This article is going to be a little bit different from my other prediction articles as I didn't have a chance to write the wrap-up this week. I've been pretty busy this week with school and going home for the holiday and I figured that it wasn't really worth doing the wrap-up when I would just end up making predictions a day later.
So here's a mini-version of my usual end of the NFL week article for Week 11:
Everything that could have gone wrong for the Steelers did go wrong. Losing to the Chiefs is simply inexcusable and now they are in a virtual must-win against Baltimore. Kansas City deserves a lot of credit, but Pittsburgh should not have lost this game.
Ben Roethlisberger should be able to go in Baltimore, but the Steelers are in trouble if he can't in the wake of Charlie Batch's injury.
Dallas needs to find their offense. Tony Romo didn't complete a pass to a wide receiver until very late in the game and they barely got past the 'Skins. They need to get back to establishing the run and putting up a lot of points.
The Browns continue to find new ways to lose games. They jumped out to a big lead on a bad team, but couldn't stop a badly injured rookie from throwing the game-winner. On the other side, Matthew Stafford won't play for the next few weeks, but he established himself as a leader with his play.
Is there a way for a team to feel worse after a win than Green Bay probably does? They almost lost a big second half lead then found out afterwards that two of their best defensive players, Al Harris and Aaron Kampman, are done for the year. Heck, the Niners may feel better after this game than the Pack do.
It's been a while since the Giants got a victory, but they finally got one against the Falcons. However, they lost Brandon Jacobs and the once vaunted defense gave up late scores that almost cost them their fifth straight loss. They still have a lot to fix.
If the Browns keep finding new ways to lose, then the Colts keep finding different ways to win. Their fourth quarter goal line stand was huge and their ability to force turnovers kept Indy undefeated. Baltimore had a chance to win at the end, but they couldn't overcome their mistakes.
The Broncos can forget about winning the AFC West. They are only a game down, but they will not overcome the combination of their losing streak with the way the Chargers completely dominated them. Losing a three-and-a-half game lead in the course of a month is too much for Denver to get over.
This time last week the Bengals were being heralded as one of the best teams in the league. That's not necessarily wrong, but great teams don't lose games to Oakland. They turned the ball over and the Raiders actually took advantage. Shocking, I know. Fortunately for Cincy, the Steelers didn't gain any ground on them.
What has happened to the Jets? They've been pretty horrible since their 3-0 start. The Pats completely dominated them and the 31-14 final isn't an indication of how one-sided this was. This was a complete beat down.
Steelers fans know how reliable Kris Brown is in the clutch. He's starting to show Texans fans the same thing. Obviously he's not the sole reason they lost, but his final kick wasn't even close. Now at .500, the Indy game is a must-win if they want any shot at a Wild Card.
The Titans just continue to win with Vince Young playing mistake-free ball and Chris Johnson running anywhere he wants to. They still won't make the playoffs, but they are making teams sweat.
Finally, here are the top 12 teams, with their previous ranking in parenthesis:
- New Orleans Saints (1)
- Indianapolis Colts (2)
- Minnesota Vikings (3)
- New England Patriots (5)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4)
- Arizona Cardinals (7)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6)
- San Diego Chargers (9)
- Dallas Cowboys (8)
- Philadelphia Eagles (10)
- Green Bay Packers (NR)
- Houston Texans (11)
Week 12 Picks
Last week's record: 12-4
Overall record: 109-51
Lock of the Week: 8-for-11
Green Bay (6-4) @ Detroit (2-8): To start off the horrible Thanksgiving Day schedule, Green Bay will travel to Detroit. The Lions will be without Calvin Johnson and Stafford, so the Packers will have to work to lose this one. They will overcome their injuries and get an easy win.
Green Bay wins, 27-12
Oakland (3-7) @ Dallas (7-3): Who decided Oakland should play on Thanksgiving? Anyway, as long as Dallas doesn't turn the ball over in droves, they'll send their crowd home happy.
Dallas wins, 18-7
New York Giants (6-4) @ Denver (6-4): Denver really, really needs this game. They've been bullied and pushed around for a month now and they can only absorb so many losses before they fall completely out of it. The Giants haven't looked great in a while, but they will do just enough to continue Denver's woes.
New York Giants win, 27-18
Tampa Bay (1-9) @ Atlanta (5-5): Atlanta is in a pretty bad stretch so Tampa is a good opponent for them. The Bucs have looked much better over the last month or so, but Atlanta will win in a blowout. They need something to spark them and this game will provide that.
Atlanta wins, 36-13
Miami (5-5) @ Buffalo (3-7): Terrell Owens will need a repeat of last week if Buffalo is going to steal this one. Their offense is usually pretty bad, but they will lose the game on defense. They can't stop the run to save their collective lives and Miami is a great running team.
Miami wins, 21-9
Cleveland (1-9) @ Cincinnati (7-3): If we can go by this season's stats, Cleveland probably won't put up more than six points over each of the next few weeks. Cincinnati will come out angry and destroy Cleveland, although I said the same about Pittsburgh last week after their loss to these Bengals.
Cincy wins, 30-6
Arizona (7-3) @ Tennessee (4-6): The Cards are undefeated on the road and Tennessee has won four straight; one of those streaks will obviously end. Kurt Warner is dealing with the head injury, but Tennessee won't be able to get to him enough to make that a huge factor.
During their winning streak, the Titans have hung around until the fourth quarter and eventually taken the lead. They will not have the ability to do that here because the Cards will simply outscore them and the Titans are not a quick-strike offense.
Arizona wins, 26-20
Seattle (3-7) @ St. Louis (1-9): There's really no logic in picking games between two bad teams, but for whatever reason, I think the Rams will get their second victory on the broad shoulders of Steven Jackson.
St. Louis wins, 17-13
Chicago (4-6) @ Minnesota (9-1): Chicago really needs this game as they're only a couple of losses away from focusing on April's draft. At this point, the Vikes are gearing up for the playoffs so the Bears may catch them sleeping, but Minnesota's playing too well to lose to an average team.
Minnesota wins, 28-16
Carolina (4-6) @ New York Jets (4-6): Amazingly, the Jets would still be very much in the playoff race with a victory. That would mean something if they were playing well. Right now Carolina is playing better football. If they run the ball to open up the pass, they'll get the win.
Carolina wins, 19-14
Washington (3-7) @ Philadelphia (6-4): This game will be similar to their matchup a few weeks ago. Washington's defense will play relatively well, but give up a few big plays that go for touchdowns.
Philly wins, 26-10
Indianapolis (10-0) @ Houston (5-5): The games in this matchup in Houston have been very close and this will be the same. The Texans have to keep the ball out of Peyton Manning's hands for as long as possible, which means the running game will have to be huge. If the defense can keep Manning out of the end zone, they have a great chance to win.
If this game comes down to Kris Brown, forget everything I said about this game because the Colts will win.
Houston wins, 24-17
Kansas City (3-7) @ San Diego (7-3): Kansas City will not win three straight games. The Chargers are on a roll and the Chiefs will only be a speed bump. They may make it close, but they won't pull the upset.
San Diego wins, 23-13 (Lock of the Week)
Jacksonville (6-4) @ San Francisco (4-6): With a win, Jacksonville will be in the driver's seat for a Wild Card berth. If they jump out to an early lead, the game will be over with Maurice Jones-Drew running the ball. The Niners need to stop the running game and put up points, but Alex Smith has started out extremely slow in most games this year. San Fran is not built to make comebacks so the Jags get a nice road win.
Jacksonville wins, 24-18
Pittsburgh (6-4) @ Baltimore (5-5): The three games between these teams last season were vicious. That alone makes this extremely dangerous for Ben Roethlisberger. Concussions are tricky to begin with and Baltimore will be out for blood. If Roethlisberger can stay relatively clean (a big if), he can pick Baltimore's defense apart.
Pittsburgh wins, 21-13
New England (7-3) @ New Orleans (10-0): This will be an very entertaining, high-scoring affair. We all know what each of these offenses can do so the key will be which defense can get stops. I trust Bill Belichick's schemes more than I do Gregg Williams', so the Saints' undefeated season will die here.
New England wins, 37-31