Thursday, November 29, 2012

NFL Week 13 Picks

Not bad last week. Better than my fantasy football teams.

Last Week: 11-5
Year to Date: 118-57

New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons
This may be the second best rivalry in the NFL. I don't know if anything will top the Ravens/Steelers in the near future, but this one is starting to get close. It is becoming pretty apparent through various players words in the media that these teams do not like each other. The Saints ended the Falcons undefeated season the last time these two teams played. New Orleans came up with a big goal line stand and did not allow the Falcons to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Saints are coming off a loss that saw their offense get stopped by the 49ers defense. They got to Drew Brees and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Atlanta doesn't have the pass rushers to get to Brees like the 49ers do, so Brees will have more time here. Atlanta got out of Tampa Bay with a win and placed a strangle hold on the NFC South. Atlanta has the offensive fire power to stay with the Saints in this one. This won't be a defensive struggle. If Matt Ryan and the Falcons want to take the next step, they need to win this one. I like the Falcons to take this one. They got Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rogers going last week. If they can get rolling come Playoff time, the Falcons offense gets that much better.

Atlanta 34  New Orleans 28

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills
Jacksonville picked up their second win of the season last week against the Titans. Imagine how much better the offense might have been if they had Chad Henne under center all season. I don't think they would have been a Playoff contending team, might they might have been in more games. And they have looked good the last two weeks without Maurice Jones-Drew. The Bills Playoff hopes all but officially went out the window last week with a loss to Indianapolis. Right wen the defense steps up, the offense takes steps back. Ryan Fitzpatrick missed a couple big throws, and C.J. Spiller wasn't on the field as much as he should have been. Chan Gailey's job better be in jeopardy, because if he comes back after a missed Playoff season, Bills ticket sales won't be strong. I'll say the Bills somehow win here. Despite the inept coaching and QB play, they have more talent.

Buffalo 23  Jacksonville 21

Seattle Seahawks vs Chicago Bears
Seattle dropped a game they couldn't afford to lose last week against Miami. Seattle had a chance to take a game lead for the last spot in the NFC Wild Card race but failed to do so. But now Seattle is facing bigger problems with the potential loss of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner to possible four game suspensions for violating the league's substance abuse policies. That is a potential huge loss for a very good Seattle defense. The defense is what keeps Seattle in games, especially on the road where they tend to struggle with a rookie QB. Russell Wilson did have a good game last week, but they needed to get Marshawn Lynch going. Look for the Chicago Bears to try and contain Lynch again this week and make Wilson beat them on the road. The Bears offense was different under Jay Cutler next week. But they may be without running back Matt Forte for awhile. But Michael Bush should fill in well enough. The Bears defense continues to play at a strong pace, and I don't see them letting a rookie QB beating them at home.

Chicago 24  Seattle 20

San Francisco 49ers vs St. Louis Rams
The last time these two teams played, the game ended in a tie. But the 49ers have looked like a completely different team since the last time they played. The 49ers offense has taken a complete 360 with Colin Kapernick under center. Kapernick has a a strong arm and has the ability to make plays with his legs as well. That is something Smith couldn't do and makes Kapernick tough to stop. But is Kapernick a one year wonder a la Cam Newton? Only time will tell. The 49ers defense came up huge last week, getting two pick sixs off Drew Brees. Aldon Smith continues to play like the defensive player of the year. San Francisco looks like the Super Bowl team I thought they could be. St. Louis is coming off a road win at Arizona. Steven Jackson went for over 100 yards again and is showing he still has some life left in him. But the Rams offense doesn't have enough to keep pace with the 49ers. San Francisco wins here.

San Francisco 27  St. Louis 14

New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are 5-6 and one game out of a Playoff spot, but they have a brutal schedule to close the year, including two games with the Patriots. I don't like the Dolphins chances. But they pulled off an upset win last week against Miami. Tannehill played another solid game going for 253 yards and a touchdown. But Tannehill will need to play much better to keep pace with Tom Brady. The Patriots continue to just steam roll every team in the NFL. They made the Jets look like a JV team on Thanksgiving night. The defense and special teams came up with some big plays. But the offense did not miss a beat without TE Rob Gronkowski. If the Patriots offense can start playing better, then they may be the team to beat in the AFC. But I need to see more out of them. Right now they are a bend but don't break defense. They can't be like that in the Playoffs. Miami will look to lean on Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, but the Dolphins don't have enough weapons to keep up with New England. Patriots win.

New England 38  Miami 24

Arizona Cardinals vs New York Jets
These are just two teams that are not fun to watch. Arizona as lost seven in a row after winning their first four games. Ryan Lindley went for over 300 yards but also threw four interceptions. It is pretty evident that the Cardinals don't have the QB of the future on their roster. Will Ken Wisenhunt be around to help coach that player? It doesn't seem likely at this point. The Jets were absolutely embarrassed at home on Thanksgiving night in prime time against the Patriots. Mark Sanchez played horrible, and doesn't look like he will be QB of the Jets for much longer. He's tied to Rex Ryan, and once Ryan goes, Sanchez goes. Oh and poor Fireman Ed isn't the Jets super fan anymore. Why is that even a story being covered on ESPN? Geez. I guess the Jets win this game by default since Arizona is probably worse than them.

NY Jets 17  Arizona 13

Indianapolis Colts vs Detroit Lions
Detroit had everything in front of them on Thanksgiving. They had the opportunity to knock off the best team in the AFC and failed to do so. Even with the blown call, they still had many opportunities to beat the Lions, including a missed field goal in over time. Detroit's season just seems like one of missed opportunity. There were high expectations for them coming into the season and they just haven't lived up to them. It has been a combination of many things. At times the offense has stalled, but the defense has also had problems stopping people. The secondary struggles when the front four can't get pressure on the QB. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson can't do everything by themselves. The Colts continue to surprise everybody and appear to be on their way to the Playoffs with a first year QB and a first year coach. Andrew Luck made some impressive plays last week under center against Buffalo. Luck looked like a QB that will be around for along time and be a Hall of Famer in the NFL. What the Colts need though is for their defense to step up and play a bit better. They are vulnerable to big plays, and C.J. Spiller exposed that last week. But the Colts are playing some inspired football with Chuck Pagano watching over the team while battling leukemia. Detroit keeps it close, but the Colts win this one in the end.

Indianapolis 37  Detroit 31

Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers
Despite Minnesota's recent struggles, they are still tied for the last Wild Card spot in the NFC. That's surprising to me. Christian Ponder has struggled in the last few games. The team continues to lead on Adrian Peterson, but there is only so much that AP can do for this team. Once teams load the box to stop Peterson, Ponder doesn't have the tools to beat teams yet. If the Vikings want to stay in this one, they will have to put a heavy pass rush on the Packers. By evidence from their game against the Giants, the Packers will struggle to stop teams with a good pass rush. Aaron Rodgers had no time to get rid of the ball last week. And the injuries on defense finally caught up with the Packers as the defense had problems stopping Eli. But the Vikings have a weak secondary, and I would expect Aaron Rodgers to be out to make a statement after a terrible outing in prime time. Packers win rather easily.

Green Bay 35  Minnesota 20

Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans
The Texans needed the ten day layoff that they received from playing on Thanksgiving. Houston looked like a tired team against the Lions after playing almost a full five quarters only four days earlier. A defense that usually dominates teams was thrown all over on by the Lions. It didn't help that top cornerback Jonathan Joseph was out. But the Texans had trouble generating any pass rush. The good news for Houston is that Andre Johnson is playing some of the best football of his career, and that is going to help the Texans offense long term. Houston's offense is finally showing its full potential with with everyone healthy. If the Texans defense returns to form, I still think they are the team to beat in the AFC. But they have a lot of injuries at the linebacker spot. Tennessee lost at Jacksonville last week and that pretty much killed any of their Playoff chances. Now they get to see what Jake Locker offers as their QB of the future in these final five games. But I expect Locker to struggle here against a rested Texans defense. Houston wins.

Houston 30  Tennessee 17

Carolina Panthers vs Kansas City Chiefs
Is the attendance for this game going to even be half the stadium's capacity? These are two teams just playing out the stretch. Carolina beat a terrible Eagles team on Monday night, while the Chiefs continue to struggle to put up points. I don't think the Chiefs will win another game this year. Their QB play is terrible no matter who is under center. Cam Newton can at least make some plays and find WRs open. I will take the Panthers here.

Carolina 24  Kansas City 10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Denver Broncos
This is a big game for the Bucs. As I have said time and time again, I love how Tampa Bay has been playing under Greg Schiano. They were in the game against Atlanta all the way to the end but couldn't find a way to pull the game out in the end. I was impressed with the Bucs defense against Atlanta. Sure they gave up a big amount of yards, but the fact that they held Atlanta to only 24 points with the injuries they have in the secondary was impressive. Josh Freeman looks much better with a true #1 WR on his team in Vincent Jackson. With Jackson and now rookie RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay looks like a team that will have a very good offense for years to come. Greg Schiano will continue to build a strong defense, and Tampa Bay could be a tough team to play in years to come. They get a tough test this week in Denver. The Broncos can clinch the AFC West this week with a win. Peyton Manning continues to play at a high level. They struggled a bit last week at Kansas City but the Broncos were able to put the game away in the end. The lack of running game that the Broncos has needs to be addressed before the Playoffs come. If teams get to Peyton Manning, having no running game to lean on could be a problem. But the defense continues to play at a high level. Denver will probably focus on shutting down Doug Martin. If they can do that, and make Tampa become one dimensional, it should be a win for Denver. I like the Broncos here anyways. The veteran leadership wins out over the young upstart Bucs.

Denver 31  Tampa Bay 27

Cleveland Browns vs Oakland Raiders
Cleveland pulled out a big win last week against Pittsburgh. They have been in every game this year and took advantage of an injury rittled Steelers team. Cleveland could be a good team in a couple years time with Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden to build around. There are some good young pieces to build around in Cleveland, and hopefully no one screws it up. Oakland looks like one big giant mess of a team. They have no direction and no leader. Dennis Allen is already on the hot seat. But he needs a QB that is better than Carson Palmer. Can't blame him for Palmer's inefficiencies. And the defense needs a complete makeover. I like Cleveland here. They are playing hard and the Raiders are just playing things out.

Cleveland 27  Oakland 16

Cincinnati Bengals vs San Diego Chargers
Don't look now, but the Bengals are starting to make another push to a late Playoff run. They look like a better team than they were last year, especially on offense. A.J. Green is turning into a true stud on offense. As he and Andy Dalton go, so do the Bengals. And the defense has picked things up in the last few games after struggling early in the season. Cincinnati will need to win some important games down the stretch if they want to be a Playoff team, namely beat their two divisional rivals in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. And they can't afford to have any hicc-ups or struggles like they did earlier this season. And while this Chargers team is struggling, they have enough in them to pull of an upset. They held Baltimore in check all game last week until a late 4th and 29 conversion by Ray Rice. That is something even average football teams just don't allow. Norv Turner has to be his way out the door, especially after a poor performance like that. Things are just to out of place in San Diego. Cincinnati is rolling, and they win here.

Cincinnai 28  San Diego 23

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens
Not that I don't like these match-ups late in the season, but who the hell scheduled these teams to play each other two times in three weeks? Baltimore beat the Steelers two weeks ago in Pittsburgh. And the Steelers looked terrible last week in Cleveland. Charlie Batch looked way past his prime. And every one of the Steelers running backs fumbled. That is a recipe for disaster. It doesn't appear that Ben Roethlisberger will be back this week either. Without Ben, the offense struggles. Hell even with Ben they still have their problems. The offensive line never seems to allow Ben to stay upright, and he always has to resort to making plays on his own. Baltimore struggled last week with San Diego, and I am sorry Joe Flacco, but elite QBs don't struggle on the road like that. If it weren't for a bail out catch and run by Ray Rice, Baltimore would have lost last week. San Diego does not have a top rate defense. Baltimore should have scored more points against that defense. Both of these teams have injuries on defense that they are dealing with. But the biggest injury is Roethlisberger's. And I don't think the Steelers can win with anybody else under center. Baltimore sweeps their rivals and all but wrap up the AFC North.

Baltimore 24  Pittsburgh 12

Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys
What is their left to say about the Eagles? They are a mess and Andy Reid is just coaching out his days. The team has quit on the season and that was evident on Monday night. That is why Dallas, despite their struggles, should win this game rather easily. They were beaten soundly by RG3 and the Redskins on Thanksgiving, but now they are playing a defense that just doesn't care. Tony Romo has no excuse for a bad game here, and neither does the defense. But the Cowboys will more than likely struggle a bit, but find a way to win in the end. Dallas can't be that bad.

Dallas 23  Philadelphia 7

New York Giants vs Washington Redskins
Alright, who's looking forward to Jon Gruden raving about Robert Griffin. " LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS GUY!" Griffin dazzled on Thanksgiving against the Redskins. His arm strength his superb and his ability to make throws in tight windows is great for being just a rookie. And if a play breaks down, he has no problem making a play with his legs. The Redskins have a very balanced offense with Alfred Morris in the back field. And having Pierre Garcon back will be a big help. With the Redskins struggles on defense, having a complete and healthy offense will help this team stay in games. The Giants looked like the Super Bowl Champs Sunday night with their dismantling of the Packers. Their pass rush dominated the Packers offensive line and made Aaron Rodgers look ordinary. And Eli Manning came back to life after a couple of poor weeks. But they also lost Andre Brown to a broken leg. Brown was the teams goal line back and helped take the load off of Ahmad Bradshaw. And with Bradshaw's ever declining health, will the loss of Brown hurt his durability? I expect Washington to fight and hang in with the Giants. RG3 impressed last week with the nation watching, and I think he can do it again here. I'm impressed with the kid.

Washington 34  NY Giants 27

My Vegas Kind Of $$$ Picks
Last Week: 1-3
Year to Date: 25-23

Washington +2.5 vs NY Giants: I like the Redskins in the upset.
Indianapolis +4.5 at Detroit: Colts have more to play for.
Cincinnati -2.5 at San Diego: Bengals are a field goal better than Chargers.
Houston -6 at Tennessee: Texans have 10 days rest.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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