NFL Week 12 Matchups: Rested Tampa Bay Buccaneers Going for Third Straight Win

Denver Broncos Head to Carolina in Desperate Need Of a Victory

Atlanta and Washington Look to Remain in NFC Playoff Race

When breaking down the NFL Week 12 matchups, the four early games on Sunday being televised on FOX won’t go down as must-see television.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found their way to the top of the NFC South with that division likely the worst in the NFL this season.

The disappointing Denver Broncos will be in Carolina, Atlanta and Washington try to remain in playoff contention with quarterback issues dominating all the talk of the showdown between the New York Jets and Chicago Bears. Two of the three NFL games with totals under 40 will be among the early games played on Sunday, with the Broncos-Panthers game having a total of 36 and the Jets-Bears matchup coming in at 39.5. The Jets-Bears game opened with a total of 48 before news of the uncertainty of the quarterback.

Tampa Bay (+750) is fourth in the odds to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Jets (+5000) are ninth in the AFC odds.

Here’s a look at Sunday’s early games on FOX.

Game of the Week

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns

Date, time (TV):

The Buccaneers got a much-needed bye week after pulling out a pair of wins to move back on top of the NFC South Division standings. The NFL Week 12 matchups list the visiting Buccaneers as the favorite.

After opening the season with double-digit point wins against the Dallas Cowboys and division rival New Orleans Saints, the other three wins have come by six, three and five points.

Tom Brady is 13th in the NFL in passing efficiency and the available pass catchers he has to throw to seemingly changes week to week.

Rookie Rachaad White ran for more than 100 yards the last time the Buccaneers took the field so it will be worth watching to see what his role will be moving forward.

This should be the final game before Deshaun Watson takes over as Cleveland’s starting quarterback after serving an 11-game suspension. Jacoby Brissett has had his moments at quarterback for the Browns, but consistency was an issue.

The Browns are fourth in the NFL in total offense and fifth in rushing yards per game. However, only Arizona and Detroit are allowing more points per contest.

Each of the last five games between Tampa Bay and Cleveland finished under the total.

Other Games to Watch

Chicago Bears at New York Jets

Date, time (TV):

The biggest question is who will be playing quarterback in this game and that will impact things when looking at the NFL Week 12 matchups.

Chicago’s Justin Fields suffered a shoulder injury and his status for the game is uncertain while New York Jets coach Robert Saleh was noncommittal when asked whether former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson would start in this game for the 6-4 Jets.

Fields has accounted for 15 touchdowns over the last six games, even though Chicago won just one of those contests.

When it comes to the NFL stats, among players with at least 100 passing attempts, only Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett has a lower passer rating than Wilson. He was just 9 of 22 for 77 yards in last week’s loss to New England.

Both teams lost promising young running backs during the season with Chicago’s Khalil Herbert and New York’s Breece Hall both sidelined.

Chicago has won five games in a row against the Jets with each of those matchups being decided by 14 points or less.

Seven of Chicago’s games went over the total including four of the six road contests.

The total has gone under in each of the last five games for the Jets.

Atlanta Falcons at Washington Commanders

Date, time (TV):

When the NFL schedule was announced, this was not expected to be a game with teams in contention for playoff spots.

Atlanta is just 1/2 game behind Tampa Bay in the NFC South Division while Washington is just 1/2 game out of the last playoff spot in the NFC.

Atlanta’s struggling passing offense took a hit with the news that second-year tight end Kyle Pitts is out for the rest of the season and that was among the biggest news when it comes to the Week 12 NFL injury report. Marcus Mariota has thrown for less than 200 yards in seven of the last eight games so one has to wonder what he will do without Pitts to throw to.

Taylor Heinecke’s numbers (1,031 passing yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions in five games) are not impressive with one exception – a 4-1 record. It will be worth watching to see if former starter Carson Wentz works his way back into the picture.

The Commanders will be getting defensive end Chase Young back at the perfect time and tight end Logan Thomas returned to the field in last week’s win over Houston.

Washington’s leading tackle Cole Holcomb is questionable.

Atlanta has won six of the last seven meetings with Washington and covered in five of the last six games in the series.

Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers

Date, time (TV):

The Denver Broncos began the season with the 1-2 running back duo of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. Williams played in just four games before suffering a season-ending injury while Gordon was cut after yet another costly fumble. Now Mike Boone, Chase Edmonds, Marlon Mack and Latavius Murray are the options at running back for the 3-7 Broncos.

With injuries mounting at the receiver position, Denver might need to lean on the running game.

Sam Darnold is now in at quarterback for the Panthers as he will be the third different quarterback to start for Carolina this season. Having traded away running back Christian McCaffrey and receiver Robbie Anderson, it is not a surprise that the Panthers are struggling offensively. The defense isn’t much better for the 3-8 Panthers.

Denver has won four games in a row against Carolina. The last two meetings have been decided by a total of six points.

The Broncos are just 1-4 on the road while five of the 16 games played by the teams went under the total.

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