Last week I went 10-6. I messed up on the late games. I was close with Detroit and San Diego. Both should have won last week, but lost heart-breakers. I can never seem to figure out the Seahawks, who only seem to win at home. I also messed up with San Francisco, who I thought would get surprised, Green Bay, who I thought would show up and Carolina who… alright… I deserve the loss on that one. I shouldn’t rely on Philly this season.
Once again, there are no byes this week or any of the remaining weeks.
Thursday, 11/29 – 8:20 pm ET
New Orleans Saints 5-6 @ Atlanta Falcons 10-1
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
My thinking here is that Atlanta wins this one. Atlanta is a different beast at home and there is something about divisional games especially the second time around. Divisional games tend to be closer because the teams know each other so well and when they play the second time in the season, you have to throw out, in most cases, what happened in the first game. Atlanta has the offense, the home-field advantage and the motivation after losing their only game to this point against the Saints earlier.
Sunday, 12/2 – 1:00 pm ET
Seattle Seahawks 6-5 @ Chicago Bears 8-3
Prediction: Chicago Bears
Every week I mention how Seattle is a very talented team, but their biggest assent is, by far, their home field advantage. Their defense is fantastic anywhere, but they are dominant in Seattle. The problem is that this game is in Chicago. Seattle is good enough to have a very real shot at winning this game, but with QB Jay Cutler back in action for Chicago, the Bears offense should have enough firepower to move the ball on the Seahawks. This should be a very good game to watch, but I really think Chicago gets back on track this week.
Houston Texans 10-1 @ Tennessee Titans 4-7
Prediction: Houston Texans
Houston is coming off two straight weeks of shootout wins against the Jaguars, of all people, and the Lions, in a game they probably should have lost. This week is Tennessee, who has been “off” and “on” this season… mostly “off”. I’ve said before that Houston is built like a team, which wins the games they should and I believe that even more now. QB Matt Schaub is very talented and is more than capable of leading a high-powered passing offense, which he has done the last two weeks and he should be able to score points on Tennessee even if things get dicey. Houston should win this game.
New England Patriots 8-3 @ Miami Dolphins 5-6
Prediction: New England Patriots
I like New England. They are averaging 37.0 points per game and have scored 108 points in the last two games. Miami’s defense is good, but not good enough to stop that production. Miami’s QB, Ryan Tannehill, has been surprisingly good this season, but lately NFL defenses seem to have figured him out a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is simliar to the game two weeks ago when the Patriots beat the Colts 59-24. In that game, New England dominated the game, but Colts QB Andrew Luck had some success, but ultimately couldn’t break the Patriots defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars 2-9 @ Buffalo Bills 4-7
Prediction: Buffalo Bills
Jacksonville has been playing surprisingly well with QB Chad Henne at the helm. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Jacksonville puts some points up against the Bills 26th ranked defense. That said, Jacksonville’s defense is actually worse… ranked 31st. Buffalo has some dynamic talent on offense and their defense has played better as of late. I think Bills RB C.J. Spiller could have a big day and be the difference maker.
Indianapolis Colts 7-4 @ Detroit Lions 4-7
Prediction: Detroit Lions
I initially had Indianapolis pegged here, but I talked myself into picking Detroit. The Colts have been fantastic this season and sit with the top wildcard playoff spot, in control of their own destiny, but Detroit has been playing well in the past couple weeks. The Lions are 4-7 because of their inconsistent offensive play, primarily, and their moments of immaturity. Now with Detroit’s offense finally clicking, they are major threats. Three of the Colts’ four losses have come on the road. I think their fifth overall loss does too.
Carolina Panthers 3-8 @ Kansas City Chiefs 1-10
Prediction: Carolina Panthers
This is a game, which could be hard to watch. So, first… what are the problems with these teams? Carolina has gotten some inconsistent play from their star QB, Cam Newton, they don’t use the talented running backs on their roster and they make the mistakes a young team makes. Kansas City has a bunch of issues including a poor running game, despite the presence of Peyton Hillis and Jamaal Charles, an inconsistent defense and a litany of issues with quarterbacks. I’m taking Carolina in this game because Kansas City just hasn’t done anything this season to demonstrate that they should win this game. Newton also played very well last week and I think that continues.
Update: A heart-breaking story, which is still developing about Chiefs LB Jovan Belcher. The game on Sunday, at the time of this update (12/1 – 2:20 P.M.) is still going to be played, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things change in light of this terrible situation: “Jovan Blecher kills girlfriend, takes own life”
Minnesota Vikings 6-5 @ Green Bay Packers 7-4
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
I get the sense that Minnesota is very similar to the Cincinnati Bengals of a year ago. A talented team, which is capable of getting into the playoffs, but lack the consistency and all-around team talent to beat the top dogs of the NFL. Don’t get me wrong… Minnesota is a good team, but I don’t think they beat Green Bay at Lambeau. This game could be closer than expected because Green Bay does have their flaws – their offensive line has struggled – but it won’t be enough for Minnesota to pull out the win.
San Francisco 49ers 8-2-1 @ St. Louis Rams 4-6-1
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
These teams tied in their first matchup, but I don’t think we have to worry about that this time around. San Francisco is starting QB Colin Kaepernick, who gives the 49ers offense a higher ceiling in terms of potential firepower, and still sports one of the best defenses in the league. St. Louis surprised some teams early on, but has cooled off. I think the power run game of San Francisco, along with a couple explosive plays from Kaepernick will be the difference in what should be a surprisingly close game.
Arizona Cardinals 4-7 @ New York Jets 4-7
Prediction: New York Jets
What can I say about these two teams? Both have been awful with Arizona currently on a 7-game losing streak and the Jets… well… being the Jets. Arizona is starting rookie QB Ryan Lindley, who will have some growing pains, as well as some real pains from Arizona’s porous offensive line and their inability to protect anyone. The Jets have also demonstrated throughout the season that they are capable of looking like a good team against the bottom teams in the league.
Sunday, 12/2 – 4:05 pm ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-5 @ Denver Broncos 8-3
Prediction: Denver Broncos
Tampa Bay is a very good team. In the AFC, they would have a great shot at making the playoffs. They have an explosive offense with solid receivers, an incredible running back and a quarterback who continues to improve. The problem is their defense, at least in this matchup. Don’t get me wrong, Tampa has a defense sporting the top run defense in the league giving up only 81.5 yards per game on the ground. That same defense is dead last in passing defense giving up 315.5 passing yards a game. Against QB Peyton Manning, which one do you think needs to perform better against Denver? Manning should be able to throw the ball on Tampa and it should be enough to get the win and get the Bronco offense, which has slowed, back on track.
Sunday, 12/2 – 4:25 pm ET
Pittsburgh Steelers 6-5 @ Baltimore Ravens 9-2
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
The key here is Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. He is out once again due to injury and that could be the deciding factor with the 37-year old Charlie Batch getting the start once again. Pittsburgh does get S Troy Polamalu and WR Antonio Brown back after they missed the last couple weeks. Baltimore needed just short of a miracle to win in San Diego last week, but this week they are at home where QB Joe Flacco plays very well. I just don’t think Batch is enough to win a pivotal road game against their divisional rival. Still will be a hard hitting game though.
Cincinnati Bengals 6-5 @ San Diego Chargers 4-7
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
This should be a very close game. Cincinnati traditionally struggles on road games to the West Coast and this Bengals team has yet to prove they should be favored in unfavorable matchups. I think this Bengals team has finally turned the corner though. QB Andy Dalton is playing very well in the last couple weeks and the rest of the offense has been clicking. I think this game is close, but San Diego ultimately doesn’t have what it takes to beat a talented Bengals team.
Cleveland Browns 3-8 @ Oakland Raiders 3-8
Prediction: Oakland Raiders
I like Oakland here. The Browns are coming off a huge win against the Steelers and they have been competitive in the past couple weeks. Oakland has just been outmatched in recent weeks. Oakland’s defense is a major problem, but their offense can move the ball and put up some points. The game is in Oakland, which is a tough trip for any team from the east. Also keep in mind that while Cleveland did beat Pittsburgh last week, they were playing the Steelers with third-string QB Charlie Batch starting and even then, they needed to force eight turnovers to win 20-14… With eight turnovers, even Cleveland should win by more than that. Neither team is very good, but I think Oakland takes advantage of a home crowd to win.
Sunday, 12/2 – 8:20 pm ET
Philadelphia Eagles 3-8 @ Dallas Cowboys 5-6
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
I shouldn’t really have to explain this. Philly is starting a rookie QB in Nick Foles and a rookie RB in Bryce Brown. Both show potential, but both also lack the ability to single-handedly fix the numerous problems on this Eagles roster. Dallas will be able to pressure Foles and will be able to force a couple turnovers. I think Dallas wins, but I don’t think it will be as lopsided as expected. I could easily see Philly taking a lead into halftime, before Dallas suddenly turns it around and pulls out the win, in large part, because of Foles inexperience and Philly’s poor defensive play.
Monday, 12/3 – 8:30 pm ET
New York Giants 7-4 @ Washington Redskins 5-6
Prediction: Washington Redskins
I know New York is hot right now after dominating Green Bay last week, but so are the Redskins after their win in Dallas. Robert Griffin III doesn’t seem to be slowing down and while this presents an interesting matchup against an athletic and talented Giants defensive line, RG3 has already demonstrated, against this defense, that his is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to contain. Last time these teams met, New York won, 27-23 on an inexcusable defensive breakdown by Washington in the closing minutes allowing a Giants score. Oftentimes, losing the first of two matchups in divisional games actually give the losing team an advantage in round two. I like Washington.