There is no shortage of struggling teams that have been extremely disappointing during the 2013 NFL season, but there are some troubled squads who will rebound with a win in Week 12.
The Houston Texans had playoff and Super Bowl expectations coming into the season and thanks to eight straight losses, this team is already looking to next season as they welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to town.
In Green Bay, the Packers have yet to get the news they want regarding Aaron Rodgers' return, but they continue to chug along anyway and are hoping to break their three-game skid against the Minnesota Vikings this week.
The Baltimore Ravens have been on a dreadful slide the past five weeks. As a result, they are falling out of contention. The Ravens will have a chance to right the ship on Sunday as the New York Jets invade their home turf.
Let's break down each of these games and find out why these struggling squads will recover and emerge victorious in Week 12.
|Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams||Bears 20-13|
|New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens||Ravens 17-14|
|Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants||Cowboys 28-27|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns||Browns 20-17|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions||Lions 23-20|
|Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers||Packers 24-10|
|San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs 21-16|
|Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins||Panthers 24-10|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans||Texans 31-20|
|Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders||Raiders 23-17|
|Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals||Colts 24-21|
|Denver Broncos at New England Patriots||Broncos 38-31|
|San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins||49ers 31-20|
Mike Moraitis' Picks
Houston Texans (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
Now that the Texans and head coach Gary Kubiak are past the brain fart that was Matt Schuab's reentry into the lineup last week, quarterback Case Keenum can continue his success that has seen the rookie QB throw for the exact same number of touchdown passes (eight) as Schaub in three fewer games.
Also, Keenum's near mistake-free, downfield explosiveness adds a new element to the team's offense that Schaub couldn't provide. That's trouble for the Jags defense as Jacksonville ranks No. 24 against the pass this season.
What's even worse for Jacksonville is the fact that it has the worst run defense in football. That will force the Jaguars to overcompensate in the box in order to stop Houston's No. 12-ranked rushing attack, thus opening things up for star receiver Andre Johnson and company to make big plays.
On offense, Jacksonville does almost nothing right, but if you could point to a strength it would be its passing attack as it ranks No. 22 as compared to the Jags' league-worst ground game.
The problem here is that the Texans are better than any team in football at stopping the pass, so it isn't clear where the offense is going to come from in order to move the chains and score points for the Jaguars.
In the NFL, matchups are everything, and Houston matches up perfectly with Jacksonville and should be able to exploit the many holes the Jaguars have.
Final score: Texans 31, Jaguars 20
Green Bay Packers (vs. Minnesota Vikings)
The Packers may be down without their star quarterback on the field, but they certainly aren't out. Backup QB Scott Tolzien has performed admirably in Rodgers' absence to the tune of 619 yards and one touchdown, although a sore spot is the five picks he's thrown.
That shouldn't be a problem this week as the Vikings have the third-fewest interceptions and takeaways overall in the NFC.
As far as strengths go, the Packers can do it all on offense with the No. 5 passing attack that hasn't been slowed all that much without Rodgers, as well as the No. 6 ground game.
While the Vikings have been admirable against the run with a No. 14 ranking, the Packers can exploit their No. 29 pass defense in order to open things up on the ground a bit more.
Green Bay doesn't have to worry about any unpredictability on defense as Minnesota lives and dies by the run featuring superstar back Adrian Peterson. On that front, Peterson isn't 100 percent this week (questionable, per ESPN.com), which could mean a drop in production if he plays hurt.
If Peterson can't get it going, the Vikings' No. 25 passing attack will have a rough day no matter who is at the helm as the Packers are able to drop more defenders into coverage now that Peterson isn't much of a threat.
Green Bay is coming off three straight losses and is overdue for a win, so beating a lowly squad like the 2-8 Vikings seems far more likely than not.
Final score: Packers 24, Vikings 10
Baltimore Ravens (vs. New York Jets)
Baltimore comes into this contest having lost last week and four out of its last five games. Luckily for the Ravens, the Jets are coming in battered and bruised after rookie QB Geno Smith tossed three picks and lost a fumble that resulted in a 37-14 beatdown at the hands of the Buffalo Bills.
The biggest key in this game for Baltimore is putting itself in position to exploit a short field by forcing turnovers instead of trying to create scoring drives with a longer field against a tough Jets defense that ranks No. 1 against the run.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, they are No. 10 in the AFC in takeaways, but on the bright side, the Jets have coughed up the ball the second-most times in the same conference, and Smith is second in the NFL with 16 interceptions.
Pressure is an important component to forcing Smith to make these mistakes, however, and that's where the Ravens can deliver. Baltimore is tied for fourth in the NFL with 34 sacks while the Jets have allowed the fourth-most in the NFL, so the pressure will be there to rattle Smith.
As mentioned before, the Jets are elite against the run. With that being the case, the Ravens must focus on establishing the air attack first versus the Jets' No. 22 pass defense in order to have an opportunity to run the ball with fewer defenders in the box.
If all goes well, the Ravens should be able to keep the Jets in check with a No. 13 pass defense and No. 11 run defense, and numerous turnovers will lead to a sufficient number of points for the home team.
Final score: Ravens 17, Jets 14