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A Yinzer’s Guide to Week 12 in the NFL

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The 2016 playoff picture is juuuust beginning to take focus, and a number of games on the schedule in week 12 could have an impact on how that picture develops. Here is yinz guide to the week, n’at.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Top Three Storylines that Might Affect the Steelers

  1. I’m thankful for the Colts. I would never wish any injury on any player, especially not a concussion. But I’m not above relief when a player from an opposing team is in concussion protocol the week they play the Steelers, and especially when that player is the opposing team;s starting quarterback and a former number-one overall draft pick. Such is the case with the Colts’ Andrew Luck, who is not likely to play against the Steelers in Indianapolis due to the short week. If he can’t go, his replacement is Scott Tolzien, who saw virtually no playing time backing up Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers the last several seasons. So, all things considered, the only team I’d rather play on the road on Thanksgiving night right now besides the Colts is the Browns. Since we just beat them Sunday, I’ll take the Colts as they stand right now.
  2. Someone is getting spoiled this holiday weekend. The Bengals are as close as any team is going to get to being out of the playoff race at 3-6-1 and several tough games to play, but they could still be the spoiler this season. That includes a game in December against the Steelers, but the more imminent chance to screw with someone’s season comes this weekend in Baltimore when they take on the Ravens. Should the Bengals win it would be Baltimore’s first division loss this season.
  3. The Wild, Wild West, and then everyone else. While the Chiefs and Broncos currently hold the two wild-card slots (more on that in a minute), there is a bit of a log jam behind them for teams waiting to pounce if one of them falters. The Dolphins are 6-4, while the Steelers, Ravens, Bills and Colts are all 5-5. The Titans are another half-game back at 5-6. Either the Steelers or the Ravens are likely to win the AFC North and they have another head-to-head matchup remaining, while Cincinnati languishes at 3-6-1 and all but out of the race. That leaves either Pittsburgh or Baltimore, plus the Bills and Colts, all tied behind Miami. With Pittsburgh currently tied for the AFC North lead and still to play each of the three teams they are currently tied with, record-wise, they do hold their path to the playoffs in their own hands.

Best Game of the Week with No Hypocycloids

Chiefs @ Broncos

Everyone vying for an AFC wild card got a huge gift when Tampa Bay went into Kansas City and dropped the Chiefs to 7-3 Sunday. That left the two wide cards still in the hands of the Chiefs and Broncos, but it muddied the waters a bit. Now, those two teams square off against one another, and the loser could end up tied with the Dolphins at the end of the week. This game has enormous playoff ramifications.

Worst Game of the Week, a.k.a. Something

Los Angeles @ New Orleans

Seeing a top offense take on a top defense is always entertaining. Seeing a miserable offense (the Rams) against a horrendous defense (the Saints) isn’t nearly as entertaining. It’s more like this:

Copyright 1997 Jim Davis & PAWS, Inc.

Five Pointless Points

  1. If rumors of running back Karlos WIlliams facing a second suspension, this one of 10 games, are true, it’s disappointing. But the fact remains that the Steelers took no risk in signing him after he was cut by the Bills and went unclaimed on waivers. His contract is minimal and, if a few simple things go right, he never would have seen the field this year, anyway. With it looking like DeAngelo Williams is returning from injury soon, there is little reason to think Karlos Williams was anything but a pie-in-the-sky pickup with a hopeful eye toward the future.
  2. Sometimes, it’s okay to be proven wrong. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote this week that, among other quarterbacks, Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor has been playing some great football lately. Well, “lately” doesn’t quite cover it, because he’s actually been pretty doggone good since the Bills’ win over the Patriots in week four. Since that time, he has had just two weeks with a rating under 88.5, and four weeks at no worse than 94.6. In that span, he has seven touchdowns to just two interceptions. I have to say, he’s doing a good job of proving me — and others -- wrong, and that’s good for the young passer and for the NFL’s growing quarterback crisis.
  3. Our next matchup with CIncinnati is 24 days away and counting. I include this point because I needed a way to include my weekly reference to jagoff extroardinaire Vontaze Burfict.
  4. Pat McAfee doesn’t want to be Antonio Brown’s next Lanning pad. As you may recall, Brown used the upper body of former Cleveland Browns punter Sean Lanning as a cleat cleaner one fine September afternoon. Colts punter McAfee took to Twitter Tuesday to plead with Brown to not use him for the same purpose. Perhaps there is some irony here, as the Colts currently are a middling defense, a very good wide receiver, and no quarterback (because Andrew Luck has been ruled out of the game). The Browns are a middling defense, a very good wide receiver, and no quarterback (because any passer with a modicum of talent has been absent from Cleveland since Bernie Kosar left in the 90s).
  5. Most of us know that the symbols in the Steelers’ logo are called hypocycloids. The rest of you are thoroughly confused why that word is included in every single Yinzer’s Guide. But how many of us actually know what a hypocycloid is? My curiousity got the best of me, so I wandered over to Wikipedia, where I found the answer. I also found this gem of an image, which will mesmerize anyone who watches it:
Image by Greg Egan, used under Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 license