We are entering the stretch run of the 2012 NFL season and things are beginning to heat up. This is the time playoff teams make headroom against division foes.
Week 12 will see a handful of division games and here are three home teams who will defeat their rival foes:
Chicago Bears defeat Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is the fourth-best rushing team in the NFL, averaging 150.5 yards per game. Chicago's defense has shut down the run this season allowing just 92.3 yards per game which ranks fourth in the NFL.
Chicago will make the Vikings beat them through the air, and Christian Ponder and the 29th ranked Vikings pass offense will fail to come through.
It's going to be an ugly game, but the edge has to go to the home team. Chicago is 4-1 this season at home and Minnesota is only 1-3 on the road.
Chicago 17, Minnesota 13.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta has struggled in its past two games—losing at New Orleans and barely defeating Arizona. Matt Ryan has returned to earth, throwing five interceptions on Sunday against the Cardinals.
The Falcons are a great team, but they aren't as good as their record says they are. With a trip to Tampa Bay in Week 12, we will find out just how good they are.
Tampa Bay has won four straight football games while placing themselves right in the thick of things in the NFC.
Josh Freeman has returned to rookie form and the Falcons' defense (20th in passing yards and 25th in rushing yards allowed) is one of the worst statistical defenses in the league.
Advantage Freeman and the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay 24, Atlanta 21.
Arizona Cardinals defeat St. Louis Rams
Arizona's defense is still legit despite the Cardinals failing to achieve victory in six straight games. They are coming off a performance where they forced five Matt Ryan interceptions in a narrow loss to the Falcons.
Ryan was a leading candidate for league MVP prior to the performance although he's probably not anymore.
Arizona's defense deserves the majority of the credit for that. With their No. 2 ranked pass defense they can rattle any QB in the league. Just ask Tom Brady.
Actually, just ask Sam Bradford who completed only seven passes in their first meeting.
Arizona shuts quarterbacks down defensively, and they are difficult to defeat at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Arizona 20, St. Louis 17.