NFL Predictions for Week 12
After posting a .500 mark in Week 10, I did it again in Week 11, going 8-8 with my picks last week, bringing me to 84-74 on the year. With Thanksgiving looming I haven’t had much time to write so instead I’m putting this on Thanksgiving day just a few hours before the first game of the day kicks off with the Lions hosting the Patriots. So, like last week, I think I am going to get today’s games picked and published and then I will come back later and update it with the remaining games.
Thanksgiving-day-games will be before the jump and the rest will be after. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Enjoy the food!
Patriots @ Lions: The Patriots should win this game but they’re coming off of a short week that followed a tough, hard fought game an they’re only 3-2 on the road. Plus Tom Brady has been on the injury report this week and is only listed as questionable. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t play but he could be off a little bit. It’s not good to go into a game hurt when the opposing defense features a guy that will normally have you hurting by the end of the game anyway and Ndamukong Suh is one of those guys. Dan Koppen is small of a center and it will be primarily his job to stop Suh, who isn’t small for anybody’s standards. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots defense has been inconsistent at best at stopping both the run and pass. With the forecast showing cold weather and rain I see this being a sloppy game, which helps the Lions. Look for them to utilize Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith to run the ball all day and then take deep shots down field to Calvin Johnson when the Patriots defense commits to the run. It’s probably just me being hopeful but I’ve talked myself into it, so I have the Lions winning 23-20.
Saints @ Cowboys: Less than three months ago this was expected to be one of the best games of the season and that these two would likely be fighting for playoff seeding in the NFC and that there would be a good chance of a rematch in the Conference Championship. However, with the Cowboys being dreadful through the first eight games of the season (going 1-7) they now sit at 3-7 and will need a miracle to even begin thinking about making the playoffs. They have won two in a row though, putting up over 30 points in each game as well. This game will tell us if they really have turned things around or if they are still unable to beat a good team. The Saints are 3-1 on the road and don’t have to travel too terribly far for this one. I just don’t see Jon Kitna and the Cowboys offense being able to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints offense. Saints win it 31-24.
Bengals @ Jets: The Bengals are 2-8 (1-4 on the road) while the Jets have the best record in football a 8-2. Just like with the Lions game, the forecast says it’s going to be cold and rainy, and just like the Lions game, it benefits the home team. People are saying that Mark Sanchez’s hands are too small and can’t grip the football as well in cold weather, if that’s true or not, I don’t know, but what I do know is that LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene have combined to form one of the top running back duos in the league while the Bengals defense is one of the worst in the league against the run. I see the Jets getting a lead early and once Carson Palmer is forced to throw he will struggle against Rex Ryan’s complicated defense. Also Darrelle Revis has been phenomenal in the last two weeks, shutting down Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson in back-to-back weeks. I expect that to continue no matter if he’s on Chad Ochocinco this week or Terrell Owens. Jets win easy 28-17.
Packers @ Falcons: This should be a great game and prove to be one of great impact on the NFC playoff race. The Falcons sit atop the NFC with an 8-2 record, but the Packers are just one game behind them at 7-3. What’s really interesting though is that the Falcons are undefeated at home while the Packers have struggled on the road, being only 3-2 in away games. Watch to see who wins the battle between Packers offensive tackle, Chad Clifton and the Falcons defensive end, John Abraham. I have the Falcons winning 27-24.
Steelers @ Bills: The Bills are on a two game winning streak after losing their first eight, but their two wins have been over teams that have a combined record of 4-18. The Steelers are just a bit better that 4-18 with their 7-3 record, and the Bills playing at home doesn’t seem to matter as the Steelers are 4-1 on the road. The Bills are going to need to win on special teams if they want a victory this week. They’ll also need offensive tackle Demetrius Bell to play out of his mind because it will be his job to block James Harrison, who has nine sacks so far this season. As much as I would love to see the Bills win I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Steelers win it 24-14.
Panthers @ Browns: The Browns are only 3-7 but they’re 2-3 at home, which certainly isn’t good but it’s better than 3-7. Also the Browns have won two of their last four, and the two losses were extremely close (one overtime loss and one four-point loss) and were against two teams that are currently lead their division. So in short, the Browns have certainly been improving throughout this season while the Panthers on the other hand have been terrible and are winless on the road. If the Panthers are going to win then they have to do it on defense by slowing Peyton Hillis and confusing Colt McCoy. I just don think thy can do it. Brown win 20-14.
Jaguars @ Giants: Both of these teams are sitting at 6-4 and find themselves in the thick of a close playoff race. The difference is that one of these teams is actually good. I’m surprised that the Giants don’t have a better record at this point, but I’m shocked that the Jaguars are even above .500. They have a terrible point differential and haven’t impressed me at all this year. I fully expect them to fall out of the playoff race as they lose a good chunk of their last six games, and that starts with this one. With Aaron Kampman our for the season the Jags haven’t been able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and Eli Manning will pick you apart if you give him time in the pocket. Giants win 27-17.
Vikings @ Redskins: The only reason the Vikings haven’t been the biggest disappointment in the league this year is because the Cowboys exist. It’s gotten really difficult trying to predict their games because it always seems like they should win, but then they just don’t. Plus they’re especially bad on the road, going 0-5 in away games so far this year. I see Chris Cooley giving the Vikings defense matchup problems and Clinton Portis is coming back from injury which should help the Redskins be more balanced on offense. The Vikings also have the worst turnover differential in the league at -11, so look for the Skins defenders to try and make that number even worse. Redskins win 24-21.
Titans @ Texans: These two have suddenly gone from being the leaders in the AFC South and likely playoff teams to just losing a lot. The Texans have lost four in a row and the Titans have lost three in a row. That streak has to end for one of these teams this week. If the Texans win both will be 5-6 and still way behind in the playoff race. If the Titans win they’ll be 6-5 and have a semi-decent shot at a playoff run, but will need a lot of help to make it happen, while the Texans would fall to a pathetic 4-7 and have essentially no chance at making the playoffs after having such a phenomenal start to the season. The Titans have issues at quarterback and have been committing a lot of penalties lately, but the Texans secondary is pretty terrible and with Randy Moss it doesn’t matter who your quarterback is as long as he can heave the ball far enough and high enough for Moss to go up and get it. But Moss only has one catch as a Titan. Texans win 27-21.
Chiefs @ Seahawks: I think the Chiefs are the better team here, but they have struggled mightily on the road with all four of their losses coming in away games and their only road win was a close one against the Browns. The Seahawks on the other hand have struggled to a 5-5 record but only have one loss at home. I don’t think the Seahawks will be able to find much success on offense. Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs top corner, is playing out of his mind this year and should be able to easily shut down Mike Williams, the Seahawks best target. Matt Hasselbeck just doesn’t have enough weapons to throw to, especially with how talented this young Chiefs defense is. The Chiefs also have one of the top running games in the league so they’ll be pounding the rock a lot with Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. They should also find success through the air as the Seattle secondary has issues. All signs point to the Chiefs winning this one, but their bad road record makes me nervous. I’ll still give it to them though. Chiefs win it 17-14.
Dolphins @ Raiders: Both of these teams are 5-5 and trying to work their way into the AFC playoff picture. This is an incredibly long trip for the Dolphins though which might take some effect, but they’ve been good on the road with a 4-1 away record. A part of this game that would have been fun to watch is the battle between the Dolphins receiver, Brandon Marshall, and the Raiders cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugah. Unfortunately Asomugah is banged up and Marshall will get to go against the rest of the Raiders secondary. The Raiders have struggled to stop the run this year so expect a big game from Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. If the trip doesn’t impact the Dolphins level of play then they should win this one. Dolphins win it 21-20.
Rams @ Broncos: The Rams have improved immensely since last year and have continued to do so throughout the season but are winless on the road. The Broncos on the other hand are just flat out bad with a 3-7 record but are 2-3 at home, though that’s not exactly good. The Rams need to be able to keep Steven Jackson involved in the game so it will be key for them not to fall into an early hole. Also Ron Bartell is having a great season as the Rams top cornerback and he should be able to handle Brandon Lloyd, who is far and away the Broncos biggest receiving threat. The Broncos have been struggling with tackling ball carriers and have given up a lot of big plays to opposing running backs because of it. Look for Steven Jackson to have a big game. Rams win it 24-21.
Eagles @ Bears: Both of these teams are 7-3 and are in danger of losing the lead in their division if they don’t win this game. The difference between these two teams is that the Eagles have been exceedingly impressive this year while the Bears haven’t done anything to really wow me. The Eagles have been solid in away games, going 4-1 on the road and Michael Vick has been playing at a level worthy of MVP candidacy. This game will be a great battle between the Eagles amazingly explosive offense and the Bears stout defense. Also the Bears offensive tackle, Frank Omiyale will be no match for Trent Cole, who will be getting after the Jay Cutler on every passing play. Eagles win 24-17.
Buccaneers @ Ravens: Both of these teams are 7-3 and in the thick of the fight for playoff spots, but the Ravens are undefeated at home. The Ravens can generate a lot of pressure on quarterbacks and Josh Freeman will feel the heat. I see him making at least one or two costly mistakes when the pocket collapses so watch for Ed Reed to get a pick this game. Ray Lewis should be able to easily contain Kellen Winslow, who has been the Bucs top receiving threat. With the passing game being locked down the Ravens will be able to commit to the run more and to slow down LeGarrette Blount and Cadillac Williams. Over the last eight game Joe Flacco has had a 15 to 2 ratio for touchdowns and interceptions. That’s phenomenal. Ravens win 28-17.
Chargers @ Colts: The Colts are trying to create some separation between themselves and the rest of the AFC South while the Chargers are trying to sneak up on the Chiefs and Raiders in the AFC West and make another late run to take the division title. The Chargers are terrible on the road though, with only a 1-4 record in away games and the Colts don’t lose at home, with an undefeated record at Lucas Oil Stadium this year. The Chargers like to throw the deep ball a lot and are good at it, but those plays take time to develop which means Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will have time to crush Philip Rivers existence. The Chargers punt coverage team is dreadful so maybe the Colts can actually find some success returning punts which will be a welcome change. Colts win it 28-21.
49ers @ Cardinals: Both of these teams are 3-7, but the truly miraculous thing is that they’re also still both in the running for the NFC West title. The Niners are winless on the road while the Cards are 2-2 at home. The 49ers are better in almost every aspect of the game though. Really I just see this game being horrifically boring and it should be illegal to have it as the Monday Night Football matchup. Adrian Wilson defending Vernon Davis will be an intriguing battle though. Both of them are freak athletes and should go back and forth all game. I’m just going to give this one to the home team. Cardinals win 13-10.