Week 12 NFL Picks: Contending Teams on Upset Alert

Dan WilkinsCorrespondent IINovember 19, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 11:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints  at The Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 11, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In the parody ridden NFL, we rarely go a single week without seeing several massive upset games. As much as a team may have an advantage going into a game, anything can happen in this league.

This coming week will prove to be no different. Here are four contending teams on upset alert for Week 12 of the 2012 NFL season.

Houston Texans

On a short week, the 9-1 Texans will hit the road and take on the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

Coming off of a surprisingly close shootout against the Jaguars, the Texans have shown that their secondary is still susceptible to giving up the big play. A matchup against the Lions, and the league's most dangerous big play receiver in Calvin Johnson, could very well exploit that weakness even further.

If the Texans can't stop Johnson, and considering Detroit's struggles on the defensive side, this could be another old fashioned shootout. As good as the Texans can be on offense, that is not the kind of game you want to get into against the Lions.

Detroit is in desperate need of a win, falling further and further out of playoff contention as the weeks go on. At home, in front of a Thanksgiving crowd, don't rule out the upset here.

Pittsburgh Steelers

We know that in division games in the NFL, you can throw all records out the window. With the rivalries that these kind of teams and matchups have established, winners are not easily predictable.

As good as their defense is, Sunday night showed us just how difficult it will be for the Steelers to move the ball without QB Ben Roethlisberger. Adding to the injury struggles are reports that his replacement, QB Byron Leftwich, could now be out for a while as well. On the road in a division game against the Cleveland Browns, that could result in quite the upset.

While the totals do not necessarily show it, the Steelers defense can be beat in the ground game. With what Trent Richardson has shown, and the team's ability to block up front, you can expect the Browns to lean heavily on their running game on Sunday.

In what should be a low scoring affair, the team with the more productive running game should come out on top. With the Browns defense likely to stack the box and make the Steelers QBs beat them, that team very well could be Cleveland.

Atlanta Falcons

 There is something to be said for the fact that the Falcons have consistently pulled out the close games and win even when they aren't playing well. At the same time, a team that is 9-1, and considered among the league's elite, should have an ability to dominate the teams that are well below them in the standings.

Despite having one of the league's easiest schedules thus far, the Falcons record could easily be much worse than what it is. Near losses against teams like the Panthers, Raiders and Cardinals really stand out among others.

Away from the comfort of the Georgia Dome, the Falcons now catch a Buccaneers team as hot as any other in the NFL.

Against Tampa Bay's stout run defense, Atlanta should be forced into becoming a one-dimensional attack. Combine that factor with the Bucs' explosive offense, and Atlanta could very well end up with its second loss of the season.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are currently 6-2-1, yet to play their Week 11 Monday night game against Chicago. In Week 12, they travel to New Orleans to take on the once again relevant Saints.

The Saints have reeled off five straight victories following an 0-5 start, and will be looking to continue that streak in a rematch of last year's unbelievable NFC Divisional playoff game.

While the 49ers have had one of the best defenses in the NFL over the past two seasons, the Saints' offensive attack is one that can exploit their weaknesses.

A team as strong in the middle and up front as the 49ers needs to be spread out. With Drew Brees at the helm, the Saints are certainly comfortable doing just that.

In the January playoff game, Drew Brees threw for 462 yards and four TDs against this very defense. If the Saints defense can get a few key stops, playing in front of their no doubt rejuvenated home crowd, they could find themselves right back in the NFC playoff picture.


In the NFL, upset wins are certainly quite common. The tough part is predicting which elite and sometimes dominant teams are going to falter in a given matchup.

By the end of Sunday's Week 12 play, several or even all of these teams could very well find themselves losing a game that their records say they really should not.