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 has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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