NFL Week 12 risers, fallers and biggest questions: Dak, Cowboys roll; Packers climb closer to playoff race

Week 12 of the NFL season started on Thanksgiving, as the underdog Green Bay Packers went wire to wire in a 29-22 victory over the Detroit Lions.

The Dallas Cowboys followed that up by beating Washington Commanders 45-10 behind four Dak Prescott touchdown passes.

Our NFL Nation reporters reacted to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who — or what — is rising and falling for every team. Let’s get to it.

Jump to a matchup:


Is Dallas ready for its most important stretch of the season? They’ve done what they needed to after losing to the Eagles on Nov. 5. They beat the Giants, Panthers and Commanders. Their next five games are against the Seahawks, Eagles, Dolphins, Bills and Lions. The Cowboys have lost their two matchups against teams with winning records, but they have obliterated everyone else. If they can continue to win, maybe they can catch the Eagles in the NFC East and get homefield advantage. With 13 straight home wins, that seems important.

Stock up after the win: QB Dak Prescott. Prescott is in the hottest stretch of his career. He has 17 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in his last six games. He had touchdown passes on a screen (Rico Dowdle), on a line (Brandin Cooks), on time (CeeDee Lamb) and on a rope (KaVontae Turpin). He also completed passes to 10 different receivers. Prescott’s name has to be in the MVP conversation at some point.

Stock down after the win: K Brandon Aubrey. Let’s nitpick because Aubrey does not miss field-goal attempts. With a 52-yarder Thursday, he has made 22 straight attempts to open his career. But he missed a point-after attempt against the Commanders, his second in the last two games and his third on the season. Let’s be clear, though: This is not what happened to Brett Maher last year. — Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Seahawks (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


Will the Commanders’ owner make a move? New owner Josh Harris did not want to make an in-season coaching change, especially with coach Ron Rivera. However, if Rivera wanted to make a change, Harris certainly would listen, a source said. So far, Rivera has been reluctant to make any sort of changes, especially on defense with coordinator Jack Del Rio. There’s no obvious replacement, but the defense has regressed, entering the day ranked last in points and 29th in yards.

Stock up after the loss: WR Curtis Samuel. He was one of the few bright spots against the Cowboys, catching nine passes for his first 100-yard game (100 yards Thursday) since 2020. He was targeted a team-high 12 times.

Stock down after the loss: Defense. Jack Del Rio’s defense allowed 431 yards — including 331 yards passing and four touchdowns to Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. The secondary continues to give up big plays, and the front failed to get pressure on Prescott. — John Keim

Next game: vs. Dolphins (Sunday, Dec. 3, 1 p.m. ET)



Are the Packers playoff contenders? They’re still under .500, but the outlook is far from bleak. They entered the week with a 23% chance to make the playoffs. That number jumped to 38% as soon as the Packers beat the Lions, according to ESPN Analytics. That was independent of any other outcomes this weekend. Only two of the Packers’ final six opponents have winning records (the Chiefs and Vikings) and after next Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, it gets even easier with games against the Giants, Buccaneers, Panthers and Bears.

Stock up after the win: Safety Jonathan Owens. Owens had his best game since he signed with the Packers in the offseason. A week after missing a tackle that led to a touchdown last week against the Chargers, he recorded a season-high 12 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown.

Stock down after the win: Anders Carlson. The rookie kicker can be forgiven for missing a long-shot, 63-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but more problematic was that he missed an extra point for the third straight game. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Chiefs (Sunday, Dec. 3, 8:20 p.m. ET)


Was the protection of Jared Goff a one-week blip or evidence of a bigger problem? Goff was pressured on 45% of his drop-backs in the first half, going 9-of-20, and was sacked three times throughout the game. Detroit’s offensive line has been among the strengths of this roster, but struggled against the Packers while missing offensive lineman Jonah Jackson (wrist) for the second straight game. Veteran guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai was also placed on the injured reserve list on Nov. 14. It’s certainly something to watch as the team looks to get more out of linemen Kayode Awosika and rookie Colby Sorsdal.

Stock up after the loss: Jameson Williams. The second-year receiver continues to grow more comfortable in the Lions’ offense as the trust level increases among teammates. Williams, the No. 12 overall pick in 2022, made two catches for 51 yards, including a 38-yard reception in the fourth quarter.

Stock down after the loss: Goff. For the second straight game, the veteran quarterback struggled with turnovers. Against Green Bay, he lost three fumbles for the first time in his career after throwing three picks on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Prior to Thursday, he went 12 straight games without a lost fumble. — Eric Woodyard

Next game: at Saints (Sunday, Dec. 3, 1 p.m. ET)

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