NFL Week 12: Picks, Predictions and Previews
It is Thanksgiving weekend, where teams are getting ready for the closing stretch of the season, and no team has more than a one-game lead in any division, which means that every division is wide open.
Thanksgiving weekend also means that the Lions and Cowboys will be playing home games this Thursday.
This is my article for Week 12 picks. I predict a winner and the final score of every game. My record last week was 13-3, bringing my season record (through three weeks) to 29-14.
With that said, let's get started.
New England Patriots at Detroit Lions
The Lions at 2-8 haven't been winning football games, but they have played close games against several playoff contenders. This could possibly be a trap game for the Patriots, who are 8-2.
The Lions allow 130.6 rushing yards per game on defense, so look for the Patriots to run the ball with Danny Woodhead and Benjarvus Green-Ellis.
Shaun Hill could have a big day against the Patriots' secondary that has been giving up quite a few passing yards this year.
Prediction: The Patriots are the better team. However, if they aren't careful, this could turn into a trap game, because this is one of the few moments that the Lions have in the national spotlight.
Patriots 27, Lions 21
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are 3-7, but have won two in a row under interim head coach, Jason Garrett. Before Cowboys' fans run away with the idea of playoffs, they have to realize that there are six 7-3 teams in the NFC, as well as the NFC West division winner.
From here until the rest of the season, the Cowboys are playing the role of spoiler. They are finally playing like the team we thought they could be.
However, the Saints have been underperforming on offense all year and are still 7-3. The Saints' offense finally looks like they are on track, and they will crash the Cowboys' Thanksgiving party.
Saints 37, Cowboys 24
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
The Bengals' defense was supposed to be one of the better defenses in the NFL coming into the season, but they have lost seven in a row allowing more than 22 points in every single game. After their collapse last week against the Bills, I have no confidence in this teams' defense anymore.
Now they go on the road against one of the best teams in the NFL. The Jets have one of the best defenses in the NFL and will contain Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
Prediction: The Bengals make it eight losses in a row.
Jets 27, Bengals 17
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the best team that nobody is talking about. At 6-4, they are actually in first place in the AFC South. David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew lead a solid offense that has won this team three games in a row.
After such a great start, the Giants have looked unimpressive for the past two weeks against the Cowboys and Eagles. Eli Manning has been good, but extremely inconsistent, and he can't turn the ball over as much as he has.
Prediction: The Jaguars pull off the stunner on the road with Maurice Jones-Drew leading the way.
Jaguars 20, Giants 17
Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns
The Panthers haven't been a very good team in 2010, and have lost by double digits for four games in a row. They are missing DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who are the keys to their offense. Both are out with injury.
The Browns are 3-7, but have played much better over the past month. Peyton Hillis should have a big day against the Panthers' 24th-ranked rush defense.
Prediction: Sorry Panthers' fans, things don't get any better this week. The Panthers aren't that good, and the Browns are much better this year.
Browns 31, Panthers 14
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
This game is a possible playoff preview between two very good teams. Both teams are averaging over 25 points per game and are led by excellent young quarterbacks.
Expect this game to come down to the wire.
Prediction: The Falcons have been a very good home team, so I will give them the edge. Either way, the game will be close.
Falcons 23, Packers 20
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
After an 0-8 start, the Bills have won two in a row and finally seem to be building something. Let's have a reality check though: those two wins were against the Lions and Bengals. The Steelers are a much better football team than the Lions or Bengals, so this will be much easier said than done for the Bills, even at home.
The Bills have to take their offense against a defense ranked fifth in yards allowed and third in points allowed. The Steelers offense has also been much improved, and the Bills are allowing the fifth-best opposing quarterback rating in the NFL.
Prediction: This is one of the biggest mismatches of the week. Unless the Steelers get overconfident, they will pull off the win.
Steelers 20, Bills 7
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
The Texans have caught a break in that Tennessee starting quarterback Vince Young is out with injury. It is uncertain whether the Titans will be starting veteran Kerry Collins, who has been dealing with injuries, or the rookie, Rusty Smith.
However, with Chris Johnson, Randy Moss and Nate Washington, the Titans are still an explosive offense, and the Texans have had a hard time stopping anybody this year.
The Texans have an explosive offense themselves, but they have lost four in a row.
Prediction: The Vince Young injury gives the Texans enough of a break that they can get the win. It won't be easy though.
Texans 27, Titans 24
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins
The Vikings have finally made the move to fire head coach Brad Childress and name Leslie Frazier the interim head coach. Moves like this usually provide a spark for a couple of games before the team settles down again, and most reports suggest that the Vikings liked Frazier more than Childress.
The Vikings have more than enough talent to start winning games, but a certain turnover prone future Hall of Fame quarterback needs to protect the ball better for that to eventually happen. If Brett Favre can play smart football, the Vikings should easily win this game.
Prediction: A couple of turnovers by the Vikings make this game close, but the Vikings win their first game under Leslie Frazier.
Vikings 24, Redskins 21
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks
If I told you back in August that this game would be between two division leaders, you would have laughed. However, both teams are in first place of their divisions by one game.
The Seahawks have been winning games, but they have been wildly inconsistent all year. The Seahawks have a run defense that is allowing 3.9 yards per carry and they will be put to the test against Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.
Prediction: The Seahawks' inconsistencies continue to woe them.
Chiefs 27, Seahawks 14
Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders
Chad Pennington has had yet another season-ending shoulder injury, and Chad Henne might also miss this game. To put it quite simply, the Dolphins' offense looked awful against the Bears with Tyler Thigpen. The Raiders' defense isn't as good as the Bears, but the Dolphins will still have to be better on offense.
The Raiders are second in the NFL in rushing and the running game should carry them to victory.
Raiders 17, Dolphins 7
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
The Eagles have one of the most complete teams in the league. Their explosive offense can win games, like we saw against the Redskins. Their defense can hold in there and get a win when the offense struggles, like we saw against the Giants. With Michael Vick running the show, the Eagles can beat anybody in this league.
The Bears are a very good test for just how good the Eagles are. The Bears also have a very good defense, but Jay Cutler has been up and down all year.
The Bears' defense also likes to sit back in coverage, which will not work against Vick. The Bears need to blitz like the Giants did.
Prediction: The Eagles win the big showdown.
Eagles 27, Bears 24
St Louis Rams at Denver Broncos
Kyle Orton is basically the only thing not wrong with the Broncos. Their running game has been stagnant all year and their defense is allowing 28.7 points per game. The result is a 3-7 football team.
The Rams are only 4-6 themselves, but they have improved greatly and have been competitive in most of their losses.
Rams 30, Broncos 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens
The Buccaneers have looked solid all year, but they still haven't beaten a team with a winning record yet. This game is a good chance for them to prove that they belong with the elite teams in the league.
The Ravens are one of the best teams in the NFL. They can run the ball, throw the ball and play excellent defense.
Prediction: Like I said, the Bucs have not been impressive against teams with winning records. The Ravens win this one.
Ravens 24, Buccaneers 14
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts
The Chargers have always matched up well with the Colts. As a result, the Chargers have won four of the last five meetings between the two teams.
The Colts have been destroyed by injuries and have lost two of the past three. After only throwing two interceptions in the first seven games, Peyton Manning has thrown five in the past three games.
Prediction: All signs point to the Chargers winning this game. However, the Colts have been a resilient team over the years. This game should be close.
Chargers 27, Colts 23
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Normally, a game between two 3-7 teams would be meaningless to most people. However, with a struggling NFC West, both of these teams are only two games out of first place.
Since pulling off the upset against the Saints, the Cardinals have lost five games in a row. The 49ers have won two of their last three and should be able to win against the struggling Cardinals.
49ers 20, Cardinals 13