Nfl Week 12 Expert Picks
November 25, 2009 by USA Post
Last week, I took a philosophy that things in the NFL were going to start to make sense. If five favorites covering spreads and the defending Super Bowl Champions losing to the Chiefs represent order, then it’s hard to believe in anything anymore.
This week, no matter what any expert tells you, it’s going to come down to guesses.
Was the offensive explosion from the Browns and Lions indicative of things to come, or products of abysmal defenses? Did the Steelers really lose to the Chiefs, and at what level will Ben Roethlisberger play against a hard-hitting Baltimore defense? How will the six teams facing a very short week respond to the quick three-day turnaround?
Nobody knows, but maybe, just maybe, the giving spirit will permeate the league over the holiday weekend.
(Home team in caps.)
DETROIT (+11) over Green Bay
Right off the bat, at 12:30 p.m., an answer to the Lions question will be given. My inclination is to side with the Packers. Aaron Rodgers has been playing like a real NFL quarterback lately, and Matthew Stafford’s gutsiness — while undeniably gutsy — will not have enough gutsiness left in the tank to gut him to back-to-back victories (they’re saying Stafford’s game-winning play was “gutsy,” by the way).
However, with the injuries to Aaron Kampman and Al Harris, there’s just slighty enough reason to believe Daunte Culpepper can at least keep the Lions somewhat close. He looked good enough against PIttsburgh in showed enough in that start against Pittsburgh in Week 5, so if the Packers give him some space, he will put some points on the board.
Oakland (+14) over DALLAS
This may seem crazy, but has any first-place team played as bad as the Cowboys have lately? A one-point win over Washington and a 17-7 loss in Green Bay in what was perhaps as bad a game as has been televised this season.
Is this an overreaction to a thrilling Oakland win over the previously 7-2 Bengals? Probably. Is it ever a safe bet to put your money on a guy whose name you probably can’t spell? Probably not. But the Raiders didn’t look like a team that would be losing by 14 points this week, and the Cowboys need more than three days to get their offense in any sort of rhythm after scoring just seven points against the Skins.
New York Giants (-6.5) over DENVER
I’m still not sold on the Giants being back to their powerful selves, but the Broncos are in disarray. After an embarrassing loss to the Chargers, the Broncos look like the towel has already been thrown. They went on their bye week with a 6-0 record. Since then, they’ve gone 0-4 while being outscored 117-37. And they don’t know who to play at quarterback.
ATLANTA (-12) over Tampa Bay
I thought Tampa had a chance last week. They didn’t.
The Falcons, meanwhile, have won exactly one game by more than 12 points. But if Michael Turner can return (or if Jason Snelling can contribute similarly to his performance against the Giants), then the Falcons should fare well against a Bucs team that just surrendered three passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and 183 rushing yards.
Miami (-3) over BUFFALO
The weather looks good for Sunday in Buffalo, and Ricky Williams has had an extra three days to rest his legs. Tony Sparano should have his troops inspired for this one.
Cleveland (+14) over CINCINNATI
I’m making this pick with my eyes closed. I don’t want to ever trust Cleveland to do anything except fail, but I’m not convinced that an untested team like the Bengals can rally from such a devastating defeat to the Raiders. I’m not the first one to doubt the Bengals this year, and if they can’t blow out the Browns, I won’t be the last.
Indianapolis (-3.5) over HOUSTON
Seattle (-3) over ST. LOUIS
Thank you, NFC West, for providing us with this matchup for the ages. We’ll all be glued to the TV.
NEW YORK JETS (-3) over Carolina
Forgotten stat from the Jets’ loss in New England: Thomas Jones ran for 103 yards. Against a Carolina defense that surrenders the seventh-most yards per game on the ground (130.7), Jones may be Mark Sanchez’s savior at the Meadowlands. If not, it could get ugly.
(Side note: How bad do the Panthers have to be for the Jets to still be giving points after the stink bomb in Foxborough last week?)
PHILADELPHIA (-9) over Washington
Dangerous, dangerous spread right here. Stay away.
SAN DIEGO (-13.5) over Kansas City
The good news for the Chiefs is that they haven’t been blown out in three games. The bad news is that this week they’re playing the team that walloped them 37-7 before their bye week.
The Chargers, with two extremely winnable games against the Chiefs this week and the Browns next week, can smell the division title. You can bet they’ll be playing hard for it.
Arizona (+2) over TENNESSEE
Let’s not get too carried away with the Vince Young hoopla. The only thing to watch is whether Kurt Warner will play. If he’s in, the Cards should be fine. I know the Titans’ defense did an OK job against Andre Johnson on Monday night (relatively speaking), but considering the fact that the Titans are on a short week with a holiday smack dab in the middle of it (same goes for the Texans), it’d be too reckless to pick them.
Jacksonville (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO
This is another dangerous one. It’s kind of a do-or-die game for both teams. If the Niners drop to 4-7, they can kiss their relatively small playoff hopes alive. The Jaguars would still have a chance in the AFC if they fell to 6-5, but things would be a lot easier if they picked up that seventh win.
The Jags have shown they can win lately, but not my much. In their current three-game winning streak, they’ve won by a combined eight points. Also, the Jags allow 23.5 points per game, the Niners allow 21. The Jaguars score 19.9 points per game, the Niners score 20.8. Smells like a game that will be decided by a field goal, one way or another.
MINNESOTA (-10.5) over Chicago
Nobody looks better than the Vikings do right now. Not many teams look worse than the Bears (1-5 since their bye week). A 10.5-point spread is never easy, but this might be as close as it gets.
BALTIMORE (-2.5) over Pittsburgh
After this week, we’ll have a definitive stat for Ben Roethlisberger’s record after suffering a concussion. If Roethlisberger is off his game, the Steelers are doomed. And after the Ravens’ defense held Peyton Manning to just 17 points last week without Terrell Suggs, they’re giving up an average of just 10.25 points per game since their bye in Week 7. This one might not be close.
New England (+3) over NEW ORLEANS
This is the biggest game the Patriots will play all season. After the fiasco in Indianapolis, you have to believe their worst days are behind them. They got their mistakes out of the way against Indy. It’s now or never for New England, and the Patriots know it.
This game could live up to the hype, but if the Patriots can do what they did in the first half in Indy and take the crowd out of the game early, they’ve learned their second-half lessons and are ready to close out a football game.
Final score: Patriots 38, Saints 30.
Last week: 10-6
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