Devoted readers of my sportsattitudes blog are familiar with my inherent reluctance to make predictions. That being said my brothers-in-blogging have a true, unbridled passion for NFL forecasting so I volunteered to serve up predictions for Week 12 over on one of the leading independent sports blogging sites on Earth…SportsChump. (…that’s what I was supposed to write…right Chris?)
This time of year you not only have to look for the truly talented teams but players that still can show up…want to show up…and ball out. That’s not always easy to do when you’re beat up mentally and physically, the wilder weather brings issues, etc. Some squads and their starters tip their hands sooner than later they are in full-on, self-preservation mode and just trying to stay alive through the rest of the season. Other players know while their team is mathematically relevant a Super Bowl run isn’t in their future…and play accordingly.
Our job therefore is to sift through the first week we can wave bye-bye to byes and figure out who might be able to play, who wants to play…and who will make the winning plays.
Philadelphia (4-6) at Detroit (3-7) (LINE Eagles -1) – How ironic this Philly boy draws an Eagles game to start off? Head Coach Chip Kelly says no changes are needed…even after blowing a big lead to Miami and getting blown away by Tampa Bay – both at home mind you. Give Detroit credit for admitting changes were needed and firing everyone except the front-desk receptionist and their HC. I even thought cars were going to be recalled. Fear is a great motivator and after getting crushed in London by the Chiefs (and the self-reflection a bye week provides) the Lions roared into Green Bay and won…and came home to knock off the Oakland Raiders last week. No fear has been instilled in the Eagles because they’ve been told everything is fine. Well…it’s not Chip. Take the Lions and the point.
Carolina (10-0) at Dallas (3-7) (LINE Cowboys -1) – You know you are having a great season when the only hard news coming out about your team is how suggestive your quarterback dances after touchdowns. The Panthers indeed go as potential NFL-MVP Cam Newton goes. Dallas Owner Jerry Jones is still trying to figure out why newly-hired defensive end Greg Hardy seems to have more passion for hitting women than opposing players. Tony Romo is back and running for his life…occasionally making something out of nothing. The Panthers are 4-0 away from home. Oh wait, they’re 10-0. Snap. Take the Panthers and the point.
Chicago (4-6) at Green Bay (7-3) (LINE Packers -9) – The Packers won the season opener in Chicago by 31-23. A lot has happened in recent weeks that made them look mortal but…welcome back Eddie Lacy and James Jones. Last week’s win in Minnesota may have jump-started Aaron Rodgers and Co. back into rhythm. The Bears blew an opportunity to win one for former Denver HC John Fox against his old team last week and, while “Good Jay” Cutler has cut down on turnovers they may have rhythm issues of their own if Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery both try to get back after Jeremy Langford performed so well in Forte’s absence. And…after facing Brock Osweiler’s balanced Broncos the Bears D may not be quite dialed up in a shortened week to face off versus Rodgers and his playmates, who look to be playing angry right now trying to discount-double check their destiny. Take the Packers and give the points under the assumption “Bad Jay” finally shows up in the second half…and the Pack is indeed back.
New Orleans (4-6) at Houston (5-5) (LINE Texans -3) – I like to use the Saints as an example of how bad the NFL is. They are in the hunt for a playoff spot while featuring defense that appears to be looking for opponents’ flags not realizing this is tackle football. New Orleans has given up 315 points. The Saints are coming off a bye in Week 11 and have allegedly retooled. One thing they might want to explain to free-agent signee Brandon Browner is his contract incentives do not include leading the league in penalties called. J.J. Watt will again be looking to score on both sides of the ball even while spending most of his time pounding Drew Brees. Brian Hoyer is scheduled to return for Houston who already is on a roll having won three straight…including that victory in Cincinnati. Take the Texans and give the points.
Buffalo (5-5) at Kansas City (5-5) (LINE Chiefs -3.5) – Take the Chiefs and give the points. The Bills are coming off a short week after a physical game and a deflating loss in New England. Tyrod Taylor is dinged up again. Kansas City returns home having won four in a row and Andy Reid’s Eagles teams always have made big runs at this time of the regular season. The Chiefs would admittedly be better off if versatile Charcandrick West and De’Anthony Thomas are both healthy. Alex Smith will still manage the tempo and work with whomever can suit up. The KC D is trending up as well.
Oakland (4-6) at Tennessee (2-8) (LINE Raiders -1) – Writer Gregg Easterbrook refers to the Titans as the “Flaming Thumbtacks” because that’s what their logo looks like to him. I even named one of my fantasy teams that. Tennessee is 0-5 at home. The Raiders failed to show up in Detroit and perhaps expectations were artificially high for this team as their inconsistency has been maddening. The Titans have had a few extra days to prepare and also to get Kendall Wright back on the field. No team wants to be winless at home. Take the Titans and the point. Know this. Oakland is a road favorite again this week…I believe for the fourth time in the last decade…like they were last week in Detroit.
St. Louis (4-6) at Cincinnati (8-2) (LINE Bengals -10) – If someone sees St. Louis QB Case Keenum wandering around please detain him until medical assistance can be provided. You can’t count on the NFL to do that. I think the entire Cincinnati secondary is injured to some extent but then again who’s going to exploit it? No one. It’s going to be run, run, run Todd Gurley and play straight-up solid defense. St. Louis has this way of hanging around. HC Jeff Fisher called out critics of the Rams’ style of play this week. He’s playing for his job too. Take the Rams and the points.
Minnesota (7-3) at Atlanta (6-4) (LINE Falcons -1.5) – Adrian Peterson keeps being told with age and injuries he can’t do this/he can’t do that. The only thing he can’t do is play while being suspended. Atlanta, like Cincinnati, got off to a hot start (5-0) but chilled off big-time (lost last three) in part to aptly-nicknamed “Matty Ice” Ryan looking as cold as ice trying to throw to anyone not named Julio Jones…and a Falcons’ defense which now ranks just about dead last in pressuring the QB. Devonta Freeman sustained a concussion against Indy last week. His replacement was to be the starter when the season started. No problem, right? Wrong. Tevin Coleman has fumbled away his confidence and Atlanta will be hurting big-time if there is no Freeman. Minnesota has certainly been vulnerable by not protecting Teddy Bridgewater but that should not be an issue this week. Take the Vikings and the points.
New York Giants (5-5) at Washington (4-6) (LINE Giants -2.5) – A “crucial” NFC East battle. Well they all are when the teams all hover around .500. New York won over the Redskins in New York in Week Three by 32-21. The Giants are 5-0 against the Redskins since the start of the 2013 season and 13-24 against everyone else. New York enters rested, prepared and coming off a bye in Week 11. Washington is 4-1 at home…all of their wins collected in DC. I expect it to be close…but not close enough for the Redskins. Take the Giants and give the points.
Tampa Bay (5-5) at Indianapolis (5-5) (LINE Colts -3) – Jameis Winston and Andrew Luck. A battle of two of football’s up-and-coming….wait, who’s the bald guy? Matt Hasselback? He’s 3-0 as a starter this season you say? Frank Gore may be hurt (again) but Ahmad Bradshaw off the street may be a better option anyway. The Bucs may be without middle LB Kwon Alexander if he’s suspended and that’s not a good thing. I do like the way Tampa Bay is playing these days. Just not enough here. Take the Colts and give the points.
San Diego (2-8) at Jacksonville (4-6) (LINE Jaguars -4) – Philip Rivers has a record of 4-1 with 11 TD’s and only 4 picks in his career against the Jaguars. But I’ve never figured out why the Chargers haven’t given him a supporting cast. San Diego is 0-4 on the road and Rivers’ meager support staff is dwindling. He and Antonio Gates got after each other during that ugly 33-3 loss at home last week to Kansas City. Take the Jaguars and give the points. Felt like moving vans were already in place to take San Diego away last week. Chargers have lost six straight games…with that blowout loss to the Chiefs off a bye no less. Jacksonville has had extra time to prepare and Blake Bortles loves to sling the ball around…often to his own players.
Miami (4-6) at New York Jets (5-5) (LINE Jets -3.5) – New York won over Miami (in London) in Week Four by 27-14. Darrelle Revis sustained a concussion last week against Houston and his status is uncertain. Center Nick Mangold has a hand injury. Chris Ivory spent the last two games in his own backfield more than the opponents’ side and Bilal Powell is now time-sharing. Ryan Fitzpatrick may keep his beard but not his job. I wonder if the Jets’ recent problems don’t also include play-calling. I haven’t said much about Miami here. So…the Dolphins are 0-4 against AFC East rivals this season. They have talent but choose to display it as they see fit. Maybe this Sunday they’re in the mood. Take the Dolphins and the points.
Arizona (8-2) at San Francisco (3-7) (LINE Cardinals -10.5) – An NFC West contest which, even in this season of “parity” (translation…less than illuminating football and even worse officiating) illustrates the kind of difference one should see between first and last place teams. Arizona defeated San Francisco in Arizona in Week Three by 47-7. 49ers’ three wins did come at home. So? Take the Cardinals and give the points. Bruce Arians will want to get Arizona back on track. Arizona will want to make a statement after being told a “phantom call” gave them the win over Cincinnati Sunday night
Pittsburgh (6-4) at Seattle (5-5) (LINE Seahawks -3.5) – The Steelers will, like Arizona a couple of weeks ago, look to further dismantle the invincibility aura of the Seahawks in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch was here in Philadelphia earlier this week being evaluated for season-ending surgery but nothing heals a team like backup RB Thomas Rawls rushing for 209 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Regardless who is toting the rock Seattle has already lost twice at home. If anybody can negotiate what is left of the Seahawks’ aura Ben Roethlisberger can…even though I believe this may be the first time he’s been up there. Take the Steelers and the points. Pittsburgh’s bye in Week 11 couldn’t have come at a better time for them…and a worse time for Seattle.
New England (10-0) at Denver (8-2) (LINE Patriots -3) – Tom Brady will look across the field at Peyton Manning and say…”that’s never going to be me.” Manning’s one-too-many season has been brutal but at least Denver finally recognizes Brock Osweiler is the way to go. The Broncos running game, regardless of what happened in Chicago last week, is still a no-go. No passing and no running is no way to win football games. You can’t keep continually putting pressure on and relying on your defense in a sport totally tilted towards offense. A short week for New England…and the win over Buffalo took its physical toll. But…they’re still the Patriots and they will play with attitude even at altitude. Take the Patriots and give the points.
Baltimore (3-7) at Cleveland (2-8) (LINE Browns -2.5) – The AFC North basement is on the line. The Ravens’ season was orchestrated by Edgar Allen Poe with key injuries starting pre-season and bad bounces and worse calls during the season. The Browns’ campaign was orchestrated by a team that drafted Johnny Manziel. In Week Five Cleveland did visit Baltimore and came away with a 33-30 win in OT. The Browns, losers of five straight, are coming off a bye in Week 11 (did you see the TMZ video of Manziel partying during the week off…they probably could have just labeled that clip “Any Friday”…please get that dude help). In the Ravens’ win over St. Louis Sunday Justin Forsett busted up his arm early and Joe Flacco his legs late, tearing multiple acronyms by falling over his own guy at game’s end. Joe was literally the last man standing in Baltimore…until he fell over. It’s been that kind of season in Charm City. Enter Matt Schaub. Yet, I think the Ravens organization has more “want” and pride…and wants revenge for that OT loss. Take the Ravens and the points.
Please note lines do move up and down and are dependent on your source, etc. That being said it was a fun exercise even if public humiliation is sure to follow. I take comfort in knowing the weather forecasters will always be worse no matter what I type here.
I also had fun recording a podcast over on one of the leading independent sports blogging sites on Earth…Dubsism. (...J-Dub, I didn’t tell Chris I was writing that about your site too so don’t say anything, OK?)
The link to hearing our discussion describing our mutual frustration regarding all things Philadelphia Eagles is here. It can also be found on most iPhone, Android and Windows Phone podcast apps by simply searching “Radio JDub.”
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone and don’t forget to visit (and follow!) lifeattitudes as well…one of the leading independent “lifestyle” blogging sites on Earth. (…that one I publish so I don’t have to worry about who else gets credited…)