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Week 17 Recap: New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

Final: New York 19, Washington 10

Giants Redskins Football
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie finished the game with two picks.

In a game where the Washington Redskins desperately needed a win, it was the Giants who showed up in a big way and took the victory.  New York rode its defense as it has for the majority of the season and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was able to come away with the game-winning interception late in the fourth quarter to bring the Giants their eleventh win of the season.  Perhaps most surprisingly is that Big Blue kept most of their starters in for a majority of the game instead of resting them for the playoffs.  Speaking of the post-season, the Redskins are now eliminated from the dance and will have to stew in the bile of a crushing defeat until the 2017 season kicks off.

Washington’s offense was, for the most part, handled by the Giants defense.  They had just six first downs through the first three quarters and 4/12 on third down throughout the game.  Kirk Cousins was not great, but also not completely terrible.  He did not see some open receivers and was a little off on some of the throws.  There was plenty of pressure on him throughout the game accounting for some of this.  He was under duress when he floated the game-ending interception to Rodgers-Cromartie late in the fourth quarter and the throw was a bit behind the intended receiver as a result.  The offensive line was poor in this game and did nothing to bolster any kind of a rushing attack until late in the game when they began pulling their guards on sweep plays.  Again, Cousins did not receive optimal protection either and he had trouble getting the ball to open receivers since the New York secondary was in lock-down mode, even after Janoris Jenkins was pulled.  Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed were the standouts on offense for Washington.  Reed was a favorite target and did get open a bit underneath while Garcon was the man who converted a 3rd and 17 later in the fourth quarter that lead to a game-tying touchdown to Reed on the next play.  The lack of a running game is what ended up killing the ‘Skins shot at a postseason berth here because they were unable to find any kind of balance that would keep the offense unpredictable.

Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins in action from Week 17.

The flip side to the story was how well the Giants’ defense played on the road.  They received huge performances from a lot of their men.  First of all, it was quite a bit surprising to see how much man-to-man coverage that they rolled out.  Washington normally thrives in these situations and they were unable to do so here.  The secondary was outstanding.  Eli Apple had one of his better efforts of the year, but it was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who was making all of the splash plays on the back end with two picks (he also nearly blocked a PAT in the fourth quarter as well).  Up front for Big Blue, Damon Harrison was a monster and probably the best player from the New York defense in this contest.  He accounted for a couple of hurries and run stops as well as a sack.  He did a beautiful job sniffing out a screen pass by the Redskins that did have some promise with blockers out front in the final frame.  Keenan Robinson showed a lot with some solid form tackling and a nice sideline to sideline presence.  The Giants “D” was terrific and deserves a ton of credit for keeping the explosive Washington offense at bay.

The New York offense was not overly impressive here, but they were able to do some nice things, starting with a great effort running the ball.  This game resembled what the Giants were back in 2008 with a fantastic defensive performance coupled with a dominant running game.  Paul Perkins turned in the first 100+ yard rushing game for the G-Men on the season and did a lot of the dirty work behind the left side of the offensive line and Ereck Flowers, who had a nice game despite being flagged for yet another holding penalty.  Eli Manning did underthrow a few of his passes, but his waning arm strength did not look to be an issue late in the game when he hooked up with Tavarres King for a 44-yard gain that lead to the go-ahead and eventual game winning field goal.  The New York receivers were easily able to get open early in the game against some pretty soft zone coverage.  Josh Norman did follow Odell Beckham Jr. around for most of the game while OBJ was in there and while he did not let up an explosive play, Beckham did get the better of him quite a few times with good routes.  The Giants did fall into a bad lull in the second half offensively after they were so good in the first couple of quarters and this was mainly due to the fact that they were not able to run the ball with as much success.  When the ground game was cranking, New York was able to move the ball up and down the field, but the Redskins did catch on to this and once they shut the rushing attack down it was tough sledding for the #5 seeded team.  Going into the playoffs the Giants will have to be sure to address this spot because the offense yet again did not put up a lot of points.  Six of them came on the final play of the game when Trevin Wade picked up a loose ball and walked it into the end zone.

Eli Manning
Eli Manning made the plays he had to in the Giants’ 19-10 win over Washington.

Defensively for Washington, the team was pushed around a bit early on but they eventually got their bearings straight and were able to contain the Giants’ attack.  In the second half they really stacked the box and began to load the left side of the formation to cut down on the rushing attack that was pretty successful at the open.  The Redskins’ secondary was not great but was also very conservative and more concerned with guarding against the big play.  They did a good job with this until the aforementioned 44-yard completion to King.  Greg Toler was not too good in coverage, but Brashaud Breeland was, someone who had stepped his play up considerably over the final weeks of the season.  Also, as a side nugget, Mason Foster was everywhere in this game getting in on 17 tackles, 15 solo.  Ryan Kerrigan did leave the game with an injury in the first quarter and there was certainly a lack of a pass rush after he did exit.  All and all, the Redskin defense has nothing to be ashamed of in this game, they were not the reason why the team will be missing the playoffs at 8-7-1 following this heartbreaking loss.

The Giants will now hit the road and play the winner of the NFC North on the road in the wild card round.  Their offensive woes will need to be overcome if this team is going to make one of their runs towards the Super Bowl, but they certainly have the defense to keep them in many of the games they may be playing.  For the Redskins, this is a crusher.  Kirk Cousins had a great opportunity to lead his team down the field for the win and a playoff berth in the waning seconds, but was unable to do so and that is going to be a big black mark on their 2016 season.  He did end up throwing for nearly 5,000 yards this year and that alone could land him a big contract, but it is going to be tough to overlook the failure that was this game for the Redskins.  Their offense let them down when they needed a win the most.

Jordan Reed
Jordan Reed celebrates after his fourth quarter touchdown against the Giants.

The Skinny:

  • The Washington Redskins are eliminated from playoff contention with this loss.  A win would have earned them the #6 seed.
  • Washington could not run the ball for the majority of this game and only managed one rushing first down throughout the entirety of the contest.
  • The Redskins defense did a good job limiting the explosive plays and keeping the ball in front of them, but unfortunately they did not receive much help from their offense come the end of the game.
  • The New York defense was great yet again as they intercepted Kirk Cousins twice and held the Redskins to 4/12 on third down.  Washington was tops in the league when it came to not going three and out and the Giants forced them to do just that five times.
  • For the first time this year, the Giants offense had a 100+ yard rusher in Paul Perkins who has come on lately and is looking like he could be the lead back heading into the playoffs and next season.
  • The Giant offense is still very much a work in progress as the team managed only 13 points on that side of the ball.  Their game became predictable and easy to shut down in the second half and could be a problem come playoff time.

2016 Season: Week 17 Preview

It is the end of the road for 20 teams after this week, and with the AFC all sealed up team-wise there is only seeding left to determine.  For the NFC, however, there is a lot to sort through still as the Packers, Lions, Buccaneers, and Redskins will all be fighting for the final two spots in the playoffs.  It should be exciting.  For the final time in the regular season, here are my picks.

Antonio Brown

Last Week: 9-7

Season: 135-100

Sunday, January 1st, 1:00 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1)

The Ravens fought hard but the Steelers stole a win and the AFC North away from them last week at Heinz Field in the final seconds.  Now Baltimore hits the road with a bad taste in their mouth.  That could mean motivation, but now this team has nothing to play for and I think they will come out deflated and the Bengals can take advantage of this playing at home.

Cincinnati 20, Baltimore 14

Cleveland Browns (1-14) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)

Cleveland finally has a win this year, and it took them 15 games to get it.  That was a good thing too because if they didn’t win that game this one wasn’t a great bet for them.  Although the Steelers essentially have nothing to play for, I think they will go out and get the “W” because that is the Mike Tomlin way.  Call this a warm-up game before they host Miami next week.

Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 9

Houston Texans (9-6) @ Tennessee Titans (8-7)

The Titans were stabbed multiple times in the chest last week losing their quarterback Marcus Mariota and their season all in one day.  This game could have been for all of the marbles, but instead it is a rather meaningless affair with everything decided between these two squads.  Still, with a decent defense and an offense that has shown a bit of a shriek with Tom Savage at the helm, I see the Texans walking away from this game with the season sweep.

Houston 29, Tennessee 17

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) @ Indianapolis Colts (7-8)

The Colts were finding somewhat of a rhythm on defense until they headed out to Oakland and got hammered.  This week should provide them with a good bounce-back opportunity against a Jacksonville team that is very inconsistent across the way.  Their defense should keep them in this one though but I certainly like Indy’s offense over the Jaguars’.

Indianapolis 22, Jacksonville 17

Carolina Panthers (6-9) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)

The Panthers, and specifically Cam Newton, have been a mess this year as the 2015 MVP is completing just 45% of his passes over the past month.  On the road against a Tampa Bay team that needs to have this one seems like a tall task, but I’m smelling an upset.  Doug Martin will not be in this game due to a drug suspension and that could take some wind out from behind Tampa’s sails.

Carolina 30, Tampa Bay 22

Chicago Bears (3-12) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-8)

Matt Barkley showed us all that he is still Matt Barkley when he threw five picks against the Redskins last week.  Sure, the Bears were in come from behind mode and he had to force the issue a bit but it doesn’t change the fact that he can be reckless with the football.  On the road against a Viking defense that has been humbled lately, I like Minnesota to bounce back and play well.  Their offense has been watchable lately, even against some decent defenses.

Minnesota 18, Chicago 13

Dallas Cowboys (13-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)

The Eagles looked like a different team with Lane Johnson in at right tackle and their defense played the prototypical bend but don’t break style last week against the Giants.  The Cowboys ride into town having nothing at all to play for.  Jason Garrett won’t be resting his starters, but at the same time there won’t be a huge sense of urgency.  Playing at home, I think the Iggles can drop a NFC East foe for the second straight week.

Philadelphia 27, Dallas 17

Buffalo Bills (7-8) @ New York Jets (4-11)

Rex Ryan was shown the door Tuesday and now it will be Anthony Lynn taking over as head coach.  Remember when this guy was the running back coach at the beginning of the year?  Funny how he’s been on the rise while the only thing the Bills do well is run the ball.  The Jets can stop the run, but I just don’t think their offense has enough firepower to hold off the stampeded from Buffalo.

Buffalo 20, New York 10

New England Patriots (13-2) @ Miami Dolphins (10-5)

The Patriots and Dolphins are headed to the playoffs and in this game Miami won’t have anything to play for since they are locked in at the #5 seed.  New England, however, will have the #1 seed in their sights as a win will bring that to them.  Matt Moore has been solid in relief of Ryan Tannehill, but I don’t see him standing up to Tom Brady.  I also think the Pats will be able to run the ball against the ‘Phins which won’t bode well for the home team.

New England 35, Miami 21

Sunday, January 1st, 4:25 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) @ San Diego Chargers (5-10)

A Chiefs win and a Raiders loss will bring the AFC West crown to Kansas City so they should be playing with a lot of heart on Sunday.  This KC team can be scary because they have a suddenly explosive and playoff level offense to pair with their opportunistic defense.  The Chargers will likely be playing for the final time in San Diego on Sunday so they should be fired up, but I don’t like the mistakes their offense is prone to making and that prevents me from picking them here.

Kansas City 31, San Diego 24

Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-11)

The Cardinals shocked the world and clipped the Seahawks for the first time at home last week and will finish their season on the road against a Rams team that struggles to break 10 points most weeks.  David Johnson has his eyes set on breaking 100 scrimmage yards for each game in the 2016 season here also, and I think he will.  Arizona’s offense has gotten up off the mat over the last few weeks while the Rams continue to be stuck in neutral.

Arizona 31, Los Angeles 13

New Orleans Saints (7-8) @ Atlanta Falcons (10-5)

I was going to pick the Saints in an upset here, but this is a different Falcon team that is winning all of the games they should be when they have to.  They have a shot at reeling in the #2 seed, and I don’t think they will pass up that chance at home against the Saints who have nothing to play for besides spoiler.  Their defense has regressed some and that is not good news facing the best offense in football.

Atlanta 38, New Orleans 28

Oakland Raiders (12-3) @ Denver Broncos (8-7)

On the road in Denver with Mr. Matt McGloin doing his thing under center, it is tough to see the Raiders walking away with a win, but I think this Bronco team is in a horrible funk right now.  Their offense has been atrocious the last couple of weeks, and the defense has seemingly given up at times.  With noting to play for, don’t be surprised if they come out flat, even against a backup QB.

Oakland 23, Denver 12

New York Giants (10-5) @ Washington Redskins (8-6-1)

The Giants were able to move the ball against the Eagles, but three Eli Manning interceptions doomed the G-Men on the road.  Now they will be facing one of the better offenses in the league this week.  If Kirk Cousins passes for more than 370 yards, he will have a 5,000 yard season believe it or not.  I don’t think it will happen, but I do see Washington playing a good game and scoring some points against a Giant team that has still been showing struggles keeping up on offense.

Washington 26, New York 18

Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-13)

The Seahawks did have a minor hiccup last week at home against the Cardinals, but they will get an easy game on the road against the 49ers who can’t beat anybody outside of the Rams this year.  I think that Seattle will keep it held back on offense and try to win this game with their “D”.  They should get that running game cranking against a team that has been horrible in that department as well.

Seattle 24, San Francisco 13

Sunday, January 1st, 8:30 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (9-6) @ Detroit Lions (9-6)

This game could be a loser goes home scenario in addition to a battle for the NFC North title.  Ford Field should be rocking early, but I don’t think they will be late because this Packer storm is coming on strong and each week they are looking more and more like the 2010 team that won it all.  Aaron Rodgers has fought his way back into the MVP conversation and after seeing the bad effort put forth out of Detroits’ defense on Monday night, I don’t have much confidence in them being able to get the job done with all the marbles on the line.

Power Pick of the Week: Green Bay 34, Detroit 21

Week 17 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (13-2): Arizona over Los Angeles

Upset of the Week: Carolina over Tampa Bay

Offensive Player of the Week: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons

Defensive Player of the Week: Khalil Mack, LB, Raiders

Rookie of the Week: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs

Best Quarterback: Andrew Luck, Colts

Best Running Back: LeGarrette Blount, Patriots

2016 Season: Week 16 Preview

We have reached the penultimate week in the 2016 NFL season and there are still a number of teams hoping to punch their tickets to the playoffs.  That list will likely be narrowed quite a bit after this week.  Who will end up taking home “W’s” following this week of action?  Here are my picks.

Matt Barkley

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 126-93

Thursday, December 22nd, 8:25 e.t.

New York Giants (10-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)

The Giants defense has been one of the most improved units across all of football and now it really has the team aspiring to make a bit of a run in January.  However, Thursday night in Philly seems like a upset special to me.  The Eagles could have easily won their last two games and this week they will get back their right tackle Lane Johnson.  With Carson Wentz better protected, I think he will cut down on the mistakes that plagued him the first time these two teams faced off.

Philadelphia 24, New York 17

Saturday, December 24th, 1:00 e.t.

Washington Redskins (7-6-1) @ Chicago Bears (3-11)

The Bears gave the Packers all they could handle last week at home coming back from 17 down only to watch the “W” slip away with a last second field goal.  Meanwhile, the Washington offense really struggled at home against a much maligned Carolina Panther “D”.  On the road in Chicago could be another upset for the Redskins.  Matt Barkley is actually the third graded QB in the league ever since he took over as the starter behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.  Who’da thunk it?

Chicago 28, Washington 25

Atlanta Falcons (9-5) @ Carolina Panthers (6-8)

The Panthers showed a lot of heart on Monday night on the road, but the Falcons are now coming to town and they are rolling.  It will be hard pressed for the Carolina corners to stand up to this high octane offense that will be looking for a playoff berth with a win and a lot of help.  Atlanta is getting healthy and they are quickly becoming a team that nobody wants to play in January.

Atlanta 37, Carolina 31

San Deigo Chargers (5-9) @ Cleveland Browns (0-14)

If the Browns are going to get a win this year, this will be their best shot at it.  The Chargers have fallen off the face of the earth following their devastating loss to Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago and are playing some rather uninspired football.  I think they will get Cleveland’s best shot in a while this time out, but the Browns just don’t have the talent to get it done.  Their defense could get shredded.

San Diego 30, Cleveland 24

Tennessee Titans (8-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)

The Jaguars finally got on firing Gus Bradley and now Doug Marrone will step in to fill the head coaching vacancy.  The Titans are coming off of a great road win over Kansas City and have a good shot at locking up the AFC South with a win here and at home over Houston next week.  I like the Titans to get the job done on the road against an offense that is still a mess while the Tennessee defense is beginning to peak.

Tennessee 26, Jacksonville 10

Miami Dolphins (9-5) @ Buffalo Bills (7-7)

The Dolphins have actually won eight out of their last nine games and they had an impressive showing out of Matt Moore who had not passed the football in about half a decade.  He threw four touchdowns against Gang Green and was very accurate with ball placement.  I can see him regressing a bit on the road in a tough place to play.  The Bills are desperate for a win and I think they will play like it here.

Buffalo 24, Miami 19

Minnesota Vikings (7-7) @ Green Bay Packers(8-6)

If you stopped following football a month ago you would have sworn the Packers were dead in the water, yet here they are holding down the #6 seed in the NFC.  The Vikings defense is finally beginning to crack having to shoulder the weight of a pretty bad offense.  On the road at the Frozen Tundra without the ability to run the ball, I really don’t like the Minnesota Vikings’ chances.

Power Pick of the Week: Green Bay 45, Minnesota 17

New York Jets (3-11) @ New England Patriots (12-2)

The Patriots have already ensured themselves a first round BYE in the playoffs, and could secure the #1 seed this week if they win and the Raiders lose.  Of course, they cannot control what Oakland does, but I do think that they will easily be able to knock off the Jets with that greater goal in mind.  The New England defense is beginning to pick up their play and the Pats will really be tough to handle if Tom Brady is able to pick secondaries apart like he has for a majority of the year.  Also, Bill Belichick isn’t always to friendly towards younger quarterbacks.  Good luck Bryce Petty.

New England 34, New York 14

Saturday, December 24th, 4:05 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (7-7) @ Oakland Raiders (11-3)

The Raiders are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, which is exciting.  Meanwhile, the Colts managed to save their season in a dominant road win over the Vikings.  Can they do it again in the Black Hole?  I am feeling another upset.  Andrew Luck could go to town on this secondary as long as the Indy offensive line can somewhat slow down Khalil Mack and company.

Indianapolis 26, Oakland 23

Saturday, December 24th, 4:25 e.t.

San Francisco 49ers (1-13) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-10)

The Rams and Niners hardly screams must-see football, but this will serve as a good litmus test to see what Jared Goff can do.  If he can’t move the ball against a Niner team that surrenders 31 points per game.  And if Todd Gurley was ever to get going, this would be the time.  I do think that L.A. will have a decent game on offense, and for them that will net 20+ points.

Los Angeles 22, San Francisco 15

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) @ New Orleans Saints (6-8)

Didn’t I just cover this game?  Why yes, I did.  In Week 14, these two teams squared off and the Bucs held the Saints to a lowly 11 points.  New Orleans responded by throwing up 48 on the road against the league’s #1 defense.  How is that for a statement?  The Buccaneers hung in there with Dallas a week back, but were ultimately overwhelmed by the Cowboys’ offense.  I see this happening again with this pick hinging on the fact that the Saints will play like the Saints at home.

New Orleans 34, Tampa Bay 24

Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)

The Seahawks have not been overly explosive on offense lately, but their defense has been lights out at home for the most part.  The Cardinals scored 41 points a week ago, which will win you a game 98% of the time, but their defense was shredded by the Saints.  While I don’t think this unit will have a bad game here, I don’t think they will do enough to carry what I think will be a struggling Arizona offense in the Emerald City.  We could see a couple of random deep balls in this one, but otherwise I don’t see them putting together enough cohesive drives to get the job done.

Seattle 26, Arizona 17

Saturday, December 24th, 8:30 e.t.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) @ Houston Texans (8-6)

Tom Savage came in and righted the ship for Houston a week ago against the Jaguars.  But, let’s be honest, this was the Jaguars and their offense was equally terrible.  The Texans do play a much better brand of defense at home, however, and the Bengals have not been great on the road.  If they can’t get a running game going, they could find it tough sledding in Houston.

Houston 20, Cincinnati 14

Sunday, December 25th, 4:30 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (8-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)

This is a great game on Christmas that will essentially decide the AFC North.  The Steelers will lock it up if they can get the win, but the Ravens can put themselves a whole game up on Pittsburgh if they can yank out a road win.  Unfortunately this game will be played in the Steel City and the Steelers are hot right now.  This could be a signature win for their 2016 season because I think Ben Roethlisberger can make some plays outside the numbers in this one.

Pittsburgh 33, Baltimore 20

Sunday, December 25th, 8:30 e.t.

Denver Broncos (8-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

The last time these two hooked horns, it resulted in, perhaps, the best contest of the 2016 season.  The Chiefs are in good shape in the AFC playoff hunt and have a couple of different ways to lock up a playoff berth this week, the easiest being a win at home over a struggling Bronco team.  Denver’s offense seems broken and that does not bode well against one of the better “D’s” on the road in a hostile environment.  The Chiefs will likely be motivated to win this one after dropping one in frustrating fashion a week ago against Tennessee.

Kansas City 30, Denver 16

Monday, December 26th, 8:30 e.t.

Detroit Lions (9-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (12-2)

The Lions and Cowboys have engaged in some great battles over the years, and this game should be no different.  When it comes to picking this one, I have to say I trust the Dallas offense more than Detroit’s.  Yes, the Lions defense has been playing great lately, but they have not been tested on the ground that much.  That will change against Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys in Big D.

Dallas 35, Detroit 27

Week 16 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (12-2): New England over New York Jets

Upset of the Week: Indianapolis over Oakland

Offensive Player of the Week: Drew Brees, QB, Saints

Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, DL, Rams

Rookie of the Week: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears

Best Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Best Running Back: David Johnson, Cardinals

2016 Season: Week 15 Preview

Back at it again for the fifteenth week of NFL action.  There were a lot of good games last weekend and this slate of games should not disappoint either.  Here are my picks for the sixteen matchups on the docket.

Von Miller

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 115-88

Thursday, December 15th, 8:25 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (4-9) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)

The Seahawks got crushed last week in Lambeau against a suddenly hot Packer team and it looked like the absence of Earl Thomas really affected them.  However, they draw an easy out on Thursday night at home (being the only team in the league undefeated in their own stadium) with the Rams coming to town after just having fired Jeff Fisher.  Going into a hornets nest is LA, I do not like their odds at even keeping this one close.

Seattle 29, Los Angeles 10

Saturday, December 17th, 8:25 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (8-5) @ New York Jets (4-9)

The Jets looked like they quit early on the road in San Fran, but Bryce Petty made some plays and got his team the W over a crummy Niner’s squad.  Now they will be hosting the Ryan Tannehill-less ‘Phins who are hit or miss on the road.  This is a tough matchup to pick because we don’t know what the quarterbacks are going to do.  In the end I actually like the Jets because I think that their run defense will play much better than they did last week against Carlos Hyde and really make things tough on Miami.

New York 20, Miami 14

Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) @ Baltimore Ravens (7-6)

The Ravens defense got blasted in New England Monday night, but they should have no trouble rebounding at home against an Eagle team that is in a tailspin.  Aside from what I thought was a great performance from Carson Wentz against Washington, nobody on the Eagles was all that great a week ago and a 1-6 road record is no mistake.  Plus, for whatever reason, Joe Flacco gets it done at home against NFC teams.  I’m taking Baltimore here.

Baltimore 26, Philadelphia 14

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) @ Houston Texans (7-6)

A week ago, everyone was talking about how bad the Texans were, but now they have a sweep of the Colts under their belts and a 4-0 record in their division.  Playing at home against a Jaguar team should be an easy win for them.  The Jacksonville defense was humbled by Minnesota last week and will probably bounce back here, but I just don’t like their offense against a Houston “D” that usually dominates at home.

Houston 20, Jacksonville 9

Tennessee Titans (7-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)

Can you believe that the Titans are 7-6?  They have been one of the more fun teams to watch this season and have a good shot at getting into the playoffs.  The Chiefs essentially ensured themselves of a playoff spot by completing the sweep of the Oakland Raiders last week.  Their defense was great in that contest and should be the key in this game.  Their pass rush should give Marcus Mariota headaches and they will not make mistakes on offense en route to a nice win.

Kansas City 30, Tennessee 19

Cleveland Browns (0-13) @ Buffalo Bills (6-7)

The Bills defense got ripped apart by Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers last week and are in desperate need of a win this time out.  Luckily they get the Browns who continue to find new ways to blow games.  Buffalo will likely end up feeding LeSean McCoy 25 times and also get the ball in the gut of Mike Gilislee, a very underrated back himself, and cram the running game down Cleveland’s throat here.  The Browns still have difficulties stopping the run which just so happens to be the Bills’ specialty.

Buffalo 27, Cleveland 17

Green Bay Packers (7-6) @ Chicago Bears (3-10)

Matt Barkley has been solid over the past couple of weeks, but I don’t see the Bears slowing down the Packers this week.  Green Bay has been in win or go home mode for a couple of weeks now and after crushing the Seahawks at home, going on the road to take on a three-win team should not be that difficult of a task.  Dom Capers’ defense deserves a lot of credit for their play lately and that should continue on Sunday.

Green Bay 41, Chicago 17

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)

Don’t look now, but the Steelers are peaking.  They have only three divisional games remaining and winning two will probably get them into the postseason (as long as one of those wins comes against Baltimore).  The Bengals have a cute little two game winning streak going but that comes to an end here.  Their secondary has some real problems and I can see Ben Roethlisberger picking them apart giving Le’Veon Bell’s legs a rest after he rolled up nearly 300 yards from scrimmage against Buffalo a week ago.

Pittsburgh 36, Cincinnati 20

Detroit Lions (9-4) @ New York Giants (9-4)

This is a nice little game in the Meadowlands pitting two playoff hopeful teams.  This is a litmus test for both squads because they will know if they are ready for January football based on their performance in this one.  The Lions have not played a game outside since Week 4, which is insane, and we will have to see how Matthew Stafford’s finger holds up in the cold.  The Giants’ defense has been great lately and thy just held the Cowboys to 7 points.  They should find some more success against the Lions who have struggled to protect Stafford lately.

Power Pick of the Week: New York 20, Detroit 16

Indianapolis Colts (6-7) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

You don’t get any lollipops for beating the Jaguars, but the Vikings offense had one of its best efforts of the year against a pretty decent defense.  The Colts were unable to take control of the AFC South last week and now their offensive line has to stand up to a Vikings pass rush that can be brutal at home.  But the Colts have played some good football following losses this year and I can see them stealing a road win in Indy on the right arm of Andrew Luck.

Indianapolis 23, Minnesota 16

Sunday, December 18th, 4:05 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (5-8) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1)

The Saints and Cardinals have been disappointments this year, and any hope that the Cards had at the playoffs was dashed with a loss on the road to Miami.  It is entirely possible that you see an uninspired team on Sunday at home, but I still think that their defense will make some plays.  Drew Brees has thrown no touchdown passes and six picks over the last two weeks.  He’s had it rough.  It will continue on the road in Arizona.

Arizona 25, New Orleans 16

San Francisco 49ers (1-12) @ Atlanta Falcons (8-5)

Ok, I’ll say it: the 49ers are the worst team in football.  How you choke away a 17 point lead at home to the Jets is beyond me, and they have a serious lack of talent up and down the roster.  The Falcons have no such problem in their corner and also have an excellent chance to go up by a game in the division with two to play.  Atlanta’s offense is going to be a nightmare for a poor Niners’ “D” to handle.

Atlanta 38, San Francisco 17

Sunday, December 18th, 4:25 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (10-3) @ San Diego Chargers (5-8)

The Raiders were handed their first loss on the road this year last week in Kansas City.  They will get a crack at their eleventh win a second time against the Chargers, a team that was held at bay in Carolina.  San Diego has been turning the ball over a lot lately and could have real problems on offense without Melvin Gordon.  The Raiders should be able to come to town and throw the ball on them.  Derek Carr usually plays well against the Bolts.

Oakland 34, San Diego 27

New England Patriots (11-2) @ Denver Broncos (8-5)

The Broncos have had a tough go of it lately having an impossible time running the ball.  Their defense has fallen from where it was last year and the beginning of this one.  However, they can erase a lot of woes with a win at home over the Patriots.  Denver is the only team in football that Tom Brady does not have a winning record against and that will continue this week.  Call me crazy but I think that the Broncos will get their offense going this week against a New England “D” that has not been that great this season.

Denver 19, New England 17

Sunday, December 18th, 8:30 e.t.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (11-2)

The Dallas offense has been pretty bad over the last two weeks and they draw a Tampa Bay opponent who has been balling out on “D” lately.  Teams have had a tough time throwing the ball against the Bucs, but after Dak Prescott struggled the way he did last Sunday night, I can see Dallas protecting him some this game by running the ball.  They won’t lose twice in a row in prime time.  They should be able to control the clock and win this game.

Dallas 26, Tampa Bay 17

Monday, December 19th, 8:30 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (5-8) @ Washington Redskins (7-5-1)

Kirk Cousins is getting better and better as a pro quarterback and the Redskins really need to pay this man, but that is a different story.  This week Washington could really use a win to keep pace in the Wild Card race.  The Panthers were able to run the ball a bit against the Chargers and that could serve them well here.  I was going to pick Carolina in an upset, but I don’t know if I can given the weapons that the ‘Skins have on offense and the injuries the Panthers of to their “D”.  Kirk Cousins could be in for another good game.

Washington 32, Carolina 24

Week 15 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (11-2): Atlanta over San Francisco

Upset of the Week: Denver over New England

Offensive Player of the Week: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills

Defensive Player of the Week: DeMarcus Ware, LB, Broncos

Rookie of the Week: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs

Best Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Redskins

Best Running Back: LeSean McCoy, Bills

2016 Season: Week 14 Preview

It is Week 14 of the 2016 campaign and there are some quality matchups to look forward to as we forge into the final quarter of the season.  All teams have just four games left to prove themselves and unless your team is the Cowboys you are still shouting at your TV hoping your squad will make it to the dance.  Some teams can lock up playoff spots this weekend.  As for the games, how do I see them playing out?  Here are my picks.matt-ryan

Last Week: 10-5

Season: 105-82

Thursday, December 8th, 8:25 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (10-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)

The first game of the week might just be the best matchup.  The #1 seed and AFC West could very well depend on the outcome of this contest.  It’s also a tough one to pick.  I think I will go with the home team here (as I continue to debate this in my own head).  I think they can get pressure on Derek Carr unlike many of the Raiders’ prior opponents, and let’s not forget that they did trail Buffalo 24-9 at one point last week.   That could say a lot.

Kansas City 24, Oakland 19

Sunday, December 11th, 1:00 e.t.

Houston Texans (6-6) @ Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

The AFC South’s fate could very well hinge on this game also.  The Texans, quite frankly, lucked into a win their first time around against the Colts at home but I don’t see that happening again on the road.  I think Indy has really found something with their tight ends and Andrew Luck has really begun to heat up.  The Texans are also struggling to score points, so in the end that will cost them and their team.

Power Pick of the Week: Indianapolis 27, Houston 6

San Diego Chargers (5-7) @ Carolina Panthers (4-8)

The Chargers are probably the better team here, but I think that their loss at home to Tampa Bay took a lot out of them.  It was essentially the needle for their balloon of a season and I see them coming out flat against a Panther team that is likely enraged after getting blasted by Seattle in prime time a week ago.  Injuries are finally starting to catch up to the Chargers and the Panthers could find success running the rock against them.

Carolina 20, San Diego 19

Chicago Bears (3-9) @ Detroit Lions (8-4)

The Lions can make a huge case for a playoff berth with an emphatic home win over the Bears who have actually been a little better lately with Matt Barkley himself leading the team.  Chicago inexplicably won the first contest between these two but that won’t happen twice.  Detroit’s defense has stepped up in a big way over the last month and really helped them get to their current four game winning streak.  I like them to make it five.

Detroit 31, Chicago 13

Washington Redskins (6-5-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

This was going to be my upset of the week but after their effort (if you can call it that) against the Bengals, I’m not sure I can pick Philly to win another game all year with their injured and talent-poor offense.  Their defense has really slacked lately, and even though they are home I’m not sure they can get enough pressure on Kirk Cousins to disrupt his game.  The ‘Skins should sneak out a victory.

Washington 17, Philadelphia 14

Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-12)

I’m looking at Cleveland’s schedule, and if they are going to get a win this year this is their best chance at it: at home against a banged up Cincy team in possible elements.  That said, I don’t know if it is going to happen.  Andy Dalton looked great at home last week and he should not have many issues passing it against the Browns’ secondary.  I do think they are going to want to establish the run after getting stymied last week, and they ran the ball down Cleveland’s throat the first time these teams hooked up.

Cincinnati 24, Cleveland 7

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6)

This game is, essentially, the Bills’ season and I think they will play like it.  At home Buffalo has been a very different team, and the Steelers are certainly not always the epitome of a great squad when they hit the road.  The Bills could have trouble running the ball against a very fast Pittsburgh team because they are good at stopping outside zone rushes.  That leaves it up to Tyrod Taylor to pass the ball and I’m not sure that that will be the Bills’ best option.

Pittsburgh 27, Buffalo 22

Denver Broncos (8-4) @ Tennessee Titans (6-6)

This is a sneaky good game being played in Tennessee and the great Titan running game will square up with a good Denver defense.  I am scared for the Broncos here because I don’t trust their offense.  Tennessee could pull off a victory here, but in the end I see the Broncos doing enough with their “D” to steal a win.  They might pitch in with a return TD against Marcus Mariota, who is certainly susceptible to giving those kinds of plays up.

Denver 28, Tennessee 21

Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) @ Miami Dolphins (7-5)

The Cardinals found a way to win at home over a good opponent and will now have to hit the road and do it all over again.  I say they get the job done with their #1 ranked defense.  The Dolphins have had a lot of trouble scoring points against decent “D’s” this year and that trend will continue here.

Arizona 35, Miami 14

Minnesota Vikings (6-6) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

The Jags have become everyone’s cupcake each week and are really up against it again this time with another good defense coming to town.  Blake Bortles and company were bewildered by Denver a week ago and I think that will happen again.  The Vikings desperately need a win to keep pace with the Lions and I think they will get it on the road after ten-days rest.

Minnesota 20, Jacksonville 13

Sunday, December 11th, 4:05 e.t.

New York Jets (3-8) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-11)

So here’s an ugly game that is hard to pick.  The Niners looked awful on the road in snowy Chicago last week, but the Jets may have managed to look even worse at home against the Colts on Monday night.  Traveling across the country on a short week won’t bode well for a team that honestly looks like it quit on their head coach.  Also, Colin Kaepernick will be starting here and, before his horrible game against the Bears, he wasn’t awful.  I think the Niners will snap their eleven game losing streak here.

San Francisco 29, New York 19

Sunday, December 11th, 4:25 e.t.

New Orleans Saints (5-7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)

This is a fun little matchup that has been flexed into the late=afternoon window on FOX.  Are the Bucs for real or are they just on an odd-ball hot streak?  This game will tell us a lot about Tampa Bay because if they are a legitimate threat in the NFC, there should be no problem with them putting N’awleans away.  Their defense has been much better lately and I think they will be the difference in what could be a good game.

Tampa Bay 24, New Orleans 23

Atlanta Falcons (7-5) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-8)

Remember when the Rams were 3-1?  That is ancient history now as the team has dropped seven of their last eight and have been close to unwatchable on offense.  Atlanta, on the other hand, have been a lot of fun to watch and can score points with anybody.  These days it only takes about 17 points to beat L.A. and the Falcons should have no problem going over that mark, even on the road.

Atlanta 34, Los Angeles 17

Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) @ Green Bay Packers (6-6)

I was going to pick the Packers to win this game, but it is so hard to pick against the ‘Hawks in December, especially after seeing what they did last week to Carolina.  Russell Wilson should have time to stand in the pocket and pick apart this weak Green Bay secondary.  On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers may find it difficult passing on the Seahawks if their pass rush gets cranking.

Seattle 25, Green Bay 20

Sunday, December 11th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (11-1) @ New York Giants (8-4)

The Cowboys have already clinched a playoff spot and could lock up the NFC East with a win on Sunday.  I think they will get it done, even on the road.  This pick is more on my concern with the Giants offense than anything else.  They have not looked great for most of this season and that does not bode well when you have proud owners of an eleven game losing streak coming to town.  Jason Pierre-Paul, who had really heated up over the last month, will now miss the rest of the regular season for New York.  They are in a tough spot now.

Dallas 30, New York 17

Monday, December 12th, 8:30 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ New England Patriots (10-2)

Week 14 wraps up with a nice contest between the Ravens and Patriots, who seem to produce a lot of quality games.  Baltimore threw the ball at will against the Dolphins to the point where Joe Flacco had 27 completions in the first half alone.  Insane.  Anyways, they will have to find more balance if they want to hang with the Pats on the road.  Since it is a road game, I don’t like their odds at winning, but they could hang around.  The Patriots might just run the rock like it were the ’80s here also.  This should be a decent game.

New England 28, Baltimore 17

Week 14 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (10-2): Detroit over Chicago

Upset of the Week: Arizona over Miami

Offensive Player of the Week: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Harrison Smith, SS, Vikings

Rookie of the Week: Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Cowboys

Best Quarterback: Cam Newton, Panthers

Best Running Back: Carlos Hyde, 49ers

Week 13 Recap: Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23 from the fourth of December.

Final: Arizona 31, Washington 23

The Arizona Cardinals improve to 5-6-1 after Patrick Peterson intercepted an errant Kirk Cousins pass late in the game, downing the Redskins.  There was good quarterback play taking place in this game despite woeful performances by both injury-riddled offensive lines.  Here’s how it all played out.

The Redskins defense was victimized by two players on defense: Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson.  These two players have carried the Cardinals’ offense all season long and certainly continued that trend on Sunday.  Fitz now has 1,104 catches in his brilliant career and sits all alone behind Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez in third place on the all-time reception list.  Fitzgerald hauled in ten balls for 78 yards and made a couple of key conversions, including one late in the game that allowed the Cards to march down the field and score the go-ahead touchdown.  David Johnson was a man on fire yet again for Arizona as he recorded 100+ yards from scrimmage in his twelfth straight game.  He ended the afternoon with 27 touches for 175 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).  He was nearly uncoverable out of the backfield and did have opportunities to make a couple more grabs if the ball was delivered accurately.  This was a bit of a problem at times because the offensive line for Arizona continued to be an issue.  The interior was getting shoved backwards and the Redskins were getting pressure even on three step drops.  Luckily, Carson Palmer showed some of his best mechanics so far this season and was good with his feet, able to move out and make some decent throws.  Other tosses were inaccurate because he was not able to escape the pressure.  On the Cardinals’ final scoring drive of the game, Bruce Arians showed some guts by calling a run play on a fourth and one, inside of their own territory with less than four to play.  The call payed off with a 17 yard rush by David Johnson.  Later on, on a third down try, he let Carson Palmer take a shot for the end zone, and the veteran quarterback delivered the goods by dropping a perfect pass into the waiting arms of J.J. Nelson in the end zone for a 42 yard score.  The Cardinals were playing to win the game, and they were able to do just that.

Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals
Action from Sunday’s matchup between Arizona and Washington.

Conversely, the Washington offense held its own.  They were in a tough spot versus the league’s top defense on the road, and they did not look atrocious despite missing their best offensive player in Jordan Reed.  Kirk Cousins was great on the afternoon making quick reads and finding open men when he was afforded the time to pass.  This was the key, though, because there were a lot of occasions where he could not stand comfortably in the pocket and pick out his best option.  His best throw of the game came right at the beginning of the third quarter where he hooked up with DeSean Jackson on a 59 yard bomb.  This lead to a Rob Kelley score later on.  The 59 yarder was one of the rare times that Cousins had all day to throw.  The Redskins suffered injuries to their center John Sullivan and their right guard Spencer Long.  Arizona brought a ton of corner blitzes and spread the line out.  This allowed some men to run free on the interior and take shots on Cousins.  There was not much room for Washington to maneuver on the ground either as the Cardinals blitzed those looks as well.  It came down to the Redskins’ players beating their man coverage.  They did not do so on many occasions as the ball rarely went in the direction of Patrick Peterson who was all over DeSean Jackson for a majority of the game.  Jameson Crowder did not have a reception until the third quarter of play and without Jordan Reed to make plays in the middle of the field, Kirk Cousins was heavily reliant on quick hitches to the outside, which is not necessarily Washington’s game.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
Kirk Cousins throwing the ball against Arizona from 12/4/16

This has already been touched upon quite a bit, but the Arizona defense was a huge reason why the team was able to keep their playoff hopes alive.  They were tremendous in man coverage when Kirk Cousins did have time to throw the ball and they were blitzing very frequently.  Deone Bucannon and Markus Golden shined as each made plays at the line of scrimmage all game long.  Golden recovered a fumble and ran it back deep inside of the Redskins’ territory late in the game that set up one go-ahead score.  Bucannon was excellent help in stuffing the run game and made some great open field tackles.  Tyvon Branch was a bit of a liability in coverage, and he was the guy who got beat deep by DeSean Jackson.  Otherwise, the secondary for Arizona was strong even without Tyrann Matheiu to help them out.  The Cardinals were just as aggressive without him and really got after a hobbled Washington offensive line.

The Redskins on defense found out what a lot of teams have already seen this season: the Arizona offense is run through the production of two guys, David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald had a lot of catches, but nothing terribly explosive.  The true challenge was with Johnson out of the backfield, something the Redskins have shown to struggle doing all season and that is covering running backs.  Their interior line was good and they held up well against the run.  Johnson himself did break some tackles and got on to the second level, but for the second straight week the Redskins’ held a potential #1 running back in the league to less than 100 yards rushing, which is not bad.  Washington did a great job at limiting explosive plays from the Cards until late in the game when J.J. Nelson grabbed his long touchdown.  Josh Norman was more of an impact player around the line of scrimmage as he was brought on CAT blitzes quite a few times and had a nose for stuffing the ball carriers.  He had a bad holding penalty later in the game that did extend an Arizona drive, however, and was not overly dominant in covering Larry Fitzgerald.  Bashaud Breeland actually had one of his better games in coverage for most of the game having primary assignments with Michael Floyd throughout.  He was beat on a touchdown pass, but Larry Fitzgerald drew him away from his primary receiver, so it is hard to blame him for that.

In the end, this turned out to be a signature win for the Cardinals.  They got back to their roots and were aggressive on both sides of the ball.  This was important for them since they are a squad whose identity is built on taking risks and this “W” is something that they can look back on for the rest of the year.  With this victory, they now jump above the Eagles and the Saints in the NFC Wild Card standings and now have a head to head win over the Redskins.  They will be heading on the road to the Dolphins next week trying to continue a late season renaissance.  The Redskins have a chance to bounce back with a struggling Eagle team next on their schedule.  That game will be on the road.

Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald is now third on the all-time receptions list with 1,104 following this weekend’s game.

The Skinny:

  • Arizona’s defense clamped down in the waning moments of the game when Patrick Peterson intercepted Kirk Cousins’ pass late with :41 to go, sealing a win for the Cardinals and keeping their season alive.
  • David Johnson had his twelfth straight game with over 100 yards from scrimmage while Larry Fitzgerald moved into third place all time with 1,104 receptions.  Arizona’s offense continues to run through these two players almost exclusively.
  • Carson Palmer had his best game since Week 2 versus Tampa Bay, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.  He did all of this despite another poor performance from his offensive line and showed his best mobility of the season.
  • Washington’s offensive line suffered a couple of big injuries to the center and guard position and the Cardinals exploited that with blitzes.  Kirk Cousins was under pressure all game and was off the mark with a lot of his throws.
  • Until J.J. Nelson’s 42 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Washington secondary did hold up well due to the amount of pressure they were able to get on Carson Palmer.  The Redskin “D” did not hold when it counted most as they gave up that bomb late in the fourth quarter and allowed a fourth down conversion earlier on the drive.
  • The middle of the field was not as prosperous for the Redskins without Jordan Reed in the game.  Outside throws were contested by the Arizona corners and Kirk Cousins did not have much of a running game to work with.  The Washington offense was handicapped and exposed by a good defense.

2016 Season: Week 13 Preview

It is already December as the 2016 season hits its final leg which means that Week 13 is going to post a lot of do or die games.  Teams like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay, Buffalo, San Diego, and Carolina face must-win situations because a loss would likely sink their entire campaign.  Who will be the winners of the fifteen contests this weekend?  Find out below!snow-field

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 95-82

Thursday, December 1st, 8:25 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (10-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (6-5)

The thirteenth week of the season gets kicked off with a dandy of a game.  Dallas takes its ten game winning streak on the road to a tough place in Minnesota against a desperate Viking team scratching and clawing to get into the big dance.  Normally I would take the team most needing of a win at home on a Thursday night, but both teams will have had a full week to rest up for this game so that edge goes out the window.  I really have a hard time picking against the Cowboys in this situation because of what they can do on offense and what the Vikings can’t do: protect their quarterback and run the ball.  I think that the ‘Boys will take the win on the road and keep rolling on Thursday.

Dallas 27, Minnesota 16

Sunday, December 4th, 1:00 e.t.

Denver Broncos (7-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)

Denver is coming off of a heartbreaking loss in overtime against the Chiefs that came after their defense coughed away an eight point lead at the end of regulation.  Now, if you can believe this, they find themselves on the outside of the playoff bubble with the #7 seed.  It’s not like they are in horrible shape, but a road loss to the Jags would really clip their wings.  I can’t see this happening given Jacksonville’s struggles to throw the ball.  The Broncos should get back on track with a nice road win.

Denver 23, Jacksonville 10

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)

The Bengals played Baltimore tough on the road a week ago, but in the end it was clear that their injury riddled team just didn’t have enough talent to stand up to a rugged Raven defense.  This week the team draws a desperate Philadelphia team whose defense was pretty close to embarrassed by a surgical Aaron Rodgers on Monday night.  Look for the Iggles to play with a chip on their shoulder here.  Carson Wentz could have a nice day against a poor Cincinnati secondary.

Philadelphia 25, Cincinnati 13

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) @ Chicago Bears (2-9)

This is a hard game to call because both teams are bad, but each did look somewhat competent a week ago, albeit in losses.  I was going to lean towards the Bears at home, but it is going to be hard for them to stop San Fran’s running game.  Then again, the Niners have been more than bad at stuffing the rush themselves.  It will come down to quarterback play in what looks to be inclement weather.  I think I like Colin Kaepernick over Matt Barkley, even though Barkley had his moments a week ago.

San Francisco 17, Chicago 15

Miami Dolphins (7-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

The Dolphins, after looking like the worst team in football after September, have ripped off six straight wins and are among the hottest teams in the league currently.  Sunday they will hit the road to Baltimore and face a very stingy Raven defense.  I like this unit to slow down Jay Ajayi and put pressure on Ryan Tannehill, who I am still not sold on.  Almost losing at home to San Francisco is not a good look for the ‘Phins and I can see their offense being frustrated on the road in Baltimore.

Power Pick of the Week: Baltimore 20, Miami 13

Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

One of the best games of the week will go down in Atlanta and we see the gritty Chiefs taking on the high flying Falcons.  On Sunday night, the Kansas City defense was lights out in the first half when their pass rush was creating havoc, but as soon as it slowed Trevor Seimian shredded them.  Atlanta has a better offensive line than does Denver and a better QB to boot.  The Falcons should not have much trouble winning this game at home against a Chief team that may be a little lucky to be sitting at 8-3 right now.

Atlanta 34, Kansas City 28

Detroit Lions (7-4) @ New Orleans Saints (5-6)

This has potential to be the most exciting game of the week because it pits two teams that are always playing close, nail-biting contests.  It also features two poor pass defenses and two good gunslingers.  Points should flood the scoreboard on Sunday but I predict more on the side of the home team.  The Saints have played much better on “D” lately and the Lions have problems stopping people with their passing defense.  Drew Brees could throw for 375+ yards at home.

New Orleans 39, Detroit 35

Los Angeles (4-7) @ New England Patriots (9-2)

Jared Goff got off to a fast start on the road in New Orleans but was shut out in the second half against that middling (at best) defense.  The Patriots are in the same boat as their weakness this season has been their pass “D”, but I think they will be fine in this contest.  I could just copy and paste my synopsis from last week’s Saints/Rams game here because I think this game will go the same way.  I don’t see Goff being able to hang points with Tom Brady on the road.

New England 42, Los Angeles 28

Houston Texans (6-5) @ Green Bay Packers (5-6)

The Packers saved their season with a dominant win on the road over Philadelphia in a game where Aaron Rodgers looked like the Rodgers we have all come to know.  Heading home to host a dumpster fire of an offense in Houston should net good results for the Pack.  If Houston doesn’t pressure #12, they will get picked apart.  I like Green Bay to begin a small roll here.

Green Bay 37, Houston 20

Sunday, December 4th, 4:05 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (6-5) @ Oakland Raiders (9-2)

Okay, so I think that the Raiders have a very good team, but for whatever reason I continue to pick against them every week, and I keep getting burnt.  I was going to pick the Billikens to take a road win in an upset this week, but I think that Derek Carr (injured finger and all) could have a nice day against a very thin secondary.  The Oakland run defense is also stiffening up and that is the lifeblood of Buffalo’s game.  I might change my mind on this one, but for now I am going with the Raiders to get to 10-2.  Crazy, right?

Oakland 26, Buffalo 24

Sunday, December 4th, 4:25 e.t.

Washington Redskins (6-4-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)

Can I just say that I hate ties?  Just wanted to throw that out there.  Both of these teams have been caught up in those dreaded deadlocks and I just thought it was necessary to point out my hatred for them.  Now that we got that out of the way… the Redskins were in the game versus Dallas on the road on Thanksgiving.  A lot of people would pick them to blast the Cards who have not been the same team on offense, but I am smarter than that.  I think that the Arizona secondary can give Kirk Cousins headaches with blitzes and I see their offense waking up a bit against a, at times, challenged Washington defense.  I’ll take the Cardinals at home.

Arizona 30, Washington 23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) @ San Diego Chargers (5-6)

The Buccaneers are coming off of back-to-back upset wins on the road over Kansas City and at home over Seattle.  Their defense has been one of the biggest factors to that as they held both of those teams to a combined 20 points on offense.  Keeping the third highest scoring team at bay could be a struggle on the road though as Philip Rivers knows how to throw up points.  I think you will see a well played game on both sides, but I will give an underrated defense in San Diego the benefit of the doubt on this one.  They will be the difference here.

San Diego 30, Tampa Bay 27

New York Giants (8-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

The Giants have won five straight games, but they haven’t been facing the most quality of opponents over that stretch, and that will change on Sunday when they head to Pittsburgh to take on a Steeler team primed to make a run at the playoffs.  This looks like it will be a nice springboard game for Mike Tomlin and company to start building some steam down the stretch.  The way the Giants’ offense has looked lately has me wondering if they will even crack the 20 point barrier in this game.  I think the Steelers will have no problem doing that at home.

Pittsburgh 36, New York 17

Sunday, December 4th, 8:30 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (4-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)

If only this game were being played in Carolina, then it may have been more interesting.  Alas, it will be taking place in the Emerald City.  The Seahawks are the only team in the league that has not lost a home game this year and that will not change with Carolina coming to town.  It is very hard to beat Seattle two straight weeks as they have the most complete team in the league in my opinion.  With the Panthers’ problems running the ball, I just can’t see them pulling off a major upset on the road.

Seattle 34, Carolina 17

Monday, December 5th, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (5-6) @ New York Jets (3-8)

The Jets played the Patriots close last week, but I was not very surprised by that since they usually do.  This week should be a much different tale with Andrew Luck looking like he is ready to come back and play.  The Colts will have had a full ten days rest after dropping hard at home on Thanksgiving to the Steelers.  I like that to fuel them to a nice win.  Luck should not have any issues picking on what has turned out to be a very weak New York secondary.

Indianapolis 33, New York 16

Week 13 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (9-2): Pittsburgh over New York

Upset of the Week: San Francisco over Chicago

Offensive Player of the Week: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

Defensive Player of the Week: Khalil Mack, LB, Raiders

Rookie of the Week: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears

Best Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Best Running Back: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals