1. In a year where almost every kick, regardless of distance, feels like an uncertainty, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has been nothing short of spectacular. Tucker became the first kicker in NFL history to hit three field goals of 50-plus yards in the first half of an NFL game — connecting from 52, 57, and 54 yards.
2. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off the biggest upset of Week 12, knocking off the Seahawks at home. Tampa Bay was a seven-point underdog, depending on where you looked.
The game was particularly close either. Bucs QB Jameis Winston found WR Mike Evans for two early touchdown strikes in the first quarter, and were on cruise control for the majority of the game after that. Seattle only scored five points in four quarters. Yes you read that right. Tampa Bay has now won three games in a row, and are squarely in contention for a NFC wild-card bid.
3. The Patriots, thanks to some late-game heroics by quarterback Tom Brady, pulled off a win on the road against the New York Jets. Brady connected with rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell for a touchdown in the final two minutes of the game to give the Patriots a 22-17 lead, a lead they would never relinquish.
4. Cleveland fell to 0-12, but one story-line that should be receiving more attention is Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, who has played 10,000 consecutive snaps without missing a play. Thomas was drafted in 2007 by Cleveland, and has played every offensive snap for the Browns since that point. Wildly impressive.
5. Red-hot Miami! The Dolphins, since starting 1-4, have reeled off six consecutive victories and find themselves in a tie with Denver for the last playoff spot in the AFC. First-year head coach Adam Gase has a real chance to win Coach of the Year.
6. Speaking of another Coach of the Year candidate, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio picked up another dramatic victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, moving Oakland to 9-2. The Raiders are guaranteed to have a winning season for the first time since 2002, which was the longest streak in the NFL for a franchise to not produce a winning record. They are making a strong case as the ‘most exciting team to watch’ so far this season. Football is so much better when Oakland is good. And this is a really fun team to watch.
Sidenote: Linebacker Khalil Mack had an interception, sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and a touchdown for the Raiders on Sunday. He’s the first player since Charles Woodson in 2009 to do all five of those things in a single game.
7. Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is officially the worst head coach in NFL history. Bradley fell to 14-45 as a head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, which moves his winning percentage to a whopping 23%, which, as stated above, is the worst in NFL history. The Jaguars are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, which is the third-such streak in the Bradley era. Yikes. The question at this point isn’t if Bradley will be fired, but when.
8. The Detroit Lions are in first place in the NFC North, tell me if you saw this coming. They have a chance to increase their lead if the Packers lose to the Eagles tonight.
9. Kansas City continues to be undervalued. They’ve won 19 of their last 23 games, and their defense is finally at full-health with the return of Justin Houston. They continue to not receive any national coverage, but continue to churn out victories. Keep giving the Chiefs the cold shoulder and they might just fly under-the-radar all the way to Houston.
10. In a Bounty-gate reunion game, the Saints faced off against former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now with Rams) and whopped up on him in New Orleans. Drew Brees and company dropped 49 points on St. Louis, and had their foot on the gas late into the fourth quarter despite carrying over a 20-point lead. No word on whether this was intentional or not, but it’s fun to speculate on.