It can’t already be Thanksgiving can it? The NFL Season keeps chugging along whether we like it or not and the race for the playoffs are really heating up now that there are only six weeks left to the regular season. Six more chances for teams to pave their way (five if you are the Titans or Browns). Who is going to win the cruddy AFC South or highly competitive AFC West? Can anybody catch the Seahawks or Cowboys in the NFC East and West? Are teams like the Giants, Dolphins, Redskins, and Lions actually playoff calibur? Oh, the fun is just beginning. As always, I like to start the preview of the week off with a fun little list, and this time I want to vent about the top ten overrated players. We will then preview and pick all of this weekend’s games, including the three appetizing Thanksgiving day contests. Let’s get to it.
Top 10 Overrated Players in the NFL
#10- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: We begin our list with a Super Bowl champion and former league MVP. A lot of people still look at him as an elite quarterback, which he is still capable of being (just look at last Sunday night), but there are things in his game that bother me and ban me from placing him among the upper-echelon of quarterbacks. He can certainly get back on that pedestal, but until then he will need to improve some mechanics in his game.
#9- Victor Cruz, WR, Giants: I place Cruz on this list simply because of the media and how they hype him up to be some sort of game-breaker when in all reality he is just another receiver for the New York corps. He has played well since returning from a nearly two year hiatus, but there is some phantom misconception that he is returning to elite form since coming back. I blame the NYC market for this one.
#8- Rey Maualuga, LB, Bengals: It blows my mind when people still say that Maualuga is one of the better linebackers in the league. He hasn’t been for a long time. Too many missed tackles and blown assignments for my liking. He has name value among many Bengal fans, but in terms of on-field ability he is average at best.
#7- Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks: Don’t get me wrong, I love Richard Sherman. He is one of the very best in the league at his position but is constantly touted as a shutdown corner. He handles himself well against those “almost-there” wide receivers, but can get beaten by the smaller, quicker guys and was destroyed by Julio Jones this year. He is a great player, just not as great as the media wants him to be.
#6- Jason Peters, LT, Eagles: There was once a day when you could argue that Peters was the best tackle in the league. Those days have passed, but a lot of people still praise him like he is great. To me, he is slow off the line of scrimmage and is more easily beat around the edge than ever before due to him aging. He also leads the NFL in false start penalties which doesn’t help his stock either.
#5- Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders: It might be crazy to include a kicker on this list, but it has to be done. If you ask people on the streets who the best kicker in the league is, some might throw his name into the mix, but he has only made 75% of his field goals this year. Yikes! That would put 25 kickers ahead of him that have attempted at least 15 FGs this season.
#4- Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets: I wasn’t going to put Revis on this list originally, but I pretty much have to given the sharp decline in his play. While he has fallen out of favor with most of the media as he has become (in his own words) too old, there are still some writers out there who are making excuses for him and still believe he is one of the best. I am not one of them, so it seems fitting to include him on this list.
#3- Joe Flacco/Eli Manning/Colin Kaepernick: This spot is less for the players and more for the term “elite”. I hate using that word as it is overstated. These three guys were at one point or another deemed as “elite” and clearly never were. They all got hot at important times, but were simply never on par with players like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning at their best.
#2- Clay Matthews, LB, Packers: I remember when people would call Clay Matthews one of the best players in football. These days he is struggling to stay healthy and is not getting the rush on passers that he used to. Furthermore, he misses a lot of tackles and is constantly over-pursuing. It’s crazy to think that some people would still call him one of the best LBs in the league.
#1- Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: I could get burned at the stake for this one as it is slightly unfair to peg him as overrated due to the weapons he has at his disposal but to me this guy has everything any quarterback could ask for: a great offensive line and running game, a defense that limits the other team’s scoring chances, and some decent talent to throw it to. The fact that he is receiving buzz for MVP is mind-boggling because I think most quarterbacks in this league could do what Dak is doing if they were in his advantageous situation.
Now, on to a lighter topic: the game previews!
Last Week: 10-4
Thursday, November 24th, 12:30 e.t.
Minnesota Vikings (6-4) @ Detroit Lions (6-4)
Our Week 12 odyssey begins with a huge matchup in Detroit for the annual Lions’ Thanksgiving day game. This is a battle between the top two teams in the NFC North, and the two squads who will likely be the only ones competing for that division (more on that in a bit). The last time these teams hooked horns was a couple of weeks ago in Minnesota i a thriller when Matt Prater blasted a 59 yard field goal at the end of regulation allowing the Lions to settle the score in overtime with a long, mythotical drive orchestrated by Matthew Stafford. That has been the recipe this season for Detroit, which is why a lot of their games breeze by. Control the ball and the clock and keep that lack-luster defense off the field. Things did not go so well for them last week against Jacksonville, however, as their D was able to stifle Jim-Bob Cooter’s attack. In fact, this has become a constant issue for them as they continue to fall into offensive lulls game after game. That has to catch up to them at some point and I think it will this week. The Vikings finally snapped their four game losing streak with a narrow home win over Arizona a week ago. While it was not an impressive showing from their offense, the defense did manage a return touchdown while special teams mustered a kickoff return for a touchdown. Given that the Lions’ defense has not been that great this season, I can see the Vikes making more plays than they have at any other point over the last month. Their defense should be able to slow down Detroit’s offense as well because I don’t think that Matthew Stafford can carry this team forever without the help of a running game. Minnesota has no help on the ground either, but they have a terrific D and that will be the difference on Thursday.
Minnesota 23, Detroit 10
Thursday, November 24th, 4:30 e.t.
Washington Redskins (6-3-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (9-1)
Second up on a great Thanksgiving slate is a streaking Washington club versus the proud owners of a nine game winning streak in their own right (which started against these very Redskins). This NFC East bout has produced some thrillers over the years, and America is hoping to see another this week. Lately, the Cowboys have been blowing the doors off of their opponents by running the ball and playing turnover-free football on offense. Their defense has held serve and been good enough to hold the adversary to just 18.7 points per game. The offense has put up 400+ yards in eight straight contests, the longest streak since the 2013 Denver Broncos. It is not hard to see why Dallas has dominated lately. Meanwhile, the Redskins have gotten hot on offense in their own right. Kirk Cousins has been playing lights out and finally beating teams with winning records and looking good in the process. “Fat Rob”, as the kids call him, Robert Kelly just got done ripping the Packers for over 100 yards and three touchdowns as well so Washington could not be on a better roll than they are as they travel to Dallas. However, they may be running into a buzz saw here if their “D” cannot hold America’s Team back. The Redskins will have to beat the Cowboys at their own game if they hope to win this one, and that means running the ball, scoring points, and holding Dallas to three instead of seven when the ball in in the red zone. I certainly think that Kirk Cousins is capable of hanging around later on, but in the end I don’t see Washington’s defense doing enough on the road to deliver them a third straight win.
Dallas 27, Washington 20
Thursday, November 24th, 8:30 e.t.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
The final game of the juicy triple-header pits two .500 teams against one another. At first blush, it is easy to say that this one lacks firepower of two first place AFC powerhouses like the schedule makers thought it would back in April, but then you look at the standings and realize that both teams are only one win away from getting their season back on track. Both clubs are hungry for a victory, and that could make for an entertaining game. Indianapolis’ defense has not been great overall this season, but they have certainly picked it up quite a bit as of late. They will have to be good against the Steelers offense, that is capable of dropping 40 burgers out of thin air. Pittsburgh’s offense did struggle on the road in Cleveland, however, which is the fuel I need to make this pick. While I doubt that Ben Roethlisberger produces a second straight stinker, I don’t think that his elevated play will be enough while traveling to Indy. The Colts have taken some huge losses to the Steelers lately, but those all came in Pittsburgh. This time around the game is being played inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Andrew Luck is in concussion protocol following the win against Tennessee last week and is a huge question mark heading into this contest. That bears watching because the outcome of this game hinges on whether or not #12 will play. On the Pittsburgh side, Le’Veon Bell has somehow managed to put up good numbers but not look dominant over the past two weeks. Against a Colt “D” that did a nice job stopping the Tennessee rushing attack, I can see him going for 85 yards and a score, which I predict to be not enough. This just seems like it would have been a classic Andrew Luck show on Thanksgiving, and I would have picked them if he was going to be in. Unfortunately we may be stuck watching a Scott Tolzein versus Ben Roethlisberger showdown. Of course, I reserve the right to change this pick if Indy ends up clearing Luck to play in the end.
Pittsburgh 35, Indianapolis 14
Sunday, November 27th, 1:00 e.t.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8) @ Buffalo Bills (5-5)
The Bills brought their overall record back to .500 with a gritty win in Cincinnati against a desperate Bengal team. Their defense probably played their best game of the season while the offense was held down a bit by Cincy’s “D”. In the end they were able to defeat the hapless Bengals and stay relevant in the AFC. Honestly, they missed their chance to play a statement game on the road and it has me wondering if they are capable of being a playoff team at all. They will have a second crack at making a statement against the lowly Jaguars who are coming off of yet another loss due to some poor quarterback play out of Blake Bortles. Although Bortles did play much better than he has played for a majority of the season, he still made some awful decisions and bad throws in the game last week against Detroit. On the road in Buffalo he is going to have to be nearly perfect if he wants his team to pull off an upset. The one thing the Jags do have going for them is the fact that their run defense has been good as of late, and impenetrable last week. They will certainly be tested this week against Buffalo whose entire offense is predicated on them being able to run the ball. LeSean McCoy is hopeful to play in this one despite having to receive surgery on a dislocated finger during the week. If he can play the Bills should not have any trouble doing what they want on offense. Even if he is a scratch, I’m not sure that the team is hung out to dry with Mike Gillislee, who has been bowling through opponents this season. As long as Tyrod Taylor can avoid turning the ball over multiple times (easier done than said for him) then Buffalo should be in great shape for a sixth win.
Buffalo 36, Jacksonville 17
Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1) @ Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
Last week the Falcons were dormant, watching the Cardinals offense playing sloppy football against the Vikings. The issues with Arizona start up front because their offensive line has not been good this season. It is amazing that they are able to run the ball at all on the season, but that is a huge credit to David Johnson who is one of the best players in the league. When heading on the road to Atlanta I would say the magic number for them is 28. If the Cards can score 28 points or more, I think they can win the game. If not, then things are gonna go downhill fast for them. The Falcon offense is the best in the league, and even though Arizona boasts a great defense of their own I don’t know if I can trust them to hold up well on the road. Patrick Peterson’s kryptonite seems to be Julio Jones and the Alabama product went off for 181 yards the last time he faced PP in Atlanta. That year the Cardinals were heavy favorites to win, and ended up losing pretty big. It seems pointless bringing up a game from two years ago to pick this game, but I do think that Peterson will have his hands full with Julio in this contest. The Falcons should be getting healthy on offense in other areas, though. Tevin Coleman will be back for this game and you can bet the Matt Ryan will be trying to slip the ball to him out of the backfield. This is something that Arizona has struggled to stop over their last couple of seasons. Ultimately, the matchup that has me worried for the Cardinals, and is the reason I am picking against them, is their shaky offensive line against a suddenly competent Atlanta pass rush.
Vic Beasley has been a beast lately and should live in the backfield and make life rough on Carson Palmer in this one. I think that Palmer faces a lot of heat in this game and makes a mistake or two like he did last week. There is also a severe step up in the offense from their adversary from Minnesota to Atlanta. That difference will be felt. The Falcons get back on track after their BYE in a nice home win against a crippled Cardinal team.
Atlanta 27, Arizona 23
Tennessee Titans (5-6) @ Chicago Bears (2-8)
The Titans can’t seem to get over the .500 hump, or beat the Colts for that matter, as they fell by seven on the road to Indy last week. Their defense was unable to stop Indianapolis early, and was frankly lucky to only give up 24 on the road as the Colts receivers contributed with a couple of big drops as well as a missed field goal. Luckily for Tennessee they have a perfect opportunity to rebound in Chicago against a Bear team that has shown almost nothing on offense outside of Jordan Howard. Howard is currently carrying the offense and that is not normally a good sign if your team’s success is dependent on how a rookie plays. That means that there is a serious lack of talent elsewhere. The Bears almost stole a victory on the road in East Rutherford last week, but the Jay Cutler remembered he was Jay Cutler and threw a horrible pick to Landon Collins in crunch time. To make matters worse, Cutler is reported to have suffered torn labrum injury, which will likely sideline him for the rest of the season.
I had a hard time deciding whether or not the Chicago defense was good in that game or if the Giants offense was just that bad, and I think it was a combination of both. Jerrell Freeman has played at an all-pro level for the Bears, but they did suffer a devastating loss of Leonard Floyd in the middle, a player who was finally playing to his potential. That does not bode well for them as they get ready to host a Titan team that can score points and move the ball. Tennessee has a funky grove of winning a game and then losing one. They will be taking on Denver following a BYE, which could produce an L, but there is no reason they should fall to the Bears, whose defense is very inconsistent. I like them to wear Chicago down with their running game, which should include more of Marcus Mariota who can be dynamic with the ball in his hands.
Tennessee 41, Chicago 17
New York Giants (7-3) @ Cleveland Browns (0-11)
So Cleveland, with their eleventh loss, is officially eliminated from playoff contention this season. It is hard looking at the Browns schedule and determining where their win will come from. I think there is a chance it could be against these Giants because I have little faith in their offense, but the New York defense that is getting better each week may have other ideas. The Browns’ quarterback situation has been a revolving door to say the very least this season and with Cody Kessler’s status in the air. We will likely see Josh McCown take control of the offense for the umpteenth time and McCown has been hard to watch lately. He has turned the ball over much more than his rookie teammate and that does not bode well for them in a game against a Giant team that has been forcing more picks lately. Landon Collins has lept into the stratosphere if you compare his play this season to last. The $200 million that New York spent on their defense was all fine and dandy, but the funny thing is that the two players that are making that unit run are those who were already on the team: the aforementioned Collins and Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP has been pressuring opposing QBs and knocking down passes like it were 2013 all over again and is really benefiting from having Oliver Vernon lining up opposite of him. I expect the New York defense to ravage the Browns in Cleveland. Outside of that, it will be a battle of weaknesses on the other side of the ball. The Cleveland defense has been bad all season while the Giants offense has been just as ugly. The Brownies did play much better last week against the Steelers, and were actually in that game until late when McCown fumbled the ball away. Meanwhile the Giants have had a lot of trouble running the ball, which has negatively impacted the deep passing game. I do think that Rashad Jennings and friends will get right on the road here and Big Blue should come away with a win.
New York 26, Cleveland 12
San Francisco 49ers (1-9) @ Miami Dolphins (6-4)
Don’t look now, but the Dolphins have won five in a row and are propelling themselves right into the thick of things in the AFC wild card race. At the end of this week they should be tied with either the Chiefs or Broncos (depending on the outcome of that game) for the sixth seed. Yes, I am picking them to beat the Niners at home and here is why: the 49ers might very well have the worst defense in the game right now. They are not stopping anybody from running the ball and the Dolphins have a gem in Jay Ajayi toting the rock for them. This has helped alleviate pressure from Ryan Tannehill throwing the ball and having to carry the team offensively. Sure, Miami did not play well at all on offense last week in Los Angeles and had to rely on two very late scores to drop the Rams, but their defense was playing very well. Of course it was against a rookie quarterback in his first start of his career, but I digress. Miami’s D has been playing very well lately and they just won two games on the west coast. They will return home where the team is actually 4-1 on the season if you can believe that. The last time San Fran traveled to Miami in 2008, they fell 14-9.
We could be in store for another knuckleball type game, but I do see the ‘Phins putting up more than 14. We’ll say 24. That should be enough against a Niner team that has been embarrassing for the most part this season.
Miami 24, San Francisco 7
Los Angeles Rams (4-6) @ New Orleans Saints (4-6)
It may surprise you to see that the Saints have as many road wins this year as they do home wins. In fact, they are only 2-3 in the Big Easy this season but that will change on Sunday. Jared Goff looked very nervous in the pocket and rushed a lot of throws against the Miami Dolphins a week ago and will now be tasked with putting up points against Drew Brees and the Saints. Sure, I can see the Rams squeezing out a couple of touchdowns, but on the road in New Orleans, the Los Angeles defense will be tested. Sean Peyton’s team’s season is on the line in front of the friendly home crowd and that should prove to be motivation enough for them. Last week against the Panthers, the Saints were unable to make a lot of big plays on offense. They did, however, find success running the ball with Tim Hightower who was making cuts and running hard. I like them to feed him the rock at least 15 times this week with a sprinkling of Mark Ingram. It will also be interesting to see who Drew Brees targets down the field in the L.A. secondary. E.J. Gaines could be under fire in this contest and that is not good news if he has to guard Willie Snead or Michael Thomas. I expect Brandin Cooks to be shadowed by Trumaine Johnson for the most part so that could be a fun one to watch. Cameron Jordan continued his streak of good play last week against the Panthers and I think he can have a huge game against the Rams hunting down their rookie quarterback. Goff did not throw a pick last week, and I think he makes up for it by tossing two or three this time out. He should also get a couple of touchdown passes in, one of which will go to Kenny Britt who has been the Rams’ best offensive player this year. In the end it won’t be enough because no sane man is picking Jared Goff to win a shootout with Drew Brees.
New Orleans 35, Los Angeles 18
Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
The Bengals are in a lot of trouble and may not win more than five games this season with the horrible news of A.J. Green tearing his hamstring. He may be out for the year, but that is still up in the air. One thing we know is that he will not be playing against the Ravens who were pushed around in Dallas. Their defense came out and played very well against the Cowboys, but eventually they were run out of the building as the ‘Boys figured them out. That team had a lot of talent whereas the Bengals do not without Green and now Geo Bernard also. Bernard ended up tearing his ACL against Buffalo last week and without either of them I find it hard to believe that Cincy will be able to muster much against the Ravens on the road. Baltimore is desperately looking for answers on offense right now. Ray Lewis is calling Joe Flacco out for not being a good enough leader, 38 year old Steve Smith is their best player, and the running game is inconsistent. In other words, the Raven offense is a mess. Luckily for them they won’t have to be that great in order to beat the Bengals. I do love that Terrance West has shown some passion on that side of the ball which is great because we know that Steve Smith won’t be the emotional leader in Baltimore at all after this year.
All the Ravens have to do to stifle the red-rifle is stop the Cincy running game which will consist of Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead. Andy Dalton won’t be able to make plays to Tyler Eifert alone. If it comes down to him having to make plays with his arm then the Bengals are in trouble because there is now a serious lack of talent on offense.
Power Pick of the Week: Baltimore 19, Cincinnati 10
San Diego Chargers (4-6) @ Houston Texans (6-4)
The Texans have been a different team at home this season than they have been on the road, but that has almost nothing to do with their offense as they have been pitiful no matter where they have played this season. There is no doubt that the Chargers like to engage in thrilling battles since nine out of their ten games have come right down to the wire. Hitting the road after a BYE to take on the Texans could prove to be more of the same. If the Texans can ball out on defense then this will be another classic 20-17 win for them. However, if Philip Rivers can avoid playing like he did in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins, I like the Chargers to pull an upset on the road. Melvin Gordon versus the Houston front will be a big matchup to watch here. The Texans have had problems slowing down the running attack from their opponents this season while they have been much better against the pass. Play-action should be a big thing for San Diego here. They will have an opportunity to attack the Texans vertically if they can run the ball effective enough between the tackles. This should set guys like Antonio Gates up for big games. Tyrell Williams may be limited with A.J. Bouye covering him. The middle of the field might be open though. The same should ring true for Houston, but I don’t know if I trust Brock Osweiler to attack anybody past the sticks. In the end I think that the Chargers and their underrated defense will do enough to win the game on the road and also hand the Texans their first home loss of the season.
San Diego 28, Houston 24
Sunday, November 27th, 4:05 e.t.
Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
The Buccaneers are coming off of a nice win on the road in Kansas City to bring their record to 5-5, but they are going to have their hands full against the Seahawks this week. Seattle looks primed to make a mad dash to the Super Bowl after taking apart the Eagles last week. Their offense is more explosive than ever with Russell Wilson transforming into more of a pocket passer and their defense is still attacking like we all have become used to. These guys are still the class of the NFC in my opinion and they will prove it on Sunday against the Buccaneers. Jameis Winston had a big game last week against a good defense on the road, but the Chiefs have struggled on offense for the last few weeks and the Bucs were able to hold them to 17 points because of it. This defense is very fickle because they can come out and play so well one week and then play terribly the next. Against the Seahawks at home, I don’t like their chances. If Seattle can jump out to an early lead, then it will fall on Jameis to make plays and that is where he can get into trouble and make mistakes. If you begin turning the ball over against the ‘Hawks, things can avalanche quickly as Carson Wentz found out last week. The one thing that Seattle has struggled with this season on defense, if I had to pick something, would be their rush defense. Doug Martin should be fed early and often to take advantage of this. Thomas Rawls on the other side will probably get a steady diet of balls in his belly. He is one of the only healthy backs that Seattle has to work with, but I’m sure they will find someone else because that is what they do best. The Seahawks should have no problem taking it to the Buccaneers this week because I think they are peaking and a good defense always travels well.
Seattle 37, Tampa Bay 20
Sunday, November 27th, 4:25 e.t.
New England Patriots (8-2) @ New York Jets (3-7)
The Patriots did bounce back after a tough home loss to Seattle with a win over the hapless 49ers last week, but it was not the most impressive of wins. It looked like the Pats were going to trounce the Niners early on, but their offense slowed through the middle of the game and it appeared as though the absence of Rob Gronkowski hurt them more than what was initially thought. Alas, they did pull off the 13 point victory and Tom Brady won in the Bay for the first time in his career. Now the Patriots will head to East Rutherford to face a Jet team that is coming off of a loss at home two weeks ago to the Rams when the team was only able to score six points behind first time starter Bryce Petty. I guarantee that they won’t be putting any pressure on New England if they are only able to score six points. So, how can New York be better? Well, they can start by getting the ball into Matt Forte’s hands more often. They need to be a better running team because it would help that listless passing attack quite a bit. The Patriots defense has been a weak point for them this season and teams are certainly not afraid to run it on them. The problem is that they have an offense that is capable of torching any defense if Tom Brady is afforded time to throw the ball. New York has to get pressure on Tom if this game is going to be anything short of a blowout. I think the Jets will play New England tough because they always seem to, especially at home. With that being said, I do think that the return of Dion Lewis to the lineup alongside James White creates matchup nightmares for any team. Also, the Jets still struggle to stop the big play down the field and Tom Brady has been lighting secondaries up with one of the prettiest deep passing games we have seen from him ever. I like the Pats to keep rolling on the road.
New England 27, New York 19
Carolina Panthers (4-6) @ Oakland Raiders (8-2)
The Panthers managed to save their season with a three point win over New Orleans at home last Thursday night. It did not come without a scare. They entered the fourth quarter with a 20 point lead and were one drive away from letting the game slip away. Now they have to travel across the country to take on a red hot Raider team who has won four straight games. I think this is an obvious trap game for Oakland, however. They just got done playing a game in Mexico City at elevations 2,000 feet higher than that of Denver. On a short week their team may show signs of fatigue, specifically their defense. The Raiders “D” has slowly improved on the year, but is still clearly the weak point of the team. After all, they let the Texans actually look like a real offense on Monday night. That tells you all you need to know about them. The Panthers are a team that just seems like it is lurking in the shadows ready to make a random run at the playoffs. They may be too far out at this point to be any serious threat, but there is a chance they can make things interesting, especially if they can pick up a road win in Oakland. One of the main reasons why the Panthers are nowhere neat the team they are last year is because their running game has not been on point, and a lot of that is because of the offensive line. Khalil Mack could get his licks in on Cam Newton also as their pass protection has been shoddy also. That said, I can see the Panthers piecing together a team win on the road against what will be a tired Raider club. The only thing that has me shying away from making this pick is that Carolina may be without Luke Keuchley in the middle of the field as well as their unfavorable matchups outside. Nevertheless, I am going to take a chance on the Panthers this week because I think they will be able to get back to running the ball and that will help the offensive line out in a big way.
Carolina 30, Oakland 23
Sunday, November 27th, 8:30 e.t.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) @ Denver Broncos (7-3)
One of the best matchups of the week comes in Denver on Sunday night as the Chiefs and Broncos grapple for the #5 seed in the AFC. The loser of the game will still be in decent shape and have hold of the #6 seed, but could risk losing it to surging teams like Miami or Buffalo, or a possible Raven/Steeler mix. Of course, I’m also talking like these two teams are playing for second place in an ultra-competitive AFC West when I just picked the Raiders to lose. If Oakland does fall, then the winner of this game will tie them in first place. Denver should be well rested coming off of the BYE following a thrilling win in New Orleans. Their defense showed me something in that contest because I didn’t think that they were going to fare well slowing down Drew Brees, but they did and they were able to force a couple of turnovers in the process. Meanwhile, we have the Chiefs who have not looked very good ever since Alex Smith injured his head and ear. Quite frankly, they were lucky to win at home against Jacksonville and were outplayed by Carolina in Charlotte. Then, last week the Buccaneers came to town and took them out. That loss has me nervous if I am a Chiefs fan because it proved that they can fall to anybody. Managing only 17 points at home versus the Bucs is not a good look, especially when heading to Denver to take on this defense. Kansas City’s “D” under Bob Sutton will have to be great if they want to steal a “W”. I think they have a great defensive unit, but it is worth noting that Justin Houston was not too impressive in his season debut. Rusty would be the perfect word to describe him. Anyways, I think that the Broncos return home will serve them well in a big prime time clash with KC. Simply put, I don’t think that the Chiefs will be able to make enough plays against this Denver defense to win them the game.
Denver 17, Kansas City 9
Monday, November 28th, 8:30 e.t.
Green Bay Packers (4-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
The final game of Week 12 takes place in the City of Brotherly Love when the Eagles play host to the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay could not have looked any more lost than they did on the road the last two weeks defensively and that does not bode well for them heading into Philly where the Eagles have not lost this year. The Packer offense has made some plays over the past few weeks, and the return of Jared Cook to the lineup did look to be very helpful to Aaron Rodgers last week, although he did have a bad drop. The problem with Green Bay is that they have not been able to run the ball at all since Eddie Lacy dropped with an injury. The Eagles run defense has been much better at home than on the road, so I don’t expect that to get much better. The real reason why I don’t like the Packers’ chances on the road here is because of that awful secondary. Carson Wentz has come back down to earth since his hot start, but if you look at the secondaries he has played, they are no slouches. He should have a big day against the Packers at home. Also, don’t expect Aaron Rodgers to just chill in the pocket forever in this game. The Eagles have one of the best sack percentages across the entire league at home. If he looks anything less than comfortable in that pocket the Philadelphia could be primed for a big win. Offensively for the Eagles, they were beaten up by the Seahawks in Seattle last week, but that same thing can be said by a lot of NFL teams over the past few years. Nelson Agholor had a horrible illegal formation penalty called against him that wiped out a 55 yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz. He also made a bone-headed drop. This has prompted Doug Pederson to send him to the bench this week in an alarming turn of events for the former first round pick. Philly calls up Paul Turner who could have an immediate impact against the terrible and injury plagued Green Bay secondary. Bryce Treggs may catch some deep passes as well. Basically, I have no faith that the Packer secondary will be able to save the team’s season in Philadelphia because they are practically looking like a Pop Warner team back there. It looks like an injury-riddled mid-season is about to sink Mike McCarthy and friends.
Philadelphia 37, Green Bay 16
Week 12 Bonus Predictions
Sure Bet of the Week (8-2): Buffalo over Jacksonville
Upset of the Week: Carolina over Oakland
Offensive Player of the Week: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Defensive Player of the Week: Von Miller, LB, Broncos
Rookie of the Week: Wentz
Best Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Best Running Back: Jay Ajayi, Dolphins