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NFL 2012 Season — Week 12 Preview

Week 12 NFL 2012
Brian Bahr, Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Week 12 of the 2012 NFL season brings three Thanksgiving Day games and a rematch of a classic duel from last season’s playoffs. Here’s a preview of this week’s action:

Thursday, Nov. 22

Houston Texans at Detroit Lions — 12:30 P.M.

Ford Field, Detroit
Houston (9-1) has been dominant thanks in part to a defense that holds opponents to an AFC-low 18 points per game. The Texans must stop Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the NFL’s leading receiver with 1,117 yards. After throwing for the second-most yards (527) in a game in NFL history last week, Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub will be a target for the pass rush of Detroit (4-6).

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys — 4:15 P.M.

Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Tex.
Washington (4-6) quarterback Robert Griffin III makes his first start in a storied NFL rivalry that needs to be intensified. Griffin will face a Cowboys’ pass defense that has just four interceptions on the season, but allows just 211.4 yards per game. Dallas (5-5) needs to better protect quarterback Tony Romo, who was sacked seven times in last week’s overtime win over the Browns.

New England Patriots at N.Y. Jets — 8:20 P.M.

MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
New England (7-3) has won four consecutive games thanks to an offense that’s averaging a league-high 35.8 points per game on the season — more than five points higher than the next team. Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski is out with a broken forearm. The Jets’ pass defense is fourth in the NFL, allowing just 200.1 yards per game through the air. New York (4-6) has a woeful passing offense, throwing for an AFC-low 192.7 yards per game. The Patriots’ defense is fifth in the league with 13 interceptions.

Sunday, Nov. 25

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears — 1 P.M.

Soldier Field, Chicago
Consecutive defeats have brought Chicago (7-3) back to the NFC North pack. If injured quarterback Jay Cutler still hasn’t recovered from his concussion, backup Jason Campbell will get his second straight start. Campbell was sacked six times in the loss to the 49ers on Monday night. NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson has 1,128 yards for Minnesota (6-4). He’ll face a Bears’ defense that gives up 95.4 yards per game on the ground.

Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals — 1 P.M.

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
Raiders’ quarterback Carson Palmer returns to Cincinnati (5-5), where he played from 2004 to 2010. The Bengals have 30 sacks, the league’s third-highest total. Oakland (3-7) has allowed a league-high 32.2 points per game and registered an NFL-worst 11 sacks. The Raiders must contend with Bengals’ receiver A.J. Green, who has caught a touchdown pass in nine straight games.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns — 1:00 P.M.

Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland
With franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and backup Byron Leftwich both out for Pittsburgh (6-4), third-string QB Charlie Batch will start against a Browns’ defense that had seven sacks in the loss to the Cowboys last week. Expect the Steelers to use running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer to control the clock. Cleveland (2-8) sends rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden against the Steelers — the NFL’s top-ranked overall defense, allowing just 259.1 total yards per game.

Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts — 1 P.M.

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Buffalo (4-6) has allowed an AFC-high 153.3 rushing yards per game. The Bills are better against the pass, but Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck will test their secondary. Indianapolis (6-4) has struggled to produce turnovers this season, forcing just five fumbles and snaring four interceptions. Bills’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown 10 interceptions on the season, but just one in the past three weeks. Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller is averaging an NFL-high 6.6 yards per carry.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs — 1 P.M.

Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
With a three-game lead in the AFC West, Denver (7-3) is very much in line for a playoff spot. The Chiefs’ pass defense ranks ninth in the NFL, but they haven’t faced Peyton Manning, the AFC’s top-rated passer. Knowshon Moreno will start at running back for the Broncos because Willis McGahee is out for at least six weeks with a torn ligament in his right knee. Kansas City (1-9) has yet to name a starting quarterback, but neither Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn have been effective this season. The Chiefs are averaging an NFL-low 15.2 points per game. AFC sack leader Von Miller leads a Broncos’ defense whose biggest chore on Sunday will be stopping Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles.

Seattle Seahawks at Miami Dolphins — 1 P.M.

Sun Life Stadium, Miami
With 1,005 rushing yards already this season, running back Marshawn Lynch is the key to the Seattle (6-4) offense. The Dolphins have the league’s ninth-ranked run defense, allowing 96.8 yards per game. Miami (4-6) may have difficulty getting its offense started against a Seahawks’ team that ranks third in total defense.

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 1 P.M.

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Atlanta (9-1) can take a four-game lead in the NFC South, if they can nail down a victory over the Buccaneers on Sunday. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan leads the NFL with 3,072 passing yards. The Buccaneers have nabbed 15 interceptions and possess the league’s top-ranked run defense, allowing just 81.8 yards per game. Tampa Bay (6-4) has won four straight with a combination of solid play by quarterback Josh Freeman and the effective running of rookie Doug Martin.

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars — 1 P.M.

EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Tennessee (4-6) is not entirely out of the AFC playoff chase. Quarterback Jake Locker is expected to get the start for the Titans on Sunday. Tennessee running back Chris Johnson has averaged 140.3 yards per game over his last four contests. The Jaguars’ defense has allowed an average of 28.9 points — and an AFC-high 414.2 yards —per game. After Chad Henne threw for 354 yards in an overtime loss to the Texans last Sunday, Jacksonville (1-9) will stick with him against a suspect Titans’ defense that has allowed 31.1 points and 399 yards per game.

Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers — 4:05 P.M.

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Baltimore (8-2) has a two-game lead in the AFC North. The Ravens face a Chargers’ defense that ranks third in the NFL against the run. Quarterback Joe Flacco should have time to throw; the Chargers have just 17 sacks on the season. San Diego (4-6) must protect Philip Rivers against a determined Ravens’ pass rush. Rivers was sacked four times and committed three turnovers in last week’s loss to the Broncos.

St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals — 4:25 P.M.

U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
St. Louis (3-6-1) scores just 17.4 points per game. Running back Steven Jackson is productive, but he can’t carry the offense by himself. The Cardinals rank ninth in total defense. Arizona (4-6) has lost six games in a row, starting with a 17-3 defeat to the Rams in Week 5. The Cardinals have not decided whether Ryan Lindley, Kevin Kolb or John Skelton will start at quarterback. They’ll need to do better than the 41 net passing yards they compiled last week against the Falcons. The Rams will pressure the quarterback. They are second in the NFC with 29 sacks.

San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints — 4:25 P.M.

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
The teams that met in last season’s most exciting NFC playoff game will face off in the Superdome. San Francisco (7-2-1) looked invincible while thrashing the Bears on Monday night. The 49ers may start Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, even if Alex Smith is cleared to play. The Saints rank last in the NFL in total defense, allowing 462.8 yards per game. New Orleans (5-5) has played itself back into playoff contention. Quarterback Drew Brees has thrown a league-high 28 touchdown passes. Brees must contend with NFL sack leader Aldon Smith and a San Francisco defense that allows a league-low 13.4 points per game.

Green Bay Packers at N.Y. Giants — 8:20 P.M.

MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Green Bay (7-3) has won five consecutive games. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s top-rated passer with a 107.3 rating, but he has been sacked a league-high 32 times. The Giants defense thrives on pressuring the quarterback, just as it did in upsetting Green Bay in the playoffs last season. New York (6-4) has lost two games in a row. Giants quarterback Eli Manning has just one touchdown pass and six interceptions in his last four games. The Packers defense has 12 interceptions and an NFC-high 33 sacks.

Monday, Nov. 26

Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles — 8:30 P.M.

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Two struggling teams will search for answers on Monday night. Carolina (2-8) has received solid play from quarterback Cam Newton, but the Panthers’ defense has given up late leads too often. Philadelphia (3-7) may again start rookie Nick Foles at quarterback in place of the injured Michael Vick. The Eagles’ leaky offensive line must stop a Panthers pass rush that already has 26 sacks this season. Running back LeSean McCoy could miss this game after suffering a concussion last week against the Redskins. His absence could put even more pressure on the Philadelphia QB.

[Stats via NFL.com]

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