)
(Last week: 23)
Thankful for: Whatever modified on protection
The Lions had far and away the worst protection within the league over the primary eight weeks of the season. Over the course of their three-game successful streak (their first since 2017), they’ve been positively common, which has made all of the distinction.
Detroit’s Defensive Improvement
|Weeks 1-8||Weeks Sep 11|
It’s onerous to inform from the surface what’s accountable for that enchancment. They’re enjoying somewhat bit extra zone protection (65.3 p.c of the time, up from 54.3 p.c in Weeks 1-8) and are blitzing at about the identical charge. One widespread denominator of their opponents throughout this streak (Green Bay, Chicago, New York Giants) — unscary extensive receivers. That gained’t be the case on Thanksgiving, however we will all be grateful the Lions are related this yr.
Up subsequent: vs. Buffalo, Thursday 12:30 p.m. ET
18. Atlanta Falcons (5-6)
(Last week: 25)
Thankful for: April 15, 2021
That’s when the Falcons signed Cordarrelle Patterson as an unrestricted free agent, a month after the beginning of the primary league yr with basic supervisor Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith in cost. Patterson has been the point of interest of the Falcons’ point-scoring success since. A trivia query for die-hard Falcons followers: Of the ten veterans signed or re-signed throughout the free-agency interval earlier than Atlanta added Patterson, who’s the one nonetheless with the workforce? That can be security Erik Harris, one other particular groups standout.
As for Patterson, his 103-yard kickoff return in opposition to the Bears helped flip the tide of their 27-24 win and set the NFL document for profession kickoff return touchdowns. It additionally produced this touching vulnerability: “Honestly, I was trying to cry, but all the guys were running up on me. It felt good. I was trying to shed a tear, but they wouldn’t let me.”
Up subsequent: at Washington, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
19. Green Bay Packers (4-7)
(Last week: 17)
Thankful for: An open January calendar
It’s chilly up there! At least now nobody has to attend to search out out when the 49ers’ playoff recreation is to make their getaway plans.
Up subsequent: at Philadelphia, Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET
20. New Orleans Saints (4-7)
(Last week: 30)
Thankful for: Chris Olave
The eleventh total decide has been superior. His 760 receiving yards on 51 catches are tenth amongst all gamers and greatest amongst rookies. He ranks eighth within the league in receiving yards per route run (2.49) thanks partially to the second-deepest common depth of goal within the league (14.65 yards past the road of scrimmage, behind solely Buffalo’s Gabe Davis). Just as spectacular is how good Olave has been for an in any other case unhealthy Saints offense. Only Washington’s Terry McLaurin performs for a worse passing unit than Olave among the many league’s top-10 receivers.
Up subsequent: at San Francisco, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET
21. Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1)
(Last week: 28)
Thankful for: A quiet week
On behalf of our Colts’ writers, a minimum of. The sequence of quarterback benched, offensive coordinator fired, head coach fired, Jeff Saturday employed and Jeff Saturday wins got here to an finish Sunday with their disappointing however acquainted 17-16 loss to the Eagles. One extra defensive cease or another crimson zone landing conversion, and even another made area objective, would have made the distinction and given Saturday his second straight feel-good victory. What occurred as a substitute was a reminder of the team’s fatal flaws and a motive to not like Nick Sirianni anymore.
Up subsequent: vs. Pittsburgh, Monday 8:15 p.m. ET
22. Arizona Cardinals (4-7)
(Last week: 19)
Thankful for: Midseason exhibition video games in different international locations
Hold on. That recreation counted?
Up subsequent: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)
(Last week: 21)
Thankful for: Not having to eat their very own stadium meals
According to Action News Jax, “Inspectors looked at 29 concession stands and found 129 violations, including two dead rodents, 159 rodent droppings and seven concession stands that were operating with an expired license.” That inspection occurred throughout the Jaguars’ Nov. 6 matchup in opposition to the Raiders, which additionally occurs to be their solely win of the previous seven video games. Which begs the query: Would you knowingly eat meals ready subsequent to a lifeless rat if it meant your workforce would win?
If Jaxson de Ville doesn’t present up this weekend with a chef’s hat calling himself “Catatouille,” mascot humor is lifeless.
Up subsequent: vs. Baltimore, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
24. Cleveland Browns (3-7)
(Last week: 22)
Thankful for: Being so unhealthy the highlight on Deshaun Watson’s return won’t be so shiny
What else is there? This was about probably the most sensible state of affairs for the Browns given their offseason selections. The query now appears to be whether the coaching staff will be around lengthy sufficient to see how Watson fares in Year 2.
Up subsequent: vs. Tampa Bay, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
25. Chicago Bears (3-8)
(Last week: 24)
Thankful for: The better of each worlds
Realistically, the Bears foster no playoff aspirations. So possibly it’s for the most effective to search out out they’ve a quarterback, play an entertaining type of soccer after which maximize draft place by dropping these video games? With the massive image in thoughts, although, it is likely to be prudent to ensure they do all the things to keep Justin Fields healthy.
Up subsequent: at New York Jets, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
26. Las Vegas Raiders (3-7)
(Last week: 32)
Thankful for: The Broncos’ offense
The Raiders’ protection held an opponent below 20 factors for the primary time all season in Sunday’s come-from-behind 22-16 additional time win in Denver. The recreation plan? A massively disrespectful quantity of man protection. According to TruMedia, Las Vegas performed zone simply 19.4 p.c of the time on Sunday, the bottom charge for any protection in a recreation this season. Davante Adams guidelines, too.
Up subsequent: at Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7)
(Last week: 26)
Thankful for: Signs of life from the offense
The Steelers scored a season-high 30 factors within the loss to Cincinnati, which got here into the sport with a top-10 DVOA protection. Their two greatest performances of the season by EPA per drive have come over the previous two weeks after coming back from the bye, so there’s motive to consider they’ve figured some issues out with a jump-started working recreation and the Pickett-to-Pickens connection. It was the high-priced defense that permit Pittsburgh down in opposition to the Bengals.
Up subsequent: at Indianapolis, Monday 8:15 p.m. ET
28. Denver Broncos (3-7)
(Last week: 20)
Thankful for: Solving the issue
Now that Melvin Gordon has been waived, certainly the Broncos’ points are solved. Gordon fumbled once more in Denver’s 22-16 additional time loss, which was the distinction within the recreation despite the fact that it was recovered by the Broncos. Right? Look over there, not on the quarterback who appears to be like damaged or the top coach who appears to be like misplaced. Maybe be glad about the promise of an uncertain future.
Up subsequent: at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
29. Carolina Panthers (3-8)
(Last week: 27)
Thankful for: Beefy ball hawks
Baltimore’s mounting accidents apart, the Panthers held Lamar Jackson and firm to their season-low in factors in Sunday’s 13-3 loss, and there appears to be no query Steve Wilks’ workforce is well-prepared on that facet of the ball. Most enjoyable of all was the interception by 330-pound nostril deal with Bravvion Roy. He and teammate Derrick Brown (320 kilos) are the 2 heaviest gamers with an interception this season.
Up subsequent: vs. Denver, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
30. Los Angeles Rams (3-7)
(Last week: 29)
Thankful for: Flags flying endlessly
The excellent news for the Rams is all of the damage luck regression appears to be hitting directly. Better to backside out than slowly fade away. Now all eyes turn to Matthew Stafford’s future after the veteran left Sunday’s loss to be evaluated for a concussion one week after lacking a recreation for being within the concussion protocol.
Up subsequent: at Kansas City, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET
31. Houston Texans (1-8-1)
(Last week: 31)
Thankful for: An excellent-looking quarterback draft class
The Texans are a recreation and a half away from the groups with the next-fewest wins, they usually don’t precisely look on the precipice of constructing up that distinction any time quickly. Good! Because Davis Mills has been one of many worst quarterbacks within the league by any measure, and one in every of Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud or Will Levis appears destined to be the brand new face of the franchise. How do y’all like cowboy hats?
Up subsequent: at Miami, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
32. Minnesota Vikings (8-2)
(Last week: 4)
Thankful for: This bulletin board materials from a know-nothing nitwit
Sorry, however guidelines are guidelines. When you endure probably the most lopsided lack of the NFL season up to now, it’s a must to spend every week within the ceremonial again of the road.
Up subsequent: vs. New England, Thursday 8:20 p.m. ET
(Top illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; photograph: Cooper Neill / Getty Images)