Week 12 overreactions, reality checks: Lamar Jackson part of Ravens’ late game problems? Washington in the playoffs?

The NFL continues to demonstrate a tremendous amount of parity — or mediocrity — around the league this year, as more upsets took place in Sunday’s tournament with a bunch of exciting games. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns had huge wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, changing the playoff picture as the league is set to shift in December.

With three games on Thanksgiving, there wasn’t a full slate of Sunday action — but there was enough for plenty of overreaction to all the early afternoon games. Which overreactions will remain this week?

The Jets should stick with Mike White the rest of the way

Overreaction or Reality: Reality

White did more than enough to earn the starting quarterback job for the rest of the season, finishing 22 of 28 for 315 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions (149.3 rating) in a win over the Bears. Even if Chicago’s defense ranked 27th in the NFL in points allowed, it was eighth in the league against the pass — and White threw for more than 300 yards.

White threw for 235 yards in the first half, the most first-half passing yards by a Jets quarterback in a game since 2006. He completed passes to 10 different receivers and threw two touchdown passes to Garrett Wilson (whose only touchdown catches this year came from quarterbacks not named Zach Wilson).

The Jets’ passing game works more effectively with White there. He should remain the starting quarterback during this playoff run.

The Commanders will be in the playoffs

Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction

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That conversation will be revisited several times in December, but it just shows how far the commanders have come in the past seven weeks. The Commanders were 1-4 after five games and looked buried in a loaded NFC East. But since Carson Wentz suffered a thumb injury, Washington has lost just one game with Taylor Heinicke.

Washington’s defense has been the catalyst behind the resurgence, allowing just 15.4 points per game over the past seven games. He hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in either of those games, giving Heinicke plenty of wiggle room to run the game and put enough points on offense to win.

Is it a playoff team? Washington is currently the No. 7 seed, taking over the final playoff spot after the loss to the Seahawks. The playoff chances will come down to the next two games against the Giants (with a bye week in between). The sweep would put the Commanders in the driver’s seat for a postseason berth.

Washington played like a playoff team, but the Commanders still have parts of the mountain to climb.

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Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction

The Dolphins were wise to pull Tagovailoa when they did in Sunday’s blowout win over the Texans. Tagovailoa had a solid afternoon, completing 22 of 36 for 299 yards and a touchdown, but a significant injury along the offensive line significantly curtailed his performance.

Terron Armstead suffered a pectoral injury late in the first half and did not return, significantly altering the passing attack. Tagovailoa was sacked four times in nine plays, but went 2-of-2 for 21 yards in the second half.

This is a waiting situation. The Dolphins led 30-0 at halftime and had little reason to play in the second half other than milking the clock. Let’s see if Armstead is out next week and how Tagovailoa and the offense fare without his best fight.

Steve Wilks is set to be the Panthers’ head coach in 2023

Overreaction or Reality: Reality

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The Panthers are 3-4 under Wilkes, no longer showing they are one of the worst franchises in the league as they were in the Matt Rule era. Even with three different starting quarterbacks, the Panthers’ defense has held opposing offenses to 15 points or fewer in four of those games.

Although the Panthers beat the Broncos, Wilkes had his most impressive performance as an interim coach — with starting Sam Darnold being his best move. Darnold went 11-of-19 for 164 yards with a touchdown, while Carolina posted 349 yards of offense (the second-highest total this year). That was against a Broncos defense that allowed the third fewest passing yards and fewest passing touchdowns this year.

Carolina is in the early stages of a rebuild and maybe will do the same in 2023. In the NFC South up for grabs next year, why not go with Wilks? The Panthers are clearly competitive under him.

The Buccaneers are still in good shape in the NFC South

Overreaction or Reality: Reality

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Tampa Bay doesn’t look like a Super Bowl contender in the NFC (Sunday’s loss to Cleveland was bad), but the Buccaneers should still be a playoff team. Who will compete with Tampa Bay in the NFC South?

Atlanta lost to Washington, so the Falcons (half a game back on the Buccaneers) gained no ground – and lost to Tampa Bay. The Panthers beat the Buccaneers, but their playoff chances are slim at 4-8. The Saints (4-8) look like the worst team in the division.

The Buccaneers still have a ways to go, but are still in good shape in terms of winning the division.

Lamar Jackson is equally responsible for the Ravens’ fourth quarter failure

Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction

Jackson’s fourth quarter stats aren’t anything to write home about, as he’s 41 of 64 for 502 yards with two touchdowns to four interceptions with a 72.5 passer rating. In Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars, Jackson completed 3 of 5 passes for 86 yards with a touchdown and a 143.8 passer rating to go along with two carries for 14 yards. His performance on Sunday wasn’t why the Ravens collapsed — it’s on defense.

Two interceptions against Buffalo played a huge role in cutting that double-digit lead. An interception against New York also played a role in that double-digit collapse. But it’s hard to catch Jackson for all those breakdowns when the defense can’t get off the field.

The Bengals will win the AFC North

Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction

Cincinnati is currently in first place in the AFC North after their win over Tennessee and Baltimore’s loss to Jacksonville. The Bengals rallied from an 0-2 start to go 7-4 through 11 games, but still have a tough schedule over the next few weeks.

Cincinnati faces Kansas City at home before taking on Cleveland with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. The Bengals also face the Buccaneers on the road, along with the Patriots right after that contest. Cincinnati closes with Buffalo and Baltimore at home.

The Ravens have the easiest remaining schedule, playing just one game against a .500 or better team – the Bengals in Week 18. Baltimore’s edge, but the margin for error is small. Since the Ravens have the tiebreaker, they have the advantage.

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