|The only thing better would be a postgame fight between the two...|
In looking ahead to Week 12, here are three things that stand out to me…
1. The Replacements – Keanu Reeves might not be suiting up for either the Texans or Bears, but there’s a solid chance that one or both of them would be very open to a Shane Falco appearance after this week. It’s certainly a shame to see them lose their QB’s, especially after the seasons both teams were having, but those are the breaks in the NFL. My guess is that neither team can be taken serious as a contender at this point, but it will definitely be interesting to see how each team copes with their loss.
2. A potentially ruined Thanksgiving Day – If you’ve spent any amount of time reading this blog or listening to the podcasts, you know that I take my Dallas Cowboy very seriously. Very, very seriously. When they win, I’m on top of the world. When they lose, the entire world is ending. Well, as sad as it sounds, a Thanksgiving Day loss to Miami would pretty much ruin my entire day. And no, I’m not joking. The Cowboys should win, but losing such an important game in the most excruciating manner possible is just what the Cowboys. Oh boy, I can’t wait.
3. Tebow – I have no words. Tim Tebow. I love him. He’s so bad, yet so good.
As for the Week 11 picks, things were better than last week, but I was unable to gain any ground on Prince. At this point, not losing by 10 seems like a huge victory.
(Remember, Prince and I are going head to head with our picks. No prize has been determined yet, but ideas are happily accepted.)
Week 11 Results (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 9-5 (8-6)
Prince: 10-4 (7-7)
Week 11 Winner: Tie
Results through Week 11 (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 94-66 (80-71)
Prince: 102-58 (83-68)
Overall Leader: Prince +11
Still bad. Let’s get to the Week 12 picks…
Green Bay at Detroit (GB -7)
Jon: Green Bay (GB -7)
Prince: Green Bay (DET +7)
Plenty of analysts have labeled this game as Green Bay’s best chance to lose. I suppose that technically might be true, but I don’t see any reason to assume it’s going to happen. As good a story as the Lions resurgence is, it must be noted that they have struggled against playoff caliber teams. Even their earlier wins against Dallas and Chicago must be footnoted since both teams were a mess early in the season. Even if we throw that fact out, one unanswerable question remains – how do the Lions slow down Aaron Rodgers? Anybody? Anything? Here’s a few interesting stats (including playoffs) to give you an idea of how impossible the Lions task is:
Rodgers has had a QB Rating in excess of 100 in 18 of his last 21 games
Rodgers has thrown an INT in just 7 of his last 22 games
Rodgers has thrown 2 INT’s in a game just once since Week 8 of last year
Rodgers has had a completion percentage under 60% just once in his last 21 games
Rodgers has had a Y/A in excess of 8.0 in 17 of his last 21 games
Rodgers has thrown at least 3 TD’s in 15 of his last 21 games
Since Week 9 of last year, Rodgers has thrown 56 TD’s to just 8 INT’s
Need I say more? Until I’m given a logical reason to do otherwise, I’m riding the Rodgers train as far it’ll go.
Miami at Dallas (DAL -9)
Jon: Dallas (MIA +9)
Prince: Dallas (MIA +9)
Given Miami’s recent string of success, I’m very surprised Dallas is favored by more than a TD. I was thinking the line would be around 6.5, not all the way to 9. While I think the Dolphins “hot streak” is nothing more than a mirage, it seems too much to give Dallas all those points. Even if the Cowboys dominate the game (which I expect), all it takes is a cheap, 4th quarter TD to make this a 7 point game. Of course, there’s also the possibility that Dallas under performs…wouldn’t that be a shocker?! Their recent blowouts of St. Louis and Buffalo aside, Dallas has exhibited an uncanny ability to play down to their competition. You better believe I’m terrified that side of them will rear its ugly head come Thursday afternoon. All in all, I think the Cowboys will be able to establish DeMarco Murray early in this one, but I would not be shocked if Miami made it interesting.
San Francisco at Baltimore (BAL -4.5)
Jon: Baltimore (SF +4.5)
Prince: San Francisco (SF +4.5)
For multiple reasons, this might be the most interesting game of the entire NFL season. Obviously the Harbaugh Bowl aspect of it is interesting, especially on Thanksgiving. Beyond the meaningless posturing, however, lies an opportunity to learn a tremendous amount about the NFL’s big picture. Both teams are going to be high seeds come playoff time, and both teams harbor Super Bowl aspirations. Not only that, but it gives the 49ers their biggest opportunity of the season to slap a big giant “Legit” sticker on their team. I mean, how crazy is it that we still have questions about a 9-1 team? While I’ve been leading the charge on the “Are the 49ers for real?” train most of the season, I’ve fully bought in. They are for real. They are good. That having been said, going cross country on a short week to play a Ravens team that has a sterling record against playoff caliber foes is a tall task. A very, very, VERY tall task. I absolutely expect a fantastic, old-school type game that comes down to the wire, but I have to give Baltimore the slight edge due to being at home.
Minnesota at Atlanta (ATL -9.5)
Jon: Atlanta (ATL -9.5)
Prince: Atlanta (ATL -9.5)
9.5 is an awful lot of points to give, but with Adrian Peterson spending most of his week in a walking boot, there’s no way Minnesota is going to be competitive in this one. Thanks to Jay Cutler’s untimely injury, the Falcons seemingly have new life in the Wild Card hunt. Detroit and Chicago both face stiff tests this week and Atlanta could very well find themselves in a three way tie (maybe four) for two Wild Card slots. Given the stakes, facing the Fighting Christian Ponder’s is definitely something for the Falcons to be thankful for (see what I did there?).
Cleveland at Cincinnati (CIN -7.5)
Jon: Cincinnati (CLE +7.5)
Prince: Cincinnati (CIN -7.5)
Battle of Ohio II should prove to be every bit as boring and forgettable as the first installment. Given the superior across the board talent, I see no reason why the Bengals won’t win this game. However, I would like to nominate myself as the voice of reason when it comes to Andy Dalton. While he’s certainly outstripped his preseason expectations, it seems to me that he’s being credited with far too much of his team’s success. Remember, this is not a “QB Wins” friendly blog. The fact is that Cincinnati’s offense currently ranks just two spots higher than they did at the end of last season. The real difference maker is the Bengals defense, which ranks nine spots higher than last year and gives up 4.1 PPG fewer. That’s not to say Dalton can’t be a good QB, it just means he isn’t the “savior” everyone makes him out to be. He’s had his moments, but a guy who completes under 60% of his passes, averages over 1 INT per game, has a Y/A of less than 7.00, and has a QB Rating under 80 is far more Mark Sanchez than he is Tom Brady. Given this, I think Cleveland can hang around in a sloppy, low scoring affair.
Tampa Bay at Tennessee (TEN -3.5)
Jon: Tampa Bay (TB +3.5)
Prince: Tennessee (TEN -3.5)
There’s really no point in trying to figure out either of these teams, as you can’t possibly predict what you’re going to get from week to week. Will we get the Bucs team that beat New Orleans and nearly toppled the Packers, or will we get the Bucs team that struggled against the Colts and lost 48-3 to the 49ers? Will we get the Titans team that took down Baltimore early in the season and nearly completed a crazy comeback last week at Atlanta, or will we get the Titans team that lost to Jacksonville, lost 41-7 to Houston, and has a “star playmaker” who produces about 30 yards of offense per game? Who knows? I still believe in Josh Freeman’s talent, so I’ll go with Tampa Bay.
Carolina at Indianapolis (CAR -4)
Jon: Carolina (CAR -4)
Prince: Carolina (CAR -4)
I don’t care that the Panthers got hammered by the Titans two weeks ago. I don’t care that the Panthers have one of the worst defenses anyone has ever laid eyes on. I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care. The Colts are historically bad and there is no way I would consider taking them after the turd they laid against Jacksonville.
Arizona at St. Louis (No Line)
Prince: St. Louis
I’ve been waiting for the Rams to “break out” the last couple of weeks, but, despite plum matchups against the Seahawks, Browns, and Cardinals; they’ve yet to resemble the team many people made their preseason division winner. Well, I’m officially done with them. Sam Bradford has some serious David Carr potential at this point, as evidenced by the 16 QB hits and 10 sacks allowed since Bradford’s return three weeks ago. While I definitely don’t like Arizona, especially John Skelton, I feel confident Patrick Peterson can once again win the game all by himself. And I’m only half joking.
Buffalo at New York Jets (NYJ -8.5)
Jon: New York (BUF +8.5)
Prince: New York (NYJ -8.5)
To be totally fair, I picked Buffalo to cover before I knew Fred Jackson was out. Had I known that, I most certainly would have taken the Jets and given the points. Oh well, I’m used to getting picks wrong! Considering their recent struggles, losing their last three by a combined score of 106-26, I have a feeling I’ll be wrong once again.
Houston at Jacksonville (HOU -3.5)
Jon: Houston (HOU -3.5)
Prince: Houston (HOU -3.5)
The story here is most definitely Matt Leinart. Thanks to Andre Johnson’s return, he’ll have the benefit of a full complement of weapons, but he’ll have to prove that he’s capable of taking advantage of them. That was obviously an issue in Arizona, where Leinart couldn’t figure out a way to guide a loaded Cardinals offense. The Texans better hope a few extra seasons of growth and maturity will turn around his flagging career, or else they’ll forever wonder what could have been. On the plus side, the Texans had the benefit of a perfectly timed bye week and now have the further benefit of playing the Jaguars. For this situation, you couldn’t have asked for a better first opponent. The Jags 3rd ranked defense will be an excellent test for Leinart, while the Jags 32nd ranked offense will ease the pressure of putting up huge numbers. Look, even if Leinart sucks (very possible), the Texans have a dominant running game and the #2 ranked scoring defense. They aren’t losing.
Chicago at Oakland (OAK -1.5)
Jon: Oakland (OAK -1.5)
Prince: Oakland (OAK -1.5)
In contrast to the Texans good fortunes, the Bears couldn’t have possibly asked for a worse situation. No Jay Cutler, on the road against the surging Raiders. I’m thinking this won’t end well. Even if the Bears end up with Orton (unsure as of this moment), there’s no way they’ll have him ready in time to make a big impact in this game.
Washington at Seattle (SEA -4.5)
Jon: Seattle (SEA -4.5)
Prince: Seattle (SEA -4.5)
My winless streak against Seattle continues and I’m starting to think this might be a league wide conspiracy. Do they read my picks and collude to affect my ruin? As unlikely as that sounds, it definitely has some merit. We’ll know for sure after this week, where the Seahawks at home should absolutely take care of business against a putrid Redskins team. Yes, they nearly took down Dallas, but Darryl Johnston’s comments about the rivalry are absolutely true. No matter the records, the Cowboys and Redskins play each other tough. That isn’t the case against the rest of the NFL, as the ‘Skins current six game skid shows. Yet, somehow, even though this should be a slam dunk pick, the Seahawks will find a way to screw me over again. Bank on it.
New England at Philadelphia (No Line)
Prince: New England
With the return of Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin this week, the Eagles will have a great opportunity to put up some big points against a terrible Patriots defense. And please, don’t preach to me the common refrain of Belichick “returning to the Patriot way” by relying on no-names and WR’s in the secondary. They locked down Tyler Palko and Mark Sanchez, so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m looking for a bit more evidence of their resurgence. I know it’s risky, and I know a lot can go wrong, but I firmly believe the backs-against-the-wall Eagles still have some life left.
Denver at San Diego (SD -7)
Jon: Denver (DEN +7)
Prince: Denver (DEN +7)
I’m not even going to pretend to give a reason for both Prince and I picking the Broncos. There’s no logic or reason behind it, just blind faith in Tim Tebow. God help us both (and Tim Tebow!!!).
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (PIT -10.5)
Jon: Pittsburgh (PIT -10.5)
Prince: Pittsburgh (PIT -10.5)
Ben Roethlisberger is playing. So is Tyler Palko. That pretty much sums this one up. Why, oh why did this not get flexed out for Tebow?!?!?!?!?!
By the way, on our picks podcast, Prince and I decided Tebow needs to be flexed into a prime time slot each and every week. The following is my suggestions for increasing everyone’s NFL viewing pleasure:
Week 12 – Tebow at San Diego flexed into Sunday night over Pittsburgh at Kansas City
Week 13 – Tebow at Minnesota flexed into Monday night over San Diego at Jacksonville
Week 14 – Tebow vs. Chicago flexed into Monday night over St. Louis at Seattle (seriously?)
Week 15 – Tebow at New England flexed into Sunday night over Baltimore at San Diego
Week 16 – Tebow at Buffalo flexed into Thursday night over Houston at Indy
Week 17 – Tebow vs. Kansas City given Sunday night slot (currently open)
There. Everyone’s season just got significantly better. You’re welcome.
New York Giants at New Orleans (NO -6.5)
Jon: New Orleans (NO -6.5)
Prince: New Orleans (NO -6.5)
The Giants late collapse seems to be a holiday tradition at this point, and they seem to have far too many holes to stop the bleeding this time around. The running game is awful, the pass defense is leaky, and Eli Manning’s luck seems to have run out. As for New Orleans, their weird mid season swoon has them being extremely undervalued at this point. The Packers offense gets all the press, and deservedly so, but the Saints aren’t too far behind at 31.3 PPG. At home, they’re even more brutal, having put up 30, 40, 62, and 27 points in their four home games (all wins). All in all, it could be a long Monday night for the Giants, and it could turn out to be a very hot seat for Tom Coughlin.
In case you missed it, Prince and I made our picks on The BDT Podcast. You can listen to it here.