NFL Week 12 winners, losers: Packers' defense steps up, shuts down Rams originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Week 12 of the 2021 NFL season has featured inspired victories and defensive dominance.
Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers from Sunday’s action:
Winner: Bill Belichick
The 2020 NFL Season was one to forget for the New England Patriots. But what Bill Belichick has done in 2021 is nothing short of remarkable.
Despite having a rookie QB, the Patriots have won more games through 12 weeks than they did all of last season after beating the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
New England has strung together six straight victories and are in sole possession of first place in the AFC East with the top seed in the conference within reach.
The Patriots still have a ways to go with two big games against the Buffalo Bills left on their schedule, but Belichick has to be pleased with how the team fared Sunday.
Mac Jones seems to be improving every week en route to winning Rookie of the Year. He threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns to Kendrick Bourne in the win.
Since Tom Brady left Foxborough, much has been made about whether Belichick and Patriots can return to form. So far so good for one of the NFL's best coaches.
Loser: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers must finally face the harsh reality that it's time for a complete rebuild. After a lopsided 41-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh finds themselves 1-5 in their last six AFC North games.
Things are beginning to look very similar to last season when the Steelers when things began to unravel ending in a playoff loss to the Browns last January.
Ben Roethlisberger has led a fairly average offense, relying on short passes to move the ball down the field. The Steelers' offensive line and running game aren't really good enough to overcome the deficiencies of an aging Roethlisberger.Nothing lasts forever and with time running out on Roethlisberger's career it might be time to move on from the old regime and start new.
Winner: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers easily handled the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday thanks to a dominating defense. Matt Stafford struggled at Lambeau Field as the Packers sat back in coverage and picked him apart.
Cooper Kupp, who has been one of the best wide receivers in the league this year, was limited to 7 receptions and 96 yards. Stafford threw a pick-six to Rasul Douglas that all but ended the game.
The Packers' offense is a well-oiled machine as usual, but if their defense continues this consistency throughout the rest of the season and gets healthier with Jaire Alexander and Kevin King in the secondary this team is well-positioned to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Loser: Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts has proved that he can be the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. His good games have been spectacular, but his bad games have been terrible,
Sunday against the Giants was another bad game. Hurts went 14-31, 129 yards and threw three interceptions in a 13-7 loss at MetLife Stadium. It wasn't all Hurts' fault.
A crucial Jalen Reagor drop ended the Eagles' comeback efforts late in the fourth, but if Philly wants to go anywhere it starts and ends with Hurts' decision making.
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Two things are certain in December. Santa Claus is coming to town and Tom Brady has his team peaking. Although it looked like that might not be the case this year on an injury-ravaged Tampa Bay team, the Buccaneers are finally clicking.
The team found a jolt Sunday from Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 100 yards and four total touchdowns, including the game-winner in the final seconds of the game.
Brady didn't have his best day, throwing for 226 yards and one touchdown, while also throwing an interception, but with a running game and strong defense, Tampa Bay can challenge almost any team in the league.
The Bucs have a fairly weak schedule ahead of them the rest of the year. Only a Dec. 12 date with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills should really present them any challenge as the battle for the top seed in the NFC.
Loser: Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence was viewed as a generational talent when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him with the No. 1 overall pick last April. But in 12 games so far this season Lawrence's play has led to questions about his potential and long-term development. Lawrence threw his first touchdown of the month against the Falcons on Sunday and the Jaguars' only win was a Week 9 upset of the Buffalo Bills.
Lawrence wasn't the only loser in Jacksonville on Sunday. Apparently, the Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville got stuck on a bungee jump and had to be lowered into the 400 section and TIAA Bank Field.
Not even the mascot got a win on Sunday in Jacksonville.