NFL Picks Week 12: How Will the Tennessee Titans Fare Without Vince Young?
What is the deal with the Titans, and is it going to be the end of the road for quarterback Vince Young? Time will tell on that one, but for now the question is what will be the impact on the remainder of the Titans season.
The other big questions this week are will the Dallas Cowboys continue to respond to interim head coach Jason Garrett, and what is going to happen with the Minnesota Vikings now that they have finally been able to drive coach Brad Childress to the unemployment line.
Things went pretty well last week, when I finished at 11-5. This is a short week with three games on Thanksgiving, so remember to get those picks in early.
New England Patriots at Detroit Lions
Leon Halip/Getty Images
As much as I have liked the Lions this year—at least with my heart—they don't have nearly the juice to line up against New England. This year is the 71st that Detroit has been a post-meal attraction on Turkey Day, and they have posted a 33-35-2 all-time record. Make that 33-36-2.
Pick: New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
The other traditional Thanksgiving Day team is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have responded with wins under interim coach Jason Garrett and a change at quarterback, substituting Jon Kinta for the injured Tony Romo.
Unlike Detroit, Dallas has performed well on Turkey Day, having won their last four contests. The Saints are also on a roll with a three-game winning streak. I like the Cowboys coming off a short week: They are used to playing in this game, and while I still think the playoffs are a pipe dream, they seem to be at least playing for pride.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
In the evening game, the New York Jets get to host the down-and-out Cincinnati Bengals.
I think it is pretty clear that after the Bengals' loss last week to the Buffalo Bills that they have packed it in for the season.
A dejected Terrell Owens after the game characterized the team like this:
"Terrible. I have no answers for you. I have no sound bites for you," he said. "All I know is right now, we are terrible. And maybe it is —everybody wants to blame me. It's my fault. Maybe I'm bad luck. But at this point, it's just unthinkable. Unbelievable."
The Jets are rolling with three straight wins and I expect that to continue.
Pick: New York Jets
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
This should be one of the better games this week. The Packers are a lot of people's favorite team lately and after two consecutive overtime losses, they have won their last four in a row.
Both teams are in close divisional races right now and this is an important game, but the Falcons are extraordinarily tough at home.
Green Bay is better with and against the pass, while Atlanta is a better team on both sides of the ground game.
All of that said, it is just too hard to over look Matt Ryan's ridiculous record of 18-1 as a home starter.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Fans have to be excited in Buffalo, where the Bills are on a two-game roll and finally won a road game last week against the Bengals after losing 25 straight.
The Steelers continue to be in a tight race with the Baltimore Ravens for control of the AFC North.
The Bills are awful against the run, ranking 32nd in the league, but this week face a Steelers offensive line that has been decimated by injuries. I still don't think that it is going to be enough.
Expect the Steelers to play angry after being on the short side of possibly the most poorly officiated game in NFL history last week against the Raiders.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
It is debatable who is the worst team in the NFL this year between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Carolina Panthers, but based on lack of talent, I'm going to go with Carolina.
They are not even competitive in most games this year, being out cored 252-117. Head coach John Fox is going to be out at the end of the season and this is a team just coasting to finish out 2010.
The Browns are resurgent under rookie quarterback Colt McCoy, who is 2-3 as a starter, with one of those losses coming in overtime against the New York Jets.
Pick: Cleveland Browns
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants
Michael Heiman/Getty Images
The Giants have been giving me fits all year, so take this pick for what it's worth. Eli Manning had a horror show of a game last time out against the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing three picks and ending with a quarterback rating of 53.5. Ouch.
Both teams are 6-4 in close races in their respective divisions. The Jaguars have one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL with Maurice Jones-Drew, and David Garrard gives them another angle that will keep a defense on its toes.
The Giants are strong in all facets of the game this year, ranking in the top seven in all categories of team rushing and passing. I also like the game being in the colder weather and wind of the New Meadowlands.
Pick: New York Giants
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has made a mess in terms of team dynamics in Washington this year. First the whole Albert Haynesworth saga, and the latest being the benching of quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Yesterday, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf had finally seen enough as his team got pounded 31-3 by the Green Bay Packers. The Redskins have some bad losses on their resume this year including the Lions, imploding Titans and Rams.
It is hard to like the VIkings with an untested head coach and quarterback Brett Farve throwing almost twice the number of interceptions as he has touchdowns (10 TD to 17 INT).
Pick: Washington Redskins
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Marc Serota/Getty Images
What a week the Titans have had. During their overtime loss last week at the hands of the Washington Redskins, quarterback Vince Young threw just about everything that wasn't taped to his body as he left the field. This led to a locker-room altercation between head coach Jeff Fisher and Young.
In the aftermath of that incident head coach Jeff Fisher announced that Young would be relieved of his starting duties for the remainder of the season. The next day, it was announced that Young would miss the remainder of the season due to surgery to repair a tear of the flexor tendon in his thumb.
Rather than calling on proven backup quarterback Kerry Collins, the Titans have announced that they are going with rookie Rusty Smith, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic.
This move is a pretty clear indication that Tennesse is going to move Young in the offseason. Will the Titans rally around Smith? I think not and look for them to get blown out by the Texans.
Pick: Houston Texans
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Kansas City is leading the AFC West with a record of 6-4 and travels to Seattle this week to face the 5-5 Seahawks. The Chiefs' rushing combination of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones lead the NFL with an average of 164.7 yards per game.
The bad news is that the Chiefs are terrible this year on the road with a 1-4 record. Seattle is one of the more difficult places in the NFL to play and the Seahawks are 3-1 at home this year.
I want to pick Seattle, but they don't really have any quality wins this year and they have dropped three of their last four. Combine that with their struggles to put points of the board, and I'll take the visitors in this one.
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Both of these teams are coming off of bad losses last week and are .500 with 5-5 records. The Raiders got throttled by the Steelers last week in a game that saw quarterback Jason Campbell get benched. The Miami Dolphins were shut out at home against the Bears.
While the Dolphins are strong in the passing game, the Raiders defense is ranked fourth in the league in yards against the pass.
While Miami has been a good road team this year, the Raiders are also a good home team.
I don't think that Campbell's benching is going to have any lasting impact and I think that Miami's offensive troubles continue on a long West Coast trip.
Pick: Oakland Raiders
St. Louis Rams at Denver Broncos
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
St. Louis has been a bit of a surprise this year with rookie Sam Bradford leading them to a 4-6 record, while the Broncos are one of the more disappointing teams at 3-7.
Denver has lost five of their last six and the mystique of playing at Invesco Field at Mile High doesn't seem to be effecting opponents as it once had.
While Denver can throw the ball, they have zero running game, and I don't like one-dimensional teams.
Pick: St. Louis Rams
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
Nick Laham/Getty Images
A few weeks ago this game would have been more interesting, and on the surface it may be, matching up two 7-3 teams who are atop their respective divisions. Adding to this is the fact that both teams are on three-game winning streaks.
Chicago has played some great defense this year, but this week they get a huge wild card in Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick. Combining rushing and passing, Vick has scored nine touchdowns in the past three weeks with no interceptions.
The bad news for Bears fans is that it is another year of anemic offense, and the Eagles are just as good as Chicago (if not better) on defense. The Bears haven't seen anything like Vick this year and I like the Eagles on the road.
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Tampa Bay is a surprising 7-3 this year and in a three-way dog fight in the NFC South with the Saints and the Falcons. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are fighting with the Steelers for control of the AFC North. Big game on both sides.
Baltimore is undefeated at home this year and Tampa Bay has been a good road team, with a record of 4-1.
As always, the Ravens play tough defense, and it could be a long day for quarterback Josh Freeman, who has struggled at times leading the league's 22nd-ranked passing attack. You know the Ravens are going to get pressure on Freeman.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts
Chargers at Colts is this week's Sunday night special. Is there some trouble in 6-4 Indianapolis? Hard to think about, but the Colts have dropped two of their last three.
I don't put much stock in the Chargers' 5-5 record as they are notorious slow starters and have won their last three games.
I am not going to expect another three-interception performance out of Peyton Manning, and there is going to be a ton of scoring in this one as on the other side Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is having a career year.
I am going out on a bit of a limb here. I don't like picking against the Colts at home, but I like San Diego's pass defense better than the Colts.
Pick: San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Total snoozer on Monday night this week matching up two 3-7 teams in the cellar of the NFC West. Not sure who scheduled this one, but they should have gotten the memo that Kurt Warner retired.
After last week's 21-0 loss at the hands of the Buccaneers, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary said his team wasn't as prepared as it needed to be and did not make enough in-game adjustments. That's not good.
The 49ers can't score any points, but the Cardinals are atrocious on defense.
The 49ers haven't won on the road this year. Flip a coin, but based on the 49ers' road record I'm going to take Arizona.
Pick: Arizona Cardinals