Maybe the race for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year isn't quite over yet. Pretty much everyone has handed that award to Rams running back Todd Gurley. And I'd still consider him the favorite, but Gurley has slowed down after four straight games with at least 128 yards rushing. He hasn't topped 89 in the past three games, all of which have been Rams losses to see their wild-card chances all but disappear.
Meanwhile, No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston continues to improve every week. He threw for five touchdowns in Sunday's pretty surprising 45-17 win at Philadelphia. Wide receiver Adam Humphries dropped what would have been Winston's sixth touchdown pass. He is only the second rookie quarterback in league history with five TD passes and no interceptions in a game, joining Chicago's Ray Buivid (never heard of him), who did it Dec. 5, 1937.
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The Bucs also became the first team in league history to have a QB with five TD passes and a running back with at least 200 yards rushing in the same game. Tampa's Doug Martin gashed the Eagles for 235 yards. He finished two yards short of tying Barry Sanders' single-game NFL record for most without a TD. The Bucs set a franchise record with 283 yards rushing, and their 521 total yards were second-most in franchise history in the regular season (573 in 1980). Their 45 points were the team's most in a game since 2001. At 5-5, this is a wild-card contender now.
"We're relevant again," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said.
Here are some Week 12 games and opening lines that caught my eye. As usual, I won't touch on the Thursday game (three on Thanksgiving, likely will do Panthers-Cowboys), my Sunday featured game (Patriots-Broncos) or the Monday nighter.
Eagles at Lions (+1, 46): Chip Kelly to LSU? Let those rumors begin as the NFL just doesn't seem to be working out for Kelly. I wasn't totally shocked the Eagles lost Sunday to the Bucs, but 45-17? There have been calls already for Kelly to fire defensive coordinator Bill Davis, but Kelly says he's not doing that. He also said there will be no significant lineup changes. At 4-6, the Eagles are still only a game out of first place in the NFC East. Philly starting quarterback Sam Bradford missed the Tampa loss with a shoulder injury and concussion, and he's not expected to play here, although he hasn't been ruled out yet. Mark Sanchez was 26-for-41 for 261 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in the loss to the Bucs. Detroit beat visiting Oakland 18-13 on Sunday for its second straight win. That simply means the team is playing itself out of a potential top-five draft pick. Key trend: Detroit is 5-5 ATS in its past 10 as home dog. The pick: Lions.
Bills at Chiefs (-5, 41): Obviously this line could change depending on what Buffalo does Monday night in New England. The Chiefs are playing about as well as anyone right now. Everyone -- me included -- pretty much said their season was over when Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending injury, but Kansas City has won four straight to get back to .500 and is now smack in the middle of the AFC wild-card race. Presuming the Bills lose Monday night, they will be 5-5 along with the Chiefs, so this could be a potentially huge tiebreaker game. The K.C. defense hasn't allowed more than 13 points in a game during the winning streak and slaughtered the Chargers 33-3 on Sunday. The only negative from that was that running back Charcandrick West, Charles' replacement, left in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. His three-game streak of gaining at least 100 total yards and scoring a TD was snapped. He's questionable as of now for this game. Key trend: Kansas City 4-6 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 5 points. The pick: Kansas City and way "under."
Vikings at Falcons (-2.5, 46): Here's another game with potentially huge wild-card implications. Right now Minnesota (7-3) holds down the first NFC wild-card spot and Atlanta (6-4) the second. The Vikings were put in their place by the Packers on Sunday in a 30-13 home loss that ended Minnesota's five-game winning streak. Teddy Bridgewater was beaten to a pulp in that one as he was sacked six times and left for a bit with a shoulder injury. Atlanta's Dan Quinn was an early favorite for NFL Coach of the Year but no longer as the Falcons have lost three straight (by a combined seven points) and four of five. They lost at home to Indianapolis on Sunday, 24-21. Matt Ryan was booed at the Georgia Dome as he was picked off three times and had one returned for a touchdown. That fourth-quarter pick-six tied the game at 21 and swung the momentum in favor of the Colts. Atlanta might not have starting running back Devonta Freeman for this game as he left that loss in the first quarter with a concussion. Key trend: Atlanta 3-7 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of 3 points or fewer. The pick: Vikings.
Steelers at Seahawks (-4.5, 44.5): This looked like a potential Super Bowl preview entering the season. Maybe it still will be. The Steelers are off their bye week and are suddenly only two games behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. Presumably Ben Roethlisberger is fine to play here as he came off the bench in a Week 10 win over the Browns and threw for 379 yards (most ever by a QB off the bench) and three scores. If Big Ben was healthy enough to come off the bench for an injured Landry Jones, then why didn't he just start? Seattle had no trouble beating San Francisco on Sunday 29-13 to get back to .500. But the Seahawks might have lost running back Marshawn Lynch for the season. He was meeting with a specialist on Monday as Lynch might have a sports hernia, and if he needs surgery for that then he's done. Backup Thomas Rawls blew up the Niners for 209 yards and two scores and frankly has been better than Lynch this season. Key trend: Seattle is 6-4 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 4.5 points. The pick: Seahawks.
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