I had a decent Week 12, missing on Buffalo’s victory over Miami, the Jets’ win over the Panthers, San Francisco’s victory over Jacksonville, Tennessee’s upset over the Cardinals, and the Saints’ trouncing of the Patriots (can’t argue with that incorrect prediction, though!).
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Full predictions will come Saturday.
Last Week: 11-5
This Week: 11-5
New York Jets (5-6) at Buffalo Bills (4-7)
Boy, the NFL Network hasn’t had much luck so far with their schedule of Thursday games. This game pits two sub-.500 teams that probably don’t factor into the playoff race. The Bills surprised me last week with a win against division rival Miami, but I think the Jets are a bit better and should win this one. The Bills have the worst run defense in the league and the Jets have the No. 2 run offense.
Prediction: New York Jets 23, Buffalo 17
Actual Score: New York Jets 19, Buffalo 13
Philadelphia Eagles (7-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-5)
Atlanta has the No. 27 pass defense in the league and the Eagles have the No. 11 pass offense. The Eagles also are No. 8 at defending the run. Although on the road, I like Philadelphia in this one.
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Atlanta 23
Actual Score: Philadelphia 34, Atlanta 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-10) at Carolina Panthers (4-7)
Jake Delhomme will not play in this one so that likely will mean less turnovers, but it could mean less offense, too. But Carolina is among the best in the league at running the football and the Buccaneers are the third-worst at defending the run.
Prediction: Carolina 23, Tampa Bay 17
Actual Score: Carolina 16, Tampa Bay 6
St. Louis Rams (1-10) at Chicago Bears (4-7)
The Bears can’t seem to stop the run, so they could have trouble with the NFL’s second-leading rusher, Steven Jackson — assuming Jackson plays with a bad back. But they’re a better football team than the Rams and have too much pride not to come out strong and pick up the win.
Prediction: Chicago 24, St. Louis 13
Actual Score: Chicago 17, St. Louis 9
Detroit Lions (2-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-3)
The Lions have nowhere near enough talent to go on the road and defeat one of the AFC’s best. Expect a steady dose of the Bengals’ run game mixed in with some big pass plays for an easy Bengals victory.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Detroit 14
Actual Score: Cincinnati 23, Detroit 13
Tennessee Titans (5-6) at Indianapolis Colts (11-0)
A lot of NFL analysts are predicting the Titans to go on the road with a five-game win streak behind them and upset the undefeated Colts. I can’t fault their logic considering Tennessee’s Chris Johnson is the best running back in football right now and the Colts are only in the middle of the pack against the run. But I’m not ready to bet against Peyton Manning, especially considering the NFL’s best pass offense will face the NFL’s second-worse pass defense.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 21
Actual Score: Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 17
Houston Texans (5-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5)
The Jaguars are trying to hold off the Texans and Titans for second place in the AFC South, but I’m not sure how they even got to a 6-5 record to begin with. The Texans are a better football team and they should win this one on the road behind a solid offense and a stout defense.
Prediction: Houston 27, Jacksonville 20
Actual Score: Jacksonville 23, Houston 18
Denver Broncos (7-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-8)
I expect Kansas City to put up a fight, much like they did against the Steelers a couple weeks ago. But I think it’s Denver’s defense that will come up big in this one.
Prediction: Denver 21, Kansas City 16
Actual Score: Denver 44, Kansas City 13
New England Patriots (7-4) at Miami Dolphins (5-6)
After falling to the Colts and Saints in two of the last three weeks, I expect the Patriots to have pride on the line in this divisional contest and I think the Ronnie Brown-less Dolphins will succumb quickly.
Prediction: New England 30, Miami 17
Actual Score: Miami 22, New England 21
Oakland Raiders (3-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
The Steelers lost to the Bengals at home a few weeks ago, but aside from that, they’ve been nearly unbeatable at home the past two years — and have been terrific there for quite awhile more, in fact. No matter how much they’ve struggled this year, I don’t see them dropping one to the Raiders.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Oakland 14
Actual Score: Oakland 27, Pittsburgh 24
New Orleans Saints (11-0) at Washington Redskins (3-8)
The Redskins may have a bad record, but their defense is ranked No. 7 in the NFL behind their No. 2 pass defense. Yes, the Saints may be a great passing team, but it’s their improved run game that has helped them remain unbeaten this year. I expect them to use it a lot to win their 12th game in a row.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, Washington 17
Actual Score: New Orleans 33, Washington 30
San Diego Chargers (8-3) at Cleveland Browns (1-10)
The Chargers have been a roll lately, having won their last six games. The Browns seem to be in free fall. I expect the Chargers to make it seven in a row with an easy win.
Prediction: San Diego 31, Cleveland 17
Actual Score: San Diego 30, Cleveland 23
Dallas Cowboys (8-3) at New York Giants (6-5)
Always a great NFC East rivalry, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a dogfight here. Even though the numbers tell me otherwise, I just have a hunch the Giants will win this one at home with solid defense and an effective run game.
Prediction: New York Giants 23, Dallas 20
Actual Score: New York Giants 31, Dallas 24
San Francisco 49ers (5-6) at Seattle Seahawks (4-7)
This should be a tight game down to the wire. I think San Francisco’s run game will give Seattle fits and their defense will make just enough plays.
Prediction: San Francisco 21, Seattle 20
Actual Score: Seattle 20, San Francisco 17
Minnesota Vikings (10-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-4)
Last year, Minnesota went into Arizona and pounded them, 35-14. While I don’t expect the score to be as lopsided, I do expect the same result.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Arizona 24
Actual Score: Arizona 30, Minnesota 17
Baltimore Ravens (6-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-4)
The Packers have an unthinkable plus-17 turnover ratio and have been playing terrific football the last three weeks since losing to Tampa Bay. They still have offensive line issues and I fear for Aaron Rodgers’ safety — not really, it’s just a figure of speech — when Ray Lewis and the boys put pressure on him. But I don’t think Baltimore’s offense will help them much in this one.
Prediction: Green Bay 24, Baltimore 20
Actual Score: Green Bay 27, Baltimore 14