|An accurate representation of every Bears fan once they saw how awful Caleb Hanie is...|
In looking ahead to Week 13, here are three things that stand out to me…
1. Giants Collapse – Just three short weeks ago the Giants were standing at 6-2, coming off a huge comeback victory at New England, and holding a decisive edge in the NFC East. Since then, they’ve dropped heartbreakers to San Francisco and Philadelphia and gotten blown out by New Orleans on Monday Night. That leaves the Giants just one game over .500 heading into their tilt with the undefeated Packers, staring at a potential 2 game deficit in the NFC East should they lose and Dallas win. This, and Tom Coughlin’s job status, will quickly become a national story should they get blown out by the Packers.
2. Chicago’s Big Opportunity – The Bears seemed like a lock for the playoffs just a couple weeks ago, but their situation has drastically changed since Jay Cutler’s untimely injury. Given the muddled playoff picture in the NFC, it’s very possible that Chicago could end up on the outside looking in. However, this week represents a major opportunity to get a leg up on the competition. With both Atlanta and Detroit staring at difficult road matchups, the Bears have a much more manageable home game against a reeling Chiefs team. Even with Kyle Orton replacing the legendarily bad Tyler Palko, Chicago should have no problem dispatching them. If things break right, they’ll almost guarantee themselves a trip to the playoffs. If they fail to capitalize, then things could get ugly.
3. Tebow – I have no words. Tim Tebow. I love him. He’s so bad, yet so good. (Yes, I’m going to recycle this one from week to week until I have reason to do otherwise.)
As for the Week 12 picks, Prince and I acquitted ourselves well. Finally.
(Remember, Prince and I are going head to head with our picks. No prize has been determined yet, but ideas are happily accepted.)
Week 12 Results (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 13-3 (10-4)
Prince: 13-3 (8-6)
Week 12 Winner: Landrum +2
Results through Week 12 (point spread in parentheses)
Landrum: 107-69 (90-75)
Prince: 115-61 (91-74)
Overall Leader: Prince +9
SINGLE DIGITS!!! YAY!!! Let’s get to the Week 13 picks…
Philadelphia at Seattle (SEA -2.5)
Jon: Philadelphia (PHI +2.5)
Prince: Seattle (SEA -2.5)
Since this game pretty much sucks, I thought I’d take this time to give you a full breakdown on how infuriatingly bad I am at picking Seahawks games. To date, I am 4-7 in picking straight up winners, but an astonishingly bad 0-10 against the spread. That’s right, I wasn’t joking when I said I couldn’t beat Seattle. Tarvaris and Co. have shut me out against the spread thanks to their unbelievable level of mediocrity and unpredictability. I picked Seattle to beat the Deadskins last week, and that didn’t work out. I’m picking against them this week, mostly due to the fact that Philadelphia is infinitely more talented. It will certainly be interesting to see how Seattle screws me over in this one.
Tennessee at Buffalo (BUF -1)
Jon: Tennessee (TEN +1)
Prince: Tennessee (TEN +1)
Speaking of maddeningly inconsistent teams, this game is about as hard to predict as the winner of a major poker tournament. Chris Johnson has crossed the 100 yard mark in two of his last three games, sparking hope that he’s back on track. Unfortunately, he also mixed in a 12 carry 13 yard performance to make sure everyone was thoroughly confused as to what is going on. Fortunately for him, Buffalo’s defense has been heaven for opposing rushers, as they’ve allowed 587 yards on 5.3 Y/A in their last four games combined. Not surprisingly, they lost all four of those games. It’s probably a mistake to rely on CJ2.2Y/A, but it’s likely a bigger mistake to think Buffalo’s D won’t allow massive, gaping holes on their front line.
Kansas City at Chicago (CHI -9)
Jon: Chicago (KC +9)
Prince: Chicago (KC +9)
Caleb Hanie was absolutely brutal last week, and that likely will turn Bears fans into real life versions of Chris Farley’s SNL character. Still, despite Hanie’s best efforts, Chicago played Oakland tough on the road, leading to optimism that they’ll be able to hang onto their Wild Card spot. Looking at the schedule, it seems likely that will be the case as long as they can take care of business in these types of “easy” games. Unfortunately for the Bears, the glorious Tyler Palko era has seemingly come to a premature end after the arrival of an actual NFL QB. Kyle Orton makes his “glorious” return to Chicago this week, hoping to….OK, I’m done. I was just trying to see if that manufactured story line sounded as dumb as I thought. It did. I have serious questions about the Bears offense (obviously), and I doubt they manufacture enough points to covers such a large spread. Still, their massive advantage on defense and special teams has proven capable of carrying them before, and that will likely be the case against a woeful Chiefs team.
Oakland at Miami (MIA -3)
Jon: Miami (MIA -3)
Prince: Oakland (OAK +3)
It may seem hard to believe, but the Dolphins might not be such an awful team. No, they couldn’t pull out the Thanksgiving Day win, but their performance was impressive nonetheless. Thanks to the random and utterly confusing emergence of Matt Moore and Reggie Bush, the Dolphins are now capable on both sides of the ball. While I’m justifiably hesitant to pick them in this one, I can’t say I’m overly impressed with Oakland. While their 3 game win streak has them at the top of their division, narrow wins over Caleb Hanie, the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings (injured early in that game), and the Chargers don’t necessarily inspire much confidence. Also not inspiring confidence is the Raiders defense, which ranks 27th in total defense. After seeing them move the ball successfully against a slightly better version of the Raiders defense, I think Miami can put up some points in this one. Add in the fact that the Dolphins boast the league’s 7th best run defense and you have a serious matchup problem for the Raiders. (Also, it seems likely that Tim Tebow is going to will the Raiders to lose. That alone is enough to pick Miami.)
Denver at Minnesota (No Line)
There is literally nothing I can add that hasn’t already been said about Tebow. With Adrian Peterson looking more and more doubtful for this game, there is nothing on earth that could prevent me from picking Tim Tebow. Since that’s an easy prediction, let me throw in this little nugget. I think Tebow is going to have a nice game throwing the ball. Maybe it’s just because I want Tebow to improve as a passer, but I’ve become more optimistic after seeing him make some very nice tosses in the last few games. I know those have been few and far between, but I can’t help but think that he will look far more competent by season’s end. Call me crazy!
Indianapolis at New England (NE -20.5)
Jon: New England (NE -20.5)
Prince: New England (NE -20.5)
This is such a giant line, but how can I possibly justify picking the Colts to cover? They’re just so bad! I mean, we’re down to Curtis Painter’s BACKUP!!! Can you think of a more humiliating job than being the backup QB to Curtis Painter? I certainly can’t. Anyways, if there was one coach I feel confident about giving 20.5 points to, it’s Bill Belichick. I have no doubt that he smells blood and that he will have no problem running this score up as high as possible. Essentially, this is going to be an exact replay of nearly every game of Madden I play against the Redskins.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (PIT -7)
Jon: Pittsburgh (PIT -7)
Prince: Pittsburgh (PIT -7)
Kudos to the Bengals for hanging tough with the Steelers and Ravens in their first matchup, but they clearly aren’t ready for this stage quite yet. Given their great young talent, it seems likely they’ll be there within a year or two, but not right now. Pittsburgh took the first meeting by 7, and that was in Cincinnati. Yes, their dismal showing against Kansas City last week is a bit unsettling, but I have a feeling they were looking forward to this matchup. Not only that, but LB Lamarr Woodley returned to practice and looks promising for Sunday’s game. That in mind, I don’t see how the Bengals keep this one competitive.
Carolina at Tampa Bay (TB -3.5)
Jon: Carolina (CAR +3.5)
Prince: Carolina (CAR +3.5)
The only explanation I can offer for why I’m picking Carolina is that I’m tired of picking Tampa Bay. Josh Freeman’s collapse is one of the more shocking things I’ve seen in sports, and picking him to not singlehandedly kill his team is just too daunting. Of course, picking Cam Newton and the Panthers is no less safe, but I harbor far less anger against them. It’s certainly possible that Freeman and LeGarrette Blount have big days against Carolina’s joke of a defense, but even that might not guarantee victory. Tampa Bay currently ranks 30th in run defense, giving up nearly 140 yards per game. Just last week they allowed nearly 200 yards to Chris Johnson’s corpse! Slowing down the three headed attack of Newton, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart will be a tall order, and I fully expect Carolina to have a dominant edge in time of possession, something I’m sure the defense would greatly appreciate.
New York Jets at Washington (NYJ -3)
Jon: New York (NYJ -3)
Prince: New York (NYJ -3)
Rex Grossman vs. Darrelle Revis. You tell me who wins that matchup?
Atlanta at Houston (HOU -2.5)
Jon: Atlanta (ATL +2.5)
Prince: Atlanta (ATL +2.5)
To go from Matt Schaub and the #1 seed in the AFC to T.J. Yates/Jake Delhomme and “I hope we can still win the division” in a matter of a few weeks is one of the strangest, most unbelievable things I’ve ever witnessed. Catastrophic late season injuries to QB’s of contending teams are rare enough as it is, but losing his backup early in the very next game makes me wonder if Tebow isn’t praying against the Texans. Houston still has a powerful running attack and the league’s top ranked defense, but it’s really hard to get behind T.J. Yates. If Atlanta didn’t have such a strong run defense, I’d probably still pick Houston, but the matchup just doesn’t look good.
Baltimore at Cleveland (BAL -7)
Jon: Baltimore (BAL -7)
Prince: Baltimore (BAL -7)
Given that this is the type of game the Ravens don’t show up for, I was tempted to pick Cleveland to cover. After all, this is the same Ravens team that failed to show up for Tennessee, Jacksonville, Arizona, and Seattle. Still, how can I possibly believe they won’t blow out a 4 win Browns team that has the talent of a 1 win team? Basically, if the Ravens kick 9 field goals, they cover.
Green Bay at New York Giants (GB -6)
Jon: Green Bay (GB -6)
Prince: Green Bay (GB -6)
With the coming of winter also comes the inevitable Giants collapse. Of course, a stretch of games that includes New England, San Francisco, New Orleans, Green Bay, Dallas, New York Jets, and Dallas doesn’t help…but still. Hey, win your early games against Washington and Seattle and you wouldn’t need to sweep Dallas to even have a prayer in the NFC East! Look, we can sit here and talk about New York’s 26th ranked pass defense, but does the opponents pass defense really matter against Aaron Rodgers? New York could have the finest pass defense in football history and I’d still take Rodgers to light them up for 300 yards and 3 TD’s!
Dallas at Arizona (DAL -5.5)
Jon: Dallas (DAL -5.5)
Prince: Dallas (DAL -5.5)
The two close contests against Washington and Miami made absolute sense, and I accurately predicted as much on our picks podcast. Not that I’m espousing my prognostication skills or anything, I just have a lot of experience with Dallas trying to break my heart. While the unsettling reminder that the Cowboys have somehow struggled against Arizona (thanks BS Report!), including a stupid loss to John Skelton last season, I remain absolutely confident that my ‘Boys will dominate on Sunday. Shy of three Patrick Peterson punt returns for TD, I don’t see how the Cardinals will be able to score enough points to overcome the onslaught of offense Dallas will unleash thanks to DeMarco Murray and a pitiful Cardinals defense. Reminder: A lot has changed since our meeting last season. Tony Romo, as frustrating as he is, is a big improvement over Stephen McGee. Rob Ryan has significantly improved the defense. Most notably though, DeMarco Murray has transformed the offense into a much more powerful and efficient machine. A win against Arizona, coupled with the Giants inevitable loss to Green Bay, would give us a two game lead in the division. While this is certainly the type of game Dallas would typically lose, I feel confident things will be different this time around.
St. Louis at San Francisco (SF -13.5)
Jon: San Francisco (STL +13.5)
Prince: San Francisco (SF -13.5)
Trust me, I feel really bad about picking the Rams to cover, but San Fran’s inability to protect against the Ravens is extremely alarming. As bad as St. Louis has been this year (and it’s been bad), they’ve actually been remarkably effective at getting to the opposing QB. I fully expect them to exploit this advantage and keep the game artificially closer than it really is.
Detroit at New Orleans (NO -8.5)
Jon: New Orleans (NO -8.5)
Prince: New Orleans (NO -8.5)
The wheels are falling off in Detroit and a game against the red-hot Saints, in New Orleans, is definitely not the way to get back on track. Given Drew Brees recent surge, it’s unlikely Detroit could have slowed him down anyways, but the absence of the now-suspended Ndamukong Suh effectively ends any chance they had at holding the Saints to a reasonable number of points. Of course, the best strategy for this is to keep Brees and the offense off the field, but that’s also a big issue as well. If Detroit can’t do better than their 31.3% third down conversion percentage, then they’re pretty much asking the Saints to score 40 or more points.
San Diego at Jacksonville (SD -3)
Jon: San Diego (SD -3)
Prince: San Diego (SD -3)
Yes, having the Jags on Monday Night twice in the same season is absolutely a wonderful idea. Great work, schedule makers!