Where the NFL stands ahead of week 12
We are heading into the kind of territory where every result matters a little more than it did even just a few weeks ago.
The NFL is building up to the tipping point of the regular season over the next few weeks, before the postseason gets decided and fans get excited for some tasty championship clashes.
Before then, it is worth assessing the teams as they are now, and who looks in front based on upcoming fixtures, as well as the unsung heroes of each campaign so far – the ones who have done the dirty work in the background to allow the big names to make progress.
The New England Patriots are naturally going to be backed by most pundits because they won the Super Bowl last year, and have looked largely untroubled until now in posting a 9-1 record.
Lawrence Guy has caught the eye for them as his stellar work in defence has allowed star quarterback Tom Brady a bit more time on the ball to pick a pass, and New England will know that they can count on players like this in the coming weeks.
They need to do what they can to stay ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, who are only a game behind them at 9-2 but now have the head-to-head advantage to see who takes first place in the seedings for their division.
This week, Nick Boyle is getting the plaudits for Baltimore as their tight end – he has been the best blocker in the NFL, and is one of the main reasons why they have been able to push for so many rushing yards as a team.
The San Francisco 49ers may be considered third in the rankings even though they are 9-1 right now and post the same record as New England, but their fixture list is not quite so kind, and they may have to start looking over their shoulders after losing their own perfect record.
One player who has helped them out time and again without really getting all the hype is their cornerback K’Waun Williams, who has one of the best defensive records in the league.
The Seattle Seahawks are 8-2 coming into week 12, and will be grateful that they have had Shaquill Griffin to be their quiet standout on defence, when shaky performances at the back have led them to fight for rather more results than they would have hoped.
Words: Luke Donovan