Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NFL Week 12 Picks

AP Photo/John Marshall Mantel

Thanksgiving gives us three games this week on Thursday, and for being fans, the NFL has thanked us with some really fantastic matchup on Monday night between the undefeated Saints and the New England Patriots, as well as some other good matchups between division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and the Giants against the Broncos.

For me, I’m thankful that all you guys take the time out of your day to read my stuff.

Enjoy the holiday!

Green Bay (6-4) at Detroit (2-8)

Detroit and rookie quarterback showed some gut and guile to come back and beat Cleveland as time expired.

Stafford was incredible, coming back after injuring his shoulder to throw for 422 yards and four touchdowns.

Still, I believe he is extremely banged up and will be hurting against the Packers, who will be coming at him hard.

Green Bay’s passing defense is ranked seventh in the NFL and they have the fourth most interceptions.

I like Green Bay to win this game.

Oakland (3-7) at Dallas (7-3)

Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowski didn’t look too bad in place of JaMarcus Russell in Sunday’s win over the Bengals. His 73.5 passer rating was better than all but one of Russell’s games (85.4 week five against the Giants), and he led a game-tying drive that he capped off with his second touchdown pass of the day (compared to his one interception).

The Cowboys scored only one touchdown for the second week in a row.

Still, they were able to win the game. Another bright spot: Marion Barber rushed for 99 yards, the first time he’s rushed for more than 53 yards since week two, when he ran for 124 yards against the Giants.

Oakland has the third worst ranked rushing defense and they have given up the most rushing touchdowns. If Marion Barber is truly back to form, then he should have a field day, especially at home.

I predict the Cowboys to win.

NY Giants (6-4) at Denver (6-4)

The Giants are a team that got back on track last week. Denver is a team that continued its horrific slide.

In their four game losing streak, Denver has only scored more than ten points once. They are currently ranked 25th in the NFL in points per game, while the Giants are tied for sixth (conversely the Giants are tied for 23rd in points allowed, while Denver is seventh).

Denver’s inability to score points lately, or really throughout the whole season, is discouraging.

I’ll take the Giants to win.

Tampa Bay (1-9) at Atlanta (5-5)

Atlanta is on a mini-slide, losing four out of their last five games. Tampa Bay is on a season-long slide.

Tampa is also winless in six tries against conference opponents (0-2 in the division), whereas the Falcons are 4-4.

Atlanta finally gets to settle in at the Georgia Dome, as they start a three game home stretch and play four out of their final six at home.

Falcons win.

Miami (5-5) at Buffalo (3-7)

Buffalo no longer has the worst rush defense. They are now second to Tampa Bay.
Miami’s strength all season has been the running game, and they proved that last Thursday against Carolina. Ricky Williams had a spectacular night, rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns, as well as catching one.

The last time these two teams squared off in week three, Miami went off for 38 points, 250 rushing yards, and three rushing touchdowns.

Miami’s confidence is building. Buffalo’s, if they had any, is absolutely crumbling.

Dolphins win.

Cleveland (1-9) at Cincinnati (7-3)

Cleveland surprised everyone by scoring 37 points. Still, they lost.

Cincinnati handed Oakland a victory. Still, they are in first place in the AFC North.

The Bengals seem to be a team that plays to their competition. The first time these two teams met, the Bengals needed OT to win.

Still, I only consider last weeks loss a minor setback, as this team has played tough all season, whether it's pretty or not.

The same can't be said for Cleveland.

Bengals win.

Carolina (4-6) at NY Jets (4-6)

The Jets rush defense is average, ranked 16th, and will have their hands full with the NFL’s fourth best rusher DeAngelo Williams.

However, Jets RB Thomas Jones is ranked sixth in the NFL while Carolina’s rush defense is miserable, ranked 26th in the entire league.

If the Jets really utilize Jones against such a weak rush defense, they can limit the pressure on rookie QB Mark Sanchez and the amount of turnovers he causes. They will also dominate time of possession (Jones is strong at pounding the ball up the middle) and neutralize Williams.

Jets win.

Washington (3-7) at Philadelphia (6-4)

Washington almost came away with its first win streak of the season last week against the Cowboys. They were winning for the majority of the game (actually until 2:41 left in the fourth quarter) and only allowed one touchdown. However their offense could only muster up two field goals. That won’t cut it against the Eagles.

The Eagles have been held to less than 10 points only once this season; the Redskins have been held to under 10 points three times. The Eagles are tied for sixth in the NFL in points per game; the Redskins are 29th.

Eagles win.

Indianapolis (10-0) at Houston (5-5)

Houston is 1-14 all-time against the Colts. They have a losing record at home (2-3) this season and against the division (1-3). Last time they met a Kris Brown missed field goal as time expired prevented the teams from needing OT. Houston also played Monday night in week 11, so the Colts will have one extra day of rest and preparation for this matchup. It’s all enough for me to not see an upset here.

Colts win.

Seattle (3-7) at St. Louis (1-9)

A winnable game for St. Louis, but this team is just so bad.

These teams met in week one and the Seahawks pounded the Rams 28-0. Not much has changed. St. Louis has failed to score more than a touchdown three more times throughout the season.

The Rams offense is ranked 26th in the league, and if it wasn’t for Steven Jackson, the NFL’s second leading rusher, it may possibly be the worst offense.

Seattle will win.

Kansas City (3-7) at San Diego (7-3)

When you’re hot you’re hot.

San Diego has won five games in a row. In three of those five wins, they have scored 31 points or more. All season they have yet to score less than 21.

Also LaDanian Tomlinson has become a relevant player again, leading the team in rushing in eight of the Chargers’ 10 games this season. He’s scored a touchdown in three of his last four games, twice scoring two touchdowns. He’s also only lost one fumble this year.

Kansas City is tied for 25th in the league in points allowed.

This does not look good for the Chiefs. Chargers win.

Jacksonville (6-4) at San Francisco (4-6)

For a 6-4 team, Jacksonville is perplexing. They have scored only 199 points this season, while giving up 235. They’ve benefitted from strong play at home and are surprisingly 5-2 against the AFC.

However San Francisco is 0-3 against the AFC, and only 1-4 against teams with winning records this year (and that win was in week one against Arizona, who has gotten significantly better since the opening week).

I’m not crazy about them, but I like the Jaguars to win.

Arizona (7-3) at Tennessee (4-6)

Arizona had a rough start to the season, but the defending NFC champions are 6-1 since their week four bye.

Tennessee, however, is 4-0 since inserting Vince Young as the starting QB. In those four games they have scored at least 20 points each time and in three of those games they scored at least 30.

Still, Tennessee is also 30th in the league in points per game allowed while Arizona is tenth in the league is points scored per game.

The Cardinals are also 5-0 on the road and surprisingly have a winning record against the AFC (2-1).

Arizona wins.

Chicago (4-6) at Minnesota (9-1)

Minnesota is +6 in the turnover battle over the season, while the Bears are -3 thanks to Jay Cutler leading the NFL in interceptions thrown (18).

Minnesota is also 5-0 at home, 4-0 against the division, and 7-0 in the conference. In comparison, Chicago is 1-4 on the road, 1-1 in the division, and 2-5 against the conference.

Vikings win.

Pittsburgh (6-4) at Baltimore (5-5)

Both teams suffered rough losses last week, but are still fighting for spots in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh has the top ranked defense (Baltimore is ninth) and the sixth ranked offense (Baltimore is 13th).

The Steelers haven’t lost three games in a row since the 2006 season. They’ve had their struggles this season, but overall, the Steelers have been the stronger team out of the two.

I predict the Steelers to win.

New England (7-3) at New Orleans (10-0)

What a good matchup we have for Monday Night Football this week.

This is the toughest opponent New Orleans will face on their way to possibly finishing the regular season 16-0, and one would think the team that would most want to knock them off would be the only team to finish a season 16-0—the Patriots.

One huge difference between these two teams, though, is their attitude in the fourth quarter and their ability to close games.

The Patriots have outscored their opponent in the fourth quarter 55-45 and in two of their three losses they were winning going into the fourth quarter (to be fair Denver did need overtime to finish New England off). However, the Saints have outscored their opponents 105-24 in the final period.

To continue with the teams’ fourth quarter, New England has shut out their opponent in the fourth quarter five times while New Orleans has accomplished that six times. Even more impressive though is that while the Patriots have been held scoreless in the fourth three times, New Orleans has made sure they put points on the board in the final quarter in every game this season.

Also alarming for the Patriots is that they are 1-3 on the road, while New Orleans is 5-0 at home.

I will pick the Saints to win this one.

Last week: 14-2

Season: 88-40

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