Even if you watched every single second of every game this week, you probably forgot all of it when Odell Beckham Jr. made possibly the most jaw-dropping catch in league history. Luckily, we took notes before that game, so you can refresh yourself on what else happened throughout the league.
Who Earned His Paycheck?
Winless no more: the Oakland Raiders won 24-20 in a very impressive game against the (at the time) AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs, capped off by a 17-play, 80-yard drive. Derek Carr found James Jones with 1:42 remaining, and the Raiders moved just six games out of first place. Of course, there are only five games left on their schedule, but hey, this win is still great for 'em. Rookie running back Latavius Murray had 112 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries before leaving with a concussion. He becomes the first player since at least 1960 to run for that many yards on fewer than five carries.
The Eagles' Josh Huff took a 107-yard return back on the opening kickoff, and the Eagles rolled the Titans 43-24. Philadelphia now has 10 return touchdowns on the season between its defense and special teams. Absurd.
T.Y. Hilton watched his baby daughter come into this world, promised her a touchdown, then scored on a 73-yard bomb from Andrew Luck. His celebration included cradling the ball like a newborn, and after the game, Hilton broke down describing the emotion of the win. Definitely one of the more heartwarming moments of the season.
One week ago, LeGarrette Blount played one snap for the Steelers and left the field early in disgust. He was promptly cut by the team, and signed by the Patriots the same week. Naturally, in his debut for his new team, he ran 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Janoris Jenkins of the Rams picked off Philip Rivers and ran it back 99 yards for the score. That's the fifth time he's returned an interception for a touchdown in his first three years in the league, tying an NFL record. And coming full circle, the Chargers' Marcus Gilchrist intercepted Shaun Hill at the goal line, preserving his team's three-point lead and getting the win. The Chargers, Chiefs and Broncos are now all within a game of each other at the top of the AFC West.
Demaryius Thomas had 10 catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns. It's a terrific line, though oddly enough it's Thomas' lowest yardage production since Week 3. Thomas had previously gotten at least 100 yards in seven straight games. But the three touchdowns make up 33% of his scoring output on the season. Let's just call it a wash.
At the beginning of the season, if someone asked you to guess which two running backs would be the top rushers in Week 12, would you have said Justin Forsett and CJ Anderson? If yes, you're a liar and can't be trusted to answer hypothetical questions. Forsett ran 22 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns on Monday Night Football, and Anderson dominated the Dolphins run D to the tune of 167 yards and a score on 27 carries, while adding another 28 yards on four catches.
Offensive lines are rarely credited for big plays, but the Dallas Cowboys deserve a round of applause for incredible blocking, especially down the stretch. Led by Tyron Smith just punishing Jason Pierre-Paul, the Cowboys' line gave Tony Romo seven seconds on TWO separate plays during what turned into the eventual game-winning drive, including a touchdown throw to Dez Bryant. Romo had enough time to book a reservation for a postgame dinner, wave to some Cowboys fans in the stands, give bunny ears to one of his linemen, and still complete a pass to Bryant in the back of the endzone.
However, the best play of the week/season/decade/century goes to Odell Beckham Jr. He made a catch in the second quarter that announcer Cris Collinsworth called "impossible," "ridiculous" and "the best catch I've ever seen." That STILL might not be enough hyperbole. If you missed Beckham's catch, you must find it and then consume it. Everything in life will be about 140% more beautiful after watching it. Beckham was also the first receiver in NFL history to draw a flag on a defender for a late hit, then have said flag be picked up because the receiver "took a flop," according to head official Bill Vinovich.
Whose Performance Deserves A "Needs Improvement"?
Look, it's totally understandable that the Oakland Raiders were excited about winning a football game. As time was ticking down in their eventual victory, Sio Moore sacked Alex Smith. That's all well and good, but…well, the sack made it fourth down, and a number of Raiders players were celebrating like they had just cut down the nets at the Final Four. In fact, Moore and Khalil Mack started doing a handshake celebration 13 YARDS behind the line of scrimmage, while the Chiefs were frantically trying to snap the ball and get a free play. Fortunately for Oakland, Justin Tuck wisely called a timeout, and Smith's next pass went incomplete, giving the Raiders the win. But if they had somehow lost because of Moore and Mack's shenanigans, it would have been just the most Raiders-y way to lose.
Andrew Luck was sacked three times in the first quarter. Twice, he fumbled and lost the ball on his own side of the field, including once in the red zone. Of course, the Colts were playing Jacksonville, so the Jags only amassed a turnover of their own and a field goal off the two turnovers, and Indy still won 23-3.
It's almost laughable how Mike Smith and the Atlanta Falcons continue to find ways to lose football games. After somehow blowing a game against the Lions despite having about a 97% chance of winning with under two minutes left, the Falcons again showed questionable clock-management skills in losing to the Browns. After Brian Hoyer gifted Atlanta with his second terrible interception in the fourth quarter–the first coming on a play where he ran backwards 15 yards before just heaving it up into the endzone–the Falcons took over from their own 45-yard line and 2:43 remaining, down three points and with all three timeouts remaining. After picking up a first down, Matt Ryan completed a pass to Harry Douglas to set up third-and-2 from Cleveland's 35 with 57 seconds left and the clock running. Mike Smith let two seconds run off the clock before calling a timeout. He claimed to do so to make sure his team was running the right play, despite having a quarterback who's been in the same system for three years and has made multiple game-winning drives in his career. Alas, the "high-quality" play was a fade to Devin Hester, who currently is the fourth (and maybe fifth, depending on who you ask) most reliable receiver on the Falcons. As you might guess, it didn't result in a completion, and the Falcons relied on a 53-yarder from Matt Bryant. But there's a world of difference between being down one with 44 seconds and all three timeouts left–which is what Smith left the Browns with–and either one of those timeouts or a lot of that time gone. Again, as you can probably guess, Cleveland used all three timeouts during their game-winning drive. It's just another example of boneheaded management by guys who are paid quite a bit to…well, not be boneheaded.
Jonas Gray had the performance of his career last week, amassing 201 yards and four touchdowns for the Patriots. This week? He didn't play a single snap, a penalty for oversleeping and arriving late to practice on Friday. That crashing sound you heard Sunday was all of Gray's fantasy owners hurling their laptops at the wall.
Dominic Raiola of the Lions wasn't too pleased about the Patriots scoring a touchdown with two minutes to play in their eventual 34-9 victory. Raiola took it out on Patriots tackle Zach Moore–or more specifically, Moore's knees. Raiola dove for a chop block against Moore…on a kneel down at the end of the game. After the loss, Raiola seemed bitter that the Patriots had run up the score. Of course, that conveniently neglects the fact that the Lions had gotten a penalty on fourth down to keep the drive alive, and the Pats were simply running the ball to kill clock. LeGarrette Blount just happened to score. You don't like it? Run out on defense and stop him.
The Rams' Greg Robinson committed an illegal use of hands penalty on a play where the Rams scored on a long pass to Kenny Britt. Rather than heading into halftime most likely up 17-3, St. Louis instead went into the break only winning 10-6. Considering they lost by three, that was kind of a costly mistake by Robinson.
Marshawn Lynch has twice been fined $50,000 for failing to speak to the media after games. He certainly gave an effort to correct that on Sunday, addressing questions for nearly three whole minutes. Granted, all but one of his answers were three words of fewer, the most common being "yeah," which he said in response to 12 separate questions. In all, Lynch fielded 22 questions or comments, and used a whole 50 words to answer them all. Will he hit the century mark next week? It's one of the most intriguing subplots of the year.
Most Interesting Facts From Week 12
Tom Brady's first career appearance was fourteen years ago Sunday–the Pats lost to the Lions 34-9. On the exact same date, fourteen years later, Brady led New England to a 34-9 win against Detroit. Spooky.
Buffalo defeated the Jets 38-3. For you math whizzes, that's a 35-point beatdown. That margin of difference was greater than the point total of 26 teams. Only the Eagles (43), Broncos (39), Dolphins (36) and the Bills themselves scored more.
The Eagles' 10 defensive and special teams touchdowns are twice as many as any other team in the league. Houston and Green Bay have five apiece.
With another successful throw on a fake punt, the Rams' Johnny Hekker now has as many completions (three) as he does touchbacks on punts.
The Cowboys beat the Giants after trailing by 11 or more points for just the second time in franchise history. The only other occurrence was on October 11, 1985.
Finally, a close Sunday Night Football matchup! The 31-28 Cowboys victory is the first time since Week 2, when the Bears knocked off the Niners 28-20, that a primetime Sunday night game was decided by a single score.
New Orleans just got swept in three straight home games for only the third time in team history. The previous two instances were 1967 and 1997.
Every AFC North team has seven wins. The Bengals are in first place at 7-3-1, while the Browns, Ravens and Steelers are all tied at 7-4. Meanwhile, each NFC South team has four wins or fewer, including the Falcons, who sit atop the division at 4-7. It's the first time in history a division leader has been three games under .500.
Notes From Vegas
Going by the closing line, favorites went 6-9 against the spread (85-87-4 on the year) and 11-4 straight up (116-59 on the year). Home dogs finished 2-1 for the week, improving to 25-26 on the season.
Top Dog: 65% of bettors grabbed the points with Cincinnati, who started as a pick 'em but ended up 2.5-point underdogs to Houston. 91% of bettors took the Bengals straight up, with moneyline odds of +130.
Biggest Upsets: 72% grabbed Kansas City as seven-point favorites and 57% took them to beat the Raiders straight up, but, as always, the Thursday night game proved to be chaotic, as the Chiefs lost by four. Green Bay (78%) and Denver (63%) also received heavy backing as 7.5- and seven-point favorites, respectively, but they were only able to win, not cover.
Week 12 Picks
Last Week: 2-1-1, Overall: 19-28-1
Two wins and a push? This might be the most jaw-dropping performance since Odell Beckham's catch. The Patriots continued to look like a dominant team (and the Lions looked like the Lions of years past); the Bengals shook off an Andy Dalton pick-six to win a crucial game against the Texans, and the Cowboys late game heroics helped get our first push of the season. Meanwhile, the Chargers were down double digits, then covering comfortably until the Rams scored a touchdown with two minutes left, and then San Diego somehow almost blew the game. That's why you play the full 60, ladies and gentlemen.
This week (home team in CAPS):
PITTSBURGH -3 over New Orleans
Pittsburgh has a tendency to overlook bad teams. I'm not sure if New Orleans is there yet–they seem much more mediocre than flat-out bad. Coming off a bye, and taking the Saints' road woes into consideration, I think the Steelers can cover by more than a field goal.
Cincinnati -3.5 over TAMPA BAY
Must be "Hop on the AFC North bandwagon while simultaneously punishing the NFC South" week. The Bengals either get blown out or win convincingly on the road. As their blowouts have come at the hands of the Patriots and Colts, two far superior teams than the Bucs, Cincy should be in good shape.
BALTIMORE -4.5 over San Diego
I promise I'm not only picking AFC North teams. They just have some of the more appealing matchups (on paper, at least). The Chargers haven't looked good in quite some time; their defense is still full of holes thanks to injuries. This should probably be a fairly high-scoring game, and the Chargers may very well look past this game a bit, with dates against the Patriots and Broncos looming.
Chicago +7 over DETROIT
The Lions haven't scored a touchdown in eight quarters. Meanwhile, the Bears have reached at least 20 points in nine of 11 games this year. That should be enough to keep things within a score. I'm not confident in all at this, but with this game being on Thanksgiving Day, hopefully the Lions have a bit of a turkey hangover. At noon.