While people speculate whether Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot are the second coming of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, and what will be Tony Romo’s future with the Cowboys, there is still one player still currently with a roster spot who hasn’t been spoken about at all this year: Mark Sanchez. Sanchez did make one appearance in junk time to throw a pass and take a couple knees, but otherwise he has just been some guy taking up space in a uniform. The reason why he is with the Cowboys at all is because the team was in need of an “experienced” hand after Romo’s preseason injury. Sanchez was supposedly the Broncos’ intended starting quarterback this season, but it was determined that since he didn’t look noticeably better than Trevor Siemian, it made more sense to cut him and go with the rookie and as a “long-term” option. Siemian hasn’t actually generated much heat as a starter with the Broncos, with an 85 passer rating that puts him in the bottom quarter of the league. But he hasn’t been turnover prone, and the Broncos defense is still third-ranked in the NFL, and a winning record helps to avoid feelings of second thoughts about the move.
In the meantime, the Cowboys have to make a decision, and nobody wants to appear to be being “unfair” to either Prescott or Romo. As for Sanchez, he’s just there. If the decision is to move forward with Prescott for the future, then Romo is certainly looking elsewhere next season. Is this “good” news for Sanchez, who just two years ago was declared the “best” backup quarterback in league? More likely, the former “Sanchize”—who couldn’t have been any worse than Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick these days—is just some guy who never really found his “place,” and likely won’t.
Meanwhile in Week 12…
Buccaneers 14 Seahawks 5 Two early touchdowns went largely unanswered by Russell Wilson, who had his worst regular season day as a passer, a 38.8 rating and two interceptions. Wilson was sacked six times and hit 11 more times; he did run for 80 yards, but this yardage was nullified on drives that ended on turnovers, or from deep in Seahawk territory, or just recovered lost yardage on previous plays. With the defense recovering from early game gaffs to hold the opponent scoreless, this was a game that most people would expect that the Seahawks would eventually score enough points to win, especially at the end of the game when Wilson usually seems at his best. Wilson did recover in the fourth quarter, but a Jimmy Graham fumble and an interception uncharacteristically left questions as well as points on the field.
Lions 16 Viking 13 Not a particularly entertaining game, with neither offense putting-up much of an effort. The Lions won as time-expired when with only 38 seconds to play in the game, the Vikings decided to continue to play the dink-and-dunk passing “attack” rather than play for overtime, which ended in disastrous results. Bradford was intercepted deep in Viking territory, leading to the game-winning field goal two plays later as time expired. For the first time this season, the Viking are out of first place in the NFC North, and the Lions suddenly looking like the “cream” of a bad division.
Cowboys 31 Redskins 26 The Cowboys hung-on for the victory, despite Kirk Cousins’ 449 yards passing, half of them in the fourth quarter when the Redskins’ offense mounted a furious comeback, while their defense only did the rollback. Prescott and Elliot were good but not great in this game, and two missed field goals and failed two-point conversion for the Redskins prevented just the second loss of the season for the Cowboys.
Steelers 28 Colts 7 Those concussion “protocols” certainly come at inopportune times, as the Andrew-Luckless Colts failed to take advantage of an opportunity to move into first place in their division. As last season, once more it was demonstrated that Luck is the “difference-maker” on this Colts’ team, regardless what his detractors say.
Titans 27 Bears 21 The Titans led 27-7 in the fourth quarter before Matt Barkley started filling the air with footballs like it was a hailstorm. Barkley threw 34 passes in the final quarter, 18 of which were completed for nearly 200 yards. However the last four were the ones that counted, all which fell incomplete after the Bears reached the Titans 7 with under a minute to play.
Raiders 35 Panthers 32 The Panthers mounted their own comeback after trailing 24-7 at halftime to score 25 unanswered points and take a 32-24 lead in the fourth quarter. But as often happens, the defense suddenly lost its “desire” and the Derek Carr engineered two long drives that put the Raiders back on top—and as often happens, once Cam Newton feels the pressure, he does something like fumble when the Panthers are moving into range to tie the game late.
Bills 28 Jaguars 21 The 2-9 Jaguars have been accused being a badly organized team this season, and that is so. The Jaguars played a not-all-that-great Bills tough the entire game, but it still usually comes down to leaving one brains on the field rather than their heart. With the game still winnable late, Blake Bortles threw a short pass on fourth down for four yards when they needed four yards for the first down. Oh goody—except that he forgot he was just called for a delay of game penalty and he need five more yards.
Ravens 19 Bengals 14 On the final play of the game, a punt, the Ravens line allowed their punter to run around the end zone for what seemed like a very long time while Bengal rushers were manhandled and tackled with penalty flags coming down like confetti, before running out the back door for a safety, which effectively ended the game. There ought to be a law against such things, like giving the opposing team an untimed final play at the 40-yard line, or something.
Falcons 38 Cardinals 19 Carson Palmer has been very Aaron Rodgers-like since last season’s closing 36-6 loss to the Seahawks. Is he “hurt”? Did he lose his “mojo”? But then again, his teams have always seemed to be treading water. Last season saw his only playoff win—and that against a Packer team that limped into the playoffs with a quarterback whose head who knows where. Palmer is a quarterback who can occasionally put up the numbers, but not necessarily the ones that count.
Giants 27 Browns 13 The Browns are now 0-12. Do they have a victory somewhere on their schedule? Let’s see—Bengals, Bills, Chargers, Steelers. I see “potential” against the Bengals, but only that. Since being “reinstated” to the league in 1999, the Browns have won more than five games in a season only five times. Going 0-16 in a season at least has the “advantage” of doing something “notable” in all that time.
Saints 49 Rams 21 Jared Goff was actually very good in the first half of this game, throwing three touchdown passes and keeping the game surprisingly competitive despite the Rams defense being uncharacteristically porous. But the defense continued to be porous in the second half, while Goff’s passing efficiency dried up like a few rain drops in the desert, which has been the story of the Rams’ offense all season.
Dolphins 31 49ers 24 Colin Kaepernick was again a one-man show for the 49ers, throwing for nearly 300 yards and running for over 100 yards more. The 49ers are also 0-6 with him as the starter. In this game like many others, anything can happen when Kaepernick is on the field, but it is not necessarily a good thing when it is too “unpredictable.” Well, that is not exactly true; it is “predictable” that when the game is on the line, Kaepernick is going to find some predictable way to fail, as the 49ers did in this game, failing an opportunity to tie after reaching the Dolphin’s five-yard line.
Chargers 21 Texans 13 If Andrew Luck had played and the Colts had won their Thanksgiving game, we would be “shocked” to discover that after this game they would have been tied for first place in their division. The Texans continue their downward trajectory, as Brock Osweiler continues to prove that the Broncos were right in letting him go; he is certainly no better than Siemian, who is getting paid a lot less. Osweiler’s QB rating is likely to drift below the 70 level after throwing three interceptions in this game, giving him 13 for the season to only 12 touchdown passes.
Patriots 22 Jets 17 Until his late sack/fumble, Ryan Fitzpatrick “outplayed” Tom Brady for most of this game, which it explains why it was competitive. Brady nevertheless won his 200th career game, including the playoffs, tying Peyton Manning and one ahead of Brett Favre. He still needs ten regular season victories to surpass the 186 that both Manning and Favre share, and he will do so in far few fewer games than either. Brady has a .774 regular season winning percentage as a starter, besting Manning’s .702. Russell Wilson has a .713 winning percentage, but after only 75 starts.