This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
I went 11-3 in Week 12, so I was feeling pretty good about myself at 8-3 through the end of the early games. My only losses were the Bears and Falcons on Thanksgiving (coin flip games ATS), and the Jaguars.
But rooting for the Chargers, the Cardinals (best bet) and Raiders in the afternoon and the Patriots Sunday night changed the tone of my week. It's one thing to be wrong due to a bad bounce or ticky-tack call, quite another to be so off base that no amount of calls or bounces could ever make a difference.
• Tom Brady and James White sure did work in garbage time. For White it was almost like Super Bowl 51. Otherwise, the offense looked suspect with neither a running nor a deep passing game. For this team to win the Super Bowl, Bill Belichick will have to take the wizardry to another level yet.
• Deshaun Watson was similarly handicapped in the running game, but even against the Patriots' elite secondary, he spread the ball around efficiently and was able to strike for a big play to Kenny Stills after nearly connecting with Will Fuller on the same series.
• Never complain about a bad beat when you bet the Chargers. It's not a matter of if but how. But I have to admit, the how surprised even me in this case.
• Philip Rivers bounced back after a rough start, but it's increasingly clear he'll never appear in a Super Bowl (unless he secures a backup gig with a good team.) He has Hall of Fame totals and rate stats, but I'd vote him (and Eli Manning, obviously) out. Too many soul-crushing turnovers and not even a sniff of the ultimate prize.
• The Chiefs breezed to a blowout win, but it did not inspire confidence for the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes got bailed out from a pick on a PI overturn, and he didn't look sharp in windy conditions.
• The PI that was called after Mahomes' pick might have been correct (honestly, I didn't bother to watch), but it's a massive can of worms. To allow judgment calls on every pass to be challenged (or conjured into existence on review) will be a disaster worse than the catch rule. Now every pass play in close playoff games will not have happened until the refs sign off on it. While it was awkward to see the rule never enforced earlier in the year, actually enforcing it will be even worse.
• With Darrel Williams injuring his hamstring, and Damien Williams still out with a rib injury, Darwin Thompson (who looked good) could emerge as the natural selection alongside LeSean McCoy this week against the Patriots. There's always that one unexpected back that goes off in the fantasy playoffs.
• The Rams, only six days after getting annihilated at home by the Ravens, with their defense on the field for 40 minutes, traveled to Arizona and destroyed a rested Cardinals team nearly as thoroughly as the Ravens destroyed them.
• The Rams offense was like, "Oh, the past year? That was just a joke." Jared Goff had 400 passing yards with eight minutes left in the third quarter. I'm a little disappointed they didn't set out to break Norm Van Brocklin's single-game passing record (554 yards) because they could have.
• I started Sam Darnold in one league that needed to win and score well to make the NFFC playoffs. It turns out he scored only one fewer point than my other option, Derek Carr. I have no idea what to make of Darnold as a prospect – he's probably just a guy, but that he's still so young for a starting NFL QB and has been saddled with bad coaching still gives him hope (and me dread.)
• Derrick Henry lost a fumble but otherwise he's like peak Shaquille O'Neal on a football field – too fast for his size, too strong for his position. What a monster.
• The Colts oddly used Jordan Wilkins the most this week after going with Jonathan Williams against the Texans. It's probably a good sign for Marlon Mack when he comes back that the Colts aren't committed to either backup.
• The Dolphins are in good hands with Brian Flores. They attacked the Eagles all game, took chances and set out to win.
• DeVante Parker had been in NFL purgatory the first four years of his career. He's a top-10 fantasy wideout, and his success under a new coach makes you wonder whether Adam Gase is similarly holding back the Jets pass catchers.
• Someone has to win the NFC East, and it won't be the Giants or Redskins. Carson Wentz seems like a league average QB since his injury two years ago.
• As a Giants fan, I usually take them against the spread, but I laid the wood this week. They can't run block, pass protect or play defense. I thought Daniel Jones threw the ball well, his three picks notwithstanding. One of them was on the final drive in desperation – as I've said, I want my rookie QB making mistakes and plays rather than the reverse.
• The Steelers are a professional football team, and the Browns a collection of professional football players wearing the same uniform.
• Oddly, McCaffrey and Michael Thomas, the two most automatic players in the league, both had their quietest weeks in a long time. The sliver lining is most teams that have them were already in the playoffs.
• There's nothing to say about the Jaguars-Buccaneers except that the Nick Foles experiment has to be over.
• The Ravens have the No. 1 seed in the AFC after beating the 49ers. The market was off base, making that line six, when they were plainly equal teams slugging it out on the Ravens' home field.
• The Ravens settled for a 49-yard game-winning field goal, but they have that luxury with the greatest kicker of all time.