Turkey and football came and went for NFL fans to kick off Week 12 of the 2022 season, as three games were played on Thanksgiving before another Sunday brings some important matchups with playoff implications on the line.
There’s also been some changes at the quarterback position for two teams. The New York Jets announced that they will be making Zach Wilson inactive following a horrendous performance against the New England Patriots last week, where he went 9 of 22 for 77 yards and didn’t take accountability for the offense’s struggles despite the defense keeping them in the game until a punt return for a touchdown by the Pats sealed a win.
It will be Mike White, the man that shocked the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium last season, getting the start with veteran Joe Flacco as his backup.
With woes continuing for the Houston Texans, head coach Lovie Smith is reportedly going to give Kyle Allen, Davis Mills’ backup, first-team reps this week. And while it isn’t official yet that Allen will start, reports say he will be the one under center against the Miami Dolphins come Sunday.
With that in mind, here are the top five matchups to watch.
Browns (3-7) vs. Buccaneers (5-5) – 1 PM ET, FOX
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to continue their winning streak on the road against the Cleveland Browns as the AFC North squad looks to end a two-game losing streak.
Tom Brady is coming off a close win over the Seattle Seahawks in Germany. Through all the drama on and off the field he’s dealt with this season, the star quarterback seems to have righted the ship. He has a touchdown pass in three straight games and has passed for more than 250 yards in those games.
The Bucs’ defense will look to shut down Nick Chub and the Browns offense. Chubb is on his way to another Pro Bowl at the very least. He has 923 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground this season.
Commanders (6-5) vs. Falcons (5-6) – 1 PM ET, FOX
You wouldn’t have thought playoffs with these two teams at the start of the season, but both of them are in the running for a wild card spot right now, and the Falcons still have a chance at the NFC South title (Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-5 just ahead of them).
Taylor Heinicke has been named the starter moving forward despite Carson Wentz being designated for practice. He’s deserved that designation by head coach Ron Rivera as he’s led a defeat of the then-unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles and he’s 4-1 as a starter this year. They’re a hot team that matches the energy the NFC East has been putting out this season (only division with every team above .500).
The Falcons, though, are dealing with some tough injuries, especially to dynamic tight end Kyle Pitts who just landed on the IR. While the Falcons are the second-worst team in terms of average passing yards this season, Pitts’ presence in an offense is a game changer, one Marcus Mariota is going to have to deal without in coming weeks.
Titans (7-3) vs. Bengals (6-4) – 1 PM ET, CBS
Joe Burrow has won two straight games, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers last week to split their AFC North series on the year. Meanwhile, Ryan Tannehill’s return under center has prompted back-to-back wins for the Titans as well.
Tennessee is running away with the AFC South, but still has something to play for: That number one seed in the conference heading into the playoffs, which they obtained last season. But the team that upset them was the Bengals, whose passing attack was too much to handle in their run to the Super Bowl.
Both teams are hot, playing their best ball on both sides, and create a great matchup to watch in the early slate on Sunday
Bears (3-8) vs. Jets (6-4) – 1 PM ET, FOX
As mentioned, Wilson is taking a backseat and White will be getting the start for New York, his first of the season. But the Bears could possibly for quarterback troubles of their own, as Justin Fields was hurt at the end of their loss to the Falcons, though he was practicing on Wednesday. That’s a good sign as he deals with his left shoulder injury.
Fields has been a shining light for Chicago, but losses continue to come their way, losing four straight. But this game is one to watch because the Jets are still a playoff contender that has watched the Patriots win three straight games, and the Dolphins and Bills won’t slow down.
They have to keep up the pace if they wish to play games past Week 18, and they have quarterback questions at this point in the season. Does White have another solid home start in him?
Packers (4-7) vs. Eagles (9-1) – 8:20 PM, NBC
The “Sunday Night Football” matchup of the week is between the back-to-back MVP, Aaron Rodgers, and this year’s MVP hopeful, Jalen Hurts.
After losing to the Commanders, the Indianapolis Colts had them on the ropes in Jeff Saturday’s first home game last week, but Hurts’ late rushing touchdown led to an escape win for Philly.
The Packers looked back on track after defeating the Cowboys two weeks ago, but the Titans dominated them in the run game and had Rodgers running around all game. Philadelphia’s solid defensive line can do the same.
Primetime Rodgers is different, but Hurts has proved to be the same with the league’s best team by record thus far.
Philly wants to keep their status atop the tough NFC East, while the Packers want to see if they can salvage their season.
Here’s how the rest of Sunday plays out.
1 PM: Dolphins vs. Texans (CBS)
1 PM: Panthers vs. Broncos (FOX)
1 PM: Jaguars vs. Ravens (CBS)
4:05 PM: Cardinals vs. Chargers (CBS)
4:05 PM: Seahawks vs. Raiders (CBS)
4:25 PM: Chiefs vs. Rams (FOX
4:25 PM: 49ers vs. Saints (FOX)