NFL Winners and Losers: Colin Kaepernick might be reviving his career – Yahoo Sports
That will get sorted out in the offseason. Maybe he doesn’t even hit free agency – it’s not like the 49ers have a better quarterback option, and the 2017 draft isn’t filled with future stars at the position. But on a bad 49ers team, Kaepernick has been playing like it’s 2012-13 again. You might not have heard much about Kaepernick’s resurgence on the field because most of the attention he has gotten this year has nothing to do with football. But he has quietly become an interesting figure on the field once again.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 12 of the NFL season:
Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and the most exciting team in the NFL: The Oakland Raiders are a treat this season.
They played a game of the year candidate on Sunday, coming back to knock off the Carolina Panthers 35-32. They held a big lead, gave it all away, then came back and won late as they’ve done many times this season.
Quarterback Derek Carr was the biggest story. He suffered an apparent right pinkie dislocation, but came back in the second half and played with a glove on his right right hand. And he played very well. His fourth-quarter completion deep down the middle to Michael Crabtree is one of the highlights of their amazing season.
Defensive end Khalil Mack played the closer. Late in the game, with the Panthers hoping to extend the game on fourth-and-10, Mack knocked the ball out of Cam Newton’s hands Von Miller-style and recovered the fumble to seal the win. Mack also had a huge interception return for a touchdown earlier in the game.
The Raiders are 9-2. With the Patriots looking vulnerable after barely escaping the New York Jets with a win Sunday. It’s looking more possible the Raiders end up as the No. 1 seed in the AFC (technically, the Raiders came into Week 12 as the No. 1 seed thanks to tiebreakers over the Patriots). The more Raiders playoff games we get this season, the better. They’re really fun to watch.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons will be tough in the playoffs, if they get there. When they’re good, they’re really good.
The offense was scary on Sunday. Even with Patrick Peterson holding Julio Jones to four catches and 35 yards, the Falcons piled up 38 points on the Arizona Cardinals. Taylor Gabriel continued to emerge as a big-play threat, with two touchdowns. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had three rushing touchdowns. The offense is diverse and dangerous, and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is doing a great job calling plays.
The Falcons still are in a tight AFC South race because of the resurgent Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They lead the Bucs by just one game. So the playoffs aren’t guaranteed. But they’ll be a dangerous team in the field if they can get in. The offense is fantastic.
Adam Gase: Early in the season, Gase looked like a rookie head coach and the Miami Dolphins looked terrible.
And then, something clicked.
Sunday’s win over the 49ers wasn’t dominant, but it still counts as their sixth straight victory. At 7-4 they’re in the middle of the AFC playoff race. For a while, as the Jets led late against the Patriots, it looked like the Dolphins might be getting back in the AFC East race. Crazy enough, maybe we shouldn’t rule that out yet (the Dolphins are two games back in the division but do get the Patriots at home in Week 17).
Ryan Tannehill played well again, with 285 yards and three touchdowns. His improvement has been the biggest key to the Dolphins’ turnaround, and give Gase some credit for that. A big part of the reason Gase got the job was his work with quarterbacks, and he’s doing a good job with Tannehill.
At one point this season the Dolphins were 1-4 with a home win in overtime over a Cleveland Browns team that still hasn’t won yet. The Dolphins haven’t lost since that 1-4 start. That’s a credit to the head coach.
Whoever counted out the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South race: When the Titans lost at the Indianapolis Colts last week, it looked like they were in trouble in the AFC South.
But, it’s the AFC South.
Since then the Houston Texans have lost twice and the Colts, without Andrew Luck, lost on Thanksgiving. The Titans didn’t exactly blow the Chicago Bears away – thank you, Josh Bellamy – but they’re probably back to being the favorite in the division.
The Titans sweated out a win against the Bears to improve to 6-6, and are just a half game behind the 6-5 Texans. The Titans have a bye next week, which should help for the stretch run. The Titans have a home game against the Denver Broncos right after the bye and then play at the Kansas City Chiefs, so the schedule isn’t easy. But the AFC South is mostly terrible, so the Titans are in a good spot. And given how well the offense has played with second-year breakout quarterback Marcus Mariota, it might not be an easy playoff opener for whoever would have to travel to Nashville on wild-card weekend.
Anyone besides the Dallas Cowboys who wanted the NFC’s top seed: Don’t book JerryWorld for the NFC playoffs. It looks like the Cowboys might be using it well into January.
The Cowboys have practically clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed, barring a collapse down the stretch. The Seattle Seahawks took a bad loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to fall to 7-3-1. Suddenly, the Cowboys have a two-and-a-half game lead for the top seed.
Getting the top seed doesn’t guarantee winning a conference title, but it helps. Also, the Cowboys are perhaps the most reliable team in the NFL right now because even the other “good” teams have been inconsistent. That’s especially true for the …
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks should be thankful the NFC West is bad. Because they’ve taken a lot of questionable losses for a good team.
The Seahawks looked terrible in a 14-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Seahawks went in with a couple of costly injuries to safety Earl Thomas and defensive end Michael Bennett, but that doesn’t explain why the offense never got in the end zone. Losing running back C.J. Prosise, who briefly gave the team a dangerous element, hurt. Prosise isn’t coming back from a broken scapula for a long time, if he returns this season.
The Seahawks have been surprisingly inconsistent. Their win at the New England Patriots might be the best win for any NFL team this season. They also have losses to the Rams and Buccaneers in which they didn’t score a touchdown.
Seattle still has perhaps the most talent in the NFC, or maybe even the entire NFL. At its best, it can reach a championship level. But which Seahawks team is going to show up from week to week?
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