Thanksgiving week was riddled with excitement, statement games and plenty of favorites who won but couldn't quite cover. My Week 12 picks performed pretty well straight up, 12-4, but the inability of teams like Dallas, Cincinnati, New York and Pittsburgh to overcome the point spread took it's toll on my picks against the number, leading to a finish of 8-8. Combine that with a poor 7-9 over/under record, and a week of good picks quickly turned mediocre overall.
With these results, my season totals stand at:
Straight: 121-55 (69 percent)
Spread: 103-73 (59 percent)
Over/Under: 91-85 (52 percent)
This dropped my overall mark just slightly to remain right around 60 percent on the year. In order to make it to the previously set goal of 65 percent, it is going to take some serious work from here on out. Another full slate of 16 games in Week 13 provides nothing but opportunity.
Let's get it on!
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Seattle Seahawks (O/U = 44)
Most would not have predicted that these teams would both boast a 4-7 record coming into this game before the season started. Lo and behold, the Eagles have done nothing but disappoint while the Seahawks have performed pretty much to expectations. While it is tempting to bank on another tank from Andy Reid's defective group, something tells me that the Eagles will come out looking to defend their leader after chants of "Fire Andy" echoed through Philly in their Week 12 loss to New England.
Oakland Raiders (+3) at Miami Dolphins (O/U = 43)
Following a horrific start, the Dolphins have put together a string of respectable games, including a narrow loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. It is still hard to believe they are the favorite against a Raiders squad that have seized control of the AFC West since Carson Palmer came to town sporting a three-game win streak coming in. Miami will fall back to earth quickly here as the Raiders continue to roll.
Indianapolis Colts (+20.5) at New England Patriots (O/U = 49.5)
No, that is not a mistake; that really says 20-and-a-half points. This is the largest spread in recent history, and rightfully so. The Colts have shown little desire to win before last week's game, and let's face it, they still lost to arguably the worst team in the NFC in the Panthers.
The Pats, on the other hand, have hit their stride, and have solidified themselves in the exclusive group of top tier offenses this season. It would take a small miracle for the Colts to keep this anywhere near close. Even a spread that wide isn't enough for Caldwell and Curtis.
Straight: New England
Spread: New England
Tennessee Titans (+1.5) at Buffalo Bills (O/U = 43.5)
The Bills finally looked to regain some life in Week 12, only to lose a close one at the end to Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Tennessee also got a bit of a jump start in a breakout performance from RB Chris Johnson. CJ2K exploded for 190 yards in the rain, and if he could have only held on to the ball, they would have handled Tampa by more than the seven points they eventually won by.
At just two games behind a Houston squad who are grasping at straws at the quarterback position, the Titans likely feel a renewed urge to fight for the playoffs. The Bills chances took a big hit in that loss last week, and the momentum discrepancy will show here.
Kansas City Chiefs (+7.5) at Chicago Bears (O/U = 36.5)
This game is somewhat ironic in the the fact that both clubs have lost their starting quarterback and are currently in recovery mode with fill-ins at the most crucial position on the field. Chicago, with Caleb Hanie, continue to fight for a Wild Card spot in the NFC playoffs, while the Chiefs are just fighting to stay above water.
It is unclear if KC will remain with Tyler Palko or throw newly-acquired Kyle Orton from Denver into the mix, but against a Bears defense that will be licking their chops at the unavoidable lack of experience, the Chiefs will continue to slide at Soldier Field.
Denver Broncos (+1) at Minnesota Vikings (O/U = 37)
In what is becoming a sequence of somewhat unbelievable events, the historically polarizing Tim Tebow pulled out yet another win in Week 12, this time in OT against San Diego. Tebow continues to prove doubters wrong while putting up passing numbers similar to a rocket football backup.
All joking aside, winning games is what it all comes down to, and Tebow is showing that regardless of the level, he is able to will his team to do just that. Minnesota has pretty much nothing to play for at this point, and Tebow still, somehow, has everything to prove even though he has already shown he is worthy against much better opponents than the Vikes.
New York Jets (-3) at Washington Redskins (O/U = 38)
Both of these teams showed some serious ups and downs in Week 12, but were also both able to pull out victories in games they looked destined to lose at many points. Mark Sanchez looked quite pitiful for a majority of the first half, yet somehow managed a career high four TD passes.
The Redskins looked equally ineffective until a late bomb by Rex Grossman gave them just enough momentum to get over the hump against Seattle. It has become increasingly difficult to read both of these groups at this point in the season, but the fact that the Jets still have something to play for should motivate their defense enough to put Sexy Rexy on the ground regularly in a win.
Straight: New York
Spread: New York
Cincinnati Bengals (+6.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (O/U = 42)
The first game between these two in Week 10 lived up to some lofty expectations and wasn't decided until a late interception thrown by Bengal QB Andy Dalton. Don't expect this one to disappoint, either. The Bengals have wavered a bit since that loss, dropping another close one to Baltimore and barely pulling out a defensive victory against the lowly Browns.
The Steelers didn't look spectacular either, winning by just four against a poor Kansas City team on MNF following a bye. A combination of strenuous scheduling for Cinci along with a walk in the clouds for Pittsburgh since that matchup will probably be enough for the Steelers to pull this out at home, but expect the feisty young Bengals to put up a fight nonetheless.
Carolina Panthers (+3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (O/U = 48.5)
The Panthers were able to take home win No. 3 on the season in a Week 12 victory over the lowly Colts. The Bucs enter on a five-game losing streak and look to turn it around against the only team beneath them in the NFC South. It is arguable which of these two defenses has actually been worse this season, and viewers should be treated to an offensive showcase featuring rookie QB Cam Newton and punishing RB LeGarette Blount.
The Carolina offense has shown the ability to dominate below average defenses to this point, and this should continue against TB.
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Houston Texans (O/U = 39)
The Falcons have won five of their last six as they continue to push toward an NFC playoff spot, and with a fairly weak schedule to close out the year, they look to be in position to do so without much difficulty.
The Texans, having already lost QB Matt Schaub for the season, were stricken with even more bad luck, as replacement Matt Lienart was knocked out with an injury in his first game at the helm in Week 12. The Texans will now turn to rookie T.J. Yates to carry the torch as they look to hold on to a two-game lead in the AFC South.
This should be a close one, but the Falcons solidarity will help them eek it out.
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Cleveland Browns (O/U = 37.5)
The second AFC North matchup of the week features the first-place Ravens traveling to Cleveland to face off against the last place Browns. Baltimore handled business on Thanksgiving Day against the 49ers, and Ravens fans are likely apprehensive about this one in a year plagued by inconsistency.
Cleveland was able to keep it close against a talented Cinci team in Week 12, but back-to-back tough opponents will be too much for Colt McCoy to handle. Ravens dominate on the road in this one.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) at Arizona Cardinals (O/U = 45.5)
As Dallas looks to maintain control of the AFC East, the Cardinals have surprisingly won three of their last four and are simply trying to close out the season with a little dignity. Rookie DB Patrick Peterson has proven well worth his high selection in the draft, evening himself with Devin Hester for the all-time single season punt return touchdown record at four.
If he is able to take another one to the house against Dallas, then it could provide enough of a spark at home for the Cards to steal the game, but the more likely scenario involves Dallas putting up a ton of points against an otherwise porous defense.
St. Louis Rams (+13) at San Francisco 49ers (O/U = 38)
San Fran suffered just their second defeat of the season over the holiday against a formidable Ravens squad, a loss which in no way diminishes the stellar season they have put together. The 49er defense has yet to allow a single rushing touchdown through 11 games, a remarkable statistic which simply cannot be overstated.
The Rams have scored the least points of any team in the NFL. There isn't much else you need to know. Expect a single digit game for the lamest show on turf, but getting 13 points against an SF team which has struggled offensively at times may be just enough.
Straight: San Francisco
Spread: St. Louis
Green Bay Packers (-7) at New York Giants (O/U = 53)
The Packers continue to roll while the Giants progress down an absurdly brutal stretch to finish out the year. While it has been said that coach Tom Coughlin is not in danger of losing his job, that tone may very well change if the Pack put a hurt on the G-Men at home.
Aaron Rodgers' offense is averaging nearly 35 points per game to this point, so taking the under is a bad call moving forward, even if the number is 50+. This one could turn into a shootout between the cheesehead signal caller and Eli Manning, so be sure to tune in if you like points.
Straight: Green Bay
Spread: Green Bay
Detroit Lions (+9) at New Orleans Saints (O/U = 54.5)
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh officially blew his top on Thanksgiving when he was caught stomping a Green Bay lineman en route to an ejection and eventual suspension. That suspension will cause Suh to miss this important matchup for Detroit and will create a noticeable void on their usually strong defensive front. The last thing you want to do is make things easier on Drew Brees, and it's likely the raging big man will only be kicking himself after this one.
Detroit's offense can put up points, and may be able to hang for a while, but eventually that Saint offensive machine will be too much to handle.
Straight: New Orleans
San Diego Chargers (-2.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (O/U = 39)
Things have clearly reached a new low in San Diego when they are less than a field goal favorite against a three win Jacksonville team. If the Bolts can't pull this one out, then don't expect Norv Turner to make it to Tuesday night as the club's head coach. Having lost six games in a row coming in, it is remarkable that Turner has held that title even this long.
Fortunately for him and SD, Jacksonville is awful and actually did fire their head coach, Jack Del Rio, following Week 12. Even winning this game probably wont secure Norv's job at the end of the season, but at least it will be a stay of execution.
Straight: San Diego
Spread: San Diego
Many playoff implications are scattered throughout these matchups, especially in the AFC, where there is still a whole lot up for grabs. Expect some teams to come out hungry as the season takes the turn down the home stretch, and others to look nonchalant as they have likely accepted their season's fruitless future.