Week 12 Matchup Predictions
Texans (9-1) @ Lions (4-6): The Texans' scary overtime victory over the Jaguars will prove to be a great experience for the 9-1 ball club. The Texans settled in at home against an inferior opponent and got blindsided, finding themselves down seven points going into the fourth quarter. The Texans now know that you can't take any opponent lightly in the NFL, and head coach Gary Kubiak will have his boys ready to go bright and early on Turkey Day. The Lions are only 2-2 at home this year, and the Texans are 4-0 on the road.
Texans win 30-24.
Redskins (4-6) @ Cowboys (5-5): Robert Griffin III has been one of the most talked about players all season, but on Thursday he'll finally have a chance to show the world what he can do for the entire length of a nationally televised game. I think RG3 will step up and play extremely well in the national spotlight, but the Cowboys also have a quarterback who tends to step up on Thanksgiving. Over the past four years, Tony Romo has averaged 288.7 yards passing and 2.3 touchdowns on the holiday. The Cowboys are 3-0 in those games (Romo missed the Thanksgiving game in 2010). I think this becomes a battle between RG3 and Romo, who will both play well, and Romo simply has more weapons at his disposal.
Cowboys win 31-28.
Patriots (7-3) @ Jets (4-6): We've got a great rivalry game to wrap up our Thanksgiving football, with the Patriots headed to the Meadowlands. You never know what the Jets are going to do on the field these days, as their wins have come by an average of 15.75 points and their losses by 17.0 points. However, it's tough to pick anyone over the Patriots right now, as they're ranked 1st in giveaways and 2nd in takeaways, making them the NFL's best in a key statistic - turnover ratio. I think the Jets' overtime loss to the Patriots earlier this season was just about the best shot they could possibly give Tom Brady and company.
Patriots win 35-20.
Vikings (6-4) @ Bears (7-3): Every time Jay Cutler gets hurt, the Bears' extraordinary flaws on offense surface. Cutler makes up for a porous offensive line and a thin receiving core, but you'll be hard pressed to find many backups in the league who can do the same. Jason Campbell is a fine quarterback - a solid game manager who can win football games in an offense with a good line and running game - but when he's under siege for four quarters, he just doesn't have the ability to get the job done. The Bears' defense was debilitated by their offense repeatedly sending them back on the field after struggling to move the ball against the 49ers on Monday, and that may happen again against the Vikings' 13th ranked defense if Cutler can't go. Cutler did not seem optimistic when last spoken to about his concussion, and my guess is that he doesn't play. Cutler's availability will make all the difference for the Bears.
Vikings win 23-17 if Cutler doesn't play. Bears win 24-20 if Cutler does play.
Steelers (6-4) @ Browns (2-8): The Steelers' offense struggled mightily at home against the Ravens last week, in large part due to the absence of Ben Roethlisberger. Of course, it didn't help that Big Ben's backup, Byron Leftwich, played a good amount of the game with multiple broken ribs that were obviously affecting his play. A healthy Charlie Batch will be under center for the Steelers this week, and fortunately for them, they are playing a team that has plenty of their own offensive struggles. The Steelers' top ranked defense will suffocate the Browns, and the offense will squeeze out enough points to get the win.
Steelers win 20-10.
Bills (4-6) @ Colts (6-4): The Colts haven't lost at home since September 23rd, and the Bills are 2-4 on the road, beating only the Browns and Cardinals. Andrew Luck has struggled to convert yards intto points so far this season, but he'll find a way to do it against a Bills team that gives up the 3rd most points in the league. The Bills will turnover the ball at the wrong time and not be able to make up for their defensive woes.
Colts win 35-27.
Broncos (7-3) @ Chiefs (1-9): Sorry Chiefs fans, but you know who I have to pick here, right? The Broncos have ripped off five straight wins - three of which came on the road - behind Peyton Manning's MVP-caliber play. In their past seven games, the Chiefs have either turned the ball over 4+ times, or scored 13 points or less. There's no reason to think Peyton's exceptional play will slow down this week, and there's no reason to think Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, or whoever is behind center will be able to counter it.
Broncos win 31-13.
Seahawks (6-4) @ Dolphins (4-6): The Seahawks have been pretty disappointing outside of Seattle this year, while the Dolphins most recent game in Miami was a 37-3 loss to the 4-6 Titans. Though the Seahawks' offense has struggled badly on the road, they won't struggle as much as rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill will against their dominant defense.
Seahawks win 19-13.
Falcons (9-1) @ Buccaneers (6-4): Falcons fans have to hope that Matt Ryan got all the interceptions out of his system, because the Cardinals might be the only team against which you can throw five picks and still get a win. Fortunately for Ryan, he can get out of his slump against the Bucs' 32nd ranked pass defense. Josh Freeman has been playing fantastic football lately, leading his team to four straight wins, but the last time he played against a high powered offense he couldn't quite get the job done - his defense just gives up too much through the air to the elite quarterbacks.
Falcons win 38-28.
Titans (4-6) @ Jaguars (1-9): The Jaguars are going to have some hope leading up to a game for the first time in a long time. After their near victory over the 9-1 Texans in Houston, the team shook up their offense with changes at quarterback and running back, and I think the Jaguars will now believe that they can hang in there with any team. The Titans are coming off of a confidence booster, as well, beating the Dolphins on the road by 34. Something just has me wanting to go with Chad Henne and the Jaguars at home - maybe it's the Jaguars showing signs of life against the Texans, maybe it's the Titans' 30th ranked defense, or maybe I'm just stupid. We'll see.
Jaguars win 24-20.
Ravens (8-2) @ Chargers (4-6): The Ravens now average only 16.6 points per game on the road. Their road record is 3-2 with narrow wins over the Chiefs and Browns. In addition, there's a very strong chance they would not have beaten the Steelers if Byron Leftwich had not suffered broken ribs during the game. The Chargers are 2-2 at home with losses to the Falcons and Broncos. They stop the run very well, which will force Joe Flacco - the core of the Ravens' road struggles - to make plays and win the game, but as I said, he's the biggest reason they struggle on the road.
Chargers win 24-19.
49ers (7-2-1) @ Saints (5-5): The Saints are finally back on the map, winning five of their last six games to reach a .500 record for the first time since they were 0-0. The 49ers, however, are coming off a wildly impressive dominating win over the Chicago Bears. The Saints may have improved, but they still have the league's 32nd ranked run defense, and the 49ers have all the tools to take full advantage of that fatal weakness. Colin Kaepernick is expected to get the start for the second straight week, and he'll be oozing with confidence after what he did to the Bears last week.
49ers win 27-21.
Rams (3-6-1) @ Cardinals (4-6): Both of these teams got off to pretty solid starts, but have since free-fallen to the bottom of their division. The Rams absolutely dominated the Cardinals when the two teams played earlier this year. With Chris Long and Robert Quinn still playing well, and the Cardinals' offensive line still playing terribly, I don't see why the Rams' pass rush won't dominate the game again. The Cardinals' defense is still good, but they've given up 21+ points in each of their past four games. The Rams' offense will do just enough to take advantage of a strong performance from their defense.
Rams win 16-13.
Packers (7-3) @ Giants (6-4): The Giants are coming off a much needed bye week, with speculation of Eli Manning's arm being "tired" in the few games leading up to the bye. Eli says he's now throwing the ball with more pop, and once he gets going, the whole offense will start to click again. In addition, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks says his injured knee and foot feel "as good as they have all season" coming out of the bye. The Packers have definitely been playing well, but haven't had a real impressive win since beating the Texans over a month ago. I like the Giants coming out fresh after the bye and getting a surprise win over the Packers at home.
Giants win 31-27.
Panthers (2-8) @ Eagles (3-7): Eagles fans were excited to see if rookie quarterback Nick Foles could get the team turned around, but all he did was let them down. Completing less than half his passes at a mere 4.4 yards per attempt with no touchdowns and two interceptions, Foles put up an abysmal 40.5 quarterback rating against the Redskins' 29th ranked pass defense. The Eagles are now likely to be without LeSean McCoy (concussion) for this week's game, which puts even more pressure on Foles. Putting up only six points against the Redskins last week, the Eagles will find it hard to put up much more against the Panthers. Cam Newton is second in the league in yards per pass attempt, while the Eagles' defense is 22nd in opponent yards per pass attempt - expect big plays to lead the Panthers to victory.
Panthers win 27-17.