Another solid 12 win week has picked up the spirits, but this is where the upset bug could jump back up with a number of playoff bound teams having to avoid the lookaheads to pivotal matchups in the coming weeks. The odds are provided by bodog.com via ESPN and are provided for entertainment and comparison purposes only, which means Im not buying any Christmas, Haunakkah or Kwanzza presents if you bet the lines and lose gift money.
Sunday, December 12
Falcons (10-2) @ Panthers (1-11)
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte 1:00 (FOX)
Fast Fact Roddy White is the NFL leader in receptions with 91.
The Falcons are in a duel with the Saints for control of the NFC South and have little time to trifile with the woeful Panthers. Matt Ryan will have fun toying with the lightweight Carolina defense.
Bengals (2-10) @ Steelers (9-3)
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Steelers by 8½
Fast Fact The Bengals are in the midst of the longest losing streak of the Marvin Lewis coaching era
The Bengals went from a tragic story to a punch line. The cruelest being the heartbreaking loss to the Saints when everyone and their brother knew that Drew Brees had no intent on snapping the ball on 4th down. The Steelers are relishing the chance to assert their bully status on the Bengals and will be happy to rub it in.
Pick-Pittsburgh (Lock of the Week)
Browns (5-7) @ Bills (2-10)
Ralph Wilson Stadium; Orchard Park, NY 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Bills by 1
Fast Fact Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of only five QB's in Bills history to throw for 20 or more TD's
Both teams are heading nowhere but are playing entertaining ball. The Browns Peyton Hillis is fun to watch as he barrels into unsuspecting defenders with relish. The Fitzpatrick to Johnson combo can bring points in a hurry to the Bills side fo the scoreboard but Im thinking that the Browns defense is a little more rugged and can slow the Bills enough to slug out a win
Packers (8-4) @ Lions (2-10)
Ford Field, Detroit 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Packers by 6½
Fast Fact Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is unbeaten against the Lions
The Packers are rounding into a frighteningly efficent passing machine, while their running game is uneven at best. As long as Ndamukong Suh isn't allowed to cause any kind of extended havoc, the Pack will treat this game as a warmup to their brutal closing stretch (@ NE, vs NYG @ Chi)
NY Giants (8-4) @ Vikings (5-7)
Mall of America Field @ HHH Metrodome 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Giants by 3
Fast Fact Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is one of four NFL running backs to rush for over 1000 yards and score 10 tds in each of his first four seasons.
Will he or wont he? Brett Favre got slammed on his shoulder and his only throw of the game last week was a wounded duck that turned into a pick six. After that, Adrian Peterson took charge and ran for three scores in an easy rout. But the question remains will Favre make his 297th start and will the Vikings continue their revived solid play. The G-Men are not a weak team and I have a bad feeling are itching for payback of a 44-7 thrashing they took last year in this same venue. As much as I hope I'll be wrong, I have the feeling that the Giants have little time for the Vikes ongoing soap operas and will be looking to their showdown with the Eagles.
Pick-New York Giants
Raiders (6-6) @ Jaguars (7-5)
EverBank Field, Jacksonville 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Jaguars by 4
Fast Fact Jage RB Maurice Jones-Drew has rushed for 100+ yards in five consecutive games
The Raiders make me sooooo mad. This is a team that will play like busters one week then turn right around and house a team they should have no business on the field with. The Jags are just as annoying, playing one game like they are mad at the world then playing like soft doughboys. Which team shows up this week on each side of the ball? In a tossup game, I'm going back to the West Coast team traveling east and playing a 1:00 EST game theory. Buster Raiders team shows up against mad Jags team
Buccaneers (7-5) @ Redskins (5-7)
FedEx Field; Landover, MD 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Buccaneers by 1½
Fast Fact Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong leads the NFC with a 20.7 yard per catch average
The Bucs are losing key components to the IR and its beginning to show in the game results as they have faded late in games the past two and are in serious danger of falling all the way out of the NFC playoff hunt, not to mention they can give no more ground to the Falcons and Saints and stay in the NFC South hunt. The Redskins are just about done, losing 3 of four and getting housed on a semi regular basis. The Bucs are the better team on both sides of the ball and should win a slugfest
Seahawks (6-6) @ 49ers (4-8)
Candlestick Park, San Francisco 4:05 (FOX)
Favorite 49ers by 5½
Fast Fact Niners RB Brian Westbrook is one of two active players with over 6000 rushing yards and 3000 receiving yards
Normally this would be a yawner game between two teams going nowhere, but both teams are still in the race for the lone NFC West playoff spot. The inconsistent Seahawks are still in the playoff picture despite and ugly offense and a defense that gets pounded with sickeningly regularity. The Niners have puzzlingly turned back to Alex Smith at QB despite the decent play of Troy Smith. This game is a tossup at best and though you will never mistake your humble scribe as a Alex Smith fan, I have that feeling he is due to turn in his once a year eyebrow raising game and play over his head, making the NFC West race even messier than it already is.
Pick-San Francisco (Upset of the Week)
Rams (6-6) @ Saints (9-3)
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans 4:05 (FOX)
Favorite Saints by 8½
Fast Fact The Rams 6 wins equal their win total of the past three seasons.
In a bizarre twist, the Rams are the first place team while the Saints are not. The Rams are a marginal playoff team at best, while the Saints are a legit contender to defend their Super Bowl title. The Rams will get a true measure of how far they still have to go to be an elite NFC team
Broncos (3-9) @ Cardinals (3-9)
University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, AZ 4:15 (CBS)
Favorite Broncos by 4
Fast Fact The Broncos have never lost to the Cards, going 7-0-1 in eight meetings
When the schedule was drawn up, this looked to be a glamourous matchup between a playoff team and an up and coming team with a hot young coach. But the hot young coach is on the unemployment front and the Cards are going nowhere. This game is far from glamourous now, the Broncos are at least entertaining offensively and can score points. The Cards look as if they cant get out of their own way.
Chiefs (8-4) @ Chargers (6-6)
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego 4:15 (CBS)
Favorite Chargers by 7
Fast Fact The Chiefs are going for the their first season sweep of the Chargers in seven years
The Chiefs can put a virtual lock on the AFC West with a win. Looking nothing like their impressive Sunday night win over the Colts, the Chargers just looked abysmal in a puzzling loss to their hated upstate rivals and are now teetering dangerously toward playoff irrelvance. The only wild card in this equasion is the health of Matt Cassel who underwent an appendectomy early this week. If Brody Croyle has to be the starter, the Chargers will pin their ears back and be in his face constantly looking for easy sacks and picks. If Cassel starts he has the composure to complement the Chiefs strong running game. Im gambling here that Cassel starts and is effective.
Dolphins (6-6) @ NY Jets (9-3)
Meadowlands Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 4:15 (CBS)
Favorite Jets by 4
Fast Fact Jets DE Cameron Wake leads the NFL with 12 sacks
I cant say that I was very broken up seeing the Jets get a a serious dose of comuppance on a primetime stage. They nasty beating they took pushed them back in the AFC pecking order. The Dolphins are a team that should be a whole lot better than their .500 record would indicate but they can't win at home and that will be what ultimately makes them an also-ran. The Dolphins will be a tough visitor but I think the Jets shrug the blowout off and stay hot on the Pats heels for the AFC East title
Pick New York Jets
Patriots (10-2) @ Chicago (9-3)
Soldier Field, Chicago 4:15 (CBS)
Favorite Patriots by 3
Fast Fact Bears QB Jay Cutler is 19-0 when he has a pass rating of 100 or better
Was that a little hint of a sneer on the usually stone faced Bill Belichick's mug late Monday Night? The Pats busted out that ol whoopin' stick and thrashed the Jets. Tom Brady is rounding into his usual formidable self as the Pats are saying to other teams in AFC "Ya'll must've forgot about us" Meanwhile the enigma that is the Bears keeps winning ugly but have fashioned a 5 game winning streak. This will be a true test if they are a legit playoff squad. I dont think that they have the chops to stay with a playoff tested group like the Pats.
Eagles (8-4) @ Cowboys (4-8)
Cowboys Stadium; Arlington, TX 8:20 (NBC)
Favorite Eagles by 3½
Fast Fact Eagles QB Michael Vick is the NFL's highest rated passer on 3rd down (109)
The Pokes are feeling good about themselves as of late having won three of four under new coach Jason Garrett, while the Eagles are getting little respect beyond the eye popping play of Michael Vick but are a solid team nonetheless. Eyeing a divisional showdown with the G-Men next week the Eagles had better be wary of the spoiler potential in this game. I still have zero faith in Jon Kitna and am sure that the Eagles withering rush will make his primetime appearance one to forget.
Monday, December 13
Ravens (9-3) @ Texans (5-7)
Reliant Stadium, Houston 8:30 (ESPN)
Favorite Ravens by 3
Fast Fact Texans RB Arian Foster leads the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns
The Texans are fading fast and the Ravens are not the type of team that they need to see right now. Coming off a brutal slugfest loss against the Steelers the Ravens are not in the best of moods. The Texans up and down offense will have all sorts of trouble against the still fearsome Ravens D and though Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson is a solid combo with Arian Foster providing solid running support, the Texans are just not ready for the big time.
Last Week: 12-4 (Lock & Upset Correct)
Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!!!