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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 12 #NFL Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)

New Orleans Saints (-9) @ Atlanta Falcons (53): Saints 31-24 Saints 17-13
Thursday, 8:25 PM, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: As much as I wish the Saints would get crushed after not only stealing the game from the 49ers Sunday on a horrendously bad call, but for Drew Brees adding fuel to fire every chance he gets by claiming his smallish mouth filled with blood after the legal hit. Alas, it's not going to happen. It could; their really is no explicable way in which we can answer why the Falcons have been this bad (they rank 3rd in overall passing), but they have been, and with the Saints' improved defense (ranked 3rd v. the pass), the chances of a Falcons upset seem even lower. I finally learned last week (Den v. KC) that even against stout defenses high-scoring offenses (2nd-ranked passing attack) with HOF quarterbacks beast; so you can imagine what happens when those offenses face one of the worst defenses in the league (22nd v. pass; 30th v. run). If Vegas has New Orleans as 9-point favorites on the road then I'm all in. The tired Saints (short week) led by the bloodied Brees continue the trend they began Week 1 destroying Atlanta's once bright season in the weekly shit show that is Thursday Night Football.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.5) @ Cleveland Browns (40): Browns 23-20
1:00 PM, First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH (Weather: 50% snow, high 20s)

Reasons: As improved as the Steelers have been in the past few weeks (2-0 last two games, 4-2 last six games), the Browns have one of the best overall defenses in the league (in terms of yardage) and are fighting for their divisional lives. The snowy conditions should keep this tough divisional match up low-scoring; the Browns escape at home.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9) @ Detriot Lions (49): Lions 31-20
1:00 PM, Ford Field, Detroit, MI (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Buc's have won two straight games after losing their first eight, and even scored a season-high 41 points last week v. the dreadful Falcons. That hot streak ends this week as the Lions look to solidify their playoff position. The league's 3rd-ranked passing attack will shred the Buc's lame pass defense as Revis and Co. focus solely on Megatron. Mike Glennon has revitalized this offense, and will hit Jackson for one or two, but will it be enough? No, the Lions roll.

Minnesota Vikings (+4.5) @ Green Bay Packers (44): Packers 27-21
1:00 PM, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Weather: Clear, cold, 20s)

Reasons: The Packers have been reeling in their three straight losses without Rodgers, but have still managed to gain yards. They'll finally put up points this week, too, sweeping the season series from the confused Vikings. The cold weather will also get to this cozy dome team as one of the league's highest-rated offenses goes to work in their comfortable cold home. 

San Diego Chargers (+5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (42): Chiefs 27-21
1:00 PM, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO (Weather: Clear, cold, 30s)

Reasons: The Chiefs were exposed last week on national television and could get caught looking towards a rematch against Denver again next week, were it not for the fact that Andy Reid is their head coach. The Chargers will come into freezing weather and their only real strength (4th-ranked passing offense) will be thwarted by the Chiefs 9th-ranked pass defense. The Chiefs run game will be the difference in this one as they take the important divisional match up.

Chicago Bears (+1.5) @ St. Louis Rams (45.5): Rams 24-23
1:00 PM, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: This game isn't much to look forward to, which means it'll probably end up in some high-scoring shoot-out. The Bears defense is on IR, Cutler is hurt, and the Rams are just fighting for an identity. But every time I predict a low-scoring bore, the opposite happens. I look for the Bears to take advantage of an injured Rams' secondary and that's about it. Lots of FGs in this one.

Carolina Panthers (-4.5) @ Miami Dolphins (41): Panthers 27-17
1:00 PM, SunLife Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: Warm, 50% rain)

Reasons: The Panthers are balling. Even with that bullsh*t call at the end of the game v. the Patriots last week, the Panthers deserved the win and have rattled off six straight. That will continue as the Dolphins are not only only no match for the multifaceted Panthers, they'll still dealing with the outside noise. The top-ranked Panthers defense (5th v. the pass; 3rd v. the run) will give Miami trouble all day as their mediocre offense struggles. Their only hope is that Cam Newton lets the recent success get to his head and the decent Miami defense wreaks havoc. Not likely.

New York Jets (+3.5) @ Baltimore Ravens (39): Ravens 21-17
1:00 PM, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (Weather: Cold, 30s, windy)

Reasons: One of the better defensive match ups of the week, the improving Ravens defense will give Geno & The Jets trouble all day. The Jets only chance will come on the ground, where they rank 8th in the league. The Jets also stop the run (1st), which means Ray Rice's resurgence will last exactly one week. I look for the Ravens to go to the air often, unless the wind poses a serious problem. Look for more FGs in this one. Ravens take the close defensive battle at home as the Jets end the roller coaster ride and lose two in a row.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+10) @ Houston Texans (43.5): Texans 27-16
1:00 PM, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Jaguars are simply the NFL's worst team. They average just under 13 ppg, and they rank last in the NFL in rushing yards and against the run. Apparently Jacksonville had no concept of the running game. They have lost nine of their ten games and their first eight before finally winning two weeks ago. The Texans aren't much better. Despite much higher statistical rankings, including the NFL's best pass defense, the Texans have lost eight straight after winning their first two and have turned a Super Bowl-or-bust season into a bust. Vegas has Houston crushing, so why not?

Tennessee Titans (-1) @ Oakland Raiders (41.5): Titans 24-21
4:05 PM, O. Co. Stadium, Oakland, CA (Weather: Sunny, warm)

Reasons: Two teams going nowhere, one due to injuries and young coaching, one due to injuries, underachieving, and good coaching. Maybe the latter isn't so good if a team is underachieving, or perhaps we were all just wrong about Chris Johnson. Either way this looks to be boring game as the only potential lightning (Johnson) should be bottled up all day by the Raiders 6th-ranked rush defense, the only feather in their proverbial cap. Titans prevail with better coaching.

Indianapolis Colts (+2) @ Arizona Cardinals (45): Colts 24-21
4:05 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ (Weather: 60s, 10% rain)

Reasons: Vegas has the Cardinals pass rush getting to Luck, as well as stopping the run. I doubt they can accomplish both. The Colts WRs aren't what they were the first half of the season, but I like the Colts improved ground game. The Cardinals 2nd-ranked rush defense will stop the colts from running all over the field, but not from scoring. Although the Colts offensive line might struggle some v. the Cardinals, I can't see Carson Palmer continuing this current winning streak v. an opportunistic Colts defense, which is surprisingly good v. the pass, despite only being ranked 16th. This will be a battle of the pass rushes. Colts win a close one on the road.

Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) @ New York Giants (45.5): Giants 27-24
4:25 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Cold, 30s, windy) 

Reasons: The Giants are on the rise. Their annual winning streak is in full effect and this high-flying passing attack should decimate the Cowboys pass defense, which is ranked last in the NFL. The Cowboys aren't much better at stopping the run, either (ranked 29th), but that shouldn't pose a problem v. the league's 29th-ranked rushing offense. Romo's offense will try to get it going in the air, but that will be trouble in the cold and wind going against this revamped Giants pass rush. The Giants avenge the Week 1 loss and the Cowboys continue to bask in mediocrity.

Denver Broncos (-2.5) @ New England Patriots (54): Patriots 27-24
8:25 PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: Very cold, high 10s, windy)

Reasons: The Patriots haven't been home underdogs since 2006, probably v. Manning and the Colts. Not that the Patriots need any bulletin board material, but that underdog status at home, combined with the robbery that took place last week in Carolina will have the Patriots ready to go. Oh yeah, then there's the weather, Manning's kryptonite. Game time temps will be freezing and wind chill temps will have Manning's face red and worried as the cold weather has stalled Manning's perfectly oiled machine many times in the past. The Bronco's top-ranked passing game is a little banged up, but so is the Patriots 12th-ranked pass defense. The Patriots might have trouble on the ground (ranked 9th) v. the Broncos 4th-ranked run defense, so they'll most likely put it up in the air against a bad pass defense (28th) as the weather never effects the hardened Patriots. We take full advantage of the weather in this one.

San Francisco 49ers (-6) @ Washington Natives (47): 49ers 31-24
Monday, 8:25 PM, FedEx Field, Washington DC (Weather: Cold, clear, mid 30s)

Reasons: The Natives can't seem to get out of their own way, and most of it has to do with attitude. This team has too many mental issues to take on such a physical, mentally tough team as in the 49ers, coming off a stinging loss to the Saints in which they were robbed of a win due to a ridiculous roughing the passer penalty.  I would not want to be RGIII going against this defense after last week. SF's run game (ranked 5th) will be in full effect as RGIII continues to struggle but put up late stats. The 49ers get on track big time this week, sending the Natives into "next season" mode.

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