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NFL Picks Week 12: Teams That Will Earn Momentous Victories This Weekend

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NFL Picks Week 12: Teams That Will Earn Momentous Victories This Weekend
Elsa/Getty Images

It's crunch time for many teams around the NFL as the playoff race heats up and division showdowns take on new meaning. 

While the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks sport the league's best record through 11 weeks, they'll enjoy a bye in Week 12, allowing the spotlight to remain on another Super Bowl favorite in the Denver Broncos, who are set to square off against the New England Patriots in a potential AFC Championship Game preview in prime time on Sunday night.

But before the weekend's action reaches fever pitch, there'll be a dozen matchups for fans to enjoy.

With Week 12 set to kick off from Atlanta on Thursday, here are my predictions for all 14 games, including three teams set to earn momentous victories on Sunday.

NFL Picks Week 12
Away Score Home
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 31-21 Atlanta Falcons
Minnesota Vikings 17-20 GREEN BAY PACKERS
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 23-16 Cleveland Browns
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-34 DETROIT LIONS
San Diego Chargers 13-24 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
CHICAGO BEARS 26-18 St. Louis Rams
CAROLINA PANTHERS 23-14 Miami Dolphins
New York Jets 16-20 BALTIMORE RAVENS
Jacksonville Jaguars 23-27 HOUSTON TEXANS
Tennessee Titans 21-24 OAKLAND RAIDERS
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 31-17 Arizona Cardinals
Dallas Cowboys 20-27 NEW YORK GIANTS
DENVER BRONCOS 30-24 New England Patriots
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 34-26 Washington Redskins

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Green Bay Packers 20, Minnesota Vikings 17

Despite having dropped three in a row since Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone on his non-throwing shoulder in early November, the Packers are just one game out of first place in the NFC North and can remain in the hunt with a win over the lowly Minnesota Vikings at home in Week 12.

Scott Tolzien will start at quarterback for Green Bay for the second straight week but should feel much more comfortable at home after getting his debut jitters out of the way last week in New York. 

Elsa/Getty Images

What's more, Tolzien will be facing a horrid pass defense in Minnesota. The Vikings rank 29th in fewest passing yards allowed (280 per game) and have surrendered more passing touchdowns (23) than any other team in the league this season. 

Look for Tolzien, who's thrown for 619 yards since taking over for Seneca Wallace in Week 10, to continue to make big plays in the passing game on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Offensively, Minnesota hasn't been able to mount much of an attack in 2013. The Vikings rank 25th in passing and 17th in rushing. Meanwhile, Minnesota's top playmaker, Adrian Peterson, is battling a groin injury and averaging just 4.4 yards per carry through 10 games. That mark is his lowest since 2009.

Therefore, the Packers defense should get some relief this weekend as they look to slow a hobbled Peterson and an unimpressive Christian Ponder. 

 

New York Giants 27, Dallas Cowboys 20

Winners of four in a row, the New York Giants can pull within one game of the NFC East with a win over rival Dallas at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Giants are three-point favorites at home, per VegasInsider.com, and should have little trouble covering the spread if they stick to the formula that has sparked their recent turnaround. 

It all starts with playing mistake-free football on the offensive end. After turning the ball over 23 times through the first six games of the season, Eli Manning and Co. have committed just six over the last four games. 

Elsa/Getty Images

Defensively, New York has been a much different unit since the arrival of linebacker Jon Beason, who the Giants acquired earlier this season through a trade with Carolina. New York is 4-1 since Beason strapped on a blue helmet and is allowing less than 15 points per game over that time.

Meanwhile, Dallas enters Sunday afternoon's pivotal matchup in desperate need of some momentum. The Cowboys have dropped two of their last three and have been dealt several key injuries on the defensive side of the ball.

And with Dallas' running game virtually nonexistent (77 yards per game), Tony Romo will likely need to turn in one of his best performances of the season in order to lift Dallas above .500 this weekend. 

 

Denver Broncos 30, New England Patriots 24

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos will be slight favorites when they head to Foxborough to battle the New England Patriots on Sunday night. And although the Pats are a perfect 5-0 at home this season, Week 12's clash is sure to be their toughest test all year.

Led by Peyton Manning, the Broncos boast the league's top-ranked passing attack and can change the game with a single screen pass. After all, Denver ranks first in completions (288), yards per attempt (8.7) and passing touchdowns (34) in addition to passing yards (350 per game).

New England's secondary could catch a serious break if the dynamic Wes Welker, who suffered a concussion in Week 11, can't suit up on Sunday night. But there's still a decent shot Welker could return and present a nightmare matchup for the Patriots in the slot.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Denver will also look to hit New England with a healthy dose of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball on the ground, considering the Pats rank 27th in fewest rushing yards allowed this season.

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Consequently, the key for Tom Brady and the Patriots will be establishing the short passing game we saw on Monday night against the Panthers in order to keep Manning on the sideline. Remember, Denver boasts one of the best run-stopping defenses in the NFL, and it's unlikely that the Pats will be able to pick up easy yardage on the ground. 

If the Patriots are going to avoid losing two in a row, they'll need to exploit the Broncos' porous secondary and move the chains with quick and easy throws that neutralize Denver's pass rush. But keep in mind that the Broncos execute this strategy better than any other team in the league and have many more weapons at their disposal. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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