Earlier in the week, I listed the eight most predictable NFL Week 12 winners in a slideshow with lengthy commentary explaining the picks. I now make a simple list of the eight least predictable outcomes (from eight—most predictable, to one—least) with short explanations to save time:
8. New York Giants over Washington Offensively-Named Ones
Division games and rivalries are always hard to predict, as are games with either of these teams. Washington has beaten the Packers and Bears and lost to the Lions and Rams. New York has manhandled the Bears and lost to the Cowboys. You never know who will turn the ball over in this game, but the Giants are a far better team at home, and have more at stake.
7. Chicago Bears over Detroit Lions
Chicago needed an overly legalistic reading of a rule to beat the Lions at home, but they are not the same team now. This is a very losable game, but sorry, Packers fans, it is likely Green Bay will have to win the rematch at Lambeau to even the record with Chicago; on the other hand, that is likely to happen, and doing that will almost certainly be enough to win the division.
6. St. Louis Rams over Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis would not even be in the running for any other division, let alone leading it. But they are now playing the worst team in the worst division, so a win is likely even on the road.
5. Baltimore Ravens over Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore is the only team in the league with so many quality road wins, including over these Steelers. They are now at home and Ben Roethlisberger is hobbled...the Ravens should get their first season sweep of their rivals in years.
4. Miami Dolphins over Cleveland Browns
Both teams have their best quarterbacks in, but not in their best condition. Both teams are solid and competitive with any team in the league. When the matchup is close, go with the home team.
3. New England Patriots over New York Jets
The Jets match up very well against the Patriots, and neither team has been especially impressive in some of their wins. But the Patriots have been playing nearly to their full potential, and the Jets are still living off the offseason hype. Ironically, because New England matches up better against the Bears (who both of these rivals play in Chicago) than the Jets do, even with a loss they could win the division.
2. Atlanta Falcons over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is no joke and Atlanta (who may have a letdown after their big win over Green Bay) has to lose sometime—this is the last road team with a winning record they face. But there is no doubt the Falcons are a better team.
1. Tennessee Titans over Jacksonville Jaguars
On paper, the Titans are much better. Assuming Kerry Collins is able to play near 100 percent, I see them beating the overachieving Jaguars at home.