NFL Picks: Week 12
I'm 29-14 in my NFL picks so far this season (I started publishing my picks well after the regular season started).
Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3)
I picked the Steelers to win this one before the game started Thursday evening.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-1) at Baltimore Ravens (6-4)
Brian Westbrook's status for the game is a question mark. But even if he plays, he's one man against an entire bloodthirsty defense. Needless to say, that won't go over well for the Eagles.
The Ravens have one the league's best rush offenses, but the Eagles have one of the NFL's best rush defenses. I like the Ravens in this x-factor matchup.
Houston Texans (3-7) at Cleveland Browns (4-6)
This game will probably boil down to a receiving duel between Houston's Andre Johnson and Cleveland's Braylon Edwards, with Texans RB Steve Slaton's status uncertain. With that in mind, I like the Browns because Brady Quinn is better than Sage Rosenfels. Plus, I just have a gut feeling that the Browns will win this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) at Detroit Lions (0-10)
The Lions' underrated offense, led by veteran QB Daunte Culpepper, could surprise the Bucs' top defense. It sure did a number on the Panthers' top-10 defense last week. But I'm confident that the Bucs will be able to keep up with the Lions' offense if Detroit comes out firing.
Jeff Garcia is one of the most underrated, least talked-about field generals in the NFL, and Warrick Dunn is more than capable of starting in place of Earnest Graham, the team's starter who is out for the rest of the year.
Plus, Joey Galloway is back, giving Tampa Bay yet another offensive weapon.
Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-9)
As bad as the Bills have been lately, they should still be able to notch a victory against the Chiefs—losers of six straight.
Chicago Bears (5-5) at St. Louis Rams (2-8)
Kyle Orton returns this week, and he should steady the Bears' offense. With the offense on the field more, Chicago's defense should be better rested, too. And the Rams are now so bad that the 49ers beat them 35-16 last week (SF had a lead as big as 35-3 in that game).
New York Jets (7-3) at Tennessee Titans (10-0)
The only true edge that the Jets might have in this game is Brett Favre. But he's likely to throw an interception or two; and while the Jets defend the run well, they aren't nearly as good at pass defense. And we've seen how Kerry Collins can deliver those beautiful deep throws.
New England Patriots (6-4) at Miami Dolphins (6-4)
The Dolphins caught the Pats by surprise with the Wildcat offense in Week Three. But Bill Belichick has vowed that his team will be ready for it this time, and you've gotta think that he really will find a way to stop it. Plus, the Matt Cassel-led offense has vastly improved since the last meeting between these teams.
Minnesota Vikings (5-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)
The Vikings are just as effective at stopping the run as they are at running the ball. The Jags can't win unless they're able to run well, and they won't be able to in this game.
San Francisco 49ers (3-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-4)
Tony Romo has returned, and the Cowboys' offense is back to its entirety—and then some. Not to mention that the 'Boys have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The 49ers have lost seven of their past eight games, and the lone win in that stretch is last week's blowout victory over the Rams. But that's the Rams.
Oakland Raiders (2-8) at Denver Broncos (6-4)
The Raiders don't stand a chance of containing Denver's high-octane offense, and Oakland's offense likely won't be able to keep up with the Broncos' attack, despite the fact that Denver has one of the worst defenses in the league.
Carolina Panthers (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
It's very tough to pick against the Falcons this week. They're playing at home, where they're 4-1 on the year. In addition, they're going to be more desperate than many think.
If they lose this game, their chances of winning the division, or of getting a wild card, go waaaaaaay down. They simply can't afford to lose this game. But I'm going to pick against them anyway.
Maybe it's just my confidence in my team's ability to win this game against all odds, or maybe it's my lack of confidence in the Falcons to keep their composure in a game of this magnitude coming off a crushing, last-second loss.
New York Giants (9-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-3)
Both team's primary offensive and defensive strengths offset each other. Whoever wins the Cardinals' pass defense vs. Giants' pass offense battle will win.
For the record, the Cardinals rank 16th in league in pass defense (210.8 yards per game), and the Giants rank 19th in the NFL in pass offense (199.8). But the Cards' secondary isn't particularly good.
Looks like the Giants have the edge in the passing game, and in the game overall.
Washington Redskins (6-4) at Seattle Seahawks (2-8)
Clinton Portis claims he'll play. Just his presence on the field should keep the Seahawks' pedestrian defense honest, which will help Jason Campbell. Washington's defense shouldn't have much trouble shutting Seattle's offense down.
Indianapolis Colts (6-4) at San Diego Chargers (4-6)
The Colts' pass defense is better, so I'm going with them in a shootout win.
Green Bay Packers (5-5) at New Orleans Saints (5-5)
The Packers' pass defense is No.3 in the league, and passing is all the Saints can do to have a shot at winning. Plus, New Orleans' pass defense is awful, and Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 2,351 yards, good for eighth among NFL quarterbacks in a season that has been chock full of great quarterback play.
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