Thirteen former Wisconsin Badgers are on the active rosters of NFL teams in or tied for first place in their respective divisions this week (14 if you include Matt Shaughnessy, who's on injured reserve with intent to return for the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals).
The NFL playoff race really heats up these last six games of the season. Here's the NFL's Week 12 schedule, from a Badgers-centric point of view:
|NFL Team||Week 12 Opponent||Time|
|Jim Leonhard||Cleveland Browns||Atlanta Falcons||1 PM ET|
|Joe Thomas||Cleveland Browns||Atlanta Falcons||1 PM ET|
|Gabe Carimi||Atlanta Falcons||Cleveland Browns||1 PM ET|
|Dezmen Southward||Atlanta Falcons||Cleveland Browns||1 PM ET|
|J.J. Watt||Houston Texans||Cincinnati Bengals||1 PM ET|
|Garrett Graham||Houston Texans||Cincinnati Bengals||1 PM ET|
|Kevin Zeitler||Cincinnati Bengals||Houston Texans||1 PM ET|
|Jonathan Casillas||New England Patriots||Detroit Lions||1 PM ET|
|James White||New England Patriots||Detroit Lions||1 PM ET|
|DeAndre Levy||Detroit Lions||New England Patriots||1 PM ET|
|O'Brien Schofield||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||4:05 PM ET|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||4:05 PM ET|
|Matt Shaughnessy||Arizona Cardinals||Seattle Seahawks (OUT - IR-R)||4:05 PM ET|
|Owen Daniels||Baltimore Ravens||New Orleans Saints||8:30 PM ET (MON)|
|Rick Wagner||Baltimore Ravens||New Orleans Saints||8:30 PM ET (MON)|
|Nick Toon||New Orleans Saints||Baltimore Ravens||8:30 PM ET (MON)|
|Beau Allen||Philadelphia Eagles||Tennessee Titans||1 PM ET|
|Chris Maragos||Philadelphia Eagles||Tennessee Titans||1 PM ET|
|Travis Frederick||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||8:30 PM ET (SUN)|
|Nick Hayden||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||8:30 PM ET (SUN)|
|Lance Kendricks||St. Louis Rams||San Diego Chargers||4:25 PM ET|
|Montee Ball||Denver Broncos||Miami Dolphins (OUT - GROIN)||4:25 PM ET|
|Chris Borland||San Francisco 49ers||Washington Redskins||4:25 PM ET|
|Kraig Urbik||Buffalo Bills||New York Jets||7 PM ET (MON)|
|Ryan Groy||Chicago Bears||Tampa Bay Buccanneers||1 PM ET|
|Scott Tolzien||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||1 PM ET|
|Brad Nortman||Carolina Panthers||BYE||N/A|
Games to watch
Starting in the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys are both tied at 7-3. Chris Maragos, Beau Allen and the Eagles head home to face the Tennessee Titans, while Travis Frederick and the Cowboys travel out east to take on the struggling Giants on Sunday night.
Even with matching 4-6 records, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints are still in the playoff picture -- tied for the NFC South lead. Can Dezmen Southward and Gabe Carimi's crew ride a two-game winning streak against Cleveland at home, as the 6-4 Browns themselves are fighting for the AFC North division title. If you haven't had a chance to read this great article on former Badgers walk-on, captain, and fan favorite Jimmy Leonhard, take some time today to do so.
The NFC North has the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions tied at 7-3 heading into the home stretch of games. Scott "Scoots" Tolzien and the Packers take on the 3-7 Minnesota Vikings and will face the AFC East-leading New England Patriots next week. DeAndre Levy's Lions have the tall task of facing Tom Brady and the Patriots on the road this week.
It should be a fun match-up this week for former teammates J.J. Watt and Kevin Zeitler, as the 5-5 Houston Texans take on the 6-3-1 (and AFC North-leading) Cincinnati Bengals.
As always, keep an eye out for Chris Borland (#BorlandWatch, #BORLANDSMASH, etc.), as the former Badger takes on the Washington Redskins in one of the late games on CBS.