More football, more picks!
Last Week’s Record: 12-4
Year to Date Record: 112-64
Philadelphia Eagles vs Seattle Seahawks
This starts off a bunch of stinkers for Thursday night games in the coming weeks. Now of course, I can’t blame the NFL for this one. On paper at the beginning of the year it looked like a good game. The “Dream Team” Eagles head to Seattle, which is always a tough place to win. But the Eagles have an array of problems at their hands. Mike Vick is out again. DeSean Jackson was benched last week. The only positive in the last few weeks has been the improved play of the defense, even though the Patriots had their way with them last week. Seattle has been playing well as of late, but they won’t catch San Francisco for the division. Marshawn Lynch is running like a #1 running back which has been good for Seattle. You have to wonder if the Eagles haven’t already packed it in. I’m taking Seattle here. They don’t have a bunch of drama surrounding their team.
Seattle 23 Philadelphia 21
Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
These appear to be two teams headed in opposite directions. The Panthers look like a team on the rise with Cam Newton under center. Their offense is fun to watch. Newton looks like the franchise quarterback everyone thought he could be. The Panthers have also finally got their two headed running attack of DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart going. The Bucs, meanwhile, have regressed mightily after a strong season last year. The offense isn’t as potent, and the defense is having problems stopping the run. That’s bad for Tampa considering that the Panthers love to run the football. Tampa coach Raheem Morris is on the hot seat, and this game here won’t do anything to cool it down. The Panthers run wild on Tampa and win in this one, sending the Bucs to the bottom of the NFC South.
Carolina 34 Tampa Bay 28
Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers
A huge game in the AFC Playoff Picture. The Bengals have a one game lead on the Jets, Titans, and Broncos in the AFC Wild Card Race. They rebounded last week with a win against Cleveland, but didn’t get the lead in the game until the final 2 minutes. The Bengals struggled to get anything going offensively. When the Steelers visited Cincinnati a few weeks ago, Andy Dalton struggled a bit against the Steelers defense. He threw a couple bad picks. Now Dalton will have to play better, but this time on the road. It’s a shame that this team, even at 7-4, can’t sell out their home games. The Bengals are a good football team. The Steelers survived last Sunday night against Kansas City. The offense looked brutal at times last week. The Bengals have a stout defense, so they may find more trouble to move the ball this week. Troy Polamalu will play for Pittsburgh, although you have to be worried about the “concussion like” symptoms he has. The defense will need to pressure Andy Dalton here and not allow time for him to throw. Expect a low scoring affair, with the Steelers pulling out a close one in the end.
Pittsburgh 17 Cincinnati 13
Atlanta Falcons vs Houston Texans
A big game for both teams. The Falcons are in a three way tie for the two Wild Card spots in the NFC. But the offense has finally gotten going for the Falcons and that will be a big help for them. Michael Turner is struggling through a nagging groin injury, and the Falcons need to hope that it isn’t bothersome for him down the stretch. The Falcons might also be down their top two cornerbacks for this game. If that is the case, it should help new Texans QB T.J. Yates a bit when it comes to passing against the Falcons. Yates looked ok last week after being thrown into action after Matt Leianrt’s injury. Yates might have to throw this week because the Falcons are good against stopping the run. Arian Foster and Ben Tate might have some trouble getting going here. The good thing for Yates is that he has one of the best defenses in the league backing him up. That should take a good amount of pressure off of Yates. Expect a close game here, but I’m still going with the Texans here. I guess I like their home field advantage. And they have a slightly better defense.
Houston 27 Atlanta 23
New York Jets vs Washington Redskins
The Jets found a way to win last week against the Bills. Mark Sanchez threw 4 TD passes, yet he is still getting booed by his home fan base. Sanchez did have his moments last week. He didn’t put together a complete game. The defense was also thrown on a bit too much by Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets need to establish their running game more. They haven’t done a good job of doing that all year. Shonn Greene may be the most under-utilized running back in the league. The Redskins pulled off a good, come from behind win last week in Seattle. Rex Grossman hit a couple of nice deep passes, and Roy Helu had another strong game in the Washington back field. The Redskins defense will try to pressure Mark Sanchez into making bad throws here. Last week the Bills sat back in coverage, but the Redskins will pressure him instead. I think this is a close game, but the Jets pull out the win late because they are the more talented team.
NY Jets 20 Washington 16
Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots
Once a great AFC rivalry, this year it is a meaningless game. It was taken out of the Sunday night prime time slot, and for good reason. The Colts stink. They are starting Dan Orlovsky at QB this week, but it won’t matter. The Patriots are clicking on offense and on defense. The Pats rolled through the Eagles last week, and look poised to win out for the rest of the season. There’s just no chance for the challenged everywhere Colts team. Patriots roll, no need to over-analyze.
New England 38 Indianapolis 14
Oakland Raiders vs Miami Dolphins
This has all of the makings of a trap game for the Raiders. The Dolphins are playing some really good football in the last month and had won three in a row before falling on a last second field goal against Dallas on Thanksgiving. Matt Moore is showing signs of being a competent NFL QB, Reggie Bush is looking like a starting NFL RB, and Brandon Marshall is playing like the #1 WR everyone thought he could be. And the defense is playing much better. If they played like this at the start of the year, they could be in the middle of the playoff race and Tony Sparano might have a job in Miami next year. The Raiders have a one game lead in the AFC West on the Broncos. The Raiders couldn’t get into the end zone last week against Chicago. Only 1 TD and eight field goals. The Raiders are hoping to get Darren McFadden back this week. That would be a huge help for them. A two headed running attack of Darren McFadden Michael Bush is scary to think about. If the Dolphins can pressure Carson Palmer in the pocket they have a very good shot and winning, and I think they do. Miami pulls off the upset.
Miami 28 Oakland 23
Denver Broncos vs Minnesota Vikings
Tim Tebow is the messiah. I’ve come to accept it. The Broncos could be down by 21 with two minutes left, and I still think that the Broncos would come back and win. Tebow doesn’t do it pretty, but he does enough to help his team win. The Vikings have one of the better run defenses in the league, but their pass defense is atrocious. The Broncos defense has also improved greatly in recent weeks. Von Miller is a beast in the linebacker core with 10.5 sacks. They should feast upon Christian Ponder this week. Adrian Peterson has a shot at playing this week, but even if he does he probably won’t be at 100%. The Broncos should be able to shut down the Vikings offense. Percy Harvin might have a big play or two up his sleeve, but the Broncos just have this ray of luck shining over them right now, and I think they pull out another win. That means more Tim Tebow talk dominating ESPN for a week.
Denver 26 Minnesota 17
Tennessee Titans vs Buffalo Bills
The Bills had last week’s game against the Jets last week all wrapped up. But defensive miscues caused the Jets to score the game winning TD late, and a dropped past and mis-thrown ball on offense stopped the Bills from scoring the go ahead TD in the final seconds. The Bills four game losing streak has made their 5-2 start a distant thing of the past. The offense finally looked better last week, but they didn’t make the big play when they needed it, and penalties hurt them as well. Stevie Johnson has been talked about enough, so expect him to try and shut his critics up here. The Titans quietly keep winning and know they have a shot of winning the AFC South with the Texans now on their third string QB. Chris Johnson should have a big game here against the poor Bills run defense. He’s finally gotten going after a slow start to the season. If Matt Hasselbeck can put together a strong outing then the Titans have a good shot to win. But you have to think the Bills will be motivated coming home after three straight on the road. While the Bills fans, this guy included, don’t think they can make the playoffs, the team still does. The Bills pull out a win here and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Buffalo 30 Tennessee 27
Kansas City Chiefs vs Chicago Bears
I for the life of me cannot understand why Todd Haley is again going with Tyler Palko here. Even if Kyle Orton doesn’t know the whole playbook, can he really be that much worse than Palko? What about Ricky Stanzi? Is he worse than Palko? At this point the Chiefs should at least give him one game to see what he has. But instead, Palko is the guy again and he still hasn’t scored a TD in his two games as a starter. The Bears lost a close one last week against Oakland. Caleb Hanie didn’t look terrible, but he did make a really bad decision driving late with the delayed spike. Hanie should have a good game here against the lowly Chiefs. But expect a heavy dose of Matt Forte here from the Bears. The Bears will lean on Forte here and will take down the lowly Chiefs lead by the lowly Tyler Palko
Chicago 24 Kansas City 10
Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
This is one of those games where you expect the Ravens to win, but after their questionable losses this season, they could just as easily lose. The Ravens have been without Ray Lewis the last two weeks, but that really hasn’t mattered. They shut down the 49ers last week, only allowing 6 points and sacking Alex Smith 8 times. Joe Flacco looked alright against the 49ers. He has his trio of weapons at WR back with Lee Evans returning. And he still has Ray Rice in the backfield, who should be leaned on heavily here. The Browns almost pulled off the upset of Cincinnati last week on the road, but they couldn’t stop the Bengals in the second half and their own offense sputtered in the same half. The Ravens will bring the pressure on Colt McCoy and force him to make quick decisions. Even though the Browns offense looked better last week, I would expect them to struggle against Cleveland. There is always the original Browns leaving for Baltimore factor here that adds a bit to this rivalry, but I think the Ravens pull off the win. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Browns win either given the Ravens road struggles against bad teams.
Baltimore 21 Cleveland 19
Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals
The Cowboys may have played the best football in the month of November. They went 4-0 and Tony Romo had his best month of the season. The Cowboys now have a one game lead on the Giants in the NFC East and control their own destiny. DeMarco Murray should have a field day against the poor Cardinals run defense. The Cowboys may get Miles Austin back this week, which adds another weapon to what has been a very good Cowboys offense in the last month. The Cardinals have won 3 out of their last 4 games with John Skelton at QB. Beanie Wells had a monster game last week running for 228 yards. And Patrick Peterson has been a beast returning punts for the Cardinals this year. While the Cowboys defense has been better, they can still be thrown on. Expect a big game from Larry Fitzgerald. I think this game is closer than people think it will be. The Cardinals can score, but the Cowboys score a bit more to get the win.
Dallas 35 Arizona 31
Green Bay Packers vs New York Giants
Going back three weeks, I thought the Giants had a good shot to win this game. But now? Not so much. The Giants have lost 3 in a row after beating New England. And the Giants did not look good at all Monday night against New Orleans. The defense couldn’t shut down Drew Brees, which makes it highly unlikely that they will be able to shut down Aaron Rodgers. Eli Manning will be able to throw against the Packers secondary, but he can’t play defense. The Giants will likely have Ahmad Bradshaw back, but I don’t know if that will help them enough to win. The Giants pass rush needs to have an all star game for the Giants to have a chance, and I don’t think that happens. The Packers have just as many weapons on offense as the Saints do. Aaron Rodgers should be able to find all of his weapons at some point during the game. The Packers are just playing to well right now to lose. Give me the Pack in this one.
Green Bay 31 NY Giants 23
St. Louis Rams vs San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have had more than a week to get the bad taste of their loss to Baltimore out of their mouth. The offense looked terrible last week. The Ravens showed that if you shut down Frank Gore, Alex Smith will not beat you. The 49ers defense held up their end for the most part, but the offense struggled. That may hurt the 49ers come playoff time. The Rams offense continues to sputter and coach Steve Spagnuolo may be the next coach to get fired. The Rams have only scored 4 TDs in the last four weeks, and 3 of them have been to Brandon Lloyd. The Rams woes continue here, as the 49ers are out to show that last week’s game was not an indication of how they will perform against the better teams come playoff time.
San Francisco 24 St. Louis 9
Detroit Lions vs New Orleans Saints
This has all the makings of a shootout in the Big Easy. The Saints rolled the Giants Monday night. Drew Brees and Company just look unstoppable at times. The Saints look like a team ready to make a run into late January. Drew Brees has so many weapons that defenses just can’t focus on one guy to stop. They also have a nice three headed trio at the running back position. Expect the Saints defense to blitz and blitz often, forcing Matthew Stafford to make quick decisions. The Lions don’t have much of a running game to speak of, so if the Saints can shut down Matthew Stafford, they have a good shot of shutting down the Lions. The Lions will most likely be without Ndamukong Suh pending appeal of his two game suspension. But even with Suh, I don’t think the Lions have a shot of shutting down the Saints. Drew Brees finds his open targets and the Saints continue their roll.
New Orleans 35 Detroit 28
San Diego Chargers vs Jacksonville Jaguars
How did the Jaguars get two Monday night home games? I can’t wait to see how the ESPN crew tries to hype this game up as watchable. The Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio this week, so there’s something to talk about. But Blaine Gabbert doesn’t look like the franchise QB the Jags thought he could be. I don’t think the Jags will attract a big name coach. The Chargers have struggled mightily this year, and that will probably cost Norv Turner his job. Philip Rivers may be playing hurt, and the defense can’t stop anyone. It’s been quite the disappointing season for San Diego, as their Super Bowl window for that team has come and gone. The Chargers still have a better offense, so they win here.
San Diego 21 Jacksonville 13
My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week’s Record: 3-1
Year to Date Record: 28-19-1
Houston +2.5 vs Atlanta: I still think the Texans are the better team.
Denver +1.5 at Minnesota: How can you bet against Tim Tebow at this point?
Buffalo -1.5 vs Tennessee: My Bills homerism lead me to this pick.
Carolina +3.5 at Tampa Bay: Panthers are playing better football.
Until Next Time,
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