GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEK
L.A. RAMS (7-3) @ GREEN BAY (8-3), 4:25 p.m. (EST)
The line: Rams by 2
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 35
The story: It’s always something with Aaron Rodgers. Now it’s a fractured toe that kept him out of practice last week, with Jordan Love taking the first-team snaps. Unusual? Not really. Rodgers practiced just once since returning from the COVID reserve list on Nov. 13, yet he threw four TD passes last weekend. “It comes down to managing the pain,” he said. Now it comes down to managing the Rams, in a tailspin before last weekend's bye. They lost their last two by a combined score of 59-26.
Something to consider: Green Bay won its last nine home games, the longest active winning streak in the NFL. It also won 16 of its last 17 last regular-season contests there.
THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING
TAMPA BAY (7-3) @ INDIANAPOLIS (6-5), 1 p.m. (EST)
The line: Bucs by 3
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 39 (retractable roof)
The story: This is more about Indianapolis than it is Tampa Bay. The Bucs are virtual locks for the playoffs. But the Colts? Not so much. However, they’re en fuego, with running back Jonathan Taylor shredding defenses in the Colts’ recent …OK, what else … run. They won five of their past six, losing only in overtime to Tennessee. But what happens when Taylor’s not carrying this team? Glad you asked. This may be where we find out. Tampa Bay has the league’s top rush defense, allowing an average of 78.4 yards per game.
Something to consider: The Colts are 6-0 when Taylor runs for 100 yards.
TENNESSEE (8-3) @ NEW ENGLAND (7-4), 1 p.m. (EST)
The line: Patriots by 7
The weather: Mostly cloudy, high of 40
The story: So now the Titans are without top wide receiver A.J. Brown? Tell me how they manufacture points without him and Derrick Henry. Better yet, tell quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He suffered four interceptions last week in a loss to Houston. If Tennessee can’t beat the woebegone Texans, how do they beat New England at home? They probably don’t. The Patriots are hot, winning their last five and outscoring their last three opponents 94-13. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is a Rookie-of-the-Year candidate. The Pats can run. They can play defense. And they don’t make mistakes. Attention, Buffalo: New England is a legit playoff threat.
Something to consider: Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel is 2-0 vs his former head coach, Bill Belichick.
CLEVELAND (6-5) @ BALTIMORE (7-3), 8:20 p.m. (EST)
The line: Ravens by 3-1/2
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 52
The story: The good news: Cleveland’s Kareem Hunt and Jack Conklin have been cleared to play. The bad: So has Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson. The guy’s been an absolute terror vs. Cleveland, running for 100 yards in two of the last three games and throwing three TDs in three of the past four. Jackson struggled in his last start vs. Miami’s Cover-0 defense, but the Browns are among the bottom ten in blitzes. So do they deviate from their scheme? Maybe they should. They’ve lost eight of their last nine vs. the Ravens, and this is their chance to climb back into the division race. They play Baltimore twice in the next three weekends.
Something to consider: Baltimore is an NFL-best 17-2 in home prime-time games in the John Harbaugh era.
OUR BEST BETS
(Picks are made vs. the spread)
RON BORGES – Tennessee (+7). Anytime I can get the Titans at +7 I’m taking it (SEASON RECORD: 6-5).
RICK GOSSELIN – Philadelphia (--3-1/2). The arrow is pointing up with the Eagles. Not so the Giants (SEASON RECORD: 6-4-1).
CLARK JUDGE – L.A. Chargers (--2-1/2). Justin Herbert or Teddy Bridgewater? I think you know the answer (SEASON RECORD: 7-4).
THEY SAID IT
“There’s a chance for anything.” – San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan on Jimmy Garoppolo possibly remaining the team’s starter the rest of the year.
“They have the ability to win the game in a lot of different ways. They’re playing great defense. They’re taking care of the football. And they’re not doing things to beat themselves.” – Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel on the New England Patriots.
“He said he is feeling the best he has felt.” – Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski on quarterback Baker Mayfield.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The Patriots allowed zero points over their opponents’ last 19 possessions.
STAT OF THE WEEK II
Jimmy Garoppolo’s average of 9.23 passing yards over the last four weeks is the highest in the NFL.
STAT OF THE WEEK III
In eight games with Derrick Henry, the Titans averaged 147.6 yards rushing per game. In the three games without him, they average 87.6.
FIVE GUYS TO WATCH
JONATHAN TAYLOR, RB, Indianapolis. He can become the first player in league history to have 100 or more scrimmage yards and a rushing TD in each of nine consecutive games.
JUSTIN HERBERT, QB, L.A. Chargers. With a touchdown pass, he surpasses Derek Carr for the second-most TD passes in his first two seasons. He and Carr have 53 each. Leader Dan Marino had 68.
T.J. WATT, LB, Pittsburgh. He’s aiming for his sixth straight game vs. Cincinnati with a sack.
LAMAR JACKSON, QB, Baltimore. He’s thrown for three TDs in three of his last four starts vs. Cleveland and hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three vs. the Browns.
CARSON WENTZ, QB, Indianapolis. He has no interceptions in eight of his last nine games.
TEN THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD KNOW
1. This is the fourth time since 1970 that every team in one division (in this case, the AFC North) has a winning record entering Week 12.
2. The Tampa Bay-Indianapolis game marks the fifth time since 2000 that the league’s top-ranked rush defense (Tampa Bay) meets its top-ranked running game (Indianapolis) in Week 12 or later. The previous four games were split, 2-2.
3. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 3, a streak of 173 consecutive pass attempts.
4. Tom Brady is 82-24 in Week 12-17 throughout his career.
5. Cleveland and Baltimore are actually playing consecutive games vs. each other, sandwiched around a bye. It’s the first time in 30 years that has happened (San Diego vs. Seattle).
6. Jalen Hurts has four games with two rushing TDs, tying Cam Newton for the most such games by a quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era.
7. Green Bay has allowed 44 points at Lambeau this year, the fewest in its first four home games since 1966 (26).
8. Since Week 8, Philadelphia averages 34.5 PPG.
9. San Francisco has 86 rushing attempts the past two weeks, the 49ers’ most in a two-game span since 1997 (89).
10. Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence hasn't thrown a TD pass in three consecutive starts. He failed to throw one in only two of his 40 games at Clemson.