7:25 p.m. Thursday, NBC
Dallas takes its rookie roadshow to Minnesota, where the Vikings, despite losing five of six, remain in NFC North striking distance.
CHIEFS AT FALCONS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Justin Houston and Tyreek Hill elevate Chiefs’ pass rush and special teams; can Alex Smith pick up lagging offense in time for Hot ‘Lanta?
DOLPHINS AT RAVENS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Adam Gase has Dolphins believing after Ryan Tannehill does heavy lifting in sixth straight win; Dumervil and Suggs reunited and it feels so good for Ravens.
49ERS AT BEARS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX
The game should be a punting fest; antennae raised to see if either team shows signs of punting on 2016.
EAGLES AT BENGALS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX
On short rest, Carson Wentz and Co. head to Cincinnati, where Marvin Lewis seemingly in denial that Bengals’ title window has slammed shut.
TEXANS AT PACKERS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Houston’s offense the latest cautionary tale on winning the offseason; Mike McCarthy could be cautionary tale on coaches paying for one non-winning season. AP PHOTO
Falcons WR Taylor Garbriel had a breakout performance with two touchdowns against the Cardinals
these surging teams is resourcefulness. The rocket-like ascent of Gabriel, the 5-8, 165-pound former Browns blur, coincided with a hamstring injury to Tevin Coleman last month. Coleman is both blitz beater and scoreboard heater with his electrifying combination of speed, suddenness and savvy as a receiver. Just as Coleman went down, Gabriel emerged, giving offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan a hemi-powered Swiss army knife. Defensively, Dan Quinn’s squad has converted college end Vic Beasley to ‘Sam’ ‘backer, where he leads the club with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He’ll look to again spearhead Atlanta’s improved pass rush, likely without injured Adrian Clayborn, against a suddenly vulnerable Chiefs front wall that let Denver punish Alex Smith with six sacks and eight QB hits. Sophomore cornerback Jalen Collins has gone from suspended to begin the season to key cog in Week 12, when he replaced injured top CB Desmond Trufant in the starting lineup and shared the team tackle lead with heat-seeking missile and rookie safety Keanu Neal. Collins added three pass breakups, the last foiling a two-point conversion that buried Arizona for 2016. The Chiefs’ incredible ability to adapt dates back at least to last season, when their 10-game win streak to clinch a postseason spot coincided with serious knee injuries to their top two players, Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston. Charles is on injured reserve, again. That’s sad because he’s the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and might be done in Kansas City. But his balky knee serendipitously opened the door for Spencer Ware, who’s a crafty and courageous runner capable of picking up yards in bunches like Charles. Tyreek Hill sensed an opening when Jeremy
Maclin went down three weeks ago with a groin injury. All he’s done since is join Hall of Famer Gale Sayers as the first NFL rookie since 1965 to bat for the triple crown in a single game: Hill scored as a runner, receiver and kick returner – all three of the Chiefs’ touchdowns – in the knock-down, drag-out road win in Denver. Hill also leads the NFL in punt-return yardage. Then there’s Houston. Before he returned two weeks ago and dominated whichever helpless Broncos right tackle was supposed to block him Sunday night with three sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble, Dee Ford was demolishing the league for 10 sacks in his breakout third campaign. Ford was inactive Sunday with a hamstring injury, making the timing of Houston’s reintroduction both fortuitous and vital. When they’re both on the field together along with Tamba Hali, perhaps Sunday, Atlanta’s excellent OT pairing of Jake Matthews (left) and Ryan Schraeder (right) will have as tough an assignment keeping Matt Ryan clean as they’ve seen since their own road win over the Broncos in October. That takes us to Ryan, the orchestrator of coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s big-play production and arguably the frontrunner for NFL MVP, opposing Smith, who’s essentially the antithesis while safely guiding Andy Reid’s – we’ll just call it conservative – offense (5.2 yards per play compared to Atlanta’s 6.6). Smith led three 10-play drives late for Kansas City after getting nothing done against the Broncos’ ‘D’ for the better part of three quarters. The next time Ryan doesn’t eclipse 200 passing yards in a game will be the first since Week 10 of the 2013 season, an NFL record spanning 50 games. Two different styles, perhaps, but similarly resourceful and undeniably fun – and successful.
BRONCOS AT JAGUARS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Nearly a week later and Gary Kubiak’s 62-yard decision still stinging Broncos; almost four years later and Shad Khan’s indecision confounds the NFL world.
RAMS AT PATRIOTS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX
After looking over Jeff Fisher for two-plus decades, football Gods send Rams to New Orleans and New England in consecutive weeks with Rams brass feeling the heat.
LIONS AT SAINTS 12:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX
What would you say if we told you these two clubs are starting to play some semblance of defense?
BILLS AT RAIDERS 3:05 p.m. Sunday, CBS
LeSean McCoy and Derek Carr apparently didn’t need those appendages anyway.
WASHINGTON AT CARDINALS 3:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX
Even in a losing effort on Thanksgiving, Kirk Cousins keeps winning. Cards’ NFC title game berth seems like an eternity ago.
GIANTS AT STEELERS 3:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX
Big Blue and Big Ben, well, at least his supporting cast, survived last week despite playing down to competition, but postseason outlook looking up?
BUCCANEERS AT CHARGERS 3:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX
A cross-country win over plucky Bolts would validate Tampa’s recent run. Joey Bosa may have locked up his Defensive Rookie of the Year award in Houston.
PANTHERS AT SEAHAWKS 7:30 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Once circled on the calendar, clash between past two NFC champs lacks luster, but Seattle gets no break with O-line issues and Carolina’s defensive front.
COLTS AT JETS 7:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Andrew Luck should return from his concussion; Ryan Fitzpatrick shouldn’t return to the starting lineup, ever, but QB situation the latest Jets’ circus.
PRO FOOTBALL WEEKLY | ProFootballWeekly.com | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2016
COWBOYS AT VIKINGS