Well, that was a fun week, eh? Just when we thought we had some momentum in picking games, the NFL gods deliver an upset-filled Sunday for the ages. In fact, you have to go back more than 20 years to find a more surprising week of scores in the league.
There were 14 games on the Week 11 schedule, and a whopping six were won straight up by the underdog: Cincinnati Bengals over New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams over Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Washington, Arizona Cardinals over Detroit Lions, Houston Texans over Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots over Indianapolis Colts. And most of those upsets weren't even close. Four of the six underdogs covered the spread by at least 20 points, the first time that has happened in a week since 1992. To say it was a rough week for the experts and Vegas would be an understatement of massive proportions. Only one of our experts -- PFT Commenter -- had a winning record last week (10-4), and not a single guy picked the Bengals, Bucs or Rams to win their games.
The carnage from last week leaves us with unprecedented parity in both the division and wild card races. Entering Week 12, four of the eight divisions have two teams tied at the top of the standings -- and that doesn't even count the chaotic AFC North in which the last-place Browns are less than a game behind the first-place Bengals.
It does include the Atlanta Falcons and Saints tied atop the NFC South, which is threatening to break all sorts of bad records for division performance. This is just the second time since the 1970 merger that all teams in a division are at least two games under .500 this late in the season. The only other instance was the 2010 NFC West, which was won by the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. That also happens to be the only time in NFL history that a team with a sub-.500 win percentage made the playoffs -- a record that likely will be shared by the 2014 NFC South come January.
How brutal could it get? There are scenarios in which a five-win (!) team could win the NFC South and host a first-round playoff game. (I won't list them here, but just trust me.) The possibility for such a doomsday outcome exists because of the wretched performance by the NFC South against teams outside its division. They are 6-20-1 this season versus non-division opponents, which would be the worst record in out-of-division games in league history -- topping the brutal 2008 NFC West's .250 mark. Yuck.
The unexpected results from last week also mean that a ridiculous 21 of the 32 teams are either in or within one game of a postseason spot entering Week 12. Only one team -- the Oakland Raiders -- has been officially eliminated from the playoffs, so it should be a wild ride in the final six weeks of the season to determine the 12 teams that will be playing football in January.
Speaking of the winless Raiders, can they avoid becoming just the second team in NFL history to finish a season 0-16? It has been a year since they last celebrated a victory (Nov. 17, 2013), a span of 16 straight losses.
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The schedule makers haven't done them any favors, either. Their only remaining matchup against a team with a losing record is a Week 13 road game versus the Rams, who somehow have beaten three of the four teams that played in last year's conference championship games (Broncos, Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers). Only one brave soul on our NFL experts panel -- Stephen White -- is picking the Silver and Black to get their first win of the season this week on Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Although the Chiefs are not a unanimous pick to beat the Raiders, there are a few one-sided matchups on the Week 12 slate that have the potential to be monumental upsets and cause even more chaos in this confusing NFL season. Our experts are all-in on the Colts over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers over the Minnesota Vikings, 49ers over Washington, Buffalo Bills over the New York Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles over the Tennessee Titans. The closest matchup of the week appears to be the last one -- the Monday Night Football game between the Baltimore Ravens and Saints -- with our experts evenly split on who will win.
As a reminder, these are picks to win the game (not against the spread), so choose wisely and do your research before making your own predictions this week:
|Week 12||Ryan Van Bibber||Stephen White||Joel Thorman||David Fucillo||Danny Kelly||PFT Commenter||Matt Ufford||OddsShark Computer|
|KC vs OAK||KC||OAK||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC||KC|
|CLE vs ATL||CLE||CLE||ATL||CLE||CLE||ATL||CLE||CLE|
|TEN vs PHI||PHI||PHI||PHI||PHI||PHI||PHI||PHI||PHI|
|DET vs NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||DET||DET||NE|
|GB vs MIN||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB|
|JAX vs IND||IND||IND||IND||IND||IND||IND||IND||IND|
|CIN vs HOU||HOU||HOU||CIN||HOU||CIN||HOU||HOU||HOU|
|NYJ vs BUF||BUF||BUF||BUF||BUF||BUF||BUF||BUF||BUF|
|TB vs CHI||TB||CHI||CHI||CHI||CHI||CHI||CHI||CHI|
|AZ vs SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||AZ||SEA||AZ|
|STL vs SD||STL||STL||SD||SD||STL||SD||SD||SD|
|MIA vs DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||Tie|
|WAS vs SF||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF||SF|
|DAL vs NYG||DAL||DAL||DAL||NYG||DAL||NYG||DAL||DAL|
|BAL vs NO||BAL||NO||BAL||NO||BAL||NO||NO||
Our panel consists of: David Fucillo, SB Nation's fantasy guru; Danny Kelly, SB Nation NFL contributor; PFT Commenter, SB Nation's hot takes expert; Joel Thorman, SB Nation NFL blogs manager; Matt Ufford, editorial producer, SB Nation studios; Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation's NFL editor; and Stephen White, retired NFL defensive end and SB Nation NFL contributor.
Our panel's record last week and for the season: