First off, if you’re in the U.S. and/or you celebrate Thanksgiving – I hope you have a great day. If not, I at least hope you get to enjoy some football, American style. Here are my picks for this week…
Houston over Detroit – Houston is not perfect but they are about as close as we’re going to see this year. I look for Johnson and Foster to keep up the good work against a middle of the road Detroit defense. As usual, Megatron will get his targets and maybe even score some points but with limited options elsewhere, Detroit will struggle to put points on the board.
Dallas over Washington – Secretly I’ll be rooting for RGIII but Dallas seems to be the better team right now. Washington’s young QB and surrounding cast will be on the road in Dallas where they’ll be facing a Rob Ryan defense that may give RGIII some trouble a la their loss to the Steelers earlier this year. The ‘boys are used to the spotlight and should be able to knock down their division rival before they jump in to a Turducken.
New England over New York Jets – As a division game, this one worries me for the Patriots but I’m still taking them over the Jets. I was surprised last week by the Jets performance against what I thought was a tough Rams team. Regardless, the Jets will return to form this week and lose to the more consistent veteran Patriots team.
Minnesota over Chicago or Chicago over Minnesota – For me, this all hinges on Cutler playing or not. If Cutler plays, I give the slight edge to the Bears. If he does not, I give the edge to Minnesota. The Bears defense will bounce back from last week’s drubbing but I’m not sure what they are going to do about that offensive line. Given that Minnesota is generating sacks at a pretty high rate this year, they are going to have trouble no matter who is under center. I don’t know what the line on this game is this week but I’m thinking there’ll be quite a few turn overs, sacks and defense/special teams scoring.
Cincinnati over Oakland – All of the sudden the Bengals are making some noise in the playoff hunt. I’ve been saying all year that they look to have some talent and at 5-5 they still have a good shot at making the playoffs. This weekend they’ll keep on track by defeating their old QB who has mostly been under-achieving in Oakland. Carson Palmer has picked up the scoring some in the last 4 weeks (2/4/2/2 TDS) but he’s been throwing a lot of picks too (1/3/1/2). It doesn’t matter because the Dalton/Green era has continued and they’ll play strong again this week.
Pittsburgh over Cleveland – Pittsburgh’s defense played strong against the rival Ravens last week. Unfortunately for them, the special teams gave up a touchdown and their offense could not muster more than the one TD run by Leftwich. This week the Steelers are against a wall again and have to rely on their 3rd QB in 3 weeks. Charlie Batch is a good QB and has had success when starting in place of Big Ben. Batch should have continued success against the 2 and 8 Browns. I look for the Browns to try to stuff the run game and make Batch have to throw the ball. Batch will loosen up the defense which will allow the running game to expand in the 2nd half. On the other side, the Steelers D will look to put huge pressure on the Browns rookie QB, Weeden. He’ll probably make a couple mistakes and turn the ball over giving the Steelers an opportunity to score easy points. If Big Ben were in, this would not even be close. Pitt will win but not by a lot
Buffalo over Indianapolis – I’ve come around to appreciate Andrew Luck and how he’s handling his rookie season. The Colts are looking pretty good but not yet great. Buffalo is totally inconsistent but I think a lot of that is tied to injury. I’m going out on a limb picking Buffalo on the road in a noisy stadium but think that they have what it takes to get this victory.
Jacksonville over Tennessee – Jacksonville’s Henne looked pretty good in relief of Gabbert. Perhaps this is the spark that they were looking for in Jacksonville. They lost to Houston but I think they got something going in that game and I look for it to continue here. Tennessee looked good against a stalling Miami team but I still think the Jaguars will take this one.
Denver over KC – P. Manning takes the Bronco show in to Kansas City for the first of their 2 annual matchups. Kansas City can basically only act as spoiler for other teams since KC has very little hope of making the playoffs. Denver will march in to KC and beat what amounts to a mediocre football team.
Seattle over Miami – The Seahawks are still looking for a playoff spot and Miami is in the way. Seattle’s defense and strong running game will be too much for the Dolphins. So, they will get their wish and keep pace in the NFC playoff race.
Atlanta over Tampa Bay – I like both these teams but I feel like this is Atlanta’s year to really shine. Depending on injuries and such, Tampa Bay looks good for next year. TB will stop the Atlanta rush game but what else is new. Do they even have a rush game anymore? I have Turner on my FFL league and … well, I benched him in favor of Vick Ballard in Indy. Why? No production. I look for that here too. However, it doesn’t really matter. The ATL still finds a way to win just about every week. I’m looking for the receivers and Gonzales to have another good game. TB will keep a good pace and it will be tight with Atlanta coming out on top.
Baltimore over San Diego – This is another tough one that is to pick. I wasn’t that impressed with Baltimore last week but that’s ok since I say that almost every week about San Diego. I think Baltimore gets the offense going a little more in this game and hands the Chargers yet another loss.
Arizona over St Louis – Wow – another tough game and I give this one to the home team Cardinals. Ryan Lindley will get his first start and I think the team and the crowd will rally around him for the victory.
New Orleans over San Francisco – The Saints, who started 0-4 after a rough off season where they lost their head coach to suspension, have come storming back. I felt all along like that was an anomaly and am not surprised to see the season start to turn around. The 49ers look really really good and are coming off a national TV game where they pounded on poor Jason Campbell and the Bears. Brees is a better QB and should be able to step up in the pocket to deliver the ball quickly when the pressure comes. The Saints D has turned it around as well and they should get some pressure on whoever might be the SF starter.
New York Giants over Green Bay – The Bye week pick of the week. I originally had GB wining but I see now that New York is coming off the bye week this week. I like the extra week of prep time and expect Manning and the rest of the Giants to win against this Green Bay team.
Philadelphia over Carolina – Finally, I’m picking Philly to win a game. I like their chances of winning this one at home against the incoming Panthers. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams made some big changes after this season is officially done (either through mathematical playoff elimination or the actual end of season) and I think this game will expedite the Carolina program. Foles should find some rhythm if he starts and with McCoy likely to miss a game, loo for Bryce brown to step in and give a big contribution.