Go 49ers and giants! | Week 12 show guide for Buc fans

Forget stuffing with mashed potatoes or green bean casserole. Put the cranberry sauce back into the refrigerator. My favorite Thanksgiving side dish is NFL football.

If you can avoid tryptophan on a Thursday, you can watch a nugget of football from 12:30 p.m. until about midnight. Yeah, yeah, visit with your family and stuff like that too, but the NFL has arranged three rather interesting games for Turkey Day this year. And some of it has implications for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will be watching along with the rest of the nation as they take a break from their preparations for their own game in Cleveland on Sunday.

Speaking of the Buccaneers, they’ll come off their highly regarded week and get back in action against the Browns while holding a 5-5 record and a very slim NFC South lead over the 5-6 Atlanta Falcons. The playoff stretch has begun and the Buccaneers will fight for a spot in the NFC standings for the next seven weeks of rapid-fire. While the Bucs are technically “in control of their own destiny” in the NFC South division race, they could certainly see their chances of returning to the postseason improve with certain results from other NFL quarterbacks. So who should Bucs fans root for (and against) besides their krewe in Week 12?

Allow me to help with that. Here are my suggestions for which teams to reach in Week 12, with the games presented in chronological order. This is your 2022 Week 12 viewing guide.

Buffalo Bills (7-3) at Detroit Lions (4-6), Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET

The Lions are on a three-game winning streak which is fun to watch, but it probably won’t be a problem for the Buccaneers. They have almost no chance of winning the NFC North, and if they assert themselves in the Wild Card race, they’ll be the least of Tampa Bay’s interests. If the Buccaneers fall off the division lead and have to scramble for the Wild Card seat, they will first have to step up against opponents like the 7-3 Cowboys, 7-3 Giants, 6-4 Seahawks, and 6-5 leaders. If the Buccaneers were worried about the Lions in mid-December, they’d probably be too far out of the standings to have much hope. Having said that, Detroit plays the Bills, who are also a pleasure to watch and, more importantly, make their living in the AFC. No harm in the bills beating the lions; Let’s just hope the shootout is entertaining.

Referee: Go Bills and scoreboard player!

New York Giants (7-3) at Dallas Cowboys (7-3), Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET

I hope you don’t need me to tell you to root against cowboys as a general life principle, but yeah, root against cowboys this Thanksgiving. Both teams are clearly in the midst of a Wild Card race, and as it stands now in the conference selection standings, the winner of this game will be the best Wild Card team and the one most likely to come to Tampa if the Bucs remain in the fourth seed. So which team would you like to face in the first round? Yes, the Buccaneers beat the Cowboys in Week 1, so they should have confidence in the rematch, but it’s fair to say that Dallas has found new gear in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the Giants are a very pleasant surprise (I mean for Giants fans, I think) but they seem to be fading a bit. New York has only had one win in their last three games and it was against the almost winless Houston Texans. Would you rather play the team that just beat Minnesota 40-3 or the team that just lost to Detroit 31-18?

The verdict: Go Giants, go home turducken-free, Cowboys!

New England Patriots (6-4) at Minnesota Vikings (8-2), Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET

Fun fact: Neither of those teams scored an offensive touchdown in Week 11. While the Vikings were being bombed at home by the Cowboys, the Patriots needed a last-second punt touchdown to beat the Jets, 10-3. If the first two Thanksgiving games were as firework-filled as most people expect, this could be the one to make you fall asleep. With that said, it’s pretty clear what Bucs fans should want here: a victory for Bill Belichick’s crew. It won’t be easy but still possible That boks can climb as high as a second seed if they heat down the stretch, which likely means catching Vikings.

Verdict: Go Patriots! And maybe he’ll score an offensive touchdown this time!

Denver Broncos (3-7) at Carolina Panthers (3-8), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

You’ll be watching the Buccaneers in this time slot, so you’ll be avoiding what feels like a less engaging game on the Week 12 schedule. However, this isn’t complicated either. It’s an interplay so you simply have to catch the AFC team. Plus, the worse the season the Panthers have had, the less motivated they may be when they come to Tampa in Week 17.

Referee: Go Broncos! let’s ride!

Baltimore Ravens (7-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Houston Texans (1-8-1) at Miami Dolphins (7-3), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) at Tennessee Titans (7-3), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Three games in all AFC matches in the early afternoon. Honestly, they all sound like very entertaining contests, but they won’t mean much to the hopes of the qualifiers. You can root for Baltimore if there’s even a tiny chance that the strength of the tiebreaker victory will play a significant role in the future, but there’s nothing to worry about. Personally, for the first couple of games, I would like to see the good teams stay good, so the AFC play-off is more fun to watch. As for the Bengals-Titans, the Buccaneers are playing Cincinnati in a few weeks, so it will be a little encouraging to see them struggle.

Verdict: Go birds and fish (meaning mammals)! And men go big too!

Chicago Bears (3-8) at New York Jets (6-4), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Jets are turning to Mike White, who had about 15 seconds of fantasy football fame last year. Red hot Bears dual threat Justin Fields is now dealing with a left shoulder injury. Quarterback cases here, shall we say, shaky.The Jets seem to have a much better defense, though, so maybe he’ll hold that day in another AFC vs. NFC matchup.

Atlanta Falcons (5-6) at Washington Commanders (6-5), Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Buccaneers’ best chance of hitting the field is, by far, winning the division, so the number one score we can hope for every weekend is a loss for the Falcons. (Except for Week 14, when both the Falcons and the Saints have a bye, in which case we’ll have to direct the main vitriol to… Seattle?) Washington has won five out of six and appears to be rallying around Taylor Hynecke. Let’s see that the hot streak extends at least another week.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-5) at Arizona Cardinals (4-7), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

The Cardinals have lost three of their last four and five of their last seven. They have yet to achieve back-to-back wins this season. They’ve been 5-11 in their last 16 games dating back to last season. Kyler Murray is dealing with a hamstring problem. The Cardinals don’t really look like a playoff team right now, but let’s make it official. It’s hard to imagine them calling the postseason 4-8. The Buccaneers play in Glendale on Christmas Eve, so hopefully the Cardinals will focus more on the holidays by then.

Las Vegas Raiders (3-7) at Seattle Seahawks (6-4), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

Oh boy, there are a lot of crossfit matches this week, which makes this workout a lot easier than usual. I might already advise you to root for Seahawks against the 49ers or Cowboys, for example, but there’s no reason to do that here. Technically Seattle isn’t in the top spot in the NFC West anymore, but they have the same record as the 49ers and they could reclaim that spot. If so, this is who the Bucs will chase for the third seed in the conference standings.

Los Angeles Rams (3-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-2), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Rams seem to be dead in the water and now they’re plotting a trip to Arrowhead Stadium to take on perhaps the best team in the NFL. Defending Super Bowl champions 14.5 points underdogs! Matthew Stafford is on concussion protocol. The Rams surprisingly cut running back Darryl Henderson, their leading rusher. Feelings here aren’t great, guys. It’s not nice to beat up a guy when he’s down, but we might as well attract bosses to put L.A. out of its misery once and for all.

New Orleans Saints (4-7) at San Francisco 49ers (6-4), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

So, perhaps the smart thing to do here would be to root for…[retching noises]. What I’m trying to say is playing smart here is supporting… urp! I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I can’t tell you to root for the saints. The 49ers loss would aid the Bucs’ quest to move up the NFC overall leaderboard and still leave New Orleans just at 5-7. However, I can’t do that. What I want more than anything out of this game is to get the Saints out of the division title race as much as possible. I want them out of the picture completely. One more loss wouldn’t do it, but it would be a good start.

Green Bay Packers (4-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-1), Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET

It’s very unlikely that the Buccaneers will pick up the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye. FiveThirtyEight.com gives them a 0.2% chance of doing so. It’s nearly impossible to make four games in seven weeks against a good team, and even if the Eagles stumble badly, the Bucs will also have to climb 8-2 Vikings and whoever wins the NFC West. Given that, we might just let the Eagles do their thing and instead try to remove another contestant from the conference race.

Referee: Fly, Eagles, Fly!

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7) at Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1), Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

Well it’s Monday night and I’ve had a long weekend of food, family and soccer. You are probably very tired at this point. The good news is that you don’t have to think twice about this. I think you can get to the Steelers because it will marginally help the Bucs’ strength in the schedule number, but you might also want to sleep in front of the TV.

Verdict: Go Steelers, wrap up this week!

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