Tag Archives: pre game diagnosis

Championship Sunday Diagnosis: Predictions for both games on Sunday (with final score predictions)

San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons

As strange as this may sound, the Falcons have a lot to be confident about going into this game.  They ran the ball well against a team that had a good defense and Matt Ryan finally notched his first postseason victory.  Now it is time for him to go out and try for two in a row against the suddenly red-hot San Francisco 49ers.  Was what Colin Kaepernick did last Saturday merely lightning in a bottle, or is it the start of something special?  Sunday shall hold the answer to this query.  But before the Sunday extravaganza can go down, here is a prediction hot off the presses: Atlanta will not be able to run the ball as well against this stout 49ers front seven and the game will come down to Matt Ryan’s ability to throw the ball and the Falcon defense.  The bigger question mark has to lie with Mike Nolan’s unit who squandered a 20 point lead in the fourth quarter to a rookie QB.  Russell Wilson was able to make a lot happen with his legs and his arm.  Flip the page to one week later and the dirty birds find themselves faced with another youngster who can do the same thing.  Expect the Atlanta defensive coordinator to set up spies and QB contains to cut down on the amount of running from the legs of Kaepernick.  If the middle of the field is left open, it will most certainly be a mishap.  Luckily the Falcons have had the week to study what Colin did to Green Bay; maybe they will devise some kind of an answer to the mobility that could come out of the backfield.  After chaining up Marshawn Lynch last week, look for the NFC South Champs to try and do the same to Gore, who is a similar type of runner.  By the end of the game, the San Fran pass rush pressures Matt Ryan into a couple of bad decisions.  The 49ers should win this game with their defense as opposed to the route they took against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers the first time around.  San Fran should make its sixth appearance in the Super Bowl after a win down in Hot-lanta.

San Francisco 34, Atlanta 18

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots

For the purposes of this prediction, last year’s Championship Game outcome will be discounted.  Anyways, the NFL was shocked to see the Ravens put Peyton Manning down up in the frigid air of Denver last Saturday in a double overtime thriller.  Perhaps a majority of people underestimated these guys who are playing their best football of the season when it counts the most.  The most encouraging thing to see is that the Baltimore defense has elevated its game after playing uncharacteristically poorly during the regular season.  That said, is it too much to ask for them to mess with Tom Brady’s game out in New England?  Well, they did it to Manning, so there is no reason that they cannot attempt to duplicate that performance and use it to send their team to the Super Bowl this week.  Obviously the Patriots present an entirely new hurdle for the Ravens to jump.  However, if there was any team that would have help them prepare for New England, it would be the Broncos.  Because of their exposure to the no-huddle offense in thin air, this team should be more ready to face the Pats in Foxboro.  The real key to this game will lie with the Baltimore defensive line.  Will the Ravens be able to put some pressure on Brady like they did to Manning in Denver?  It will be up to the likes of Terrell Suggs, Paul Kruger, Pernell McPhee, and Haloti Ngata to get in #12’s face and force him into some bad throws.  Getting pressure with a four-man rush is paramount because Tom will carve a defense up if they are blitzing (check Week 14 vs. Houston).  In the past, the teams that have always given the Patriots trouble were those who could create pressure with a four-man rush (i.e. the New York Giants, San Francisco, and Seattle).  If there is one team in the AFC that matches up well with New England, it is these Ravens.  Heck, the only loss the Pats took to an AFC opponent was against Baltimore in Week 3.  Look for John Harbaugh’s team to do enough in this game to send him to the Super Bowl where he will take on his little brother.  That’s right, the Har-Bowl is upon us!

Baltimore 24, New England 17

Week 16 Diagnosis: Thoughts on all 15 Games from Sunday (With Final Score Predictions)

Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers

A couple of weeks ago, this game would have been hard to predict since both teams were struggling to keep up with their opponents.  Nowadays, the Panthers look like the team that everybody thought they would be this year: they are moving the ball very well on offense, Cam Newton is looking quite sharp, and the running game is beginning to come around.  They also have an underrated defense to compliment what they do on offense.  After completely shutting down San Diego last week, look for the Panthers to return home and do the same to the Raiders.  Although the Oakland defense did pitch a shutout last week (against an offensively challenged team in the Chiefs), they failed to score a touchdown of their own.  It is safe to say that the Panther defense is much better than the Kansas City defense, so do not expect the Raiders to win by kicking a bunch of field goals.  They will have to match touchdowns with the Panthers, and quite frankly that is something that they will not be able to do.  Don’t feel bad Oakland fans, this is the same Panther team that embarrassed the 12-2 Atlanta Falcons at home.  They are very much improved from the 1-6 Carolina team we saw a few weeks ago.

Carolina 34, Oakland 20


New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys

It is a little difficult to pick against the Cowboys given the roll that they have been on over the past month, but here goes nothing.  The Saints will trot into Jerry-world and pull off the (upset?).  Drew Brees will be able to chuck the ball all over the lot, and he has to have a major confidence boost after going nuts on the Tampa Bay defense a week ago.  Sure, he did pick apart the last ranked pass-defense in the league last week, but the Purdue grad has the ability to make any defense look mediocre.  This is a game that could end up looking a lot like the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game versus Washington in the sense that the Saints could sprint out to a big lead on the strength of Drew Brees’ right arm.  Tony Romo and the Cowboys will have to abandon the running game early and #9 will have to throw it 50+ times (hey, sounds like most Dallas games this season).  This one could turn into a shootout, and it is probably easier to trust Brees in a game like this rather than Romo.  Plus, aren’t the Cowboys due to lose a December game?

New Orleans 37, Dallas 30


Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers

The Pack is back.  Each proceeding week, they are looking more and more like the team that won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.  The recent emergence of their running game has really helped Aaron Rodgers.  He is finding a bit more time with the opposing defense respecting the option for the packers to run the ball, and an Aaron Rodgers with time in the pocket is lethal.  Let’s face it; the Titans’ defense isn’t winning any awards this year.  While they are not horrible, they certainly have a lot of room to improve.  Couple that with a young quarterback traveling into a hostile environment with frigid weather, and you have got yourself a possible blowout.  The only way the Titans win this game is if Chris Johnson runs for 150+ yards AND their defense is able to get constant pressure on Rodgers.  There are just too many things that have to go right for a Tennessee upset, so it is easier just to pick the Packers.  They could be the NFC’s hottest team right now.  Perhaps that loss to the Giants a few weeks back was the spark they needed to get on a roll.

Green Bay 29, Tennessee 14


Minnesota Vikings @ Houston Texans

It is very tempting to pick the Vikes here, it really is, however if there is one thing that the Texans’ defense does well it is shutting down running backs.  They have only allowed a 100 yard rusher twice this season, and are very good at making a team one dimensional.  Unfortunately for the Vikings, they are already a one dimensional team so they are halfway defeated before even stepping on to the field.  The teams that have beaten the Texans this year had elite quarterbacks who could sling it all over the field.  Christian Ponder is not quite Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, so do not expect him to dominate this football game.  The only way the Vikings can win is if, once again, Adrian Peterson shoulders the load.  He may have been able to do it quite a bit this season, but the Houston will probably not give one lick of respect to the Minnesota passing game.  Not to mention that the Vikes like to throw a lot of quick passes.  JJ Watt will be salivating over the abundance of chances he will have to swat the ball down.  It is quite simple to say that if you stop Adrian Peterson, you stop the Vikings.  However, most teams have not been able to do so.  If any team is built to do this, it is Houston.  This could be a rough week for Minnesota fans.

Houston 23, Minnesota 10


New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Upset alert!!!  Not so fast, the Jags probably do not have a chance here.  They have a knack for performing poorly at home, and with New England coming to town there is almost no chance for Jacksonville to rewrite the script that has been in place for over a year.  The Pats are upset about losing to a good football team, so they should come out this week and play a stellar ball game.  Chad Henne has had a couple of good performances against the Patriots in the past, but this week will not prove to be his.  New England should be ready to rock and roll.  The Jaguars will simply be in their way on their road to a deep playoff run.

New England 38, Jacksonville 13


Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Colts can lock up a playoff spot with a win against the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead on Sunday.  Andrew Luck will probably have the ball in his hands quite a bit because he will have to sling it around quite a bit in the postseason if Indy hopes to make a deep run.  They should be able to take down the Chiefs in this one, but do not be surprised if they are unable to.  For some odd reason this game feels like a trap for Bruce Arians and company.  Despite this, this pick will reflect the Colts nailing down their first playoff berth of the Andrew Luck era.

Indianapolis 27, Kansas City 10


Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

It is awfully tough to pick the Bills after seeing the effort they put forth against Seattle last week.  However, they were able to down the ‘Phins during the first meeting of these two teams and are primed to do it again.  Since Miami is still grasping onto a nearly hopeless possibility of some postseason play, they should come out motivated on both sides of the ball.  Reggie Bush should have a nice game while CJ Spiller may find it a little tough to gain ground against a stout Miami run defense (which ranks eighth in the league).  This one has the makings of another Dolphin gritty victory; you know a 14-10/17-14/21-17 type game?  The Bills have also not found a lot of success lately when traveling to the Sunshine State.  They have lost three of the past four times traveling down there.

Miami 20, Buffalo 15


San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets

A couple of years ago, this would have been a must-see game.  These days, the Chargers and Jets have failed to pack much of an offensive punch in their contests.  Each fell to four win teams a week ago and looked horrible in the process.  The Jets have not looked good at all over the past month and it is getting hard to pick them.  The winner of this game will be the team that can move the ball the best against the opposing defense.  In this situation, it seems right to pick the Chargers.  They did have a nice showing in Pittsburgh two weeks ago, so it is always possible that they could string a performance like that together again.  Also, it seems very unlikely that Greg McElroy will solve any of the problems that the Jets have.  None of the quarterbacks on that team have much of a chance at turning the New York Jets’ fortunes around.  That is the sad truth.

San Diego 23, New York 13


Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles

It is almost certain that RGIII will be stepping under center for this game as the young quarterback makes his first trip to a hostile Philadelphia.  A win for the Redskins is paramount since they control their own destiny to the playoffs.  They also have the easier opponent this week, so this will be a great chance for them to possibly claim an undisputed lead of the NFC East with one week to go (provided both New York and Dallas lose).  While looking bad at home this season, the Eagles have a long history of making life tough on opponents in Philly during December.  Their defense seems to have turned the corner and can probably do a much better job at containing RGIII since this will be their second time facing him.  It is unlikely that they will be torched deep with such frequency in this game, but the ‘Skins should have an extra trick or two up their sleeves that will help them earn their ninth victory (and sixth straight).  Expect Washington to run the ball well against a defense that has allowed two running backs to rush for over 100 yards in consecutive weeks (after not allowing that to happen in any game this season before them).

Washington 31, Philadelphia 16


Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers

This is arguably the biggest game of the week.  It is essentially a playoff game for the teams involved since the winner will probably make the postseason while the loser will miss it.  It is also very likely that the winner of this game will travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs (if the AFC seeding remains the same over the next two weeks).  The Bengals did not look good against Philadelphia last week, but they did have a week and a half to reflect on their bad play.  Ben Roethlisberger is coming back home after throwing a costly pick in overtime during their loss to Dallas.  The Steelers have not won since #7’s return and their defense is not playing all that well.  Luckily for them, all of this can be erased with a win here.  Pittsburgh seems to be the reasonable choice here because they know what to do in these types of games.  Plus they are playing at home (where they are 4-2 on the season) and have dominated the Bengals over the last few meetings.  Andy Dalton may play well, but in the end it will be the Steelers who close the door on the surging Cincinnati team.

Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 20


St Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Rams mounted a pretty good comeback effort last week about Minnesota, but they just could not dig themselves out of a 26 point hole by the end of the game.  Jeff Fisher coached teams rarely find themselves down by that much, so expect the Rams to come back and play some much more inspired football this week.  They also have slight playoff hopes (on life-support).  So, they still have something to play for.  Tampa Bay looks like the same team that lost ten straight to end the last season.  Josh Freeman needs to get back on the horse here against a team that has looked average at best against the pass at times this year.  It will be hard for the Rams to run against this #1 ranked rush-defense in the league, so look for Bradford to sling it again (who is will be coming in with a lot of confidence off of his 377 yard game from last week).  Those odds play in St Louis’ favor and they should be able to go down to Tampa and win on Sunday.  This one should be a very good game.

St Louis 20, Tampa Bay 19


Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos

The Broncos seem to be unstoppable right now.  They are blowing teams out every week and sticking it to practically every opposing QB with their suffocating defensive scheme.  Give a lot of credit to Jack Del Rio (who is one of the unsung heroes of this Denver team what with all of the Peyton Manning stories).  He has this defense playing at a level that is reminiscent of their glory days back as the orange crush… hey, maybe it has something to do with them reverting back to orange jerseys.  Anyways, the Broncos should roll the Browns to the side here.  Cleveland has been playing extremely well as of late, but if they got burnt at home by a rookie quarterback in their first start, just imagine what Peyton Manning at home could do to them.  It could be a long afternoon for the dog pound.

Denver 33, Cleveland 9


Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals

This is a clash between two teams whose best offense is their good defense.  Last week the Cardinals blew out the Lions at home, aided by two pick-sixes from Ray Horton’s unit.  Well, the Bears are no strangers to defensive scores; they lead the league with eight of them.  There may not be a ton of points scored, but if you like 1970’s football then this is the perfect type of game to watch.  The Cards finally snapped their nine game losing streak while the Bears have lost five of their last six.  There is no question that the Bears absolutely need to win this game if they want any chance at saving their season.  It is that kind of desperation that will propel them to a nice victory on the road.  It may not be very pretty (most Arizona games are not) but it will be effective.  Chicago’s heart will still continue to beat after this week when their beloved team picks up their ninth win.

Chicago 19 Arizona 10


New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens

Three straight Baltimore losses have the Ravens fans worried sick.  They have dropped their last two at home where they looked unbeatable at for a couple of years.  So it may be jumping the gun a little bit to say that there is a definite hometown advantage in this game.  Also, Eli Manning has made it a habit to rain on a home team’s parade, specifically late in the season and into the postseason.  After all, the Giants do have the reputation for being the ultimate road warriors.  They were embarrassed by the Falcons last week on the road though, and will face a team with a similar offense in a similar situation this week.  It is probably safe to say that New York will play a little bit better on offense than they did a week ago against Atlanta.  Plus, the Raven defense is not as good as the Falcons’ (that is something that hasn’t been said in quite some time).  Eli Manning should get back on the ball and lead his team to a significant increase in offensive production.  Maybe Tom Coughlin will not go for it on fourth down and short every time he has the ball in opponent’s territory this time.  With that being said, it is best to go with the Ravens here.  They simply do not lose three straight at home and four in a row.  The Giants have not been playing their best football as of late either and the Ravens actually have the better team in a lot of people’s eyes.  Look for Baltimore to win in a statement game for them as they gear up for the playoffs.

Baltimore 30, New York 23


San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

With the way these two teams are playing, it is hard to pick against either one of them.  This is shaping up to be the most intriguing game on the Week 16 slate because it pits two fierce rivals who are each playing the best football possible.  It will also take place during primetime in front of a raucous crowd.  Of course, the last time that Century Link Field played host to a night game was when the infamous “Fail Mary” catch occurred.  Expect nothing of the sort in this contest.  But a good defensive battle is easy to anticipate… or is it?  The ‘Hawks have outscored their opponents by the count of 108-17 over the past two games.  The Niners are fresh off of a huge win in New England and are in the driver’s seat to take their division and possibly a first round BYE.  It is so hard to pick against them here given that their offense is looking brilliant with Colin Kaepernick at the helm.  It is important to keep in mind that the Seahawks are 6-0 at home and have beaten very good teams there as well.  This game is a virtual toss-up and should be a good one.  The Seahawks will capitalize on the home-field advantage in a late-night thriller though as they trump the 49ers in Seattle to cap off Week 16.

Seattle 22, San Francisco 20

Week 16 Diagnosis- Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions: Prediction Plus Final Score

Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions

After seeing what these two teams are capable of following their Week 15 performances (for Atlanta; the good, for Detroit; the bad) this week should be fairly easy to predict.  The Falcons are a much more complete team and they are basically the anti-Lions.  They do not commit stupid penalties, turnovers are not plentiful with them, and they finish their games out.  Not to mention that the Dirty Birds will clinch the #1 seed in the NFC with a win on Saturday.  There is simply too much to like about Mike Smith’s team as they head into the Motor City.  Matthew Stafford could really use a nice bounce-back game after looking miserable against Arizona last week.  However, if the Falcon defense plays like it did last week against the Giants then it could be a long day for the Lions.  Stafford should be able to put up decent stats, but it will be in a losing effort because the Falcons will probably be able to get a good running game going (of all things).  As of right now, that is the only thing this good offense is missing.

Atlanta 35, Detroit 16


Final score predictions for all other 15 games will be out later tonight!

Week 15 Diagnosis: Preview and Final Score Predictions for all 16 Games

Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles

In the season finale of Thursday Night Football, the Bengals find themselves in a must-win game against the Eagles.  Before last week’s games went final, nobody would have thought that Philly had a fighting chance in this game.  Cincinnati leads the NFL in sacks and the scotch-tape offensive line of the Eagles has been one of their major weaknesses this season.  Also, practically their entire offense is injured; that normally spells trouble.  The Eagles had lost eight straight games and were on the verge of dropping their ninth when Nick Foles pulled off a beautiful 2 minute drill and lead his team back from a two score deficit to win on the final play.  At about the same time, the Bengals relinquished their two-score lead to the Cowboys and lost the game courtesy of a Dallas field goal, also on the final play.  Before this game, Cincy was looking like it was ready to go on a run and they were playing really well.  Their momentum was crushed with last Sunday’s loss.  Even so, they can get back on the train if they are able to pick up a win in Philly on Thursday.  This will be easier said than done.  As an interesting little nugget, the Eagles have not dropped a game during Week 15 since 2001.  Philadelphia does not frequently lose home games in December either.  Therefore, the Bengals will have their work cut out for them.  This time when these two teams meet, it will probably not end up in a tie like it did in 2008.  It is likely that the Eagles add another win to their record given their impressive late-season statistics and the fact that Cincy has to travel on a short week to a hostile environment.  This one should be close throughout, but the Bengals will come up on the short end of the stick.

Philadelphia 24, Cincinnati 21


New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons

This is a game between two teams that seem to have their eyes on the NFC Championship this season.  It is also a rematch of the Wild Card game from last season, however this time around it will be played in the dome.  Matty Ice does not lose in the dome.  The Falcons are a perfect 6-0 at home this season and have beaten some decent teams at home.  This probably does not phase New York since they have developed the reputation for being road warriors.  Unfortunately for the G-Men, they will not be able to rely on starting in Atlanta territory on 75% of their drives like they did last week against the Saints.  Matt Ryan can be lights out at home as well.  With this porous Giants’ secondary, this could spell trouble.  Look for the Falcons to go to the air to pick up big chunks of yardage en route to a solid win at home.  Besides, the Giants usually have a typical December setback.  This could be that game.

Atlanta 28, New York 20


Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens

With Jim Caldwell becoming the new defensive coordinator, the Ravens could be willing to run the ball a lot more with their talented backfield duo.  Yards have been hard to come by through the air against this Broncos’ defense as of late.  Quarterbacks are completing a very low percentage of deep balls against them, and Joe Flacco loves to go deep.  Plus, the Ravens entire defense is banged up.  It is tough enough to play Peyton Manning with a fully healthy defense; it is an entirely new obstacle to overcome when you don’t have a bunch of your key players.  The Broncos present a ton of match-up problems as well on offense.  The only way the Ravens have a chance in this one is if they can successfully trade points with the Broncos.  This will not happen and the Ravens will drop their third straight.

Denver 38, Baltimore 24


Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

If the Bears don’t come out motivated to earn a win in this one, then they will never do so at all this season.  A Green Bay win would lead to a lockup of the division in their favor.  A Chicago win won’t lead to a division championship right away, but it could after the outcomes of games during Week 16 and 17.  If nothing else, a win at home versus the Pack will almost guarantee the Bears a Wild Card spot.  Jay Cutler should be good to go in this one, so that will not be a problem.  What will be is the Chicago run defense.  Lately, teams have been able to scamper for nice handfuls of yardage against this unit.  Why is this so important for the Packers?  Well, since their win against Minnesota, Green Bay seems to have found a running attack.  This bodes very well for the Green and Gold; it helped them out quite a bit during their 2010 run at the Super Bowl.  The Packers should try to exploit this weakness and stick to the ground and run between the tackles.  Running outside against the Bears may not be a good idea with Charles Tillman waiting to punch the ball out.  The key to this game will be each team’s offensive line play.  Each has allowed a bunch of sacks to their quarterbacks this season.  With the return of Clay Mathews, the advantage of a pass rush would have to go to the Pack.  Cutler may have a tough day if he is able to live in the backfield.  Anyways, the Packers should win this one and their second straight division title simply because they seem to be becoming more balanced with regards to their play calling.  Their defense has also been stepping it up lately and if they can contain Brandon Marshall like they did Calvin Johnson last week, this game could become elementary.

Green Bay 23, Chicago 16


Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns

One way or another, this game will become a battle of rookie quarterbacks (with the Redskins offering up either RGIII or Kirk Cousins to face the Browns’ Brandon Weeden) and running backs (Alfred Morris vs. Trent Richardson).  Believe it or not, Cleveland is riding a three game winning streak while the Redskins boast four straight wins.  The ‘Skins have looked good on offense throughout this entire year with RGIII.  If he is a scratch, this game could become an issue for Washington.  They do need this game badly because if they triumph here, they can close out the season against Philadelphia and Dallas.  Wins in both of those games plus this one could be enough to land them in the playoffs.  No matter who the Redskins send out at QB, they will be leaning heavily on their rushing attack.  The Browns will be able to attack through the air against this 31st ranked pass defense.  Expect them to do so as they try to build up some momentum for next year.  With the anticipation that this game will come down to a defensive battle, it is only fitting to select the team that can play better defense.  As of right now this is the Browns (and as a bonus this game will be played in Cleveland).  Pat Shurmur’s team should pull this one off on the strength of a boatload of Phil Dawson field goals.

Cleveland 22, Washington 14


Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

This is the first time of many that Andrew Luck will get a crack at the Houston Texans in his career.  Houston is coming off of a disappointing and disturbing loss to New England in Foxboro.  They may return home mad at themselves and ready to pound the living daylights out of someone, or they could come in and play rather lethargically as if the air was just let out of their balloon.  The Colts have something to prove as well; they want to show that they can compete with the big-boys of the division and that they are worthy of playoff competition this year.  A Houston win will solidify their spot atop the AFC South perch and an Indy win could make things a little interesting down the stretch.  The Texans should come out firing after being held to a meager 14 points on Monday night.  Luck can keep up if this game turns into a track meet, but it is only appropriate to go with a veteran (in Schaub) over a mistake-prone rookie in these types of games.  Each defense is struggling, so it will be up to the offenses to even the odds.  At this point, the Texans hold a slight edge in that category given their ability to run and throw the ball.  Houston should bounce back and lock up their division in the process.

Houston 30, Indianapolis 28


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins

The Chad Henne bowl will be on display in Miami this weekend.  He will be gazing at a shadow of himself in Ryan Tannehill.  Miami is pretty much dead in the water given their recent loss to San Francisco.  Jacksonville has been dead for a long time now… so there will not be much to play for in this game.  With this in mind, it will be the Jaguars who manage to swallow their pride and take the road loss.  Henne has not looked as explosive as he was ever since the Jags last win vs. Tennessee.  This will lead to a get-well game for Miami’s defense.

Miami 17, Jacksonville 7


Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

Two weeks ago these two teams seemed to be in serious playoff contention.  Now in Week 15, each seems to be left on the porch with losing records.  Both are coming off of equally disappointing losses to NFC East squads and will be looking to vent their frustration on one another.  There is almost no reason to not expect this game to turn into a shootout.  Two of the worst pass defenses in the league will be on display and each quarterback will be looking for some vengeance after not playing at the top of their games last weekend.  Running against the Bucs defense is becoming impossible to do, so the Saints will have to rely on Drew Brees to carry the team… again.  This usually does not bode well for New Orleans.  Also, these two have split the season series for four consecutive years.  Since the Saints have already won, look for Tampa Bay to pick up their seventh win of the year here and continue to add to the misery that has turned out to be the 2012 New Orleans Saints.

Tampa Bay 43, New Orleans 30


Minnesota Vikings @ St Louis Rams

The psychic who predicted that this game would turn out to be very important for a reason other than the determination of who gets the first round draft pick next season should win a gold medal.  Essentially, this will become a playoff game since the loser will find themselves on their couches during the real postseason.  This one is also rather difficult to predict as well.  The Rams do a good job at shutting down what other teams do best.  In this case, it will require them stopping A.P.  The Vikings generally do a nice job at preventing big plays and pass coverage.  Since the Rams do not present the big issue of an explosive offense, the Vikes can rest easy.  The reason why this game is going to go to Minnesota is because of number #28 in the backfield.  This beast is chasing history and will inch even closer to a 2,000 yard season with another 100+ yard performance in St Louis.  The Rams do not play their best ball all the time when it comes to opponents outside of the NFC West either.

Minnesota 27, St Louis 20


Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals do not have an offense.  It does not matter what their defense is able to do, their offense will not be able to help them in any way.  After turning it over eight times and losing 58-0 in Seattle last week, it is easy to understand why the Lions should run away with this one.  The fact that they are playing in Arizona helps, but it will not lead to the Cards snapping their nine-game losing streak.

Detroit 38, Arizona 3


Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills

After their rout of Arizona last week, one has to wonder if this Seattle team has what it takes to actually make a run at a Super Bowl.  They have a great defense, a solid rushing attack, and a rookie quarterback who just gets it.  There is not much else that a team needs to have success in this league.  The one problem with Seattle is the fact that they do struggle on the road from time to time.  Will this be a game where that happens?  Probably not, but it would not be surprising.  The biggest story of this game will be the fact that Marshawn Lynch is returning to Buffalo for the first time since they cut ties with him in 2009.  He should get the ball in his belly at least 20 times and run like a monster as he looks to place a guilt-trip on the Bills.  Russell Wilson will not have to do much in this one, his surrounding cast will handle the deed for him.

Seattle 23, Buffalo 10


Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers

It is crazy to think that each of these teams are coming off of wins versus Pittsburgh and Atlanta respectively, but this is true.  It is also a proven fact that if Carolina and San Diego do not turn the ball over, their teams win games.  Cam Newton is looking more and more like himself over the last few games and he has not turned it over since the Panthers lost to Tampa Bay.  Philip Rivers may have discovered gold in wide-out Danario Alexander.  The two of them hooked up for a couple of scores against Pittsburgh last week.  Cam Newton and Greg Olsen are developing the same kind of rapport on their side of the ball as well.  In addition, both of these defenses can play well at times.  Overall, we are looking at two teams that have the ability to shock a tough opponent on any given Sunday.  With this in mind, there will be no shock with whoever picks up this win.  The Panthers will win this one though because it is more likely that Philip Rivers will make an extra turnover rather than Newton who (as mentioned above) is playing safe with the ball as of late.  Panthers win… barely.

Carolina 17, San Diego 16


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are like an old car battery: they do work well at times but could self-destruct at any given moment.  Plus most people are counting on them to die out eventually.  Throughout the years this would have been an appropriate metaphor, but this season is looking a little different since Dallas has not lost in December yet.  Tony Romo is having a great year and is just piling up the yardage (much like a car with this old battery).  The one downside to the Cowboys’ game is the fact that the team cannot run the ball.  Things do not look to get any easier against the Steelers this week.  Pittsburgh will be playing with some possible added motivation; if the Ravens lose to Denver, then the Black and Yellow would have an opportunity to pull even with them in a win in Big-D.  Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have been struggling recently and will have their hands full with a bunch of wide receivers that love to stretch the field.  The Cowboys have been beat deep more than a couple of times this season as well.  Pittsburgh may head outside of its game a little bit if they decide to attack deep throughout this one.  Their defense should be able to shut down a Dallas WR corp that will be without Dez Bryant in this one.  There is just too much to like about the Steelers in this matchup.  Their strengths will take full advantage of the Cowboys’ weaknesses and help them win this game.

Pittsburgh 20, Dallas 10


Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

Which team is worse?  That is the real logic behind this pick.  It is very tempting to pick the Chiefs since they have been playing better as of late.  Jamaal Charles could gash the Raiders for a couple of long scores as well.  However, that 30-7 loss they suffered at the feet of the Cleveland Browns really makes it hard to roll with Kansas City in this situation.  Oakland was able to hang around in their game against Denver last week as well, so they probably have more of a fighting chance than do the Chiefs.  The Raiders should triumph here simply because Kansas City does not provide any reason for people to believe they can win.  At least Oakland hung tough against Denver…

Oakland 20, Kansas City 12


San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots

If Giants @ Falcons, Packers @ Bears, Colts @ Texans, or Steelers @ Cowboys were not enough to quench a football fan’s thirst for this week, then this game certainly will.  It pits two teams that are arguably the very best in their individual conferences, a great offense versus a great defense, and a surefire hall of famer in Tom Brady squaring off against the up and coming Colin Kaepernick.  This also might be the second consecutive Sunday Night snow game.  What is missing from this game that a normal football fan would want?  Anyways, outside of how good the matchup is, there are specific things that do single out a winner.  For instance, the Patriots simply do not lose in the second half of the season.  They also do not lose at home… ever.  Their one loss over the past two seasons came in Week 2 vs. Arizona this year (which, to this day, is a head-scratcher).  Tom Brady loves playing teams that decide to use man coverage and blitz, which is partially why New England dominated last week against Houston.  San Francisco will present a new challenge entirely.  They can get consistent pressure on a quarterback without blitzing and can play coverage with the best receivers.  The 49ers were built to beat teams like New England.  An effective running game will be much desired as well if the conditions take a turn for the worst.  This would heavily favor the 49ers, who specialize in counters and sweeps.  The Pats defense is fast, but it may not be fast enough to stop the San Fran RBs if they are able to gain the edge.  Colin Kaepernick will prove to be a game-breaker as well.  Brandon Spike, Jerod Mayo, and Dont’a Hightower will be sprinting their tails off all game trying to spy and tackle this man.  Eventually they will wear down and quite frankly, the Patriots don’t have any shutdown cornerbacks as of right now.  The 49ers present the biggest challenge New England will face all year.  For Week 15, San Francisco will seem as though they are the best team in the NFL with a win.

San Francisco 26, New England 24


New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans

Somehow, some way, the Jets are still alive in the playoff race.  They have proven that they can win games this season, but that only happens if they form a good ground attack.  If the Jets fall behind then they may be in trouble since they will have to pass the ball (which has been a disaster for them so far this season).  Tennessee gets a home game on a Monday night; this will cause the fans to be very rowdy and they will make things difficult on Mark Sanchez.  Through all of this, it seems reasonable to say that the Jets find some way to win this game.  It may take a return TD, or a miraculous Sanchez comeback, but it is going to happen.  Say what you want about Rex Ryan and his job as a coach.  At least he has his team in a position to make a prayer about the playoffs.  His team will salvage the moment and squeak by Tennessee (who may have some questions at quarterback after this season expires).

New York 16, Tennessee 13


Last week was a very busy week for me.  I did not get the chance to post reviews of each game.  I will make sure to get back on that for Week 15 starting on Friday.  Be sure to check back!

Week 12 Diagnosis: Carolina Panthers @ Philadelphia Eagles- Pre-Game Breakdown and Final Score Prediction

If there was ever a time for the Eagles’ defense to get right, it would be in this game against the Panthers.  Despite playing poorly against the run, the Eagles have only let up three scores on the ground all year (which is in the top three in the league).  The Panthers are not running the ball very well at all, so Philly may be able to send an extra guy back on pass coverage and play a lot of man-to-man coverage. This could force Cam Newton to make some tight and precise throws, which he has not proven he can do so far this year.  While this all sounds fine and dandy, the Eagles will be without their two best players on offense in Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy (each is out with a concussion).  It will be up to Nick Foles to be smart with the ball and Bryce Brown to run hard with it.  Brown has been impressive in his limited action this season.  Now with a game all to himself he will get a chance to show Eagles fans exactly what he is made out of.  Chris Polk should get some playing time as well in this game.  Look for a big game out of each tight end in Brent Celek and Greg Olsen; each should find the end zone in what will be a close game.  Close games have been the Panthers’ worst nightmare this year and the Eagles have benefited three times from games that were decided by less than a field goal.  The Eagles will get back to winning by a slim margin, this time by three.

Philadelphia 24, Carolina 21