Here are my NFL Week 12 Picks
(10-4 last week, 94-65-2 for the season)
Bye teams: none
Min @ Det – With these teams currently tied at the top of the NFC North, and with Green Bay falling further & further behind, this game could go very far in determining the division winner, and possible the playoff team. The loser of this game (and possibly the division) will not be a shoe-in for a Wild Card spot, not with the NFC East playing so well, so this game is of utmost importance. When is the last time you remember the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit having this much significance? The Lions have been out of it at this time of year more often than not, and the Vikings too for that matter, but not this year. This year, both teams are 6-4, both desperately need this win, and to the victor might eventually go the spoils. Minnesota is 1-4 in its last five games and is 2-3 on the road. Detroit is 4-1 in its last five games and is 4-1 at home. Obviously, and especially in a huge, nationally-televised game at home, the Lions have the advantage here. They also have the better offense, and the Viking D hasn’t been playing lights out as of late. I think Turkey Day will be a happy one for the Lions, with the Vikes rowing home depressed.
Was @ Dal – Again, this game hasn’t had as much importance lately as it does this year, with each team going all out for a win here. For the Redskins, their season hangs in the balance. They’re 6-3-1, have looked better recently, would get into the playoffs if the season ended today, but can’t afford many more losses in what looks to be a tight race for a Wild Card spot. The team on top of their division is the Cowboys, so winning here would give Washington a shot at the NFC East, but more importantly it would keep them in the playoff hunt. They did just dispatch with Green Bay, but the Packers are struggling and that was at home. This game is on the road vs the best team in the NFL, so it might not be that easy. Dallas is firing on all cylinders right now, doing absolutely nothing wrong, and Dak, Dez, & Zeke just seem to be getting better with every game that passes. The Boys are 4-1 at home, with their only loss on the season coming Week 1, which can be excused. I don’t think they lose this Thanksgiving game, which would extend their win streak to 10 games and basically cement their postseason appearance.
Pit @ Ind – And again, a stellar night game of Super Bowl caliber teams who just aren’t playing that way at the moment, but who could flip the switch at any time. Also, two teams who are desperate for this win. Both are 5-5 and are in 2nd place in their respective divisions. Both have amazing quarterbacks but defenses that are making it hard for their leaders to consistently lead the team to victory. For either team, that could change in the blink of an eye, and both teams are on a tiny win streak, so look out Wild Cards, here they come. For Pittsburgh, they are actually tied with Baltimore for the AFC North lead, so there’s still a chance they can win their division. But they need to play consistently, something that not even Big Ben has been able to do. Bell is running well as of late, so perhaps this team is turning around. Indy is heating up too though, and they’re at home, a deadly combination. However, their defense is bad, AND it’s been discussed that Andrew Luck is in the concussion protocol and might not play in this Thursday Night game. If he doesn’t, the Colts have absolutely no chance.
Ten @ Chi – As much as they keep shooting themselves in the foot, aren’t playing good defense, and can’t win key games, the Titans are still in the thick of the AFC South division title hunt, with the Texans at 6-4, the Colts at 5-5, and Tennessee at 5-6. The season is still within their grasp, but they’ve got to get on some sort of a winning streak if they’re to make that happen. Well, playing against Chicago is one way of making that work, even though the Titans are only 2-3 on the road and the Bears are 2-2 at home. If this was another team, that road/home split might make me worry, but the fact that it’s Chicago should make that OK. As if enough wasn’t going wrong already, and with Alshon Jeffrey suspended, now Jay Cutler is hurt again. This team is both cursed and stupid. They made terrible decisions all the time, their head coach is awful, their starting QB is a shlub, they can’t get out of their own way, and this season, among many others, will only end with a whimper. This team needs a do-over, and I worry that no one involved is smart enough to understand that.
Jax @ Buf – There were times when I thought the Jaguars might turn things around, but it’s become clear that they most definitely will not. With all this talent, it seemed like something good might happen, and even when it didn’t, some of us held out hope that it still could. But not anymore. The Jags are purely awful, and in every phase, failing to coach or play to the caliber of the majority of the rest of the league. I don’t know what they’ll do in the offseason, probably not enough, but this could be a bad team for years to come if their young talent doesn’t mesh in the way they are capable of. I also don’t know what the future holds for the Bills, though it seems to be a bit brighter. Is Tyrod Taylor your QB of the future? He’s playing well this year, but as a team Buffalo is basically just scraping by. That win in Cinci last week was big, and I expect they’ll notch another victory here at home, but I’m just not sold on this team as a whole. Rex Ryan isn’t special, and I don’t think the Bills are either, so I’m curious as to the changes they might make for 2017, whether they’ll be of the positive variety.
Cin @ Bal – The time has almost passed for the Bungles to make a move on a weak division. And who thought we would be saying that at this point, that the Steelers would be struggling, that the Bengals would be bad, that the Ravens would be winning the division with only a few games left in the season. We all knew that the Browns would suck, that was a given, but the rest of the AFC North has been a surprise. Last week’s loss to Buffalo was a killer, especially with Baltimore losing to Dallas. The Bengals aren’t exactly out of it, especially if they could pull off a win here, I just don’t see that happening. A loss cements the end of their season, and I see that as a strong possibility. The Ravens are only 5-5, but that’s good enough for first place, at least for now. They’ll need to pick up more wins if they don’t want the Steelers to storm back, which we know they’re talented enough to do. And Baltimore really needs to start scoring more points; their defense, which is shockingly good, can’t hold off every teams forever. The Ravens are 3-2 at home, while Cinci is 1-4 on the road, and I think the team with more on the line wins this game.
Ari @ Atl – This week’s theme seems to be announcing the demise of teams who have played themselves out of contention, and I’m sad to say, because I honestly like them, that the Cardinals may have just joined that list. I don’t think they have many chances for a turnaround left, especially as Seattle begins to run away with the division and other, better teams fight each other for the Wild Card spots. Arizona just hasn’t been nearly as good as expected, although a small step back was anticipated. We just didn’t think it would be a step back to 4-5-1, or to a 1-3 record on the road. The offense just isn’t putting up the points needed, which is basically solely Carson Palmer’s fault, and the defense is playing well but not lights out enough to make up the difference. I think it’s all over for the Cards, and next year might not be better. It’s not over for the Falcons by a long shot, who may have dropped a few games since their red-hot start, but are still a team to be reckoned with. This team can score against anyone, and will definitely put up points here at home vs a team that is probably ready to check out.
NYG @ Cle – I’ve been waiting all year to pat myself on the back, and I think I can be patient enough to wait one more week for the G-Men to get past this trap game before I say I was right to call this team one of 2016’s potentially scariest clubs. They’re heating up, that’s for sure, but that’s not surprising to me; this team was destined to fire on all cylinders offensively, to take major strides on defense. It was just a matter of time before they clicked, and have they ever, winning 5 games in a row, improving to 7-3 from 2-3. Now, they have flaws, letting games come down to the wire too often, not playing particularly well on the road. So, like I said, I’ll wait past this week to call myself right, but I’ve got a good feeling about the Giants as a Wild Card and what they can do in the playoffs. They need to focus on the Browns first though, a team that literally has nothing to lose. They’re winless, of course, just plain hideous, and God knows which QB they’ll start this week. I thought they had the tiniest chance to win at home last week, but that didn’t happen, so I won’t pick them here, but I wouldn’t be shocked if a victory appears from somewhere.
LA @ NO – Why exactly hasn’t Jeff Fisher been fired yet? Why exactly does he get to coach an NFL team, get paid millions of dollars, just to lose more often than not? What a joke, and I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again; I will take 1/8 of his paycheck and coach just as badly. Hell, I may even delegate better, just be a cheerleader, and coach better, who knows, at least the Rams would be saving money. God it’s frustrating, and I’m not even a fan of the team, I just hate seeing them get swindled and him be overvalued. Goff starts again this week, but I don’t see him putting up the type of points that will be needed to win this game, even though the Rams are a solid 3-2 on the road this season. I think the Saints, who are actually only 2-3 at home, can score enough to win this game without having to even consider their defense, which is fairly awful. In a different situation, I might pick LA since they do have a strong D and since they may be able to rattle Brees. But even if they do, Goff can’t score enough to make a game out of it, and I think this one eventually ends as a blowout in New Orleans’ favor.
SF @ Mia – The 49ers continue their epic collapse, losing nine in a row and failing to even be a competitive club. Only they and the Browns have allowed over 300 total points this season, which is pretty pathetic, and its made much worse by the fact that they can’t score on offense either. Basically this is a historically terrible team, which is odd because they were so good only a short time ago, and even the idiocy of Chip Kelly shouldn’t be enough to make an NFL team this much of a disaster. I’m sure he’s partly to blame though, since he’s as terrible a person as he is a coach. Really, I can’t stand the guy, and he’s awful at his job to boot, a combination that has me hoping he’ll get thrown out the door sooner rather than later, never to return. Meanwhile, the Dolphins continue their epic comeback, winning 5 in a row, mostly at home, but taking care of business recently in a way none of us really thought they could. They still aren’t an amazing team, will probably fall just short of a Wild Card spot, but are at least an entertaining team to watch right now and can at least win this easy game.
SD @ Hou – The Chargers, who were on a bye last week, come back with very little chance of pulling off any sort of magical, late season run. They’re 4-6, 1-4 on the road, and their first game after the break is in Houston. Not good, and a loss here will probably spell the end of the season. Could it spell the end of some players/coaches as well? Maybe, it’s hard to say, owners are fiercely loyal far too often. Rivers isn’t getting any younger though, Gates is about done, their coach is not going to improve, so San Diego fans need to brace themselves for a long drought in the coming years. But that’s looking past this game. For now, San Diego fans need to prepare themselves for a beatdown. The Texans arguably should have won in Mexico City on Monday Night, with calls going against them at some key moments. Now, they have problems they need to own up to, namely Osweiler and the team’s inability to win on the road. But at home they dominate, going 5-0, and this week they’ll be madder than usual. Also, they’ll be playing a bad Chargers team, so I don’t think this one will even be competitive.
Sea @ TB – If I’m a Seahawks fan, my immediate reaction to a game in Tampa Bay is worry. Jameis Winston and the Bucs have been playing well lately, and the last thing I want on my way to the playoffs is a tough road game against a scrappy team, something that might ruin my plans. The Seahawks are a game and a half behind Dallas for the #1 spot in the NFC, something they desperately want; home field advantage could be the deciding factor come January, it often is. So there’s some worry here, since Seattle needn’t win every game to get to the postseason but might have to in order to grab the top spot. But that’s immediate reaction, when an in-depth looks reveals why there might not be too much reason to worry. Yes, Tampa has been playing well, but they are a shocking 1-4 at home, a statistic that reveals that something is going on mentally with this team that a good win-streak won’t necessarily fix. I think it’s a maturity issue, a can’t-control-your-adrenaline issue, and like my high school drama teacher always said, learn to control your emotions, don’t let your emotion control you.
NE @ NYJ – So that’s two losses and two rebounds for the Patriots, showing that even good teams lose, but great teams bounce back. There’s no doubt that New England is a great team, one that will be hard to beat in the playoffs. They’re on their way to winning the division, and I wouldn’t want to face them come January. Actually, and weirdly, the Pats are 3-2 at home, 5-0 on the road, which is odd because they almost never lose in Foxboro. This season, that’s where they’ve stumbled, but they always answer back with a big road win. They will most certainly win this road game, and I don’t even think it’ll be close. The Jets are a mess, and they’re making it worse by switching back & forth between quarterbacks. This week, they throw Fiztmagic back out there, but I think that’s basically to save Petty from annihilation. There’s almost no way Fitz leads the Jets to a win, and fans can’t be happy with the decisions. At least play your young kids, see what you’ve got, the season is over, they can’t do any more damage than has already been done, especially since Fitz is the one who’s done most of it.
Car @ Oak – It’s not technically over for the Panthers, as the division isn’t locked up yet, but man they had better win out, and I don’t see that happening. They just started too slow, and even playing better lately just won’t be enough to get them back in the thick of things. Too bad too, since this team is fun to watch and Cam is pretty polarizing. Me, I hate the guy, especially his clothes, but that’s neither here nor there. I hope they do continue to fight, for our entertainment, but I do think the season is over, especially if they lose this week, which I think they will. The Raiders just keep winning, defying all odds. They even won in Mexico City, though the game came with some controversy. They score enough to win, it’s as simple as that, though this defense will be a flaw come playoff time. As a Bronco fan, I want the Raiders to start losing please, but I don’t think they will quite yet. They are better on the road than at home, so there’s some of that Tampa Bay danger in this game as well, and the Panthers are good enough to take advantage of that, so look for a close game, I just have to go with Oakland for the win.
KC @ Den – The Chiefs did the AFC a favor last week by losing at home, something that doesn’t happen very often. Now they find themselves tied with the Broncos for second place in the AFC West, a game behind the Raiders for the lead. That makes this game all-important, and the winner here will be the team that challenges Oakland, the loser probably settling for battling it out for a Wild Card spot. KC is 2-0 within the division this season and is also 3-2 on the road, so they aren’t pushovers by any means. I just have to believe that my Broncos will understand the meaning behind this matchup and won’t quit until they get the victory. Coming off a bye week, Denver will be healthier than they have been in weeks, something that can’t be understated, especially with the return of Aqib Talib. The game being in Mile High helps, the Broncos going 4-1 at home. Also, don’t sleep on this defense, a squad that faltered a bit a few weeks ago but will come to play in this one. If Denver can run the ball and if Siemian can minimize mistakes, this is a winnable game for the Broncos and a springboard toward the playoffs.
GB @ Phi – It feels strange to say, but the Packers have almost no chance of winning this game. When’s the last time that was true, that Rodgers & Co. were out of any game, road or home, that they were playing so terribly that they almost stood no chance? We’ve been spoiled to Packer wins, and so all season we’ve been waiting for the Pack to regroup, to turn it on. But I think that time is over, I think Green Bay has showed us what they have in the tank and it isn’t actually very much. I don’t even think this game will be close, though that’s hard to say given Rodgers’ history & talent, but I have to go with what I see, which is a bad team traveling to a good team and probably being handed a loss without a fight. The Eagles might not be phenomenal, and they don’t win within their division, which might ultimately be what keeps them out of the playoffs, but one thing they do very well is win at home, where they are undefeated. GB is 1-4 on the road, so right there that tells you the story. Add in Philly’s stout D to the Pack’s offensive problems and you’ve got the possibility of a lopsided MNF game.