December is right around the corner but a lot of teams still haven't separated themselves from the pack in this unique 2020 NFL season. Here's our weekly look around the league at three teams on the rise and three on their way down entering Week 12.
New York Giants
There's something positive happening in the Meadowlands these days - at least when it comes to one of the two NFL franchises that call New Jersey home. The G-Men are coming off their bye week, which came on the heels of consecutive wins over NFC East opponents. Shockingly enough, they're still alive and kicking in the abysmal NFC East race and this week they're afforded another favorable matchup against the Joe Burrow-less Bengals in Cincinnati. Credit the New York defense for charting a course back to contention and look for another positive performance this week.
The Titans were in desperate need of a strong bounce-back performance in a tough matchup in Baltimore last Sunday and they got exactly that. Tennessee may only go as far as RB Derrick Henry can carry them but that's not necessarily a bad thing as he's more than capable of doing the heavy lifting. After this Sunday's date with the Colts the Titans schedule lets up a bit with home games against the Browns and Lions sandwiched around a trip to Jacksonville to face the lowly Jaguars.
New Orleans Saints
What's not to like about the Saints these days? Their defense has staged an incredible turnaround after a rough start to the season while their offense has shown no signs of slowing down, even with QB Drew Brees sidelined. Few were talking about New Orleans as a true Super Bowl contender leading into the season but that is quickly changing. This Sunday they travel to Denver to face a Broncos squad in a clear letdown spot off a rare victory last week.
The Jags stock was admittedly not all that high to begin with, but having not won a game since Week 1, and coming off a blowout defeat at the hands of the Steelers (who have a tendency to play down to their competition) we may not have seen their worst just yet. Jacksonville hosts a surging Browns squad this Sunday and will stunningly turn to third-string QB Mike Glennon (yes, he's still in the league). The Cleveland defense has to be salivating at the prospect of teeing off on the statue-like Glennon on Sunday afternoon.
Coming off four straight losses and with no reason to believe its offense can get on track, Chicago heads to Green Bay to face what is sure to be a highly-motivated Packers squad this Sunday. The Bears haven't won a game since mid-October and while they will get some relief with a home game against the Lions next week, expect their losing streak to continue as a near double-digit underdog at Lambeau Field.
New England Patriots
While last Sunday's game in Houston was by no means a must-win situation, the Patriots playoff hopes are quickly diminishing in a crowded AFC field. Now things get tricky with the high-flying Cardinals visiting Foxborough this Sunday before the Pats pack their bags and head for Los Angeles for consecutive games against the Chargers and Rams (in a five-day span). The sputtering and inconsistent New England offense has been the biggest issue but last Sunday the defense just couldn't get off the field, allowing an average Texans offense to go on long, clock-churning drives. Expect more of the same against Arizona.