Spread ‘Em: Week 12 NFL Picks
Posted by Andrew Zercie on November 27, 2009
Off to a solid 2-1 start for week 12, thanks to the Packers and Broncos, I’m hoping to see that success continue into the rest of the weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve scored a big week I must admit. Following an 8-8 week 11 showing, and the 2-1 start to this week, my record on the season is now 93-70, which isn’t bad. However, after starting off hot, I’ve essentially been a 50-50 bettor in the last month or so.
For those who might be interested, here’s my picks for Thursday’s games:
As always, remember the picks are for entertainment purposes only. Here’s the remainder of week 12 now:
Houston (+3.5) over Indianapolis
The Texans are talented enough to knock off the Colts. They are also maddeningly inconsistent and highly untrustworthy, if you’re planning on gambling on them.
When these teams played each other three weeks ago, the Texans had the Colts on the ropes, but between penalties and turnovers, Houston sabotaged their chances of pulling off the upset.
Knowing the Texans, it’s more likely they’ll find a way to lose than pull out the win. Their season has been littered with close calls. Four of their five losses have been by a touchdown or less. I’m betting on them to cover, nothing more.
Colts 24, Texans 21
Cleveland (+14) over Cincinnati
I suppose the Bengals were due for a clunker. Cedric Benson was unavailable for last week’s stinker against the Raiders, and that played a huge role in the outcome of the game.
In fact, the Bengals’ fortunes have been tied directly to how Benson has played. In Cincinnati’s eight wins, Benson has averaged over four yards per carry. In the Bengals’ other two losses, Benson was under four yards per carry. That seems to be Cincinnati’s barometer for success.
Of course, that may not matter much against the Browns, who are among the worst teams in the league and lost a heart-breaker last week to the Lions. Still, assuming Benson plays hurt and the Browns follow up last week’s performance with another strong game, I see Cleveland covering here.
Bengals 27, Browns 17
Minnesota (-11) over Chicago
Remember at the beginning of the season, when the Bears were going to contend for the NFC North title? Jay Cutler’s been one of the big culprits in the Bears’ lost season but, at the same time, Matt Forte’s disappearance and some key injuries haven’t helped matters.
Chicago’s road woes will definitely continue this week. The Bears are 1-4 on the road, and Cutler’s interception issues are at their worst away from Soldier Field.
The Vikings have played dominant football lately, and Brett Favre has become part of the story instead of hogging the headlines. Some believe the Vikings are the best team in the NFL. While I’m not that much of a believer in them, this should be a relatively easy win for them.
Vikings 31, Bears 17
Philadelphia (-9) over Washington
Washington is down to their third string running back (Rock Cartwright), and their offense is limited already to begin with. The Redskins will need to throw the ball in order to score points, something they’ve been unable to do all season.
The Eagles will be without Brian Westbrook as well, but LeSean McCoy has proven to be a capable fill-in.
It will be interesting to see if the Eagles’ wide receivers can make some big plays against a Redskins’ passing defense that has allowed fewer than 200 yards passing on average. If DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin can break free for some big gains, this game will be a blowout, because the Redskins are unlikely to match the Eagles’ firepower on offense.
Eagles 27, Redskins 9
Miami (-3) over Buffalo
The Dolphins have rallied from an 0-3 start to 5-5 on the season, and a win over the Bills would put them squarely in the playoff picture in the AFC.
The Bills have become a train wreck. The once-proud franchise is on their second coach of the season, has an unsettled quarterback situation, and has basically become irrelevant on the NFL landscape.
I doubted the Dolphins last week, after they lost Ronnie Brown for the season. I won’t make the same mistake this week.
Dolphins 28, Bills 17
(-2.5) over Arizona
The Vince Young Comeback Tour is so amazing, even referees can’t stop themselves from getting swept up in the euphoria, as evidenced by the picture to the right.
The Cardinals’ run defense will get a challenge from Titans’ RB Chris Johnson, who has an outside shot at a 2,000 yard season. The game will come down to how well Arizona can contain Johnson. If Johnson and the Titans can sustain long drives and keep the Cardinals’ offense off the field, they’ll win.
As great as Arizona has been against the run, and as great as they’ve played on the road this year, it seems that the Titans have momentum, along with Johnson and a rejuvenated Young, on their side. I’m not betting against them here.
Titans 27, Cardinals 21
St. Louis (+3) over Seattle
It appears Mike Holmgren knew what he was doing when he walked away from the Seattle Seahawks after last season. With each passing week, it seems the Seahawks get worse. In the final game of a three-game road swing, the Seahawks get their best shot at their first win away from Seattle all season (they’re 0-5 thus far).
Of course, this matchup represents the best chance for the Rams to win a home game this season. Additionally, the Rams haven’t beaten the Seahawks since a January 2005 playoff game in Seattle. Since then, St. Louis is 0-9 against the Seahawks.
The best player on either team is the Rams’ Stephen Jackson, and Seattle hasn’t done well against the run for much of the season. I’ll bet on Jackson and the Rams to come out on top this week.
Rams 17, Seahawks 14
Atlanta (-12) over Tampa Bay
Sure, Atlanta’s lost four of their last five, but the Falcons are 4-0 at home. Beginning with this week’s game against the Buccaneers, Atlanta begins a crucial three-game homestand. This is a game the 5-5 Falcons absolutely have to have.
Tampa Bay seems to be the perfect foil for a Falcons team desperate for a win. The Buccaneers are a team building for the future and they start a rookie at quarterback. I view this as an opportunity for the Falcons to get back on track. They need it, if they view themselves as a serious playoff contender.
Falcons 31, Buccaneers 13
Carolina (+3) over NY Jets
This game features two 4-6 teams with turnover-prone quarterbacks and offenses built around strong running games.
I hate picking the Panthers, but I believe in the Jets even less. They have lost six of their last seven and seem to be in a tailspin. There is no safe pick here, but the Panthers have the veteran quarterback and coach, while the Jets have rookies in both spots. Perhaps that will make a difference in the outcome.
Panthers 24, Jets 13
Jacksonville (+3) over San Francisco
The Jaguars and 49ers are teams that play close games, for the most part, and the spread reflects that. It also reflects the Jags’ penchant for playing down to their competition lately; they’ve beaten the Bills, Chiefs and Jets respectively by a combined eight points over the last three weeks.
The 49ers have the necessary ingredients to beat the Jaguars. They run the ball well and play solid defense against the run.
I’m surprised the Jaguars are 6-4 and in the mix for a wildcard berth in the AFC at this point. They’ve survived against some awful teams in the last few weeks, and I’m betting this week, on the road, 3,000 miles from home, all the close calls catch up to them. However, as is the nature of these two teams, I’m expecting yet another tight game.
49ers 21, Jaguars 20
Kansas City (+13.5) over San Diego
After a week filled with stories of how the Chargers have regained their mojo, and how the Broncos have collapsed yet again, San Diego goes home to take on the Chiefs.
There is no doubt that the Chargers are hot, having won five straight. Still, they don’t run the ball well, and San Diego was lucky to eek out wins against the Giants and Raiders during their hot streak. I’m not sold on them as a two-touchdown favorite against anyone.
Divisional games go beyond the gambling point spread sometimes. The Chiefs have won two straight themselves, including a surprising, and rousing, win over the Steelers last week. They won’t win this game, but they’ll put up more of a fight than many think.
Chargers 27, Chiefs 17
Baltimore (-2.5) over Pittsburgh
Ben Roethlisberger wants to play against the Ravens, despite suffering a concussion last week. The Steelers, sitting at 6-4, need Roethlisberger to play in this, the first of two matchups against the Ravens this season.
Baltimore, at 5-5, need this game to draw even in the standings with Pittsburgh and push themselves back in the playoff picture. When it gets this deep into the season, most often than not the desperate team wins. The Ravens are at home and are desperate. Enough said.
Ravens 24, Steelers 18
New England (+2.5) over New Orleans
The Patriots and Saints are similarly explosive on offense. Many are predicting a shootout in this one.
In fact, viewers could see a game similar to the one played two weeks ago between the Patriots and Colts, in which Bill Belichick made his controversial decision to try for a first down on a 4th-and-2 at their 28 yard line. When that failed, the Colts drove for the winning touchdown.
Their recent close calls against teams such as the Rams and Panthers lead me to believe the Saints are ripe to suffer their first loss.
Patriots 34, Saints 31