Week 12 NFL Predictions
A rare thing happened in the NFL this past Sunday. A football game ended in a 13-13 tie when the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals slogged their way through an ugly 60 minutes that led to an anticlimactic overtime period.
That's not the biggest news, however. After the game, Eagles star QB Donovan McNabb admitted to not knowing that tie games occur in the NFL and was evidently confused by Andy Ried's aggressive play calling as the overtime wound to a close.
This made him the laughingstock of the media for the next week and revealed that many athletes just like McNabb didn't know about the tie rule, either. That seems plausible, but since McNabb's position demands he control the tempo of the game, it's on him to know this rule.
As the field general and leader of the Eagles, McNabb is expected to know these things. So when he makes statements to the media like that, as candid as they may be, it makes him look bad in the eyes of the media, the fans, and the neutral spectators.
When you see some of McNabb's mishaps—the slow-huddle offense against New England in the 2005 Super Bowl and him gasping for breath while trying to manage the huddle two weeks ago in a home loss to the Giants—you again see why people still struggle to put him on a plateau with Brady and Manning.
It's really this simple: Brady and Manning are generals in the huddle who take charge of the game, know all the rules, and execute the game plan perfectly.
Donovan is an athletic QB with the physical gifts to do great things at his position, but his naive comments about the OT rule and his repeated mismanagement of late-game situations show that he lacks the mental ability to see two plays ahead, block out distractions, and take command with the game on the line.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Line: Steelers by 11.5
I can't take the Steelers again, not because of the huge spread, but because I'm jaded by what happened last week.
Good thing I didn't bet money on the game, because I have never in my life seen instant replay take away a TD after the team never declined the penalty. Troy Polamalu had a last-minute TD wiped off after he scooped up an illegal forward pass off a botched lateral play from the Chargers.
The TD would have made the final score 18-10, Steelers. After a booth review, however, the official ruled that Pittsburgh had declined the penalty. But moments later, after another official whispered in his ear, he changed his story and said the penalty was upheld, and the TD didn't count.
While most of the media will just arrogantly dismiss this ruling as meaningless, don't tell that to degenerate gamblers. I wonder why the media stays away from gambling-related topics when their networks profit off the viewership of compulsive gamblers.
How dare they alienate such an important demographic! If they like, we can just take our betting elsewhere to horseracing, or boxing, or...
I'll give you the f__in score, fine! Steelers 21, Bengals 14
Houston at Cleveland
Line: Browns by 3
So, who wins in a game between a defense that can't hold a lead to save its life and a QB who melts down at the worst times possible (see the last two Colts games for further proof)? I don't know. That's like asking me to choose between a Pinto and a Kia. I guess, for the sake of argument, we'll go with the home team. Browns 27, Texans 21
Buffalo at Kansas City
Line: Bills by 3
I'm going to continue to side with Buffalo, even after last week's heartbreaking loss, which featured Rian Lindell doing his best Scott Norwood impersonation in front of a throng of disappointed home fans. I say that, because the Chiefs, despite playing hard the past few weeks, still can't find a way to win close games. Until that happens, I'm hesitant to pick them. I must say, though, "How 'bout that Tyler Thigpen?!" Bills 24, Chiefs 20
New York Jets at Tennessee
Line: Titans by 5.5
I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with the Jets' character in beating the Patriots and Bills on the road the past two weeks. Winning in Tennessee, however, will be a tall order.
I don't expect running games from either side, as both teams are terrific against the run. The difference in the game is that Tennessee's secondary, third against the pass, can cover receivers well. Plus, we all know about Brett's wildness in big games.
The Jets, on the other hand, just surrendered 400 passing yards to Matt Cassel, so there's no reason Kerry Collins, who's suddenly emerged from the dead with back-to-back 200-yard passing games, can't attack them through the air. Titans 24, Jets 21
New England at Miami
Line: Dolphins by 1
The Patriots have had a history of struggling in Miami, with last year being the exception. The teams were polar opposites; New England was the undefeated juggernaut and the Dolphins, the epic 1-15 failure.
How ironic is it, then, that both teams are tied at 6-4 and the winner jumps ahead in the AFC playoff race?
Well, the smart money is on the Dolphins, whose overwhelming defense will smother the Pats' running game and force Matt Cassel to beat them. Cassel has improved the past few weeks and has been given more freedom, but the Pats' winning formula has never been pure passing.
He'll need a 500-yard, five-TD game, or something Brady-like, to beat the Fins, who should be partying in South Beach after they move into a tie for first. Dolphins 20, Patriots 17
San Francisco at Dallas
Line: Cowboys by 10
While Dallas looked sharp, in phases, against the Redskins, I don't have confidence laying double digits on them against the Niners.
Favorites are an abysmal 1-12 when the spread is 10 points or higher, and the Niners have actually looked pretty respectable the past two weeks after Singletary bared all (This will never sound right, no matter how many times I type it). Cowboys 28, 49ers 20
Tampa Bay at Detroit
Line: Buccaneers by 8.5
This could be a tough cover for Tampa. As badly as the Lions have played, in recent weeks, they've stayed within 10 points against the Redskins, Panthers, Vikings, and Texans. The Bucs aren't a great road team and are banged up at RB. Buccaneers 26, Lions 21
Philadelphia at Baltimore
Line: Ravens by 1
Lost amidst the mass media criticism of Donovan McNabb is Andy Reid's under-coaching of this team. Reid has cost the team two close games.
He called the same running play three times on the one-yard line against Chicago and twice on a 3rd-and-short against New York.
Following the Giants loss, Ried's team came out uninspired against the Bengals, falling behind 13-3 before rallying to tie the game at the end of regulation and botching numerous chances to win the game outright.
When a team lacks leadership from the QB and coaching positions, they can't be trusted, no matter how much talent they have. Ravens 17, Eagles 14
Chicago at St. Louis
Line: Bears by 8.5
I think after last week's debacle in San Francisco, I can safely conclude that you should always pick against the Rams, no matter how big the spread is. They are hands-down the worst team in football.
I don't care if the Lions have a donut in the win column, that will change soon. Here, you have a team that can't score on offense and can't stop anyone on defense. St. Louis has lost its last three games by a combined 76 points, and there appears to be no end in sight to their unbelievable futility. Consider this a bye week for the Bears. Bears 34, Rams 10
Minnesota at Jacksonville
Line: Jaguars by 2
The Jags have been, by far, the NFL's biggest flop this year. They don't defend, they can't run the ball, and they can't pass.
The Vikings have shown signs of greatness but are consistently held back by mediocre coaching and quarterbacking. If they can establish Adrian Peterson early and often, though, they can escape Jacksonville with a rare road win. Vikings 22, Jaguars 17
Carolina at Atlanta
Line: Falcons by 1
I know they struggled with the Raiders and Lions, as Delhomme has suddenly had a complete meltdown, but those Panthers can run the football! With Stewart and DeAngelo leading the way, a divisional showdown on the road can't deter the Cardiac Cats from their 11-5 division-winning mission! Panthers 24, Falcons 23
Oakland at Denver
Line: Broncos by 9.5
Oakland finally has Russell and McFadden healthy, and as comically bad as the Raiders' offense has been, Denver's defense has been equally incompetent. They have a habit of making even the worst offenses look good, as they did against the anemic Chiefs in Week 4 and the predictable Pats in Week 7. Broncos 31, Raiders 24
Washington at Seattle
Line: Redskins by 3.5
The Redskins are in a desperate situation, but, thankfully, their opponent features a QB with a bad back and the Jones-Duckett-Morris trio that scares absolutely no one. Meanwhile, with a rested Portis, the Redskins' offense should get back in gear after taking a month off. Redskins 21, Seahawks 7
New York Giants at Arizona
Line: Giants by 3
Back in Week 4, in the Meadowlands against the Jets, Kurt Warner took a shot to the thumb. Why is this significant? He wound up fumbling the ball five times in that game.
If you have a good pass rush, and the Giants have one of the best, you can hit Warner early and often and force him into a rash of turnovers. As good as the Cards' run defense is, nobody can stop Earth, Wind, and Fire, who have combined for over 200 yards in each of the last three games. The Cards are undefeated at home, but they won't be after this week. Giants 34, Cardinals 28
Indianapolis at San Diego
Line: Chargers by 3
As much talent as the Chargers have, they have to show up at some point this year. Unfortunately for them, it appears LT just can't shake his nasty turf toe.
The defense, despite limiting the Steelers to three FGs, couldn't keep Pittsburgh's offense off the field in the 4th quarter when it mattered. If they can't slow an injured Roethlisberger, they'll have their hands full with a healthy Peyton Manning and his band of receivers. Colts 34, Chargers 31
Green Bay at New Orleans
Line: Saints by 2.5
Rolling off a 37-3 shellacking against the Bears, the Pack seems primed for a second straight win against the Saints. Green Bay has a great secondary, which doesn't bode well for the pass-happy offense of the Saints. The Pack wins in shootout fashion in what should be a festive Monday Night contest by the Bayou. Packers 38, Saints 35
Week 11 vs Spread 6-10
Week 11 Straight up 10-5-1
Season vs Spread 87-71-2
Season Straight up 99-60-1
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