Last week, I was a rather paltry 8-7 in my predictions. It could have been worse, but at this point in the season, you would think you could get a better gauge on these teams. Evidently, that is not true.
I missed on the Jets, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, San Diego, Green Bay and Kansas City. I have been talking all season about how I felt Buffalo was a dangerous team, while the Jets were too good to be true and the one week I decide to change my tune, the Jets fall apart. Atlanta is just in a bad way. They are simply bad this season. Detroit lost to the Steelers, who are suddenly back in playoff consideration (with a lot of help from inconsistent teams like the Jets). Houston pulled Case Keenum for Matt Schaub and predictably lost. San Diego is looking more like the team I outlined in my season predictions. Green Bay is realizing the value of a high-quality backup quarterback and just how well the Giants have been playing after their awful start to the season. Kansas City lacks the offensive firepower to compete with Denver, which didn’t really surprise me, but I still have to own up to picking the Chiefs. Ugh…
This week Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Seattle are on a bye. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about my Week 12 NFL Predictions.
Thursday, 11/21 – 8:25 pm ET
New Orleans Saints 8-2 @ Atlanta Falcons 2-8
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
This is a surprisingly easy one. The Falcons haven’t been healthy all season, and without Julio Jones, that offense can’t seem to do much of anything, much less carry a defense that ranks 26th in the NFL. The Saints, on the other hand, look as complete as ever across their roster. Their defense isn’t going to single-handedly win games for them, but it won’t need to with Drew Brees at quarterback. This should be closer than expected, but don’t count on the Falcons having the firepower to win a tight one.
Sunday, 11/24 – 1:00 pm ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-8 @ Detroit Lions 6-4
Prediction: Detroit Lions
I like what the Buccaneers have done over the past two weeks, winning two in a row, but I think that ends this week on the road against the Lions. The Lions, and particularly Calvin Johnson, are hard to stop, particularly at home. I don’t think the Buccaneers have enough offensively to pull off the win.
Minnesota Vikings 2-8 @ Green Bay Packers 5-5
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing in this one with Scott Tolzien getting the start and while that gives the Vikings a much better chance, I have to go with the Packers. The Vikings can’t stop anybody on the ground and really can’t do much to stop people through the air either. If the Packers can contain Adrian Peterson, their offense should be able to use Eddie Lacy to set up opportunistic throws from Tolzien.
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-9 @ Houston Texans 2-8
Prediction: Houston Texans
The best thing to do when you can’t seem to get a win? Play the Jaguars. Now, this is by no means a guaranteed win for the Texans, but their roster is much more talented and if Case Keenum plays the entire game, (I’m looking at you Gary Kubiak) Houston will have enough to beat the Jaguars.
San Diego Chargers 4-6 @ Kansas City Chiefs 9-1
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
Following the Chiefs loss to the Broncos, it will be interesting to see how they respond. Their offense isn’t high-powered and struggles to play from behind, but that game demonstrated to me that the Chiefs defense is incredible, having the talent and coaching to win games against top competition (maybe not teams like Denver and Seattle, but San Diego). San Diego’s defense is ranked 17th in rush defense, which could allow the Chiefs to pound the ball and play with a lead at home. That’s a frightening prospect for the Chargers.
Carolina Panthers 7-3 @ Miami Dolphins 5-5
Prediction: Carolina Panthers
This could be tight game with the Panthers riding the wave of beating the Patriots Monday night, but I look at Miami and just think they are a mediocre team. Maybe above average defensively and average offensively, they have just enough to be competitive week-in and week-out, but lack the ability to beat teams with great offensive or defensive units like Carolina’s defensive one. I like Cam Newton to stay hot and the Panthers defensive line to make life hard for Ryan Tannehill.
Pittsburgh Steelers 4-6 @ Cleveland Browns 4-6
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Browns are hard to gauge as their quarterback situation has a definitive and immense impact on the team’s success. The Steelers are equally difficult as they are still the same team they were at the beginning of the season with questions abound their roster, but they are quietly on a two-game win streak and tied with the Ravens and Browns at 4-6. During last week’s game against the Bengals, Jason Campbell was too predictable and easy to limit as he was constantly looking to check down. That can be beneficial, but I think the Steelers limit his effectiveness much the same way the Bengals did. Look for Ben Roethlisberger to be the difference maker with a key drive in the final two minutes.
Chicago Bears 6-4 @ St. Louis Rams 4-6
Prediction: St. Louis Rams
Coming off a bye week, the Rams should be feeling healthy and ready for this weekend’s home game. Running back Zac Stacy has been a monster for the Rams over the last couple weeks and should continue to find success against the Bears. The Bears offense is still talented, but the Rams defense plays faster and more disruptive at home. With the extra week of preparation, the home-field advantage and the presence of a talented runner, I think the Rams pull off the win.
New York Jets 5-5 @ Baltimore Ravens 4-6
Prediction: New York Jets
The Ravens lost last week after running for over 160 yards (Ray Rice: 25 carries, 131 rushing yards, one touchdown). I like the Ravens to force Geno Smith to turn the ball over, but the way the Jets defense has been playing makes me think Joe Flacco and that Ravens run game could struggle even more. Neither team looks great on paper, but I’ll take the Jets. Also, they have alternated wins and losses this season with each week being more unexpected than the last thanks to Smith’s shaky play. I’ll stick with the unpredictable trend and go with the Jets.
Sunday, 11/24 – 4:05 pm ET
Tennessee Titans 4-6 @ Oakland Raiders 4-6
Prediction: Oakland Raiders
We don’t know if Terrelle “Superstar” Pryor will start this week or Matt “Can actually throw the ball” McGloin will get a follow up to his impressive first career start. Either way, I like the Raiders. Oakland is a tough trip for eastern teams and, more than any time this season, the Raiders look like they may have legitimate offensive weapons. Rashad Jennings is better than Darren McFadden at this point in the season and could be a long-term option for Oakland, the receivers are talented and McGloin/Pryor both seem to bring something to the table that makes any game winnable. The Raiders will have to stop Chris Johnson, but he is wildly inconsistent and can’t be counted on to play a huge role in the outcome of this game.
Indianapolis Colts 7-3 @ Arizona Cardinals 6-4
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals
Did you know that Arizona is 6-4 and tied with San Francisco for second in the NFC West? That is despite Carson Palmer’s play, aka at least one interception in every game this season except for last week against the Jaguars. Palmer has improved over the past couple weeks and the Cardinals defense has played well, so I think they will be able to win against the Colts, who still haven’t looked the same since Reggie Wayne’s injury.
Sunday, 11/24 – 4:25 pm ET
Dallas Cowboys 5-5 @ New York Giants 4-6
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
This will be a very tight game. Dallas is as healthy as they will be all season coming off their bye week and they, as always, have a talented roster. The Giants were atrocious in the early part of the season, but currently have the opportunity to move to second in the NFC East. Their defense is coming together and the presence of Andre Brown at running back adds a new wrinkle to their offense. That said, I think the Cowboys, led by a great game from Tony Romo, is enough to beat the Giants on the road.
Sunday, 11/24 – 8:30 pm ET
Denver Broncos 9-1 @ New England Patriots 7-3
Prediction: Denver Broncos
You can over-analyze this all you would like, but when it comes down to it, the Patriots defense won’t be enough to limit Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. In addition to that, Tom Brady has all his weapons back, but will be facing an improving Broncos defense, who should be able to make just enough plays to give Manning the advantage.
Monday, 11/25 – 8:40 pm ET
San Francisco 49ers 6-4 @ Washington Redskins 3-7
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers
I think the Redskins will make this interesting, but the 49ers and their ability to run the ball will be the difference in this one. San Francisco will run the ball, setting up the play-action pass and taking advantage of a bad Washington defense. The Redskins may be able to move the ball on the 49ers, but it won’t be easy.