Five NFL Week 12 storylines
Panthers return home for battle
Carolina, 6-4 but loser of two straight on the road, return to Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers are 5-0. Seattle (5-5) comes in with an improved play-action attack it hopes will keep the Panthers off balance enough to secure the head-to-head tiebreaker in the NFC wild-card battle. The Seahawks are the only team in the league with more runs (323) than passes (278). They’re averaging 154.3 yards rushing per game.
Can the G-Men make a playoff run?
The 3-7 Giants visit the 4-6 Eagles with life left for both in the NFC East. Philly won 34-13 in New York earlier this year but has lost three straight at home, two in a row and was outscored 48-7 at New Orleans last week. The Giants are 2-0 since their bye and could be facing an Eagles team missing its top five cornerbacks. Ronald Darby has a torn ACL, while the other four all missed practice time.
Broncos try to bag another giant
Denver (4-6) was a seven-point underdog when it ended the Chargers’ seven-game winning streak last week. Now the Broncos are home against a 7-2-1 Steelers team that needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat Jacksonville and extend its winning streak to six games last week. Third downs could be the key. Denver has struggled in that area on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh ranks sixth on offense, seventh on defense.
Luck entering the MVP Discussion
From 1-5 to 5-5 and 38-10 winners over Tennessee last week, the Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck are making people take notice in the AFC. They’ll play their third straight home game Sunday when the 5-5 Dolphins visit. Miami is 2-0 coming out of the bye under Adam Gase. Luck has thrown at least three touchdown passes in seven straight games. Only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have matched that feat in the same season.
Texans play host to Titans
Houston is 7-3 and must be living right with back-to-back road wins that came when Denver and Washington missed last-second kicks. If the Texans beat the Titans (5-5) at home Sunday, they’ll win a franchise-record eighth straight game. Which Tennessee team will they face? The one that beat the Patriots 34-10 two weeks ago? Or the one that lost to the Colts 38-10 last week? Tennessee beat Houston 20-17 at home on Sept. 16.
It took the Jaguars blowing a 16-0 lead over the Steelers with seven minutes left to derail last week’s POTW. This week, let’s ride the momentum of two NFC East also-rans going in opposite directions. The defending champion Eagles will take another tumble toward going from first to worst as the Giants beat them for their third straight victory coming out of their bye week.