NFL Week 12: Recap & analysis (2024)

The Athletic's NFL experts and insiders run through all the latest news, storylines and more.

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Dianna Russini, Jeff Howe, Mike Sando and The Athletic NFL Staff

NFL Week 12: Recap & analysis (3)

Bob Donnan / USA Today

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Joseph Person·Staff Writer, Panthers

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Panthers fire head coach Frank Reich

The Carolina Panthers have fired head coach Frank Reich, the team announced Monday morning.

The team is 1-10 after Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans in Reich’s only season with the Panthers.

Chris Tabor takes over as interim. Jim Caldwell will work with offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, who resumes play calling.

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November 27, 2023 at 10:00 PM ESTMichael-Shawn Dugar·Staff Writer, Seahawks

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As Seahawks’ offensive identity crisis mounts, Pete Carroll calls for urgency

For most of the season, the Seattle Seahawks have pointed to execution as their most pressing issue on offense. All 11 players doing their job on each play, they felt, would make them more efficient and, hopefully, more consistent. Each week, this has been their collective response to questions about the offensive struggles.

This recent stretch of games has prompted a new explanation. Kicker Jason Myers has outscored the rest of the offense in four consecutive games. During that stretch, which includes losses to the Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, Seattle has managed only three offensive touchdowns. In a 31-13 loss on Thanksgiving against San Francisco, the defense found the end zone; the offense did not.

It was clear from the outside looking in after the 37-3 drubbing in Baltimore that the Seahawks were a team without an offensive identity — and now they’re willing to acknowledge it.

Read more here.

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November 27, 2023 at 8:30 PM ESTJourdan Rodrigue·Staff Writer, Rams

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Growing Rams have faced tough lessons all year, but in Arizona find joy too

Leave it to human happy-lamp Kyren Williams, the Los Angeles Rams’ blossoming star running back who had 204 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns Sunday in a 37-14 blowout win at Arizona, to embody a reminder of what playing football can mean.

Joy. Life, energy. Green grass, and a lot of it, churning underneath his feet.

“He’s just, he’s a really good football player,” said coach Sean McVay, beaming, after the game.

“He’s a really good football player. He loves competing. When you’ve got that natural, just, zest” — McVay gave the word its appropriate emphasis — “and enjoyment for going out there and playing the game, and then oh, by the way, you’re really productive! He’s doing a great job. … Kyren is just so conscientious. He loves to compete. He’s worked really hard. He’s worked really hard just to get himself back. To perform at that level was cool to see.”

Williams spent the last four games on injured reserve, and was out a total of five weeks with an ankle injury, because of the Rams’ Week 10 bye. Sunday, with his mom, sister, aunt, uncle and other family members in attendance at State Farm Stadium, as Williams broke off any one of his five explosive run or pass plays, you could almost see him grinning underneath his helmet visor from up high in the press box.

Read more here.

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November 27, 2023 at 7:00 PM ESTNate Taylor·Staff Writer, Chiefs

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Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs look like old selves in comeback win against Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs knew they needed to clear this type of hurdle at some point this season, one that required them to orchestrate a comeback victory.

Inside Allegiant Stadium, the Chiefs ran just seven offensive plays Sunday before they started their third drive. At that point, the Las Vegas Raiders, their archrival, held a two-touchdown lead, a surprising start for both teams.

The situation forced the Chiefs to produce their best concentration, their best execution, their best complementary collaboration between offense and defense.

In a 42-minute stretch, the Chiefs summoned a swift rally, turning a potential lackluster performance into a much-needed 31-17 comeback win, the type of victory they hope will propel them into being the consistent contender they strive to be the rest of the season.

Read more here.

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Alex Anzalone would be big loss for Lions

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(Photo: USA Today)

The Detroit Lions have struggled defensively of late, and now they could find themselves without a team captain and one of their best players in linebackers Alex Anzalone for an extended period of time.

“We’ll know more,” coach Dan Campbell said Monday, when asked if there might be any long-term injury concerns following the Lions’ 29-22 loss to the Green Bay Packers Thursday. “Alex could be a little bit. That’s possible.”

Anzalone, now in his third season as a Lion, is playing arguably the best football of his career. He leads the Lions in tackles, ranks third in sacks and has been one of the better coverage linebackers in the league. His PFF grade of 76.6 ranks 19th among LBs. While the injury is unknown at this point, Anzalone briefly left Thursday’s game and it looked like he was getting his wrist/hand taped on the sideline before returning to action. Regardless, he’s the engine that makes the defense go, so this would be no small loss.

In his absence, look for the Lions to lean on Derrick Barnes and rookie Jack Campbell. It’s also possible that the Lions look to play Malcolm Rodriguez — who’d played more snaps on offense as a fullback than on defense of late — back to linebacker on a more regular basis.

November 27, 2023 at 6:34 PM ESTMatt Barrows·Senior Writer, 49ers

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Rookie Robert Beal Jr. comes off IR for 49ers

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(Photo of Beal: Getty Images)

The 49ers on Monday activated rookie defensive end Robert Beal Jr. from injured reserve and moved safety George Odum (biceps) to injured reserve. Beal, a fifth-round pick from Georgia, suffered a hamstring strain early in training camp and then re-injured the hamstring when he tried to come back later in the summer. His addition gives the 49ers five edge rushers –—Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Clelin Ferrell, Randy Gregory and Beal — though one of them is bound to be inactive on game days.

Odum’s injury leaves the team precariously thin at safety behind starters Tashaun Gipson Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown. The only other safety in the locker room is Tayler Hawkins, who is on the practice squad.

November 27, 2023 at 6:32 PM ESTZac Jackson·Staff Writer, Browns

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Browns' Myles Garrett 'day to day,' Dorian Thompson-Robinson in concussion protocol

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(Photo: USA Today)

The Browns seemingly got good news on the injury front Monday when coach Kevin Stefanski said Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett is "day to day" with a left shoulder injury.

Garrett had said he "felt a pop" while engaging a blocker during Sunday's loss in Denver. After the game, Garrett needed help from assistant coach Jim Washburn to pull his shirt over his left shoulder before he walked to the training room, and he later emerged from the training room with a sling on the shoulder.

Garrett got an MRI on the shoulder in Los Angeles on Monday, and though Stefanski was vague, he indicated that scans revealed no structural damage. The 7-4 Browns are practicing at UCLA this week ahead of next Sunday's game versus the Rams, and because Garrett generally gets Wednesdays off, it will likely be late in the week before there's any real update on Garrett's status.

Stefanski also said that wide receiver Amari Cooper (ribs) and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (ankle) were in the day-to-day category coming out of the game in Denver. Starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion, and Stefanski revealed nothing on his plans at quarterback other than to say that the team will track Thompson-Robinson's progress through the NFL's concussion protocol.

The Browns' options at quarterback are P.J. Walker, who previously made two starts, and Joe Flacco, who just signed to the Browns' practice squad last week. Walker subbed for Thompson-Robinson in Sunday's fourth quarter. It's uncertain at this point if the Browns will look to add another quarterback to the practice squad with Thompson-Robinson in the concussion protocol.

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November 27, 2023 at 5:30 PM ESTNick Kosmider·Staff Writer, Broncos

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Toughness at core of Broncos’ NFL-best winning streak on display vs. Browns

The Broncos had already carried their celebration of Baron Browning’s vicious, drive-killing hit on Browns quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to the sideline when the flag was finally tossed on the ground.

It was the final minute of the third quarter Sunday, the Broncos clinging to a five-point lead at Empower Field. The pressure from Browning came on third-and-12 as Thompson-Robinson escaped the pocket and rolled to his right, forcing an incomplete pass. But the hit drew a flag because officials deemed Browning struck too close to the head of the passer as he released the ball. The Broncos had already seen a red-zone stop get erased when safety P.J. Locke was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty for a third-down hit on tight end David Njoku. Now, it seemed like the hard-earned momentum Denver had built was being snatched away in a matchup with playoff implications.

The resilient response that followed helps explain why the Broncos are the NFL’s hottest team. Denver had a 1-5 record 45 days ago. It is now 6-5 after Sunday’s dominant 29-12 win over the Cleveland Browns, playoff dreams alive and well. Two plays after the Browning penalty, nimble defensive lineman D.J. Jones snuffed out a Browns reverse and then recovered wide receiver Elijah Moore’s fumble at the Cleveland 20-yard line. Three plays later, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson danced through Cleveland’s pass rush until he could fire a dart on the run to tight end Adam Trautman for a touchdown.

The Broncos never looked back.

Read more here.

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November 27, 2023 at 4:45 PM ESTMike Jones·Staff Writer, NFL

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Frank Reich's firing shines spotlight on NFL owners

Professional football players have long declared that in addition to National Football League, NFL also stands for “Not For Long.”

Thanks to devastating injuries, the short leashes of impatient coaches and general managers or mere numbers games, playing careers can end in the blink of an eye.

That “Not For Long” moniker should also apply to head coaching careers, especially given some recent firings.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper on Monday fired Frank Reich after just 11 games and less than 24 hours after his team fell to 1-10 with a 17-10 loss to the Titans. The Panthers also fired quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley.

But Reich, a former successful head coach (with the Colts) and offensive coordinator (with the Chargers and Eagles), shouldn’t feel lonely. He’s just the latest casualty in a league run by wealthy men strong in ego and weak in patience.

Reich became the third head coach in three years who failed to make it through a full season in his first year with a team. Last year, the Broncos fired Nathaniel Hackett after just 15 games. In 2021, the Jaguars let Urban Meyer go after 13 games.

Josh McDaniels, whom the Raiders hired in 2022 only to fire earlier this month after a 3-5 start, made it 25 games on the job. However, in the last 12 seasons, a dozen coaches have been fired after just one season or less.

Some of the one-and-done firings were justifiable, others were not. But all reflect a common truth: Most NFL owners have no clue what they’re doing.

Read the full story here.

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November 27, 2023 at 4:00 PM ESTJames Boyd·Staff Writer, Colts

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Colts’ gusty call, unlikely hero, star RB help put playoffs in sight

The ball felt like it hung in the air forever.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox knew this was his moment and all eyes, including those of the 64,407 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, were glued on him. Indianapolis hoped to catch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off guard by running a play it installed just last week. It had to work to keep the drive alive and maybe even the season, too.

Up 20-17 and facing a fourth-and-1 from Tampa Bay’s 49-yard line with just over nine minutes left in the game, Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew faked a handoff to Jonathan Taylor, who had been gashing the Bucs’ defense all game long, and Tampa Bay fell for it. As all of the Bucs’ defenders crashed down into the box to stop Taylor, Alie-Cox slipped through the cracks into the secondary.

While Alie-Cox ran wide open down the field, he had just two thoughts going through his mind: Don’t drop the ball and don’t fall on your face.

Minshew tossed it, Alie-Cox corralled it, and the stadium erupted as Alie-Cox’s clutch 30-yard reception kept Indianapolis’ TD drive going en route to a 27-20 victory.

Read more here.

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November 27, 2023 at 3:15 PM ESTSaad Yousuf·Staff Writer, Cowboys

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Five reasons (beyond the obvious) Cowboys trending up:

Since the Dallas Cowboys got blown out by the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 8, they’ve put together an encouraging set of performances. None of the five Cowboys’ wins since that loss have come against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. But even their one slip-up — a 28-23 loss in Philadelphia — showed the Cowboys playing a winnable game on the road against an elite team, on both sides of the ball.

The Cowboys have gone 5-1 since the 49ers’ debacle and are 8-3 as they enter the home stretch of the regular season. You know the popular names — Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons, DaRon Bland — who have contributed to the Cowboys’ success, as well as the soft schedule, but let’s look at five things beyond the obvious that have helped Dallas position itself in the standings.

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November 27, 2023 at 3:03 PM ESTCharlotte Carroll·Staff Writer, Giants

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Giants GM Joe Schoen: Daniel Jones ‘will be our starting QB’ when he’s healthy

New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen said Monday that the “expectation is that when Daniel (Jones) is healthy, he will be our starting QB.” Here’s what you need to know:

  • Jones underwent surgery last week to repair a torn ACL he suffered in a Week 9 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
  • The Giants (4-8) currently would have the sixth pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which is expected to have several talented quarterback prospects, but Schoen publicly backed Jones on Monday.
  • New York went 1-5 in Jones’ starts this season after he led the team to the playoffs in 2022.

Read more here.

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November 27, 2023 at 2:45 PM ESTCharlotte Carroll·Staff Writer, Giants

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Giants coach Brian Daboll downplays reported rift with DC Wink Martindale

The drama started early Sunday.

Ahead of kickoff between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, Fox’s Jay Glazer reported that Giants coach Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale were in a “bad place” and added that he didn’t see the duo continuing their relationship after the season and that they might even split up before that point.

Interesting start to the day, huh?

Well, it ended with a 10-7 victory over the Patriots and Martindale’s getting the game ball from Daboll in the locker room after the game. The coach called the defensive coordinator “buddy,” and Martindale even broke down the locker room huddle.

During his postgame remarks, Daboll, unprompted, credited Martindale’s scheming, saying the coordinator did a “fabulous job.” About the reported relationship fracture, Daboll said the biggest argument he’s had with Martindale is over the last slice of pizza.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Wink,” Daboll said. “He’s a heckuva coach. Glad he’s on the staff.”

Though Glazer’s report of “tension” was new, the relationship between Daboll and Martindale has been worth monitoring, especially because the two didn’t have a pre-existing relationship before Daboll brought him in as the Giants’ DC last season.

Read more here.

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November 27, 2023 at 2:28 PM ESTTashan Reed·Staff Writer, Raiders

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Raiders waive safety Roderic Teamer following weekend DUI arrest

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USA Today Sports

The Raiders waived safety Roderic Teamer on Monday following his arrest for a DUI this past weekend.

Teamer was set to return from a stint on injured reserve, but he was inactive against the Chiefs yesterday in response to his arrest. Now, he's no longer with the team.

November 27, 2023 at 2:26 PM ESTJoseph Person·Staff Writer, Panthers

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Who could Panthers target as next head coach?

Frank Reich is out and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is looking for his fourth head coach in six years (seven including three interim coaches).

The hedge fund billionaire is again expected to target an offensive-minded head coach who can get more out of Bryce Young than Reich and his staff have been able to. But some NFL insiders view this is as a bad cycle for coaches with offensive backgrounds after several were hired the past two years.

The Athletic takes an early look at 11 candidates who could or should be on Tepper’s list.

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November 27, 2023 at 1:58 PM ESTJosh Kendall·Staff Writer, Falcons

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Falcons RB Bijan Robinson grabs rookie scrimmage yards lead

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USA Today Sports

With his 123 yards of offense in Sunday’s win over the Saints, Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson surpassed Los Angeles Rams receiver Puka Nacua for most scrimmage yards by a rookie this season.

Robinson, who rushed for 91 yards and caught three passes for 32 yards against the Saints, now has 943 yards through 11 games. He had a 10-yard rushing touchdown and a 23-yard receiving touchdown and leads Atlanta with six touchdowns this season.

November 27, 2023 at 1:53 PM ESTVic Tafur·Staff Writer, Raiders

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Raiders release CB Marcus Peters

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USA Today Sports

The Raiders have released CB Marcus Peters. He had an interception return for a TD in Week 8, but was benched Sunday. The move saves the team $1.5 million in incentives that Peters was on pace to earn.

Peters, 30, was signed to a one-year, $3 million contract to be a leader in the secondary and did have an interception return for a touchdown in Week 8 against the Detroit Lions but has been a huge disappointment. His tackling was poor, including a whiff in the second quarter against the Chiefs, and his effort was questioned.

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November 27, 2023 at 1:47 PM ESTJames Boyd·Staff Writer, Colts

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Shaq Leonard to visit the Cowboys: Report

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USA Today Sports

Ex-Colts linebacker Shaq Leonard is slated to visit the Dallas Cowboys, according to Josina Anderson. The Colts cut the four-time All-Pro last week.

After undergoing two back surgeries last season, Leonard has not played to his all-world standard. In fact, the Colts pretty much stopped playing him on third downs. James Boyd recently wrote, "Over the past two seasons, Leonard has hardly looked like the 2018 second-round pick who set the franchise single-season tackle record en route to NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors or annually contended for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He looked like a shell of himself, and to the Colts, he looked like a liability.

"Indianapolis tried to be patient, with one league source saying the team never sought to ship Leonard out at the trade deadline, even when it became clear he’d fallen down the depth chart. The Colts still held out hope he’d one day return to being the enforcer who captivated a city with his passion and physicality, but that hope ran out when the team returned from Germany.

November was the month Leonard was supposed to get some answers about his diminishing role and how he could regain his status as a full-time starter. Instead, after taking team pictures Monday, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who’d previously said the Colts were hoping to see Leonard round into form by this time, asked to meet with Leonard.

“When I met with him, the first thing (he said) was, ‘You’re gonna be inactive,’” Leonard said. “That’s kind of where it started.”

The relationship with Indy ended one day later, as the Colts pulled the plug.

November 27, 2023 at 1:45 PM ESTDan Duggan·Staff Writer, Giants

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For Saquon Barkley, football is temporary

An hour after the Giants’ 10-7 win over the Patriots on Sunday, running back Saquon Barkley was standing in the corner of the MetLife Stadium field surrounded by three young adults. As light rain fell, a young man named Tyree played Barkley a recording of his rap music. Then 21-year-old Wenieshia played Barkley some of her R&B music.

“He liked it,” Wenieshia said. “He told me that no dream is too unrealistic if you want it.”

Tyree, Wenieshia and Armoni, 19, were Barkley’s guests at the game through Covenant House, a charity that supports young adults experiencing homelessness. They were joined by three boys ages 8, 9 and 11 from Children of Promise, an organization that supports children who experience parental incarceration.

Barkley hosts three young adults from Covenant House and three kids from Children of Promise, plus a chaperone from each organization, at every New York Giants home game. They meet Barkley on the field pregame, watch the game from the eight seats he buys in the lower bowl of the stadium, and then interact with the Pro Bowl running back outside of the Giants’ locker room after the game.

“Some of these kids don’t even know who I am. Some of these kids don’t really know anything about football,” Barkley said. “That’s what I like about it. It’s true. It’s authentic. They’re asking me genuine questions, and I’m giving genuine answers about my life and how I got to where I am and the best advice I have for them.”

Read more here.

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November 27, 2023 at 1:00 PM ESTJoe Rexrode·Senior Writer, Tennessee

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Mike Vrabel rumors won’t go away, but Titans fans shouldn’t want him to go away

The Tennessee Titans are bad at football. The football game they just played barely qualifies as one, and we should try to avoid discussing it as much as possible.

It was important, though, this 17-10 win Sunday over the 1-9 Carolina Panthers in front of the lightest crowd at Nissan Stadium in quite a while, because it can quiet the Mike Vrabel talk for a moment. Let’s have a little peace during the holiday season. And common sense. Not only should his job not be in jeopardy, one of the Titans’ best characteristics is that they are coached by Vrabel.

That’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs considering Vrabel just went through a stretch of 14 losses in 17 games. But the state of affairs is sad. This is an untalented roster, done in by years of poor choices at the most important moments. This is a subpar, 4-7 football team that looks destined for 6-11. Maybe it can match last year’s 7-10.

The rebuild is on, even if Vrabel and first-year general manager Ran Carthon went about their last offseason like they could stave it off.

But if you’re a Titans fan, you should want Vrabel to coach through the rebuild. I don’t consider that a lock, and we’ll get to that in a minute. But you should want it. Before the 3-14 tumble to Earth, Vrabel was 50-30, including playoffs, with an AFC title game run, two AFC South championships and 2021 NFL Coach of the Year honors, thanks to the Titans earning the AFC’s No. 1 seed despite historic injury issues.

Read more here.

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NFL Week 12: Recap & analysis (2024)

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