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 gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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