Saturday, November 27, 2010
Week 12 NFL Picks
Phew, finally found the time to sit down at the computer -- undisturbed -- with a coffee in hand and some Week 12 picks to make: Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons: This is basically the hottest match up of the week. The Packers and the Falcons are probably the two teams that are generating the most interest in the NFC when it comes to playoff talk and now, here they are. So in a head to head clash, who wins? Good question. The Falcons have ridden their luck quite a bit this season. Missed field goals, slipping defenders and last second comebacks have been a feature of many of Atlantas wins thus far, but the fact remains that the Falcons have a proven recipe for victory which they rolled out last week; play solid defense, take an early lead, then mix in their running game. The Packers also have their defense to thank this year. Their whole front 7 has been outstanding, and even the back end has held up pretty well, espcially with the emergence of CB Tramon Williams. Meanwhile on offense, Aaron Rodgers has had more time to throw this year and they've coped well with injuries to key players such as RB Ryan Grant and TE Jermichael Finley. All things considered, I like the Packers just a little more in this game. I know Matt Ryan has been exceptional at home in his tenure with the Falcons, but the Packers just bring a more complete team to this game than I think the Falcons have seen before. It'll be tight I imagine, but ultimately Green Bay will take home the W. Packers win. Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills: Credit where credit is due, the Bills have started to look like a competitive football team of late. But credit where credit is due, the Steelers came back in week 11 from a tough loss the week before to stuff a hot rolling Raiders side. I'm still sceptical of the Steelers. I think Roethlisberger -- like Tony Romo of the Cowboys -- can at times be a gift and a curse to his team. But they have a solid running game and they have a great defense. I think Pittsburgh nudges it slightly. Steelers win. Carolina Panthers @ Cleveland Browns: I was ready to give Cleveland this game like a bullet out of a gun. But then I found out something interesting; Jake Delhomme is penciled in to start for Cleveland. Now as bad as the Panthers are, Delhomme has built a reputation in the last 2.5 years or so for being his own teams worst nightmare. Just ask Carolina. The question then is thus; will Delhomme -- who hasn't played for a while now -- implode in the face of his old team mates? I'm tentatively going to suggest he can hold it together just long enough for the Browns to slip through with a win. Tentatively. Very Tentatively. Browns win. Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans: So, the first thing that came into my head when I saw this matchup was "Who will meltdown first; Randy Moss, new Titans starting QB Rusty Smith, or the Texans defense?". There's a strong likelyhood that the Titans will come out with Chris Johnson and try to run their way through Houston, looking to set up some easier play action passes later in the game for Smith. If that happens then I'm cautiously optomistic for the Titans. Their defense excels at rushing the passer, which is handy as Houston has switched back to giving the passing game priority, having seemingly decided that their very good rushing attack is just not sexy enough for TV any more. Therefore, Titans win. Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants: When the Jaguars are leading the AFC South, it's probably a good sign that either the NFL's planned parity scheme is working well, or simply that Football is heading towards a universe ending, catastrophic singularity. Thus it falls to the Giants to save the galaxy. Which in short means we're all f***ed. The Giants are many things, but reliable is not one of them. Their best running back Ahmad Bradshaw will be watching from the sidelines to start on Sunday, mainly due to his propensity for finishing great runs by coughing up the ball. In the mean time Eli Manning is struggling lately with a spilt personality syndrome that sees him regularly switch between immitating his brother Peyton... and immitating Jake Delhomme in "that" NFC playoff game. And so once again the Giants are relying on their defense to pull through. At last then a glimmer of hope, because the reality is that the Giants defense -- in particular the defensive line -- is still very good. Not always as good as it should be, but generally sufficient. Where the Giants always have problems is when their offense turns the ball over, but then this is Jacksonville, who despite their win-loss record are hardly the offensive juggernauts of the AFC. So maybe the galaxy is safe for another week? Only time will tell. Giants win. Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins: Childress is gone and now it falls to Leslie Frazier to muster the troops and make something good happen. Being a defensive guy it's a possibility that Frazier will call on Adrian Peterson and the running game to lead the charge. It's not a guarantee, but it is a distinct possibility. That then could spell disaster for a Redskins team that hasn't looked good in a long while. I have no idea how Washington has mustered up the record that it has, but I'm guessing that they wont be extending that record anytime soon. As suspicious as I am of Favre, I have to say Vikings win. Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders: Hmm (one of them). The Raiders were rolling right up until they ran into the steel curtain last week. They will have access to Richard Seymour this week after he escaped with just a fine from the incident involving a tremondously satisfying smack to the face of Ben Roethlisberger. But the problem is deciding who will start at quarterback. Both Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski are available, and I have to say I'm more of a Gradkowski fan than a Campbell fan. Then we have Miami, that other team in the football game. Christ only knows what has happened to the Dolphins. They started so promisingly this season (except at home) and have at times shown flashes of brilliance (Cameron Wake). But the trouble seems to be that more often than not they show flashes of outright, pukingly horrid play. There just doesn't seem to be anything or anyone you can point to and say "that's going to save Miami's season". Sorry Dolphins, but I have to back a Raiders win. Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks: I simple refuse to take the Seahawks in a game against a half decent opponent, especially the way their offensive line has been playing lately, and even more especially given that they're up against a very stout Chiefs defense that is really starting to emerge in multiple areas. If Kansas can keep the ball in the hands of their two quality running backs Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, while only selectively handing it over to Matt Cassel to throw, then good things will happen. Chiefs win. Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Baltimore Ravens: Now here's a match up that does intrigue me; RB LaGarrette Blount up against LB Ray Lewis. Tough meets tough. But what will probably be more decisive is the clash between Buc's QB Josh Freeman and Ravens safety Ed Reed. Reed has shown time and again he can toy with the minds of some of the best quarterbacks in the league. So how will Freeman fare? There's no guarantee's but I don't think the end result will be pretty. That said, the Buccaneers aren't too shabby on the defensive side themselves. They certainly have the ability to get after the Ravens offense and give them a run for their money. Joe Flacco has -- unlike his fellow draft class QB Matt Ryan -- failed to emerge properly as a consistent winning quarterback who can lead his team to greatness when all the other pieces are faltering. He should in theory have a good time against the likes of the plucky but sometimes mistake prone Cody Grimm, but you just never know with Flacco. All things considered my gut feeling is to go with the Ravens. Which is why I'm taking a Buccaneers win. Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears: Well, I had a theory once that when the New Orleans Saints finally played a tough defense coupled with a half-decent offense, that they would be torn apart. They then recently played the Steelers... and walked it. So now my next theory will face the litmus test; that the Bears are nowhere near where their record says they are. Hopefully the Eagles will expose the upstart Bears for what they truly are. Hopefully Michael Vick will drive up and down the field at will, squashing Chicago under foot like the dull looking mushroom that they are (??). But of course knowing my luck, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy will combine to spill the rock three times, Vick will drop it twice more, and he'll finally throw a pick. But not just one, he'll throw three, all in the first half. All returned for touchdowns. It'll be the freakiest, flukiest victory you've ever seen as the Bears immitate what was for me the waking nightmare that was the 2009 Saints season. Then I'll have to sit and listen next year as people crown the Bears as one of the NFL's "elite" teams, even though we all know that's not the case. So with a lot of desperate hope (please God), I'm saying Eagles win. St. Louis Rams @ Denver Broncos: Ugh. The Rams on the road visiting the Broncos. It's a picking nightmare of the worst kind. A team that never wins on the road, against a team that never wins (not accounting for exaggeration). Simply put, I looked at the rosters and just went with the better overall team, hence Broncos win. San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts: Hmm (another one of them). The stats tell us something very simple; the Chargers are the best team in football, if not the best team of all time. They lead the NFL (or at least rank highly) in a host of important categories, on both offense and defense. Philip Rivers is on pace for record numbers. The Shawne Merriman-less defense is notching up sacks quicker than Cassanova (get it? How droll). But here is the odd thing; not only does the Chargers win/loss record tell a vastly different story, but they actually play better and win games when they're not out tearing up the record books. When Rivers throws for a bunch of yards, the Chargers tend to lose games because they dont score that many points. When Rivers's numbers are more modest (>200) he seems to throw more touchdowns and the Chargers win games like it was the easiest thing in the world. Something odd then is taking place that defies the laws of logic, football, and current statistical analysis of football. The Chargers are hitting quick strikes through Rivers, lumping in some rushing touchdowns and then just milking the clock on the back of their lead and their defense. But can they rinse and repeat said formula against the Colts? Can you really afford to sit back and say to Peyton Manning "c'mon then, let's see you come back from that 17 point deficit!". Normally the answer would be "no". Sitting on a 17 point lead against Peyton Manning is about as secure as sitting on the fence around the top of the Empire State building. But when you consider the Chargers defense and the fact they've been so prolific in sacks, they might just be able to crack it. Of course, if the rule against illegal pick plays was simply enforced then the Colts would be out of business by now, but I digress. Chargers win. San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals: I love Football. I can happily watch 9-10 hours of damn near back to back football. Then follow that up by watching more football and talking about football. And I love the 49ers. I paid the equivalent of about $120 for a ticket plus about $45 in travel just to watch the 49ers play the freakin' Broncos. But even I couldn't watch this game. Somewhere on Monday Night, there will be hundreds of thousands, dare I say millions of people who will watch this utter, abject excuse for a football game. Of course, having put it down so hard it's almost certain to turn out to be a 45-42 thriller of the most unmissable kind imaginable. I doubt it though. But who to pick? Unfortunately "nobody" is not a valid answer. Somehow then we must wade through the feeble excuse that is the 49ers offense, compare that with the feeble excuse that is the Cardinals defense, and then do the same in reverse. Alternatively I could just flip a coin and say "heads the 49ers win, tails the Cardinals win". It's heads. 49ers win. I'm off now to go and frolick in the early snow, so until Sundays recap, Have a great day everyone.