NFL Picks Week 12: Shocking Upsets Waiting to Happen
If Week 11 in the NFL taught fans anything, it’s that potential upsets lurk around every corner.
Few people thought Chad Henne and the one-win Jaguars would come oh so close to beating the one-loss Texans in an epic shootout. Few thought the Browns would shut out the Cowboys on the road in the first half and take the them to overtime.
And who expected the struggling Cardinals to pick off Matt Ryan five times, in the Georgia Dome, nonetheless?
The point is that no games are totally certain in the NFL, no matter how lopsided the matchup appears on paper. In Week 12, there are a few games that scream “upset!” for key reasons.
These teams should be on upset alert this week and here’s why.
Patriots Against Jets
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The Patriots may be three games up on the Jets in the AFC East standings, but these two bitter rivals have had their share of close games over the years.
This Thanksgiving night clash may go New York’s way for a couple of reasons. First, it could come down to the defenses.
Despite the addition of cornerback Aqib Talib, the Patriots defense is still underwhelming. When these two teams first met in Week 7, maligned Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw for 328 yards.
And there have been a few games over the years where Jets coach Rex Ryan has drawn up a defensive game plan that has at least slowed down Tom Brady and the Pats’ high-powered offense. In addition to Ryan, injuries may derail New England’s offense.
Logan Mankins has been beat up all season, Aaron Hernandez has missed several games with an ankle sprain and now Rob Gronkowski will miss extended time with a broken forearm.
These combined circumstances could create the perfect storm for a big Thanksgiving-style Jets upset.
Ravens Against Chargers
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The mighty Baltimore Ravens will be traveling across the country to take on the underachieving San Diego Chargers.
When that happened last season, the Chargers came away with a surprising 34-14 victory. Could déjà vu strike in Week 12?
It very well could. The Ravens will be traveling across the country to a different time zone. That always has the potential to be a wild card.
Also, the Ravens are coming off an emotional 13-10 victory over bitter arch nemesis Pittsburgh in Week 11. Perhaps Joe Flacco and company suffer a mental hangover against the Chargers.
And no matter how many consecutive losses San Diego has suffered, quarterback Philip Rivers still has the arm to challenge opposing defenses. That could spell bad news for a Ravens defense soldiering on without stars Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. The last time the Ravens faced a quality quarterback (Matt Schaub), it ended in a 43-14 Ravens loss to the Texans.
Déjà vu might strike again out west.
Falcons Against Bucs
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The Atlanta Falcons may be 9-1 right now, but they’re quite vulnerable at the moment.
Matt Ryan is especially struggling. The Falcons quarterback is coming off a game against the Cardinals in which he threw five interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won four straight after a nifty overtime win against the Panthers. The Falcons are sluggish and the Bucs are firing on all cylinders offensively.
This intriguing NFC South battle could come down to the quarterbacks. While Ryan is struggling, his counterpart Josh Freeman is not.
Freeman has gelled with new Bucs skill position players like running back Doug Martin, wide receiver Vincent Jackson and now tight end Dallas Clark. The former Colt caught the winning touchdown pass in overtime against Carolina.
This game has the potential to turn into a shootout and the better quarterback—for now—is Freeman. He may be the deciding factor in a big Tampa win.
49ers Against Saints
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Standing in the way between the New Orleans Saints and a fourth straight win are the always-tough 49ers.
Who can forget the last time these two teams met on the field? That was when the 49ers came back to beat the Saints in a 36-32 shootout win in last year’s NFC Divisional round.
This rematch takes place in the Superdome, where the Saints’ offense usually marches down the field to score in bunches. Drew Brees will likely keep it rolling, but don’t forget about the emerging Saints running game, led by bruising backs Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas.
If he’s able to come back from his concussion, San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith has the potential to match Brees up and down the field. But the edge has to go to the Saints, considering how tough they are to beat in the Big Easy and the fact that they’ve generated tons of momentum under interim coach Joe Vitt.
Bengals Against Raiders
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The Oakland Raiders have been outscored in their last three games (all losses) by a combined score of 135-70.
Still, don’t underestimate the revenge factor when the Raiders travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in Week 12. That’s when former Bengals and current Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer will return to the Queen City.
Palmer has had a decent year, even if the Raiders haven’t. He has thrown for over 2,700 yards and 15 touchdowns for 3-7 Oakland.
And suddenly he has another offensive weapon at his disposal. Fullback Marcel Reece broke out for nearly 200 total yards from scrimmage in a Week 11 loss to the Saints.
Don’t be surprised if Reece strikes again and leaves the Bengals in pieces in Week 12.