Subtlety is not one of my strengths

Welcome to Small.To v2.0
Friday, November 17 2017

NFL Predictions 2009: Week 12

Sport

 

Rarely have I been so upset after getting so many picks right. You see, when I was going over the selections I had made, noticing the favorite-heavy choices a sinking feeling came over me. I just knew a lot of the underdogs were going to play better than expected. Which ones though? That was the problem. Would any of them be able to win straight up? That was another problem. I stood pat instead of tinkering. It turned out to be wise in terms of the straight up where I finished 12-4, leaving me 111-49 overall. Not in a million years would I have taken the Chiefs or Raiders to beat the AFC North division contenders, even if they were at home. I’m fine with those misses. I do have regrets on the bookend primetime tilts. The Dolphins, well, I just couldn’t risk it after their Wildcat star Ronnie Brown was lost for the season. It clouded my judgement. My regret where MNF is concerned centers around an idiot kicker. Namely Kris Brown. The Texans had it won if not for having an inferior kicker, and a lot of help from a poor call. Whatever. The bigger frustration was a lot of closes misses “against” Vegas. I wound up 6-10 against the spread which means I need to start climbing in a hurry (75-84-1). The over/under didn’t help this time at 5-10-1 where I’m now dead even (78-78-4).

 

 

Green Bay (6-4) @ Detroit (2-8): Remember when the Lions were capable of pulling a surprise on Thanksgiving Day? Yeah, me neither. We have already seen this game play out once. The Packers dominated 26-0 and it could have been a lot worse. They kicked four field goals and punted just twice, finishing with a 435-149 advantage in total yards. The Lions were a combined 0/12 trying to convert third or fourth downs. Part of the reason for their ineptitude can be traced to playing without star receiver Calvin Johnson and going with Culpepper and Stanton at quarterback. Uh, about that. Stafford had his shoulder mangled in the process of leading a thrilling comeback and “Megatron” is probably out as well.

 

The only good news for the home team is that injuries have hit the Green Bay pass defense from both ends. Kampman is gone from their pass rush and stud corner Harris will be missing from the secondary. Against a better offense with more targets this would be a huge problem, and on a short week there really isn’t much time for the NFL’s third stingiest defense to adjust. Ultimately I think the losses on both sides offset. The Detroit offense gained a lot of confidence last week and even without their field general won’t be as inept as last time.

 

Ford Field isn’t a house of horrors by any stretch of the imagination, but take a look at their home performance this season. They’re 2-3, and lost two of those games by effectively a touchdown. Green Bay is just 2-2 on the road, having most recently lost at Tampa Bay. On the plus side, they have twice gone to domes already, routing St. Louis and losing the first Favre showdown in Minnesota. Aaron Rodgers has terrorized this defense, and as much as I would like to be entertained while preparing way too much food I don’t see the Lions keeping up. Don’t be surprised to see them hang tough through the first half though, especially by playing some tricks with ball control which is something (see 0/12 above) they couldn’t do at Lambeau: Green Bay 31, Detroit 21 (DET +11.5/over 47)

 

Oakland (3-7) @ Dallas (7-3): Just based on last week this game appears to be a dead heat. The Cowboys couldn’t do a thing offensively against Washington yet somehow managed to pull it out at the end. The Raiders also had some late heroics, knocking off AFC North leading Cincinnati with a dramatic touchdown and field goal before anyone could scream “Who Dey?”. Here is the really fun fact. Which team has scored more points over the past three games? That would be Oakland, 46-34. Considering that over the full course of the season Dallas holds a considerable 381.9-227.3 edge in total yards per game, this is strange.

 

On a short week the preparation is cut down considerably. These teams met in the preseason so at the very least both have a general idea of what to expect from the opposing personnel, and Greg Ellis making his first appearance against his former team helps the Raiders. I expect the Cowboys to attack the weak spot which is run defense. Playing over their heads at home, in a game dedicated to a fallen teammate is one thing. Doing it on the road in what will be the first Thanksgiving Day game played at a billion dollar stadium is quite another.

 

Bruce Gradkowski provided a spark to a stagnant offense, and should have them moving the chains with more frequency. Tony Romo generally starts to choke right about now, when the chips are down. For me this is pretty simple, as I’ve already stated above. They just need to run the ball as much as possible. Another interesting wrinkle is Darren McFadden appearing on the same field as former Razorback teammate Felix Jones. Jerry Jones probably wishes he had both of them on his team, especially since even with a trio of rushers they can never stay healthy at the position. Maybe McFadden gets inspired and breaks a long run to keep the visitors in it. I definitely like their offense better with Gradkowski, especially with a healthier offense around him. It’s not enough to tear anyone away from lunch though. Tune out at halftime: Dallas 28, Oakland 13 (DAL -13.5/over 40)

 

NYGiants (6-4) @ Denver (6-4): NFL Network really lucks out with this one. On paper the first two games appear to be routs waiting to happen. At the very least only one team has something at stake. Here, playoff aspirations could be, well, cooked if the loser is not careful. It sure didn’t seem like either team would be so concerned in mid-October when both were 5-0. The Broncos got to 6-0 before starting their free fall. They hit rock bottom this week by losing 32-3 on this field against San Diego, falling out of first place, probably for good. The Giants got well, sort of, by beating the Falcons. Their confidence would have been much higher if not for blowing a lead and needing OT to get the win.

 

Not to be redundant, but on a short week things are different. In this one, the familiarity is very low with no preseason or regular season meeting to draw from. New York probably benefits from this. The less they have to think about this game the better. Their best bet is to go on instincts. Denver, on the other hand, is obviously reeling. Their quarterback could be Chris Simms, whose father Phil won two Super Bowl rings with the visiting team, one as the starter against these Broncos. Unless he channels the old man their offense is just not the same as it is with Kyle Orton. A sideline fight between Moreno and Marshall exemplifies the difference between winning and losing. When they were undefeated would that have happened? Probably not, but as Madden used to say winning is a great deodorant.

 

This does have the potential to be a high scoring thriller to end the night. The Giants have given up 32.8 points per game over their last five, and the Broncos 28.0 over that same span. Which offense is up to the task? New York has issues of their own. Prior to last week Eli Manning had been slumping and their backfield is banged up. The scoring won’t live up to those big numbers, but who do you really trust in this situation? I think the answer is pretty clear, although I expect the Broncos to play a lot more like the 6-0 team than the 0-4 team: NY Giants 27, Denver 19 (NYG -5/over 42)

Miami (5-5) @ Buffalo (3-7): You would think I am from Missouri because I like a team to “show me” before I believe they can do it. This hurt me last week when I couldn’t see the Dolphins getting it done offensively without Ronnie Brown. Then Ricky Williams ran right over Carolina. This was a perfect illustration of how important the line blocking effectively can make different players look good. If you want to know the result of this not happening take a look at the Bills. Even before they lost Wood and McKinney to season ending injuries their line was bad. Now it is possibly the NFL’s worst. Kendall Simmons was signed off the street and will start at right tackle. Is quarterback Trent Edwards actually happy to be benched?

 

In the first meeting, won by Miami 38-10, the game really was that lopsided. Brown handled just over half the rushing duties as he and Williams piled up an even 200 yards on 36 carries. I’m not sure Ricky is up to handling that much on his own here, but he does have a couple extra days of rest following their Thursday game. Buffalo’s offense converted just 1/11 third down attempts and even with the change of venue their revamped line is going to make it tough to improve on that percentage. Speaking of which, the Bills have lost their past three home games and scored a total of 20 points in the process. I realize this isn’t much to go on, but I can’t use much past performance for either offense because of the different personnel. Defensively you can expect a great effort because this is the AFC East late in the season. The Bills pick off a lot of passes thanks to rookie Jairus Byrd. Chad Henne won’t be throwing much as a result. Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be running for his life, but coming off a pretty good effort in their first game under a new head coach the Bills find a way to stay close: Miami 20, Buffalo 13 (MIA -3/under 40)

 

Seattle (3-7) @ St. Louis (1-9): A lot has changed since these teams met in the season opener. The Seahawks had just completed a 4-0 preseason and spanked the Rams 28-0. Fans were probably feeling good about the start of the Jim Mora Jr. era. Since then, both teams have stumbled badly, combining to go 2-14. St. Louis has been dealing with this for a while now and is saddled with a 10-game home losing streak. Seattle, however, still has some players left from their Super Bowl XL appearance and is quite frustrated as the losses pile up. In a game like this it comes down to which team wants to put in the effort required. Neither team is going to the playoffs, but this isn’t chess. Winning in the NFL is hard and it takes work. Who wants to go for it?

 

There is one player I expect to go all out and that is running back Justin Forsett. He has been given an opportunity to shine and while last week Minnesota shut him down, this week is going to be a different story. Forsett should be able to rack up over 100 total yards and spark an offense with plenty of talent. The Rams are leaning on another former Cal Bear, quarterback Kyle Boller, but I don’t expect the results to be as positive. Marc Bulger had just started getting this offense going and now he is out for around a month if not more. He is also probably out of a job because I anticipate the Rams using their first round draft pick on his replacement. Steven Jackson is a bit worn down and rested this week as a result. He is going to put everything he has into helping his team win, regardless of the situation.

 

Here is the difference for me. While Seattle averages a whisker over 20 more total yards per game, they score 8.3 more points per game because of superior (relatively speaking) finishing ability. I atrribute that to Hasselbeck who is another player who is not going to mail in a game like this. Against a weak secondary he should have a big game. The ‘Hawks are also struggling in pass defense, but Boller is not going to take advantage of it. This is the third straight road game for Seattle and fourth in the month of November. All of them were losses and they are 0-6 on the road this season, but something has to give. Even though St. Louis is home for the third week in a row, as I mentioned above they have lost 10 in a row on this field. One more keeps them in line for their choice at quarterback, but they keep it very close. In fact, if you play confidence points don’t put many on this one either way: Seattle 24, St. Louis 17 (SEA -3/under 42)

 

Washington (3-7) @ Philadelphia (6-4): It’s another rematch and the Eagles need to take advantage of the wounded Redskins. The first meeting, on Monday Night Football, saw Philly jump out to a 27-10 halftime lead behind the big plays of DeSean Jackson and hold on to win by 10. Normally I would look at a game like this and expect the 3-7 team to cave on the road against division title contenders. Not this time because Washington has won the past two road meetings in the series and has a dominant defense. The reason they are so successful here is because of their ability to defend the pass. Philadelphia would rather chew nails than run the ball 40 times in a game.

 

The trouble with calling an upset is that the Redskins can’t score. They have only topped 17 points once this season and last week’s 7-6 loss at Dallas marked the third time they have been held without a touchdown. Their feature back will be Rock Cartwright who had 20 touches for 140 yards last week. Quarterback Jason Campbell is playing behind an offensive line that just lost another piece and a defense capable of exploiting their deficiencies. Washington’s dominant defense might be mortal if Albert Haynesworth isn’t manning the middle of their line, but the secondary should be capable of holding down Jackson and rookie Jeremy Maclin for the most part. McNabb is the key factor here. He has the experience to carry them over the top in what I expect to be a defensive scrap: Philadelphia 19, Washington 13 (WAS +9/under 41)

 

Tampa Bay (1-9) @ Atlanta (5-5): Mark the date because this could be the first of many Matt Ryan vs. Josh Freeman showdowns. Last year’s rookie of the year had been slumping until leading a dramatic comeback to force overtime at the Meadowlands against the Giants. Ryan never got the ball with a chance to win though because the NFL’s OT rules are horrible. Freeman has not been nearly as impressive for the Bucs this season, but he did lead them to their only win in his first start. The spark might be wearing off. He had 3 interceptions last week, albeit against an elite team in New Orleans. There are three full game films on him now and opposing defenses can attack his weaknesses. For what it’s worth, this will also be his first trip outside the state of Florida as a pro. The Georgia Dome crowd will be hostile.

 

Defensively the Bucs have been a mess. They fired their defensive coordinator, and those duties now fall on Raheem Morris who held the position briefly before being promoted again to head coach. I’m not so sure the team, and Morris himself, would not have been better off with him staying in that role. Switching schemes midseason might help. It probably can’t hurt a unit allowing the second most points (29.4) in the NFL. In terms of total yardage, Atlanta is actually slightly more generous with both units in the NFL’s bottom six. The Bucs have been more beaten up on the ground while the Falcons are weakest in the secondary. Obviously the key is which offense has the talent to exploit the deficiencies.

 

Freeman lacks the ability and surrounding talent to pull off a big effort on the road. Michael Turner might not be around to run the ball for the Falcons, but someone is going to get enough carries to set the tone. When necessary Ryan should keep the momentum going from last week’s fourth quarter, bolstered by his home fans and the urgency of a playoff race. Their goal is to break the will of the Bucs early. Once they do that, it’s over because hapless teams rarely rally in hostile territory. I’m looking at a rout: Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 10 (ATL -11.5/under 46.5)

 

Indianapolis (10-0) @ Houston (5-5): The Texans are the biggest tease in the NFL. Any time you think they are ready to step up and deliver a big win, well, Kris Brown misses a field goal. By now everyone knows about the Colts chasing history. They are three victories from 22 in a row, which would take the fourth down gambling Patriots out of the record book. Not bad for a team with a rookie head coach. Peyton Manning is having another MVP season and the defense leads the NFL in points per game allowed (15.7). That’s pretty much how they won the first meeting three weeks ago, 20-17. Manning was 34/50 for 318 yards, so even if Schaub completed 74.4% of his 43 passes two picks led to scoring drives for half of Indy’s points.

 

More than usual the quarterbacks are key here because neither team runs the ball worth a lick. Aside from Seattle these are the two least productive running teams in the NFL. While the Colts might not be piling up style points, fortunately for them this is not college football and they don’t have to worry about earning BCS votes. All they do is win. All Houston does is lose when the stakes are high. I’m probably just bitter because I picked them to deliver last week against Tennessee under the MNF lights. Familiarity makes it easier for them to keep the game close, and I could see them doing enough to win. However, when push comes to shove I’d rather count on Stover than Brown delivering a key kick. I should have done the same with Bironas last week: Indianapolis 23, Houston 21 (HOU +3.5/under 48)

 

Cleveland (1-9) @ Cincinnati (7-3): Both teams were on the road last week against two of the worst teams in the NFL. Both led by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Both blew it. It is hard to tell which team is more frustrated. The Browns sprinted to a 24-3 lead, and lost when a defensive pass interference penalty gave Detroit an untimed down to score the winning touchdown. Making matters worse, their head coach called a timeout that allowed the injured Matthew Stafford back on the field to beat them. The Bengals had something at stake, and were shocked in similar fashion at Oakland. First came the defensive breakdown on the game tying touchdown pass and then a special teams fumble set up the easy game winning field goal.

 

Speaking of drama, the first battle of Ohio had plenty. Cleveland fell behind 14-0 just a minute into the second quarter, but did all of the scoring from that point on until the two minute warning of the fourth quarter. Down 20-14 Cincinnati scored a touchdown only to miss the extra point. After each team punted three times in OT the Bengals decided to go for broke on fourth down. They converted and hit the winning field goal to escape. So much has changed since then that one inspired effort is not enough to convince me a bitter rivalry will be close again. Cincy is mad. They realize now that being in first place doesn’t make it easier to win. It just means that everyone’s expectations are different.

 

Columbus native Brady Quinn is seeing his first taste of this rivalry. The past two games illustrate the difference between playing a stout defense and a soft one. He was roughed up by Baltimore and threw for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns against Detroit. Cincinnati’s defense is very, very good. They added some rookie talent and Zimmer has his players in all the right spots to make plays. Even if Cleveland’s offense was flying high last week, and is better with Quinn at the helm, they are still inept overall. Meanwhile, their defense has given up 31.2 points per game on the road when you throw out their bizarre 6-3 win at Buffalo. Great defense against bad offense on one side, and plenty of offense against bad defense on the other. We might even have a Larry Johnson sighting: Cincinnati 30, Cleveland 7 (CIN -14/under 39)

 

Carolina (4-6) @ NY Jets (4-6): Is it fair to say both teams are struggling? The Panthers had a couple extra days to figure out what ails them after losing on Thursday Night Football to Miami. The Jets would probably like a breather having lost six of seven. Their 3-0 start made rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez the toast of the town. Now he just looks like toast, even though head coach Rex Ryan is sticking with him as the starter, albeit with some sort of weird “stoplight” color signal system I wish I had room to explain. Anyway, not all of it has been Sanchez’s fault. Four of the losses have been by a total of 14 points, but in two of those games he had no turnovers and a combined 3 sacks. However, for the season he now has an unruly 19 turnovers including five last week and five during their 16-13 OT loss to Buffalo. Veterans turn it over too. His opposite number Jake Delhomme has 17 although just two have come in their past four games.

 

With the quarterbacks prone to giving the other team instant field position or even defensive touchdowns, and factoring in the wind at the Meadowlands I would hope both teams will be looking to run. New York has the better run defense, but will not have Kris Jenkins in the lineup to face his former team which is a huge downer. The Panthers bring a dangerous duo of running backs capable of grinding out tough yards while Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene carry the load for the Jets. However, the New York is in better shape on the offensive line with the visitors still adjusting to losing their left tackle.

 

Another interesting factor is New York’s shuffled up secondary. Rhodes has been demoted, Carroll was cut and Shepperd should be ready to make his return. Most importantly Revis is going to be locked on Steve Smith which could mean more blitzes and an eighth man in the box to stop the run. I’m basing this on recent performance and an experienced quarterback being less likely to give the game away. The sound you hear is me gulping as I make this pick: Carolina 20, NY Jets 19 (CAR +3/under 41.5)

 

Kansas City (3-7) @ San Diego (7-3): The Chargers began their drive towards regaining control of the AFC West by throttling the Chiefs 37-7 at Arrowhead Stadium. Rivers had 3 touchdown passes and Cassel threw 3 interceptions which pretty well sums up how the game went. Last week, however, both teams came up big. Kansas City scratched and clawed to hang tough with Pittsburgh, getting plays in all three phases of the game, and eventually won in OT. San Diego trashed Denver 32-3 on the road. These wins were far from equal even if both count that way in the standings. The swagger is back for the Chargers who were fueled by an opposing coach talking trash in pregame. The Chiefs responded to their win as if they had earned Super Bowl rings by beating the defending champs.

 

There are notable changes on offense for both teams. The once much anticipated “LJ vs. LT” showdown is no more because Larry Johnson was cut. Now Jamaal Charles, who had a kickoff return touchdown against the Steelers, has taken over. Wide receiver Chris Chambers has switched sides. San Diego cut him on November 2. His 249 yards receiving in the past three games have provided a spark for an offense that had made a habit of picking up veteran receivers without much success. Obviously there is a revenge factor in play, as well as intimate knowledge of San Diego’s offense to pass along to his new defense. They still have to make the plays though.

 

The defense has definitely tightened up on the road of late, giving up 40 points in their past three outings total after allowing 38 and 34 in the first two. It will be a challenge against an offense that has posted 21+ every game this season. Things are going so well that Tomlinson is back in the act. He has 44 rushes for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns over the past two games. I don’t expect the Chargers to come out flat at home after finally regaining control of the division. Last year both meetings were tight and this year both will be routs: San Diego 33, Kansas City 14 (SD -13.5/over 44.5)

 

Jacksonville (6-4) @ San Francisco (4-6): The last time MJD was running wild in the Bay Area his name was Maurice Drew. He never lost a game while playing for national power DeLaSalle high school. As a professional this is his first season as the feature back. So far, so good even though many said his small frame would hurt his chances to pile up the necessary carries. The past three weeks he has 29, 24 and 25 respectively which is outstanding production for even the biggest backs in the league. He has averaged 19.4 rushes per game, putting him on pace for 310. With 4 carries, 16 yards and one touchdown he will set new career highs in each category. Have I hyped him up enough?

 

His task is going to be difficult in this one because the 49ers are giving up just 94.7 rushing yards per game and rank second in average rush (3.5). Three weeks ago they faced another explosive back, Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, and he wound up with 135 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, the Titans won 34-27 on this same field. Home turf has produced mixed results for San Francisco. In three wins they have allowed a total of 16 points, but in two losses their opponents have racked up 79. Both of those teams had a top running game.

 

If the 49ers are going to snap out of their funk and derail the surging Jaguars it will require a consistent effort. Last week at Green Bay they found themselves down 23-3 before clawing their way back into contention. The end result was their fourth loss since the bye week by no more than 7 points. I can see why Alex Smith continues to be the starting quarterback, but he is 1-3 after Shaun Hill went 3-3. Smith might be their quarterback of the future yet again, but he basically turns it over twice and takes 3 sacks per game. By contrast David Garrard has 3 turnovers and 5 sacks total over the past three games, which explains how the team has been able to pull out wins by 3, 2 and 3 points. The difference between winning and losing is razor thin in the NFL. A smart quarterback can put a team over the edge. By the way, this is also a homecoming for coach Jack Del Rio, a Hayward product: Jacksonville 21, San Francisco 20 (JAX +3.5/under 42)

 

Arizona (7-3) @ Tennessee (4-6): The Cardinals are a totally different team when Kurt Warner is not in the lineup. There is no way to know if he will make the start, but my concern is whether he is going to finish. If not, this is going to be what a few years ago would have been a much anticipated showdown of Matt Leinart and Vince Young. VY led Texas to a dramatic BCS title game comeback against Leinart’s overconfident USC team. It was his second straight appearance in the Rose Bowl where he piled up roughly 10,000 yards if memory serves. Their stock as pro quarterbacks has fluctuated, mostly downward. Leinart went from uneven rookie to benched in favor of another Warner comeback, and most speculate he would rather be partying than doing what it takes to excel at this position in the NFL. Young has considerably more positive history including a ROY, Pro Bowl and playoff appearance. His present is positive too, with a 4-0 starting record.

 

The comparison I am starting to see with Young is Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. It’s not a perfect match, but both have size, “just win” ability and the mobility to keep plays alive. VY is more apt to run for a first down while Big Ben is a more capable passer in key situations, but what other player is more like Young? I’ve never been a huge fan of his because I felt that in college all he did was heave the ball down the field at wide open receivers. When that didn’t work he ran around or straight over defenders incapable of dealing with his athleticism. Neither of those game plans play in the NFL obviously. However, he keeps this offense going forward. Perhaps not having to worry about trying to balance the offense with too many passes is what has them surging. They drafted Britt and acquired Washington, but what worked in 2008 was a dominant running game right?

 

This should be strength against strength. Chris Johnson faces a defense allowing just 103.2 yards per game, but the Cards face the fifth fewest rushing attempts per game (24.1) and their average per carry, is well, average (4.3). I expect the Titans to keep pounding and they have the personnel to do it. Arizona’s pass defense hasn’t been very strong either and the unpredicability of Young is going to be a problem. On the other side, Warner or Leinart will be looking to exploit a porous secondary. The Titans are on pace to give up over 4,300 passing yards and 40 touchdowns. What is this the WAC? That’s fine, but they have allowed just 18.5 points per game since the bye week when the quarterback change was made. I’m ignoring the stats a little bit for that reason. It should be high scoring and the roll continues: Tennessee 30, Arizona 24 (TEN -2/over 45)

 

Chicago (4-6) @ Minnesota (9-1): Last year when these teams got together it was about the running backs. Rookie Matt Forte had 42 carries and helped the Bears split. He finished with 1,238 yards a year after Viking rookie Adrian Peterson had 1,341. “All Day” logged 50 carries in the two meetings last year, but that’s where the comparison ends. Forte has slumped while Peterson is arguably the NFL’s best running back. This could have been the NFC North division’s version of the great Tomlinson-Johnson years in the AFC West, but only one guy is holding up his end of the bargain. Most of that has to do with the shoddy offensive line of the Bears. Orlando Pace is trying to hold up the left tackle position, but he is nearing the end of his career. The jury is still out on 2008 first round pick Chris Williams who is starting on the right side. Obviously the unit hasn’t been able to open a lot of holes. This year the Vikings took big Phil Loadholt and he is doing just fine in that spot.

 

The biggest change from last season is an ever so slightly higher emphasis on the quarterbacks. I know people were really excited to see Gus Frerotte match strikes with Kyle Orton, but Brett Favre vs. Jay Cutler is just a little more exciting. Good grief, the writers are already warming up their fingers readying to write the storyline. Cutler was brought in to save the Bears from decades of misery at quarterback. Favre came in to lift the Vikings into the Super Bowl, or have his arm fall off trying. Right now it is look pretty good with their gaudy record, but if I had to pick a team to fall flat in the playoffs this is it. They are essentially a properly defended play by the 49er secondary and an executed field goal by the Ravens from being 7-3, not to mention the fact that four of their wins came against Detroit (twice), Cleveland and St. Louis. Still, confidence plays a huge factor in the NFL and they have it in spades at the moment.

 

If the Bears are thinking upset Cutler needs to keep the big plays coming and not turn the ball over. The Vikings do give up some passing yards, and might still be without top corner Antoine Winfield. However, their defensive line is going to be a big problem for the visitors and the rowdy dome environment should help them terrorize Cutler. Chicago’s offense should be rendered one-dimensional in a hurry because the Bears will not establish the run. Minny is going to run right at them, and before the first half is over should be in control. I do think Cutler has a shot to keep the visitors alive in an old fashioned shootout, but the superior backfield carries the home team to an easy win: Minnesota 30, Chicago 21 (CHI +11/over 47)

 

Pittsburgh (6-4) @ Baltimore (5-5): A day after a bunch of college football rivalries, the NFL gets a very close equivalent. These teams do not like each other. If you want to hear ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. get really excited, ask him about the Ravens-Steelers. It really is a college atmosphere and since the AFC Championship Game loss Baltimore has been itching for revenge. The stakes are sky high because barring an unforeseen slump Cincinnati, having swept both teams, is in good shape to win the AFC North. There are only two wild cards available and this outcome will go a long way towards determining which team can lock one up. Unfortunately for the Steelers, their hopes ride on quarterback Dennis Dixon making his first NFL start. Good luck kid.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Dixon. He was an explosive player at Oregon and given time to adjust to the NFL could be a dynamic option in the Wildcat. The Heisman was his for the taking before a knee injury sidelined him. However, I still have visions of seeing him live in 2006 when Oregon visited Cal. His running back, current Carolina Panther James Stewart, was stuffed. Dixon ran for his life all day and looked totally overmatched. A year later he had his Ducks contending for a BCS title and was setting the college football world on fire. My point is that I expect this to be Strawberry Canyon all over again for Dixon. He will be praying for fourth down so he can get to the sideline.

 

I hate to dismiss a team based solely on their star quarterback being out, but Roethlisberger has been the main reason Pittsburgh has transitioned from a power running offense to a team capable of passing the ball down the field. Jerome Bettis is not walking through that door, ready to pound the ball up the middle. Mendenhall has started to come on, but there is no doubt the Ravens are going to load up the line to stop him. Meanwhile, the Steelers have their own nasty defense. They are going to need a heroic effort, and without safety Troy Polamalu I don’t see it happening. Eventually the field goals will pile up and be the difference. When the rematch rolls around it should be a playoff atmosphere. This one will be like watching a punt, pass and kick competition because all of the passes will fall incomplete: Baltimore 15, Pittsburgh 6 (BAL -6/under 36.5)

 

New England (7-3) @ New Orleans (10-0): Sometimes when I look at a game I sort of know which team I am going to pick before I write the first word. Other times I have no idea and as I peruse through information start to figure it out. Then there are games like this where I could approach it from so many different angles. Didn’t the Patriots just dominate an undefeated high scoring opponent on the road, in a dome, only to blow it late? It would then stand to reason they are going to be very competitive in this situation and more than capable of ruining perfection this time.My biggest concern is that the Patriots have beaten up some weak opponents and thrived in a soft AFC East. This is clearly not the dominant force we saw earlier this decade. If it was, there would have been no need to attempt a dangerous fourth down at Indy, costing a victory. Doesn’t it seem like such a long time ago Peyton Manning was petrified of facing this defense?

 

The turnover of personnel for the Patriot defense has been discussed at length. Their numbers are still solid, but too much leadership was let out the door all at once. When the game is on the line, and the defense needs one more stop to win, we found out what “Hoodie” thinks of their chances to finish right? My opinion is a drop in the bucket compared to him eschewing a punt in favor of converting a fourth down in crunch time. Not trusting a defense to hold an opponent without a touchdown on a final drive is damning. Worse yet, Drew Brees has an added dimension to torture them with. The Saints can not only run the ball, they are among the NFL’s best. They rank fifth in yards per game (154.3) and first in rushing touchdowns (18). The Patriots are better than most think, but are over 40 yards a game back on the stat sheet. They make up almost all of that with superior passing numbers.

 

Beyond sheer production, the difference is star power. We can argue until the apocalypse about which quarterback is better at the moment. No one really disputes that the Patriot duo of Welker and Moss will be the two most talented receivers on this field. They have 1,779 receiving yards in 18 combined team games (Welker missed two) which amounts to over 57% of the passing total for the Pats. The Saints spread it around a little more, including finding touches for running back Reggie Bush. With a smart quarterback to distribute the football it can be very difficult for an opposing defense to figure out which player is getting the ball. I see mismatches in favor of both offenses. This game means a lot more to New Orleans. Katrina might not be on the mind of many people outside the area, but the recovery is still ongoing. The Patriots were last here when their mini-dynasty began with a Super Bowl victory. I’m not ready to say this is the start of their demise, but I believe it could signal their exit as a powerhouse if they can’t win. There are arguments I could make in their favor. I’m going on home field emotion and offensive balance carrying the Saints. They can give their brown paper bags to Patriot fans so they can vomit after letting another one slip away: New Orleans 31, New England 24 (NO -1.5/under 57)

 

 

NFL Predictions 2009: Week 12 | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Towelroot Apk download
Authored by: Towelroot Apk download onTuesday, August 22 2017
Rooting Android devices have become one of the coolest things in the world today.  Towelroot download
microsoft office login
Authored by: microsoft office login onMonday, September 04 2017
When celebrities used Myspace: the profiles A-listers try to forget ... to Verizon, we take a look back at AOL, Myspace and other faded firms. microsoft office setup
root explorer apk downlaod
Authored by: root explorer apk downlaod onMonday, September 04 2017
 As I investigated all the fundamental things about root traveler apk in the primary post about root voyager 

root explorer download

vivavideo for pc
Authored by: vivavideo for pc onMonday, September 25 2017
Viva Video is an impressive and free video editing tool, which has the ability to edit and create your own story, capturing all the photos of the part of your memory and beautiful moments in a single video. viva video for pc
alternative for kingroot
Authored by: alternative for kingroot onTuesday, October 03 2017
Nowadays rooting a device is not that much important as it used to be a few years back. But there are still several reasons why people still prefer rooting their android devices. kingroot alternative
viva video app
Authored by: viva video app onTuesday, November 14 2017
Video sharing and videography have become a part of communication as well as an online marketing tool in today’s internet and social networking age.  viva video for pc