Week 12 Predictions

Posted Nov 23, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 12 games?


Minnesota (8-2) at Detroit (6-4): Iron Mike's favourite holiday of the US calendar, and I'm a traditionalist about it, which makes me nostalgic for the days when there was just the one NFL game on the day, the only Thursday game of the year, and you fit your high-school or college games and your family dinner in around it. But this year Thanksgiving kicks off with one of only two of this week's 16 games between two teams with winning records, and it's a really crucial one for the Lions, who could move just a game behind the Lions in the North, and put pressure on Carolina for the wild card hunt. But the thing with Thursday football is bodies have less time to recover and teams, especially the visitors have less time to prepare. Especially when you're the early afternoon game. The Vikes' defense could be without its two best pass rushers (Robison and Griffen) though both are likely to try to play with leg and back injuries) and as many as three in the secondary, again, Sendejo (who's played very well at strong safety) could be out, and Rhodes, Alexander and Sendejo's backup, Harris could all try to play hurt. The Lions' Ziggy Ansah is in the same situation, but the guy he'd go against, Mike Remmers, is in concussion protocol. Which makes picking the game extra difficult. We know the Lions are a pass-first team, and if they hang close to you Matt Stafford is good in the late-game breakdowns. We know the Vikes can run the ball, which is easier against the Lions, and they have wideouts who can make plays. This is really fascinating enough to pull you away from the dinner, especially if you're one of those people who insists on marshmallows in their sweet potatoes. The Lions have won four in a row on Thanksgiving Day, and this may be the toughest pick of the day, but pick: Vikes

LA Chargers (4-6) at Dallas (5-5): The Cowboys miss Sean Lee maybe more than either Zeke Elliott or Tyron Smith. Byron Bell got by at LT, Alfred Morris is averaging over 6 yards per carry, but when Anthony Hitchens went out against the Eagles, the Dallas D crmbled. Hitchens and Smith are both game-time decisions (groins) while RT La'el Collins is similar, with a lower back, so I'd expect him to play. The Chargers tore up Dominguez Hills in their win over the Bills, though a lot of that was down to Buffalo's weird decision to start Nate Peterman at QB. The Cowboys started as favorites, but the bookie pendulum has swung to the Chargers, which is a good indicator of recency bias. You say to yourself the Dallas offense ought to be able to operate with the tools they have, while the D, at home, simply has to make a few plays against the mistake-prone Chargers. Then yourself talks back to you, in a voice that resembles Jerry Jones'. Pick: Chargers

New York Giants (2-8) at Washington (4-6): Kirk Cousins has probably ensured a big pay day next season (Denver, anyone?) with his play in the last two weeks in close losses to the Vikes and Saints. The Skins have lost Chris Thompson for the season, and Rob Kelly is out, and their O line is still spare parts, which sounds a lot like the Giants. But the Giants' D woke up last week against the Chiefs, and played like last year's bunch, and their receivers stepped up, not least Roger Lewis with another great catch of an Eli heave, a la David Tyree. Samaje Perrine can run; I remember pointing him out to Kevin Cadle when we did the pilot for his you tube show. He needs to be good, and Captain Kirk needs to just spike the damn ball (that was a very crucial and very odd penalty). Pick: Skins


Tampa Bay (4-6) at Atlanta (6-4): Palindromic Records Dixie Derby! That means pecan pie instead of pumpkin, and maybe the turkey's been deep-fried and served on a popsicle stick. The Falcons

Cleveland (0-10) at Cincinnati (4-6): Ohio Derby! Could this be the Browns' best shot at a first win, even on the road? The Bengals are coming off a win in Denver, which means recency bias is in their favour, although distancy bias doesn't help the winless Browns either. But Cleveland is showing moments of improvement, and their defense can stop the run: as with so many teams this year what you need to do is force their QB (Andy Dalton in this case) to win the game in the air. After AJ Green, however, Dalton's receiving options aren't that much better than Cleveland's, though Corey Coleman helps, he's as frustrating as Kenny Britt. Although I hesitate, pick: Bengals

Tennessee (6-4) at Indianapolis (3-7): The Colts in that ideal situation of a home game after a bye week, but the Titans had a long week to recover from their thrashing by Pittsburgh, cued by four picks of Marcus Mariota and a total of 42 yards rushing by Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray (8 carries, 10 yards). Jacoby Brissett is in the non-contact part of the league's concussion protocol, which would indicate he's still not certain to play, in which all bets would be off. This is crucial for the Titans, but I said that last week and they weren't listening. You can't call it a trap game, but this should be a chance for them to play the kind of unimginative 1970s college smash mouth run game footbll that Mike Mularkey somehow believes will intimidate the rest of the NFL into submission. It may work in Indy. Pick: Titans

Buffalo (5-5) at Kansas City (6-4): You know how in the Three Stooges, Moe Howard is always getting crazy ideas that make no sense, like replacing Tyrod Taylor with Nate Peterman? Buffalo is like Moe. That means although most of the league seems to have figured out that the Chiefs misdirection all takes place round the line of scrimmage, so it doesn't make sense to chase it all over the place, and you're better off daring Kareem Hunt to beat you with a straight out run, or Tyreek Hill with a downfield pass, who knows if the Bills got the message? Maybe we'll see Joe Webb at QB, Tyrod Taylor at safety, and Peterman as offensive coordinator. I think the thing with Tyrod is the Bills don't want to adjust their new offense to him. Listening to Sean McDermott credit Peterman for Shady McCoy's early long runs was funny though. The Chiefs did better when Alex Smith was in Tyrod mode late in the game, rather than when he was in downfield pass mode...I suspect the Mahomes tremors are being heard underfoot. Thing is, without Marcel Dareus, you can run on the Bills, so it's time for Andy Reid to try and be more straightforward pounding the rock. Remember when McDermott was in Carolina and they let Josh Norman walk and spent a season rebuilding the secondary? That may be what's happening in Buffalo. On the other hand, they could have done what the Chiefs did, and signed Darrelle Revis. Pick: Chiefs

Miami (5-5) at New England (8-2): Gillette Stadium is 31 miles, as the crow flies, from Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims first landed in Massachusetts and the Indians accused them of deflating the pumpkins. You know how in the Three Stooges Larry Fine is the sophisticated one, but always getting abused by having to try to execute crazy plans, like playing Jay Cutler? The Dolphins are Larry. The Pats are in a division with the Stooges, and just to celebrate this week they cut Cassius Marsh (for whom they gave the Seahawks fifth and seventh round picks) and signed Eric Lee off Buffalo's practice squad. Marsh, like Kony Ealy, is more of a rush-end, and probably couldn't set the edge the way the Pats needed at end, while Trevor Reilly, who's played for both the Jets and Dolphins as a special teamer, was getting his reps at LB. Lee, who's listed at 6-3 260 might play both. Cassius Marsh announced he will change his name to Muhammad Release. The Pats always have one bad game in their division, but not this week. Pick: Pats

Carolina (7-3) at Newark York Jets (4-6): Both teams coming off byes, which is unusual in NFL scheduling. You know how in the Three Stooges Curly is the one who thinks he's tough but he's always outsmarted by Moe or Larry? The Jest are Curley, nyuk nyuk nyuk. Do you think they can moiderlize the Panthers? You do that by stopping Cam Newton, pure and simple. But I can see a rested and healthy Panther D keeping the Jets' O well under wraps, which means if Cam can somehow get beyond the first level, or maybe get one of those two rookie offensive threats involved, the Panthers should keep their playoff roll going. Pick: Panthers

Chicago (3-7) at Philadelphia (9-1): Alshon Jeffrey Bowl! I'll see your Jordan Howard and raise you a LaGarrette Blount AND a Jay Ajayi, who's still hearing jibes for getting caught from behind. What's that? Tarik Cohen? You think I'm gonna fold? Though that was an amazing somersault into the end zone last week. The best thing about the Eagles is watching the way their D line operates. That and Carson Wentz keeping plays alive and making them. You know who is going to be like that, a bit? Mitch Triubisky. But probably not til after John Fox is gone. Pick: Eagles

New Orleans (8-2) at LA Rams (7-3): The other match-up of teams with winning records, and two things to consider. The Saints pulled off a comeback win over Washington last week, helped by the weird international grounding call on Cousins after trouncing the Bills on the road. The Rams lost to the Vikes with a 4th quarter collapse, helped by having Blake Countess and Dominique Hatfield at corner by that point (Kayvon Webster is in concussion protocol and Nickell Robey has a thigh, both could be back). The Rams couldn't get to Case Keenum either, though they literally missed some shots at him. Robert Woods is out, and Cooper Kupp needs to get over his case of the drops, but it was interesting to note Tavon Austin played only two snaps all game. They need to get him involved. Ditto Sammy Watkins, who was blanketed by the Vikes, and maybe rookie Josh Reynolds, or even Michael Thomas. Look for lots of long balls, when, with Marshon Lattimore out for the Saints, it's the kind of routes Woods runs that would seem open. The question is whether Lattimore's loss amounts to more than the Rams' in the secondary and whether LA can slow down that ground game. Pick: Rams

Seattle (6-4) at San Francisco (1-9): CJB or Jimmy G? Kyle with all his guile isn't saying who's playing but he's had a bye to think about it. The Seahawks D is a place you could rue making your debut, not like CJB v the Giants' D. Russell Wilson is literally close to 90% of the Seahawks offense, passing and running: they might as well call it a single wing and him the tailback. I hate to make the comparison again, but with their creaky line and lack of runners, and a big rep D that's sprung some leaks, the Seahawks are a lot like the Giants, only Wilson is more mobile than Eli (though just as heave-prone). But he's got better receivers, especially when plays break down. Pick: Seahawks

Jacksonville (7-3) at Arizona (4-6): GABBERT BOWL!!!! Blaine Gabbert seeks revenge against the team that drafted and dumped him! Which is now the demonstrably better team, at least on defense. But that's a big thing, especially against a third-strong QB, who may be more efficient than your current starter. The Cards got nothing from AP, nothing from either J Brown nor JJ Nelson (5/54 from the three of them), but watch ex-Pat DJ Foster (J, J, JJ and DJ sounds like a Jackson 5 tribute band) and rookie Ricky Seals-Jones. Otherwise it's the classic Cards QB formula: take the hits and throw to Fitz. I can see Arizona turning a couple of turnovers into points, I mean, it is Blake Bortles and they do have Patrick Paterson, Deonne Buchanan and Budda Baker to prey on a WR group as unimpressive as the Jags. Still, pick: Jags

Denver (3-7) at Oakland (4-6): This is the Raiders first actual 'home' game since week 7. Here's a nice coaching carousel story. The Raiders fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr and John Pagano, who was assistant head coach (defense) take over, which is actually not a surprise. I wonder if the firing of Bill Musgrave as OC last year has had an effect on their O, as they have under-achieved as much as the defense. The Broncos considered making Brock Osweiler GM, since he did such a good job stealing money from the Texans and Browns, and moving John Elway to QB, but instead fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and guess who the new OC is? If you guessed Tim Tebow you're wrong, it's Bill Musgrave, and he'll have Paxton Lynch as his starter. I wonder if McCoy ever asked Elway for Lynch? Oddly enough, McCoy's greatest success as OC was not with Peyton Manning, as Peyton was Peyton, but with Tebow. If the Chargers won in Dallas, red flags will be flying for both teams, and I think Paxton and Musgrave will make the offense look better than it did with McCoy, mostly by getting back to basics. Pick: Broncos

SUNDAY NIGHT: Green Bay (5-5) at Pittsburgh (8-2): The Packers insist their Brett Hundley master plan is working, and now they have to travel to play the team with the best group of big-play players in the league, especially as we've added JuJu to the mix. They will be without RT Marcus Gilbert, who began his four game PED suspension immediately so as to get back in time to face the Pats on December 18th. Chris Hubbard has filled in for Gilbert a few times in the last couple of years, and should be able to hold up against Green Bay's rush. Otherwise, look for the killer Bs to do their usual, and at home not play down to the level of their opposition. Pick: Steelers

MONDAY NIGHT: Houston (4-6) at Baltimore (5-5): Tom Savage is from Pittsburgh, went to college in New Jersey at Rutgers, then transferred to Arizona, but while he sat out a year Arizona hired Rich Rodriquez, so Savage transferred again, to Pitt, losing a second year to the NCAA's sham that players are scholar/athletes. Joe Flacco is from New Jersey, went to college in Pittsburgh, but couldnt beat out Tyler Palko so he transferred to Delaware, and played 1-AA football, kind of like the Browns. No one has scored against the Ravens in the last three weeks. Andre Ellington was claimed from Arizona to replace D'Onta Foreman, who injured his Achilles scoring the clinching TD last week, but that's not going to light up the scoreboard in Bal'mer. Pick: Ravens

LAST WEEK 11-3 SEASON: 101-59 looked to have some of their mojo back against a crumbly Cowboys' team racked by injury, and altho Fitzy has rallied the Bucs, but that 30-20 win was really a 23-20 win in Miami, helped by one huge coverage breakdown where the Dolphins elected not to cover DeSean Jackson in the end zone. I can't see the Falcons responding in a similar fashion. Pick: Falcons

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