The NFL competed their first
three two games of the Week 12 schedule on Thanksgiving. The scheduled third game of the Thanksgiving slate, the Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, was shifted from Thursday to this upcoming Tuesday as the Ravens look to get a COVID-19 outbreak undercontrol. That also means the Ravens’ Week 13 Thursday Night Football contest against the Dallas Cowboys has been moved to Monday Night Football in Week 13, assuming the Ravens-Steelers game is played on Tuesday.
The Thanksgiving games that were played featured the Washington Football Team dominating the Cowboys for a 41-16 win, as well as the Detroit Lions being unable to give the Miami Dolphins any draft-pick assistance as they were destroyed by the Houston Texans 41-25. Houston, who traded their first- and second-round picks this year (and a first last year) to the Dolphins in the Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills trade, had been sitting in the top five picks through the early part of the season. Now, however, it appears they are starting to put it together and may become a mid-pack team by the end of the year.
Sidenote: The Texans released Stills this week in a mutual parting of ways. Thanks for the extra pick in that trade, Houston.
With 12 games, plus the Dolphins at New York Jets, still to be played this week, there are a lot of games that will impact Miami, both in the playoff picture and in the draft order. What results help the Dolphins the most? Our Week 12 rooting guide is here to assist:
Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots, 1pm ET - Miami beat the Cardinals earlier this year, meaning an Arizona win helps the Dolphins’ strength of schedule/victory tiebreaks. The Patriots are AFC East rivals of the Dolphins, meaning losses for them always help Miami. This is an NFC versus AFC matchup, meaning it should follow the basic rule of always rooting for the NFC team to win. With a loss, New England woudl move ahead of Miami in the draft order, but it is fun watching the Patriots melt down this year. Root for: Arizona.
Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings, 1pm ET - The problem with this game is, the 4-7 Panthers are in the tenth spot in the draft order, the Miami is 11th thanks to the 4-7 Texans, then the 4-6 Vikings are 12th. This game is really a toss up as it does not impact Miami in the playoff standings and features to NFC teams. The draft pick order really does not impact Miami right now either. With a win, the Panthers move to 5-7 (with a bye next week), which would move then behind Miami in the draft order, but the loss for the Vikings moves them to 4-7, with a weaker strength of shedule (as of now), which would mean they would jump ahead of Miami. This is a case where you should just root for whichever team you think it likely to lose more games the rest of the year. Root for: Toss up.
Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1pm ET - This game sucks. There simply is not a right answer here. The Browns are 7-3 and in the sixth position in the playoff standings while the Dolpins are 6-4 and in the ninth spot. A loss for Cleveland helps Miami in the postseason chase. A win for the Jaguars, however, moves them to 2-9, giving the Jets an effective two game buffer between the first-overall draft pick and any other team in the league. The Browns still have the Titans, Ravens, and Steelers on the schedule, meaning the probably still have some losses coming. I just cannot bring myself to root for what may basically lock the Jets into the first pick. Root for: Cleveland (but if you want to argue for Jacksonville here, it completely makes sense).
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, 1pm ET - Two AFC teams facing off with both currently in the playoffs, and yet, this game really does not have much impact on Miami. The Dolphins do no have either Tennessee nor Indianapolis on their schedule this year. The Titans are currently fifth in the playoff standings, holding the first of the Wilcard spots, while the Colts are fourth. They are, however, only split by the Colts having won the first of the meetings between the two sides. The winner of this game will stay in the lead in the AFC South, while the loser will likely still be in the playoffs at 7-4. Pick which team you think will pick up more losses down the road. Tennessee has Cleveland, Jacksonville, Detroit, Green Bay, and Houston remaining after this week, while Indianapolis will still face Houston, Las Vegas, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Jacksonville. This really is a toss up. Root for: Toss up.
New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals, 1pm ET - This is a draft pick game as far as the Dolphins are concerned. The Bengals have the third-overall position right now at 2-7-1, while the Giants are sixth at 3-7. If Jacksonville is not going to be able to unseat the Jets with the first overall pick, the Bengals are the next best shot at doing it - though it seems like a long shot. The Giants could still finish with a better record, and thus a worse draft pick, than Houston, meaning Miami would move ahead of them. The Dolphins play Cincinnati next week, so there is some thought to the strength of schedule/victory tiebreak scenarios, but the draft pick is more valuable at this point. Root for: New York.
Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills, 1pm ET - Quick, easy, and simple. The Bills are in the AFC East lead, while the Dolphins are a game back. The Chargers are fifth in the draft order at 3-7, so they are still within range of the Texans’ record as well. Root for: Los Angeles.
Las Vegas Raiders at Atlanta Falcons, 1pm ET - Another easy one. The Raiders are in the seventh playoff position, for now claiming the last Wildcard spot (assuming the league gets all 256 regular season games played). The Falcons are seventh in playoff positioning at 3-7, with a win tying them with the Texans. Plus, it is AFC at NFC. Root for: Atlanta.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05pm ET - An NFC versus NFC game that does not really impact Miami, despite the Dolphins having played both clubs this year. With Miami having won both of those games, the strength of victory tiebreak would have the same impact no matter which team wins. In the draft picture, San Francisco is just behind Houston at 4-6 and would jump ahead of them at 4-7. That means the Dolphins would benefit more from a 49ers win. Root for: San Francisco.
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos, 4:05pm ET - An NFC team at an AFC team, with the AFC team having (a) just beaten Miami and (b) sitting at 4-6 and just behind the Texans’ draft position. Makes this easy. Root for: New Orleans.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25pm ET - Miami still has Kansas City on their schedule, meaning strength of schedule/victory tiebreaks could be in play. The Chiefs look like they are running away with the AFC West and trying to keep the pressure on Pittsburgh for the top seed and a Wildcard-weekend bye. There are no draft pick implications in this game, and there are no playoff picture implications for Miami. This is an AFC versus NFC game where seeing the NFC team lose is more fun because we get more sad Tom Brady. Root for: Kansas City.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:20pm ET - The Packers are 7-3, the Bears are 5-5. Two NFC teams that do not have playoff implications for Miami, so we will say root for the Bears just to keep building a cushion so they stay behind the Texans in the draft order. Root for: Chicago.
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15pm ET Monday - The Seahawks are in a fight for the NFC West title, while the Eagles are in the mess that is the NFC East title race. The NFC East is odd, because Washington currently leads it at 4-7 and would be picking ninth in the draft order if they were not a playoff team because of the division lead. The rest of the division features Dallas selecting fourth right now, the Giants sixth, and Philadelphia eighth. Miami lost to the Seahawks early this season, so strength of schedule is a factor but not strength of victory. The play here is probably just to hope the NFC East figures out how to play football over the next few weeks and we see some of the teams pick up some wins and clear out of the Texans’ pick. Root for: Philadelphia.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8pm ET Tuesday - The Ravens are in the eighth position in the playoff seeding right now, one spot ahead of Miami. The “undefeated” talk is ramping up for the Steelers, so a loss from them is needed soon. The Steelers have Washington, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Cleveland remaining on their schedule, so this might be the best chance for a loss. It might hurt Miami’s playoff standings a little, but a Steelers loss feels like the right way to go here. Root for: Baltimore.