JERMAINE EVERY'S OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from Week 12 in the NFL

Phillip Rivers was unstoppable. Mike Nowak/Chargers team site

There’s never a dull moment in a week of NFL action. Week 12 proved to be pretty exciting. Teams we thought were the worst, turned out not so bad. Meanwhile, there are some teams free-falling faster than a mob snitch wearing concrete shoes while “going for a swim.” Here’s how I saw things:

The Good

-Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 25 consecutive passes to start the game and went 28 of 29 overall in their 45-10 win over the lowly Cardinals. It’s high time he starts to get the respect he’s due. Oh, I forgot. Joey Bosa is back and that makes this team better.

-Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel led his team to a 23-16 win over the Lions on Thanksgiving. He hasn’t thrown a pass in a few years, but went 27 of 37 for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Safety Eddie Royal has quietly been their defense’s second best player. He had his fifth defensive touchdown since last season, which was his rookie year. Bears are scary.

-The Cowboys beat the Redskins 31-23 on Thanksgiving behind Ezekiel Elliot and Amari Cooper’s huge performances. But it was seeing rookie receiver Michael Gallup back with the team after learning of the suicide of his brother after the Falcons game last Sunday. The mental toughness it takes to perform on that level after a personal tragedy is something most of us won’t know.

The Bad

-There aren’t many times when a receiver getting eight targets is a bad thing. But when said receiver is Odell Beckham Jr, an exception to that statement is in order. In their 25-22 loss to the Eagles, OBJ said after the game that attacking the depleted Eagles secondary “wasn’t in the game plan.” Eli Manning threw 37 passes and only three of the 26 completions went for more than 20 yards. That’s unacceptable. That’s also how you end up 3-8.

-The Panthers were 6-4 and had an opportunity to stay within striking distance of the Saints in the NFC South. Up 27-20 with about seven minutes left against the Seahawks, they let it slip away. Seahawks rallied to win 30-27 after kicking a game-winning field goal after the Panthers missed one of their own. They are now four games back.

- Steelers running back James Conner has been a feel-good story. However, his fumble at the end of the third quarter while they were in scoring range led to the Broncos’ go-ahead touchdown drive that started the fourth quarter. The Steelers not only drop to 7-3-1 after the loss, but also lose some ground in playoff seeding.

The Ugly

-The Jags are the concrete shoes reference above. They are now 3-8 after losing their seventh in a row. To make matters worse, they lost to the Bills’ rookie quarterback Josh Allen, whom Jags’ corner Jalen Ramsey called “trash” in one of his rants. Jags running back Leonard Fournette was also ejected for fighting. Offseason in Duval County should be interesting.

-Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes went down with an apparent hamstring injury late in their win over the Packers. If he’s out for any significant amount of time, that’s trouble for a team that had hopes of advancing deep into the playoffs.

-Former Bears player and head coach Mike Ditka had a mild heart attack earlier this week and is recovering down in Florida. The 79 year old had a pacemaker inserted and is doing much better. 2018 has been tough enough. Let Ditka make it God. Please?

Playoff seeding tightened up in both conferences this week. The Steelers could’ve been the two seed in the AFC, but lost and fell to the four spot. The Panthers could’ve been the four seed in the NFC, but are now on the outside looking in the playoffs altogether. More division races have meaning down the home stretch. This is the part of the season that’s similar to the dark meat of the turkey: it’s juicy even though it’s almost gone.  

 

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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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