NFL Picks: Betting Predictions for Every Week 14 Game

Barbara Bruno@allprofootballContributor IIDecember 8, 2011

NFL Picks: Betting Predictions for Every Week 14 Game

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    With only four weeks left in the 2011 NFL season, it's time to make those picks count.


    Picks Record Through Week 13

    Straight Up: 129-62 (Of the experts I’ve seen, only CBS’ Clark Judge has a better record at 130 wins. I’ve got all of the ESPN folks beat—except the computers. There’s a lesson there, I think.) 

    Against the Spread: 110-81

    Over/Under: 98-93 (I guess this isn’t my forte)

    And we'll begin with Thursday Night Football.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers: Thursday Night Football

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    Straight up: Pittsburgh

    Against the Spread: Pittsburgh -13.5 (I would not go over two TDs)

    Over/Under: Over 38.5 (the weather should be partly cloudy and 30ish degrees, so it shouldn’t have much effect. I’m not confident about this, since the recent numbers would suggest a score of about 34 total. But I think that Pittsburgh will probably run all over Cleveland.)

    The poor Cleveland Browns. First Baltimore and now Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh. It just doesn’t seem fair.

    Pittsburgh absolutely dismantled the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday. And the Bengals are better than the Browns. Yeah, the truth hurts.

    Ben Roethlisberger is truly playing the QB position at an atmospheric level. And I can’t stand the guy, so you know he’s good. And he’s done it all while being sacked 34 times this year. I don’t even wish that on No. 7.

    My only ray of hope would be that the Browns have a terrific passing D. Normally, that would not matter against a Pittsburgh team, but this year it’s the new high-flying passing Pittsburgh Steelers.*

    Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace will have to face Joe Haden. I don’t know which one will see more of the Browns’ excellent corner, but neither will be happy with the result.

    Of course, if I were Mike Tomlin, I wouldn’t be throwing against that secondary. I’d be running Mendenhall until he keeled over against a very weak Browns’ rushing D.

    And when he passes out, give the ball to backup Isaac Redman for more of the same. The Browns gave up 290 yards on the ground last week to Ray Rice and Ricky Williams. Ouch.

    Offensively, the Browns simply must try to run the football in their own right. According to, coach Pat Shurmur said he didn’t use second-string RB Montario Hardesty last week because he wanted him fresh for this game. I don’t even know where to start commenting on that logic.  

    I do hope it works, though, because starting power back Peyton Hillis has a hurt hip. Great. Well, maybe plucky practice-squader Chris Ogbannaya will have a shot again.

    Meanwhile, the Browns’ embattled QB, Colt McCoy, enters the game with a bum shoulder and a sprained knee. He’s starting to remind me of a choirboy version of the Monty Python knight.

    *Hines Ward is 10 catches away from 1,000 receptions.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars: Early Sunday Football Games

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    Straight Up: Tampa Bay

    Against the Spread: Tampa Bay -.5

    Over/Under: Under 38 (cloudy and in the 60s).

    As sad as the Jaguars’ offense has been, Tampa Bay’s defense has given up an average of 32 points over the past three weeks. Of course that was versus some good offenses.

    The Bucs are racking up almost 100 more total yards per game than the Jaguars and over 100 more passing yards per game. By the way, starting QB Josh Freeman should be back under center. Yikes.

    That should continue, I’m sorry to tell JAX fans. The Jaguars’ secondary will be manned by a bunch of people that no one has ever heard of, thanks to ongoing injuries. That will disable a heretofore good defense.

    And there is no passing offense in Jacksonville. I mean, at all.

    Ah, but the Jaguars have Maurice Jones-Drew. To say that he is the cornerstone of the offense is to say that Aaron Rodgers can throw the ball a little. Monday night, MJD finished the game with over 90 rushing yards and over 90 receiving yards.

    And that, folks, was the offense. (Well, except for that awesome reception and run by O-lineman Guy Whimper. May be they should give him the ball more often.)

    Thank heavens there is that one bright spot. Otherwise, the team was just sold to a guy from Illinois and nobody knows whether or not Blaine Gabbert is a bust or just slow on the growth curve. No one knows who the next coach will be. It’s chaos.

    That’s great news for a Tampa Bay franchise that has had one of its most disappointing seasons since the 70s. And speaking of the 70s, who on earth decided that going back to those peach uniforms was a good idea? Excuse me, why wear something that your team never won in? Never.

    The 70s Bucs were such a joke that comedian George Burns, who had just played the Almighty in “Oh God,” sent the team a telegram on their first franchise win: “Congratulations. You have to win the next one on your own.”

    And can we talk about that Buccaneers’ D? How do you let even awesome Cam Newton score three times on the run. I mean, we all knew he was going to get the ball, right? Yes, I know that half of your team is on IR. Still.

    By the way, extreme kudos to Raheem Morris, who literally told a player to go home after a costly “unnecessary roughness” penalty. Maybe Jim Schwarz should try that in Detroit.

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Straight Up: Houston

    Against the Spread: Houston +2.5

    Over/Under: Over 37.5 (sunny and in the 40s)

    I think it’s time for Kellen Clemens to retire. He got pushed out of New York, was unemployed and has now been let go without a single game snap by the Texans. Ouch. Coach Gary Kubiak has just signed Jeff Garcia as his new third QB. Wow.

    Well, if mentoring can help, young QB T.J. Yates will be a star. He’s got Matt Schaub, Jeff Garcia, Jake Delhomme and Matt Leinart to help him. Wow again.

    I’ve written quite a bit about how much I like Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton. I think this whole team is on the rise. It’s not fatal that they got creamed by Pittsburgh last week—it’s expected.

    This contest will be a better test, especially for the Cincy run D. Texans rushers Arian Foster and Ben Tate are blowing everyone away. The Bengals have given up an average of 125 yards per game on the ground in the past month. Oh dear.

    Although Houston’s formerly aerial offense has been grounded of late, they are an efficient bunch. In the last three weeks, the Texans have only passed for 179 yards per game and gained a total of 324 yards each week. But they have turned that into almost 25 points.

    The Bengals have gained 368 yards per game in the same time period and scored only 18 points. Hmmm.

    I’m taking Houston.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins

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    Straight Up: New England

    Against the Spread: New England -7.5

    Over/Under:  Over 47.5

    Redskins TE Fred Davis will be missing from the lineup for the rest of the season after testing positive for as-yet-unnamed substances. He was having his best year as a pro and I hope that it’s not all the result of cheating. His backup will be Logan Paulsen, who started the year third on the depth chart. I'm thinking this is not a good sign.

    For the past month, the Redskins offense has achieved 50 fewer total yards than the Patriots offense per game. And 12.3 fewer points. You see the problem.

    Without TE Fred Davis and O-lineman Trent Williams, I do not see things improving for the Washington O.

    Defensively, star Safety LaRon Landry has an Achilles injury that kept him out last week for the ‘Skins. That could be the tipping point for any hope of a Redskins’ victory against Tom Brady.

    New England has scored almost 35 points per game in the last month and given up less than 16. Yes, that will win you the division.

    I will be cheering for my boys—and they did play quite well against the Jets—but I have to go with the Patriots and their killer instinct.

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

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    Straight Up: Atlanta

    Against the Spread: Atlanta -2.5

    Over/Under: Over 48 (it will be sunny and high 40s on Sunday. Cool. It’s also a break for the dome Falcons.)

    Atlanta has defensive injuries at all three levels. Great news for Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Smith and Legdedu Naanee.

    In case you missed the hoopla, Cam Newton just broke the record for rushing TDs in a season by a quarterback. Bet that’s chapping Michael Vick’s hide. Can we just go ahead and hand the kid ROY?

    The bad news for Carolina is that it also has a bunch of defensive injuries.

    Both teams have spent the season losing to the good teams and winning against the weaker teams. One would expect this of the Panthers with their hurt D and a rookie QB.

    I’m more concerned about a Falcons team that should be competing decisively in the NFC South and isn’t the threat to New Orleans that they need to be.

    I think that this contest boils down to whether or not Atlanta can run the ball. Last week they managed a paltry 70 yards on the ground.

    The Falcons should be able to rush the football. They have two excellent RBs and the defense can’t crowd the box with Roddy White running around in their secondary. In fact, there is no excuse for Atlanta not running the ball well.

    Except, of course, for that offensive line. I heard a bunch of analysts talking about how much better they’ve gotten recently. Really? Then why does Matt Ryan look like he’s getting nervous back there and forcing throws?

    I’m not convinced, but they should be able to score on the Panthers’ D without too much difficulty.

    It will help if rookie WR Julio Jones would catch the game-winning TD pass that Matt Ryan throws to him.

New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans

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    Straight Up: New Orleans

    Against the Spread: New Orleans -3.5

    Over/Under: Over 48, but not by a lot. (Sunny and 40s. Huge break for the indoor Saints.)

    Over the season, New Orleans has scored almost nine points less on grass. And they don’t defend the run as well on grass. In fact, this dome team doesn’t defend anything as well on grass.

    Those stats favor the Titans. Chris Johnson’s return to the ranks of functioning running backs helps the Titans. I have to give him credit: In the postgame presser, he thanked the offensive passing for carrying the team until he could get going. Gracious of him to admit it.

    This game has to come down to which defense can stop the opposing QB. The problem for Tennessee is that its WRs are the JV team when compared to Drew Brees’ weapons.

    The only way for Tennessee to win is defensive turnovers and for Johnson to rush for 200 yards. These things are possible.

    But, as much as I love Matt Hasselbeck and wish him success, I can’t see Brees losing this game or winning by less than a TD.

Philadelphia Eagles at Miami Dolphins

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    Straight Up: Miami

    Against the Spread: Miami -2.5

    Over/Under: Under 45.5 (The under has won 10 out of 11 times in the past 11 Miami games.)

    Everyone is so excited that Michael Vick is back. Not so fast. First of all, Vick isn’t that great coming off of no practice, and secondly, the Miami defense is very good.

    In four of the last five games, the Dolphins have allowed 15 or fewer points. I certainly don’t expect a shutout, but Andy Reid had better utilize RB LeSean McCoy early and often to get the offense clicking.

    Even then, it won’t be easy, because Miami has given up only two rushing TDs—all year. Really.

    Things may not be much smoother for pass-catching TE Brent Celek, who is coming off a very disappointing outing in Seattle. But Michael Vick uses Celek the same way that Tony Romo uses Jason Witten—as a safety outlet. So his receptions should go up. At least in the second half after Vick gets his game legs back.

    With Jeremy Maclin hurt, WR Riley Cooper will get a chance to catch passes from the No. 1 Philly QB. Watch to see how good that timing is.

    The happiest person in Eagles’ green this week has to be WR DeSean Jackson, who will hopefully use Vick’s return to get his own sad season back on track.

    The Miami offense/Philly defense will be a less predictable matchup. QB Matt Moore, RB Reggie Bush and WR Brandon Marshall have some legitimate juice. They just got started late in the year.

    Brandon Marshall should have a big day against a Philly passing D that made Seahawks WR Golden Tate look like Jerry Rice.

    Meanwhile, the Eagles’ D has had it rough this year. To put it mildly. Between the all-stars, the baby LBs and the talented but sometimes uneven D-line, you just never know what to expect.

    Rumor has it that Andy Reid can keep his job if he throws new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo under the bus. That would be dishonorable to say the least (although hardly surprising from Reid and this front office). Talk about being set up. That’s what you get for trusting Andy Reid to have your back. Just ask Donovan McNabb.


Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens

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    Straight Up: Baltimore

    Against the Spread: Indianapolis + 16.5

    Over/Under: Over 40.5 Only because the over is 9-4 for Baltimore in their last 13 games. And it will be clear weather. Lucky Indy. Well, relatively…for terms of weather…you know.

    I know. I’m pushing my luck hoping Indy can win ATS two weeks in a row. But I hate giving up more than two TDs.

    So, do we think it will be Dan Orlovsky under center for Indy? I hope so. He turned in a respectable showing against the Patriots last week. The backup’s backup went 30-of-37 passing for 353 yards, two TDs and one INT. Pierre Garcon had 150 yards in receptions. Not bad against a defense that is better than people think.

    Unfortunately, the success didn’t spread to the running game. Donald Brown managed only 41 yards total. Joseph Addai’s hamstring is still bothering him, so we’ll probably see Brown again this week.

    I was hoping that Baltimore would have a letdown last week against Cleveland. Didn’t happen. So I doubt that they will have one at home against Indy.

    Everyone keeps complaining about the Ravens offense. Over the last three weeks they have scored almost 24 points per game, while the defense has given up less than 14. That sounds like a comfortably winning formula to me.

    Beleaguered Indy is of course the “through the looking glass” version of those stats: less than 16 points on offense and 25 points on defense.

    So, I think that is about what the score will be: Indy 14-17 and Baltimore 24-28. That’s not more than two touchdowns.

    Unless Ray Rice and Ricky Williams decide to run for almost 300 yards again. In theory, this is possible since the Colts’ run D is on par with Cleveland’s.

    The Indy passing D has been decent in the past month, giving up an average of less than 200 yards per contest. That’s not bad when one of the teams you played against was New England.

    I’ll stay out on that limb with Indy for now.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

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    Straight Up: Detroit

    Against the Spread: Detroit -7.5  No higher.

    Over/Under: Over 48  IF, and only if, the Vikings get Adrian Peterson back in the lineup.

    The Vikings put on a much better performance on Sunday that I would have thought, and rookie QB Christian Ponder took an observable step forward on the growth curve. He led his offense to 32 points against an excellent Denver D. This rookie threw for 381 yards and three TDs.

    Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are self-destructing before our eyes over the last couple of weeks. Fifty-eight yards in penalties in three quarters on Sunday night.

    That’s ridiculous when you have a tough defense, a veteran O-line, several good ball-catchers, and a man who can throw the ball 60 yards with a flick of his wrist and only four working fingers.

    Matthew Stafford has to spend so much time trying to dig out of a hole that we forget how talented he truly is. But can we get him to shave? What is that supposed to be, anyway? Sexy? I am here to tell you—it’s not.

    I can also tell you that if Nate Burleson gets one more offensive pass interference call, Stafford is going to kill him, and if any more young players get bone-headed penalties of any kind, those veteran O-linemen are going to kill them.

    Lions RB Kevin Smith is questionable again after re-injuring his right ankle in Week 13. I hope he can go because he seems to deserve a chance at some consistent success. He is certainly talented.

    If he cannot play, once again the Lions are down to an older but rested back in Maurice Morris and a talented younger guy, Keiland Williams, who is averaging 3.4 yards when he does get carries and has scored two TDs.

    Both of these teams have shown great heart and great weaknesses. Detroit’s is its discipline and the Vikings’ is a rookie QB and a weak O-line.

    Despite that O-line and young passer and the absence in the past two weeks of star RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota has averaged 22.3 points per game over the last month. That is not bad. Of course, if Christian Ponder’s hip pointer keeps him out of action, things could change.

    The Lions do better with an average of 27 points, but the Minnesota defense has only been giving up 28.7 points in the same time period.

    Detroit has given up 31 points per weekend recently. Of course, they did play Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in that time period, so we have to cut them some slack there.

    Overall, I think that Detroit has been in disarray since Thanksgiving and I think the Vikings are steadily improving. I give the Lions the win at home, but I think it might be closer than many think.

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets

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    Straight Up: New York

    Against the Spread: New York -8.5

    Over/Under:  Over 36.5 (Sunny and lovely. If the Chiefs had an offense I’d take 50 points.)

    If the New York Jets defense looks out onto the field Sunday, they may be looking at a younger and feistier version of themselves. Do not sell this Chiefs’ D short.

    The Jets defense finally regained some of its form last week. They had a three-turnover game against the Redskins. OK, we’ll take that with a grain of salt, but it’s not as if the Chiefs offense is anything to shout about.

    Can I just take a moment to applaud New York LB Aaron Maybin? Roundly considered a bust and run out of Buffalo on a rail, this young man is turning into an excellent defensive player for New York. And good for Rex and the front office for finding a diamond in the trash bin.

    Dwayne Bowe appeared to be headed toward success with new QB Tyler Palko, but then it all just faded away, like the rest of KC’s offensive production. I wonder if Kyle Orton’s finger will permit him to play. Gosh—it couldn’t be much worse.

    The Chiefs will have to throw the ball since their only good RB is scatback Dexter McCluster. McCluster is obviously a significant talent (with apparently super-human powers of concentration), but he’s not an every-down back. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up on YouTube.

    I had high hopes for KC runner Jackie Battle to come in and shine in the power position. But he’s really fizzled, leaving Thomas Jones as the big back. I’ve always liked Jones, but he’s, well, old.

    I’m sure Mark Sanchez will have seen enough tape on the Brandons at CB for KC to know that he could be in for a long day. That’s Brandon Carr, right cornerback, and Brandon Flowers, left cornerback.

    Let’s not turn Sanchez into the Donovan McNabb of the New York fans. He is not a bad QB. In fact, he has led nine game-winning drives since September of 2010. And that, folks, is a NFL record.

    And what the heck happened to the Jets’ running game? They found one! If, and I’m not sold yet, RB Shonn Greene can keep up his performance from last Sunday I may be forced to revise my low opinion of him. Greene carried the ball 22 times for 88 yards—and three TDs.  

Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos: Late Sunday Football Games

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    Straight Up: Denver

    Against the Spread: Denver -3.5

    Over/Under:  Under 35.5 (Sunny and 40s. Da Bears won’t know how to behave in such pretty weather. Of course, they won’t be able to breathe from the altitude so that should give them their usual level of discomfort. This is awfully low for a good-weather game, but neither team can score big numbersthat aberration in Minnesota aside).

    No Matt Forte. No Jay Cutler. No win.

    This game will seem to be all about Tim Tebow and his ongoing winning ways. But in fact it will be about how Matt Forte’s knee will decide the Bears’ season and the shakeout of the entire National Football Conference.

    Unless Marion Barber and Khalil Bell can combine to make one Forte, Chicago is done.

    Barber and Bell might be able to do it, but then you have to worry about that whole Caleb-Hanie-as-QB thing. Yeah. I’m sorry, guys. You’re toast. Unless Devin Hester starts scoring 21 points per game.

    If the Bears aren’t contenders, then the door is open for the Giants and Cowboys to both make the playoffs. Or even Atlanta.

    Despite its excellent defense, public focus will remain on Denver's QB. So will the Bears' focus. I mean, how else do you say it? Tebow left, right and up the middle. My best advice is to cover Eric Decker and put everyone else in the box.

    Tebow did start passing more last week: 10-of-15 and two TDs. So, maybe put one guy deep and one guy over the slot receiver. And everyone else in the box.

    Football purists will hide their eyes. None of this game will appear on any football “how to” tape. But I’m betting that everyone who can get this game on TV or has a bar nearby will be watching. Yeah, me too.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

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    Straight Up: San Francisco

    Against the Spread: San Francisco -3.5

    Over/Under: Over 40

    Well, the Niners have clinched the NFC West, so I’m not sure how much more they have to worry about other than injury. It will be one of those “keep the edge or rest your guys” philosophical debates.

    I would not be surprised to see Frank Gore resting the entire second half.

    Kevin Kolb had a decent showing last week and La Rod Stephens-Howling continues to be Darren Sproles junior.

    A couple of hints for San Fran:

    1)      do not kick the ball to Patrick Peterson

    2)      do not leave Larry Fitzgerald open

    3)      don’t ignore Beanie Wells. He is averaging almost five yards per carry and has nine TDs. And he’s been hurt part of this season.

    4)     watch out for that little No. 36

    Otherwise, just proceed as normal: A heavy dose of Frank Gore punctuated with passes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. Sprinkle in a little spice with changeup runner Kendall Hunter. Blend with frightening defense. Bake til victory.

    About all I can say for the Cardinals these days is that they at least don’t look like the punching bags of last year. Patrick Peterson, Beanie Wells, Jay Feely and Larry Fitzgerald have instilled some pride and backbone in Arizona. The jury is out on Kolb.

Buffalo Bills at San Diego Chargers

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    Straight Up: San Diego

    Against the Spread: San Diego -5.5

    Over/Under: Under 47.5. Hmmm. The under is 9-1 in San Diego’s last 10 home games. Odd, huh?

    Oh, do we have to watch this one? Can’t we not and say we did?

    Talk about a dual collapse.

    Yes, I know that the Chargers stomped all over the Jaguars on Monday night. But I have to admit that my mind began to wander there in the second half. No one loves football better than I, but that was one sorry game.

    Oh well, Philip Rivers got back on track with 294 yards and three TDs. Even Ryan Mathews managed over 100 yards.

    In theory, the Chargers should easily beat the slumping Bills in Southern California. But then, in theory, they should be atop the AFC West.

    I don’t know how much hope San Diego can take from beating Jacksonville. The Jags had so many DB injuries that they were effectively playing the ball boys in their secondary.

    Buffalo’s ailing defense isn’t much better: It's given up almost 29 points on average every week for a month.

    Offensively, no one took them seriously anyway—and then Fred Jackson got hurt. Even red-zone target TE Scott Chandler is questionable now.

    I expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to connect with Stevie Johnson for one TD. Other than that, it will be hit or miss.

    My only concern about San Diego (well, other than their self-destructive psyches) is that the entire O-line is either on IR or questionable. Gee—no wonder Rivers isn’t having a good year!

Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers

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    Straight Up: Green Bay

    Against the Spread: Green Bay -11.5

    Over/Under: Over 51.5  (Sunny and in the 30s. Heck, bring out the bikinis!)

    Let me clarify on this O/U pick: Green Bay’s pass D isn’t spectacular and Charles Woodson has a concussion and might not play. 

    Will Oakland have any WRs back from injury? It doesn't look like it.

    It would help the Raiders if short-tempered D-lineman Richard Seymour could manage to not be ejected. (In fact, he is under review for a possible suspension.) Richard, how old are you? Come on.

    Another problem will be the status of LB Rolando McClain and his legal problems after (allegedly) beating a man and firing a gun off right next to the victim’s head. Apparently the NFL hierarchy is waiting to see the progress of the criminal investigation.

    Can I digress here for a moment? I’m not defending Ndamukong Suh’s infamous stomp, but I think the Raiders LB’s conduct violation is far worse. Roger Goodell keeps saying that you don’t have to be convicted to have violated the NFL “code of conduct.” Why is it that the league fails to see assault as a violation? I don’t get it.

    If there were ever a trap game for the Pack, it’s this one. But it’s at home and I think Rodgers keeps them focused.

    It’s amazing how much we take these great quarterbacks for granted, even when we think we are appreciating them. I work away and type QB stats like 10 TDs, 20 TDs. And then you get to Rodgers: 37 TDs. Kind of sums it up, huh?

    Sunday against the Giants was a classic case of leaving a master passer too much time. But for how many quarterbacks is 58 seconds too much time? Not too many.

    I thought that the Raiders’ only chance lay in getting RB Darren McFadden back on the field and alternating him with Michael Bush so that Aaron Rodgers never gets the football. Like, literally, never. That might have worked, too. But McFadden is now doubtful.

    Carson Palmer might do well against the Green Bay pass D if he had his starting WRs in the lineup.

    So, basically, unless someone does a “Kurt Warner” and bursts out from nowhere, Green Bay will get another win.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: Sunday Night Football

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    Straight Up: New York

    Against the Spread: New York +3.5

    Over/Under: Over 48.5 (High 30s and cloudy. Not bad. Watch for the fur coats. Despite the injuries, I think we’re looking at a 28-21 type of game, so I’ll take a chance on the over.)

    First, our best wishes for a complete recovery to New York OT Stacy Andrews, who was hospitalized with embolisms in both lungs. That sounds terrifying and I am just glad that he is being treated.

    Now, this is an important game. Chicago’s apparent demise and Dallas’ loss in the desert last Sunday are making it possible for the New York Football Giants to get back into the hunt in the NFC East. Cool.

    If you’ve ever doubted Jason Witten’s importance in the Cowboys’ offense, read on.

    Victor Cruz, the deep-threat WR for the Giants, has 62 receptions due in large part to the fact that everyone else has been hurt at some point.

    Jason Witten has 61 receptions due in large part to his function as Tony Romo’s “blankey”. Witten, in case you don’t follow any football at all, is a TE and not a WR. Yeah.

    And while we’re on the subject, why does Cowboy Dez Bryant only have 46 receptions when New York’s Hakeem Nicks has 57? Nicks has missed games to injury!

    Bryant continues to start games strong and then just disappear. It’s a crime to waste a great weapon like that. Rumors abound about his conditioning, but I’m not sure it isn’t that Tony doesn’t trust him at crunch time.

    Of course, the key these days to stopping the Cowboys is stopping rookie running sensation DeMarco Murray. This might be tough for a Giants’ D that has given up an average of almost 145 yards on the ground for the last three weeks. I’m sure Big Blue hopes that LB Michael Boley will make in onto the field with his hammy.

    The Giants have a better passing record; the Cowboys have more rush yards.

    On the intangible front, Eli Manning has a history of playing very well on the road and in big games...Tony Romo, not so much.

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks: Monday Night Football

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    Straight Up: Seattle

    Against the Spread: Seattle -6.5

    Over/Under: Under (36ish) (It’s actually going to be clear in Seattle on Monday night. I swear, that’s what the Weather Channel says. No line was available due to injury questions. But I think it will be around 36.5.)

    If there were ever a case to be made for flex scheduling on Monday nights, this is it.

    Everything else I write here is superseded by that fact that both Rams' QBs Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley will probably miss this game due to injury. Guess that’s why I can’t find a line.

    The new quarterback for the St. Louis Rams is...Tom Brandtsater. Brandstater hasn’t even been with the team all year. They’ve just signed him off and on to the practice squad when Bradford has been too hurt to suit up. The man does not even have a team headshot. He’s a sophomore QB out of Fresno State. He doesn’t have any NFL stats. Great.

    And they just lost yet another O-lineman to IR. Terrific.

    I know that this ongoing QB issue is part of the problem with the Rams. But it doesn’t account for the defense, particularly with defensive guru Steve Spagnuolo on board as the head coach. Well, I’m thinking that he might not be the head coach much longer.

    It’s too bad that coach Pat Shurmur didn’t hang in with the Rams for one more year. He’s stinking up the joint in Cleveland and he probably could have inherited Sam Bradford one year later. Oh well, hindsight and the way the ball bounces and all that jazz. Did I leave out any clichés?

    The Seattle defense has been steadily improving and really gave Philly fits last week. Brandon Browner had two INTs and LB David Hawthorne came up with a pick-six.

    Up until Week 12,  Tarvaris Jackson was the luckiest QB in football this year. He had Marshawn Lynch drawing defenders plus Sidney Rice to throw to. He may not have had big numbers, but those around him made him look respectable.

    Well, Rice and LT Russell Okung are now on IR so the ride could be over. Golden Tate finally looked like a professional ball-catcher last week. Perhaps there is hope.

    If Spagnuolo can take advantage of this offensive vacuum, perhaps the Rams have a shot. A small shot.

    It pains me to say it, but Marshawn Lynch is having a better year than my man Steven Jackson. In fact, Lynch is probably the next Steven Jackson. They certainly know what it’s like to carry their teams. Maybe they should go out for drinks after the game and commiserate. I can hear it now: “Passing game? What’s a passing game?”