The NFL has never been more confusing. Get this, the 4-6 Atlanta Falcons boast a 4-0 record within the NFC South and lead that division. The Denver Broncos put up only seven points in a two-loss to the St. Louis Rams. The Saints got bashed even worse, losing by 17 to a team that was crushed at home the week before in Cincinnati. The Browns went from first place to last with their 23-7 loss versus Houston last week, and those Texans are only a game and a half out of first place in their division. The Chiefs are now tied with the Broncos in the AFC West and the Seahawks are technically in third place here in Week 12. The Lions still lead in the NFC North but the Packers are closing in quickly. Try to wrap your head around all of this as I try to predict the outcomes of this week’s 15 contests.
Last Week: 8-6
Thursday, November 20th, 8:25 e.t.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) @ Oakland Raiders (0-10)
The Chiefs looked damn impressive in a home win over the defending Super Bowl champs last week. Meanwhile, the Raiders played the Chargers tough (for the second time this season) on the road. They still are in search of their first win, and I have a feeling it is coming soon. Will it come this week at home against the Chiefs? I’m not so sure about that one. Oakland needs to generate big plays and Kansas City is not the optimal team to do this against. Their defense has been stout over the past few weeks and the team will ride it again to a nice road win.
Kansas City 26, Oakland 13
Sunday, November 23rd, 1:00 e.t.
Detroit Lions (7-3) @ New England Patriots (8-2)
Last week the Jonas Gray train got rolling in a big way against the Colts on the road. He toted the rock 38 times for 201 yards and four scores. This week, the Pats play host to the Lions who are the proud owners of the #1 defense in the league. They are also the stingiest when it comes to giving up rushing yards. Because of this I see the host Patriots airing the football out some. Detroit can be exposed in their secondary if the opposing quarterback has the time to stand in the pocket and scan the field. Right now, nobody’s offensive line is playing better than New England’s, and since this is a home game, I like Bill Belichick and company to pick up their 9th “W” of the season.
New England 37, Detroit 20
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
Andrew Luck has been the Colts’ offense to this point in the season. He sports 300 yard passing performances in all but one game this year, and has had to since the running game has been stagnant at times. Luckily this week Indy has a chance to get it all right against the lowly Jaguars. Coming off of a BYE, the team will be well rested and prime to go on the road and play well. However, this is an Indianapolis defense that has played extremely well against lower-level quarterbacks this season. Blake Bortles, in his rookie season, fits this description. I like Greg Toler and Vontae Davis to make life tough on him outside the numbers. The rook will toss three interceptions and the Colts roll on for a large home victory.
Indianapolis 39, Jacksonville 18
New York Jets (2-8) @ Buffalo Bills (5-5)
Each team has had time to prepare for this game; the Jets coming off of their BYE and the Bills having been idle since last Thursday. Buffalo will likely need to run the table if they hope to make it into the playoffs. They have an extremely difficult schedule coming up (playing in New England and Denver, as well as hosting the Packers), so they absolutely need to take advantage of these types of games. Playing at home should help here, and the Buffalo defense should be licking its chops as the Jets are quite careless with the ball. The Bills should take advantage of this fact and run New York out of the stadium. That said, I think this game will be closer than imagined, but the Billikens still win.
Buffalo 24, New York 18
Green Bay Packers (7-3) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-6)
After picking the Eagles secondary apart, Aaron Rodgers is likely at the top of everybody’s MVP ballot. I know he is with mine. The Packers are rolling right now, and save one ugly loss in New Orleans, I think this team would be looked at as the best team in the league by most experts. If you ask me, I say they are the best team in the league currently. This claim should be tested next week when the Patriots travel to Lambeau for a potential Super Bowl preview. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Oh, and the Pack wins this game too.
Green Bay 35, Minnesota 14
Cleveland Browns (6-4) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-6)
This is a sneaky good game. It pits the team in last place from the AFC North and the team in first place in the NFC South. Sure, on paper that sounds like it would be a mismatch, but if you look at how the season has played out for these two squads, you would know that such statements are a bit ludicrous. Atlanta’s defense has been awful for the most part this year, and Cleveland should be able to take advantage of this. I like the team to run Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell right at the Falcon front. They should be successful in this endeavor and Brian Hoyer should find some targets open down the field. With that being said, this is a game that the Falcons really need to win. Somebody has to take control of this NFC South, and Atlanta is in prime position to do it with their 4-0 divisional record. Matt Ryan will throw for 388 yards and three scores in this game leading his team to a much needed home victory in a great game.
Atlanta 28, Cleveland 24
Tennessee Titans (2-8) @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-3)
The Eagles were embarrassed on the road in Green Bay last week, but now they return home where the team is 5-0 this season. The defense has been pretty good at the Linc also and they have accumulated 17 sacks over their past two home contests. Zach Mettenberger looked good after throwing the early pick-six on Monday night against Pittsburgh, but things could get ugly for him in this game. He holds the ball too long in the pocket, and with Philly’s “D” looking to avenge last week’s loss, I’d say he could be in some trouble. The Zach Attack goes down five times and Mark Sanchez plays an average football game in a healthy Eagle win.
Philadelphia 35, Tennessee 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) @ Chicago Bears (4-6)
Mike Evans was outstanding last week against the Redskins with a final stat-line of 7-209-2. The big receiver is paired well with the 6’3” Vincent Jackson on the outside. And if you are a fan of big receivers, then what Chicago has will please you. They have Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall on the outside to go along with Martellus Bennett in the middle. Yup, it is going to be bombs away in the Windy City this Sunday. Now here is the question: who wins? The Bears have more weapons to distribute the ball to and I think Jay Cutler is better than Josh McCown in his given offense. I say the home team wins in what could turn out to be the highest scoring game of the week.
Chicago 40, Tampa Bay 30
Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1) @ Houston Texans (5-5)
Cincy is a tough team to get a read on. They will tear it up one week, but then be embarrassed the next. The team really goes as Andy Dalton goes, so depending on how he plays, the win or loss for the Bengals will follow. Dalton doesn’t always have the greatest numbers when he plays Houston, and his team tends to lose (I am, of course, referring to the two playoff games between these two back in 2011 and 2012). I say this trend gets broken here. Jeremy Hill has been great over the last month for the cats and he should be able to power for some hard yards in this game. Also, Houston is that up-and-down team this year. They are coming off of a win, so now I am thinking they are due to lose another game. I’m taking the Bengals.
Cincinnati 27, Houston 21
Sunday, November 23rd, 4:05 e.t.
St. Louis Rams (4-6) @ San Diego Chargers (6-4)
Are you ready for the ultimate bold prediction? The St. Louis front four gets to Philip Rivers early in the game, injuring him. This brings out Kellen Clemens to face his former team in a match-up of epic proportions. Okay, that isn’t going to happen… Rivers is quite the iron man, and he will have to be in this game. He will likely take a beating, but will keep getting up and firing down the field. I really want to pick the Rams to win this game because the Chargers have not been good over the past month. They managed only 13 points against the Raiders at home for Pete’s sake! Anyways, this is a team that is capable of playing great football, and I think they manage to do that this week.
San Diego 23, St. Louis 13
Arizona Cardinals (9-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
In what is (arguably) the best face-off of the week, the team with the best record in the NFL takes on the defending Super Bowl Champs. The Cardinal’s have ridden their defense to solid wins over their last three games, and have won their last six straight. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have been getting their running game going over the past month and have played well (with their only loss coming on the road to the 7-3 Chiefs last week). This is a game where the Seahawks will get back to doing what they do: running the ball and playing good defense. That has been the key to success whenever they play anybody from the NFC West at home. Even though Arizona is good against the run, I still see Seattle, the #1 running team in football, putting up 160 yards on the ground. 57 of these will come from Russell Wilson as I see his legs being a problem for the Cardinal defense. Something tells me that the ‘Hawks are going to win in a landslide, so I have to pick them to win this contest.
Seattle 31, Arizona 14
Sunday, November 23rd, 4:25 e.t.
Miami Dolphins (6-4) @ Denver Broncos (7-3)
The Dolphins have played well lately, but they are heading on the road to a hornet’s nest. The Broncos are one of the five teams in the league with a spotless home record (joining New England, Philly, Green Bay, and Arizona). Miami does have the second best defense in the league, but we all saw what Peyton Manning is capable of doing to good defenses at home when the Cardinals came to town. The Broncos won by 21. They will do it again here in a romp. Denver is too good to lose two straight games.
Denver 38, Miami 17
Washington Redskins (3-7) @ San Francisco 49ers (6-4)
The 49ers have gone from fighting for their lives two weeks ago in New Orleans to being legitimate playoff contenders here in Week 12. They have a home game against the abysmal Redskins who are really in need of good quarterback play. NFC East quarterbacks have been terrible against this San Francisco defense this season. They have combined to throw two touchdowns against ten interceptions. Good luck RGIII, you are gonna need it.
San Francisco 31, Washington 12
Sunday, November 24th, 8:30 e.t.
Dallas Cowboys (7-3) @ New York Giants (3-7)
Antrel Rolle has, once again, gone on record claiming that the Giants are going to win out to finish the season. While that may be quite the bold statement, I do give the Giants a chance this week and here is why. The defense did show signs of improvement last week against the 49ers. Odell Beckham Jr. has quietly put up monster numbers since scoring twice against these same Cowboys. And this game is being played in East Rutherford, not Dallas. Actually, that final point could be an argument in favor of the ‘Boys since they have not lost a road game this year. Anyways, I like New York’s chances going into this one. However, Dallas is coming off of a BYE and they would really like a big win going into next week’s showdown with the Eagles. It is unlikely that the Cowboys will lose, but I am going to pick the G-Men here simply because this just seems like a game with upset written all over it. I think that Dallas should win, but I like the Giants to find a way at home.
New York 27, Dallas 22
Monday, November 17th, 8:30 e.t.
Baltimore Ravens (6-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-6)
The Saints have lost their last two home games and really do not want to lose a third in a row. The Baltimore Ravens come to town, and this is a team that will look like world-beaters one week, but then will fall flat the next. This game will tell us a lot about both of these teams. Joe Flacco should be able to find some plays down the field against a New Orleans secondary that has been pretty bad at times this year. Steve Smith Sr. will score in this game and go for 89 yards. He has been pretty dormant over the past month, so I say it is time for him to break back out. On the flip side, Drew Brees has been fantastic on Monday Night Football. His only loss came in 2008 against the Vikings in a close game. In the dome, he should go bananas as the team looks to avoid falling three games under .500. This one to me is a no-brainer. There is no way the Saints lose again in the Big Easy.
New Orleans 38, Baltimore 24
Week 12 Bonus Predictions
Upset of the Week: New York Giants over Dallas
Sure Bet of the Week: Indianapolis over Jacksonville
Rookie of the Week: Odell Beckham Jr.
Offensive Player of the Week: Tom Brady
Defensive Player of the Week: Aldon Smith
Best Overall Offense: New England Patriots
Best Overall Defense: San Francisco 49ers
Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!