There are some tricky games to pick on the NFL's schedule in Week 12, as some closely matched teams are slated to compete against one another.
The league's top teams are ramping up efforts as the postseason draws closer. This is the time of year that fans dream about, as nearly every game on the schedule from week to week carries playoff implications.
Trying to predict what will occur when evenly matched franchises battle on the gridiron can be frustrating, but someone's gotta do it. Here's a look at predictions for every game on the schedule in Week 12, followed by a closer examination of the most competitive matchups.
|Week 12 NFL Picks|
|Date||Road Team||Home Team||Pick|
|NFL Week 12|
Colts at Cardinals
A month ago, you wouldn't have expected this matchup to be one the Indianapolis Colts could lose, but things have changed for both teams since the middle of October.
Arizona has won three straight games after losing hard-fought contests against the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Carson Palmer is coming off one of the best games of his entire career (416 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions), and rookie Andre Ellington has sparked the team's lackluster rushing attack.
Defensively, Arizona shuts down the run (No. 2 in the NFL, allowing just 81.4 yards per game) and can get after the quarterback.
Things are looking up for the Cardinals, but the same can't be said for the Colts.
Although Indy has won three of its last four games, it barely squeaked past the Houston Texans three weekends ago and won by just three points over an ailing Tennessee Titans club last week. An ugly 38-8 loss to the St. Louis Rams was sandwiched in between those two unimpressive wins.
Reggie Wayne's season-ending injury has been a huge blow for Andrew Luck and Indianapolis' offense. If the Cardinals shut down the Colts running game, then Luck will struggle to connect with his receivers downfield.
Projected Score: Cardinals win 27-24.
Cowboys at Giants
The Dallas Cowboys have been agonizingly unpredictable this year, which is evidenced by the team's 5-5 record. Tony Romo has put up monster numbers in some games, but he's been rendered nearly invisible in others, as we saw in Week 11 when he passed for just 128 yards against the New Orleans Saints.
One thing that has been constant, however, is Dallas' horrible defense, which ranks as the NFL's worst this season.
The Cowboys beat the Giants 36-31 in Week 1, thanks to a two-touchdown performance by Dallas' defense. New York went on to lose five more games in a row to open the season with a record of 0-6, but the Giants have won four in a row to get right back into the wide-open race for the NFC East crown.
After looking like an apathetic group during the losing streak, Tom Coughlin's squad has the look of a team that's getting hot at the right time for a playoff push. Led by Jon Beason and Jason Pierre-Paul, New York's defense is leading the way during the winning streak, holding opponents to just 11.75 points per game.
This game won't likely be decided until late in the fourth quarter. These two teams always play one another tight, but it's hard to bet against the red-hot home team in this upcoming matchup.
Projected Score: Giants win 31-24.
Broncos at Patriots
Tom Brady traditionally has the edge over Peyton Manning, winning nine of the 13 previous matchups, as noted by ESPN Stats & Information. Even more salient, as it pertains to this upcoming game, is the fact that Manning has only won twice in eight tries when facing the Patriots in New England.
New England enters the game with a bitter taste in its mouth after losing a controversial game to the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football, 24-20.
Though the Patriots will be a playoff contender, this team isn't at the top of its game right now. Since opening the season with four straight wins, the Patriots have won three of six games, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Panthers.
The last time New England hosted a top opponent, however, the Patriots knocked off the New Orleans Saints, 30-27, thanks to a miraculous pass from Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins with time running out in the fourth quarter.
Manning and the Broncos come into the game with just one loss on their record, and the team has won three games in a row. Featuring the league's highest-scoring offense (by far), Denver has outscored opponents by 14.3 points per game.
New England's defense is extremely depleted. In addition to the season-ending injuries suffered by Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork, all three of the team's top cornerbacks are dealing with injuries and were "limited" in practice on Wednesday, as noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston:
For the Patriots, this isn't a recipe for success.
Tom Brady won't be able to keep up with Manning and his high-flying offense.
Projected Score: Broncos win 41-28.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78