The Coronavirus has forced the hand of the NFL to adopt a flexible and fluid approach to their scheduling commitments; something the league has never previously been required to deal with.
Following several weeks of Covid-free games, the virus has once again intervened and caused the postponement of a highly anticipated game, twice.
The AFC North match-up between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, originally set for the late slot on Thanksgiving, has been moved from Thursday, to Sunday and now from Sunday to Tuesday as a result of additional positive cases being identified.
It is still unclear whether the game will definitely go ahead on Tuesday.
The remainder of the week twelve schedule serves up some tasty fixtures. With just six weeks of the regular season remaining, the significance of each game multiplies. The playoffs are nearing ever closer and the time remaining to formulate a winning run is slowly disappearing. If teams want to punch their ticket to post season, they need to start winning, quickly.
There are several noteworthy fixtures this weekend, each of which deserve a thousand words of their own. To keep it brief, I’ll summarise the key points of this weekend’s action and let you know what you should be keeping an eye on.
First up is an NFC North divisional matchup between the Packers and the Bears. The Bears have switched Quarterback; again, Mitchell Trubisky is set to regain control of the huddle this weekend after his counterpart Nick Foles was carted off the field in week ten.
The news from Chicago is, following a bye week Head Coach Matt Nagy is rolling with Mitch. Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams and the Packers have control of the division with a 7-3 record and will be aiming to put the second place bears away with a comfortable performance this weekend.
Elsewhere, the Cleveland Browns have the chance to move to 8-3 on the season when they face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfamiliar territory for a Cleveland team who are most commonly associated with losing.
An AFC South matchup between the Titans and the Colts will determine who sits in first place of the division; both teams are coming off impressive victories last week, both in overtime and momentum will be high.
Having played the reverse fixture only two weeks ago we can expect to see fireworks fly at Lucas Oil Stadium between these two well rounded squads.
The eagerly anticipated fixture between the Tom Brady led Buccaneers and the Superbowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs will grace our screens this weekend. The Bucs and Brady have faltered a few times this season and most recently on Monday Night Football last week.
Brady had a chance to lead a game winning drive for his NFC South squad but instead threw any chance of victory away with a game sealing interception. A frustrated Brady left the field without acknowledging opposing QB Jared Goff at full time, something he was widely criticised for throughout the week.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs won a tightly fought game against their divisional rival Las Vegas Raiders.
This week will be the fourth matchup between Mahomes and Brady and with Brady leading the all time series 2-1, rest assured Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid will be throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at the Bucs to try and equal the score.
This is a game of huge significance for the Bucs who risk falling further behind the Saints in the race for the NFC South. Expect a high scoring, high yardage, mostly offensive game between these two attacking powerhouses.
The remainder of the schedule produces a mixed bag of one sided affairs and games between teams with close to .500 records.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals travel to Gillette Stadium to face Cam Newton and Bill Belichick – two mobile QB’s should provide an entertaining game. The winless Jets face the Dolphins who have yet to name their starting QB amidst injury concerns surrounding first round rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
An NFC matchup between the Rams and 49ers will help paint a clearer picture of who’s a contender, and who’s a pretender in the toughest division in football.
Several mouth watering fixtures to enjoy this weekend as the NFL and its players continue to navigate the Covid-19 minefield one week at a time. At the conclusion of week twelve, a few divisions will have painted a clear picture of who we can expect to see in the post season this year.
Michael Lavery writes on behalf of the Irish NFL Show who are in partnership with Pundit Arena. Tune into their Sunday, Monday and Thursday shows every week on Facebook.
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