Week 12 brought us some upsets and gave me a few more losses than I would have liked. Cleveland always messes with picks because they’re so inconsistent. Buffalo exploded for 54 points after losing 4 games in a row. Minnesota handled the Jaguars on the road. And the Colts and Saints topped the Chargers and Packers, respectively. The big upset of the week, of course, was the Raiders over the Broncos in Denver.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Originally published Wednesday, Nov. 26.
Last Week: 10-6
This Week: 10-6
Tennessee (10-1) at Detroit (0-11)
Well, it’s not exactly 11-0 vs. 0-11, but it’s close enough. I just don’t see any way the Lions can win this game. In fact, it may get ugly early. The Lions cannot stop the run and I expect the Titans to have a big game on the ground en route to an easy win.
Prediction: Tennessee 27, Detroit 16
Actual Score: Tennessee 47, Detroit 10
Seattle (2-9) at Dallas (7-4)
Another should-be blowout. The NFL didn’t pick these Thanksgiving games very well, did they? I think the Cowboys blow out the Seahawks and TVs will be turned off or ignored as families across America spend more quality time together.
Prediction: Dallas 31, Seattle 14
Actual Score: Dallas 34, Seattle 9
Arizona (7-4) at Philadelphia (5-5-1)
I would expect this to be the best game of the day, but even the Eagles have been struggling as of late. This game should be closer being that Arizona is on the road, but the Cardinals may pull away in this game, too. Whatever the score may be, I think it’ll be Arizona picking up the victory.
Prediction: Arizona 24, Philadelphia 20
Actual Score: Philadelphia 48, Arizona 20
San Francisco (3-8) at Buffalo (6-5)
This is an intriguing game. Buffalo had lost four straight — three to divisional foes — before ending that streak in convincing fashion last week against the Chiefs. Are the 49ers competitive enough to win on the road in Buffalo? They’re about average against the run, but it’s their pass defense that could hurt them in this one.
Prediction: Buffalo 24, San Francisco 20
Actual Score: San Francisco 10, Buffalo 3
Baltimore (7-4) at Cincinnati (1-9-1)
I think this could be a very ugly game. Cincinnati averages a paltry 13.5 points per game, which is second-worst in the NFL. To compound that scoring problem, the Ravens’ defense is only allowing 17 points per game, which is fourth-best in the NFL. This is the type of game where single digits could be in store for the Bengals.
Prediction: Baltimore 27, Cincinnati 7
Actual Score: Baltimore 34, Cincinnati 3
New Orleans (6-5) at Tampa Bay (8-3)
With the Bears playing the Sunday night game, I get to watch two noon games and this will probably be one of them I watch — the Packers-Panthers game being the other. The reason being that this should be an exciting contest between two NFC South rivals, one with a solid defense and the other with an explosive offense. Tampa Bay’s defense is only giving up 16.4 points per game, third-best in the league. New Orleans’ offense is scoring 28.8 points per game, which is also third-best in the NFL. One of those two stats has to fall. I’ll go with Tampa Bay, who has homefield advantage, the No. 2 pass defense, and a better run game — even if Reggie Bush returns this week.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 24, New Orleans 21
Actual Score: Tampa Bay 23, New Orleans 20
New York Giants (10-1) at Washington (7-4)
This is an encore performance of the NFL’s season-opening Thursday night game. In that contest, Jason Campbell didn’t complete his first pass until 1:19 left in the first half. Clinton Portis was also held to just 84 yards rushing on 23 carries, whereas Brandon Jacobs steamrolled to 116 yards while running over and through Redskins defenders. (Safety LaRon Landry ought to remember that game as he got blown backwards and landed on his back while trying to tackle Jacobs). Why all the reminiscing? Well, I think history will repeat itself as the Giants run over the Redskins in this one.
Prediction: New York Giants 24, Washington 17
Actual Score: New York Giants 23, Washington 7
Miami (6-5) at St. Louis (2-9)
Miami should roll in this one. The Rams are completely dysfunctional and as much as I hate the stupid thing, the Dolphins should be able to run their famed “Wildcat” offense all over the Rams’ defense. The Dolphins by no means are perfect, though, as they nearly were upset by the Raiders a few weeks ago. But I think Miami should win this one safely.
Prediction: Miami 26, St. Louis 16
Actual Score: Miami 16, St. Louis 12
Indianapolis (7-4) at Cleveland (4-7)
I think Cleveland’s got their hands full in this one as their defense is in the bottom third of the league against the pass. With Brady Quinn on IR after breaking his finger on his throwing hand, the Browns will have to turn to Derek Anderson, whom the team turned away from toward Quinn because he couldn’t get anything going. The Colts, who are on a 4-game win streak, should roll to a victory.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Cleveland 14
Actual Score: Indianapolis 10, Cleveland 6
Carolina (8-3) at Green Bay (5-6)
Weeks before this game, I felt the Packers would win, and now that it’s at the forefront, my mind hasn’t changed. It has nothing to do with the cold weather, either. If the Packers lose this game, they’ll be two games behind either Chicago or Minnesota with four to go. That’s a tough hole to climb out of and teams tend to play better when they are at home and their backs are against the wall.
Prediction: Green Bay 22, Carolina 19
Actual Score: Carolina 35, Green Bay 31
Atlanta (7-4) at San Diego (4-7)
There’s a great storyline in this game as Atlanta’s Michael Turner returns to San Diego to face the man he backed up for four years, LaDainian Tomlinson. Ironically, I think the winner of this game will be the team whose running back amasses the most yards. Atlanta has the No. 2 rushing offense in the league while San Diego is a surprising No. 26. As long as Atlanta continues to run the ball well and avoid costly turnovers, I think they’ll win this game on the road.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, San Diego 23
Actual Score: Atlanta 22, San Diego 16
Denver (6-5) at New York Jets (8-3)
Denver was upset by the Raiders last week, so I’ve lost about as much confidence in them as one possibly can. Wouldn’t matter, anyway. I don’t see the Broncos invading New York (New Jersey) and beating a red hot Jets team on their home turf.
Prediction: New York Jets 28, Denver 20
Actual Score: Denver 34, New York Jets 17
Pittsburgh (8-3) at New England (7-4)
I haven’t figured out what other game I’ll be watching in the afternoon’s games, but this is definitely one of them. It’s a matchup between two of the AFC’s finest teams. Pittsburgh is No. 1 in run, pass, and overall defense. But there’s something about the way that Matt Cassel and the Patriots have been playing lately that makes me think this game will swing in their direction.
Prediction: New England 20, Pittsburgh 17
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 33, New England 10
Kansas City (1-10) at Oakland (3-8)
Wow, what a thriller this game will be between two of the worst five teams in the league. All sarcasm aside, though, that’s usually how these games turn out. I think the Chiefs are the better of the two teams, even though their run defense is worst in the league.
Prediction: Kansas City 20, Oakland 17
Actual Score: Kansas City 20, Oakland 13
Chicago (6-5) at Minnesota (6-5)
A lot had been made about Lovie Smith’s 4-0 record at Lambeau Field heading into this year, but there’s not much talk of his 1-3 mark in Minnesota. The Bears’ only victory in the last four years was in 2006 when a late, Rex Grossman to Rashied Davis touchdown pass in the final two minutes gave them the win. Believe it or not, I think this game will more closely resemble that one than the 48-41 all-offense, no-defense game we saw in Week 7 at Soldier Field. I think the Bears will be one or two plays away from winning this game as the Vikings pull ahead in the division.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Chicago 24
Actual Score: Minnesota 34, Chicago 14
Jacksonville (4-7) at Houston (4-7)
Not the best game to pick for a Monday night matchup. Jacksonville is making a run at winning the Most Disappointing Team award — if such an award existed — after having such promise entering the season after last year’s success. The Texans were also supposed to make strides this year because their defense was beginning to put things together in 2007. Houston’s passing offense is explosive, averaging a fourth-best 371 yards per game. But the Jaguars and their run game will neutralize that and win the game.
Prediction: Jacksonville 23, Houston 20
Actual Score: Houston 30, Jacksonville 17