It all had a promising start on Turkey Day. Then the Thursday night game happened and Week 12 went down the drain.
With that it's on to Week 13, but before that here's a quick look at Week 12 in review.
MY HEAD HURTS- PITTSBURGH (+2.5) AT BALTIMORE AND ARIZONA (+2.5) AT TENNESSEE- Quite simply, both ways I went with the road underdog. Both ways, the Steelers' and Cardinals' star quarterbacks were not playing due to effects from concussions suffered the previous week. And I lost both ways.
EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNIN'- INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5) AT HOUSTON- Raise your hand if you were worried about the Colts losing their first game because they were down 13 points at the half. I wasn't. There is something to be said for a team owning another team. The Colts own the Texans. End of story. And it showed again Sunday when Houston couldn't hold on to the ball to save their lives.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?- CINCINNATI (-13.5) VS CLEVELAND- Yes, I went with the Bengals both times to cover the spread against the Browns. And they failed both times. What gives? Larry Johnson rises from the depths to have his first good game in what seems like forever. And Cincinnati only can manage 16 points? Shakin' my head and movin' on.
Here's Week 13.
N.Y. JETS (-2.5) AT BUFFALO- At the very least, it's a good divisional rivalry for a Thursday night show. Mark Sanchez may want to forget about his first meeting against Buffalo (5 interceptions can do that to you). Buffalo is also playing harder under interim coach, Perry Fewell. The Bills were able to put away a tight game late with forcing a bunch of turnovers and the re-appearance of Fred Jackson. But I like the Jets here to keep the game plan simple and run right at this Bills defensive line.
N.Y. JETS-20 BUFFALO-16
ST. LOUIS AT CHICAGO (-8.5)- While the riddle of Jay Cutler is continuing, the Bears are seeing their playoff hopes nearly finished at 4-7. Plus Lovie Smith's job is in jeopardy. And have you seen the offensive line play? Yikes. This mess of a Bears team does get the Rams though who are now being cautious with star running back, Steven Jackson who has a sore back. Cutler has shown the ability to pick bad defenses apart (see their game against Detroit for reference) and I think the same happens here.
CHICAGO-27 ST. LOUIS-14
TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA (-6.5)- Could Panther fans finally get a new quarterback? Jake Delhomme is questionable which means Matt Moore could be under center. Plus, the Panthers have taken their shots against 2 AFC East teams in back-to-back weeks. In those games, their two-headed monsters in the backfield struggled, especially last Sunday being limited to 75 yards on 25 carries. Bucs rookie head coach, Raheem Morris assumed the defensive play-calling duties and nearly beat Atlanta. Granted it was against a back-up quarterback for most of the game, but what do we call Carolina? The Panthers could win a tight one, but with their issues on offense I don't see more than a touchdown victory.
CAROLINA-21 TAMPA BAY-17
HOUSTON AT JACKSONVILLE (PK)- Now we know the Jaguars hate the west coast. But what about coming back home? The Jags took a dent to their wild card hopes by getting humiliated at San Francisco last week. Meanwhile, Houston is reeling off of 2 straight tough losses against divisional opponents. But a silver lining for Texans fans. Steve Slaton is slowly progressing out of his sophomore slump and is holding on to the football. He hasn't fumbled in 2 straight games. Couple that with the mostly steady play of Matt Schaub against a defense that allows 242 passing yards per game and I'll take the road team.
DENVER (-4.5) AT KANSAS CITY- There will be days like that, Chiefs fans. Last Sunday showed you just how far away Kansas City is from the gold standard in the AFC West for the past half of this decade. Now Matt Cassel and company get a home game against the next toughest team in the division. No tirades here, but seriously Josh McDaniels and Mike Nolan really turned the Broncos back in the right direction last Thursday. They were aggressive on defense again and back to their same stifling selves in the second half. Denver stopped the skid and this week the days will be much brighter for McDaniels and crew who have 10 days to prepare.
DENVER-30 KANSAS CITY-16
TENNESSEE AT INDIANAPOLIS (-6.5)- What a match-up here. The Titans keep finding ways to win games including last week's re-enactment of the 2006 Rose Bowl. Vince Young looks really impressive in this 5-game winning streak, but Chris Johnson is putting up MVP-type numbers. The Colts meanwhile, keep finding ways to win including resetting Houston to their old turnover-happy ways. The defense has suffered a lot of injuries, the latest being Dwight Freeney who missed last week, but could return for this game. Either way, the Colts could struggle to stop Johnson but I'll still take Peyton Manning to do enough to keep Indianapolis undefeated.
PHILADELPHIA (-4.5) AT ATLANTA- Forget Michael Vick coming back. You'll only see him for a handful of plays anyway. The bigger issues here are all the injuries. Desean Jackson suffered a concussion last week. Matt Ryan has already been ruled out this week. Michael Turner re-injured his ankle. Talk about needing a band-aid. Chris Redman is surely being thrown into a fire though against Philadelphia's defense who is among the tops in the league in interceptions with 18. That's the difference in this one.
NEW ORLEANS (-9.5) AT WASHINGTON- Did you see that dominating second half performance by the Saints? This defense with Sedrick Ellis went back to their old tricks of getting stronger as the game goes along. Now, I hear the shouts of letdown. But if I seem to remember right, the Saints had a chance to beat this Redskins squad last season and squandered it. This isn't the 2008 Saints. Washington's pass defense is very tough, but the continuously spotty play in the trenches is not good news for the Skins. They're still fighting for Jim Zorn, but it comes down to talent.
NEW ORLEANS-31 WASHINGTON-14
OAKLAND AT PITTSBURGH (-13.5)- Hey, Emmanuel. Remember the last time Ben Roethlisberger faced the Raiders? The motorcycle season? Yeah, shut up already. Okay so some may bring that up considering Roethlisberger is coming off a concussion which kept him out of last week's loss to Baltimore. But have you seen the Raiders away from home? It's ugly. Poor route-running receivers and defenders crashing into each other going for a pick: and that was just last week's game. The Steelers keep it simple and put the Raiders away.
DETROIT AT CINCINNATI (-12.5)- Break up Larry Johnson. He returns to go over the century mark in yards (22 carries for 107 yards). Now Cedric Benson is expected to return, but was it all about change of scenery for L.J.? Maybe we'll find out as Marvin Lewis and company had to be encouraged by what they saw last week against a bad defense. Now the Bengals get another bad defense coming into town. Plus, the Lions' offensive injuries continue to mount. Matthew Stafford is nowhere close to 100 percent and Brandon Pettigrew left last week's game early. Detroit is scrappy, but Carson Palmer should prove to be too much against a depleted Lions squad.
NEW ENGLAND (-5.5) AT MIAMI- Both teams got slapped last week. Chad Henne couldn't even keep track of timeouts (seriously another Michigan guy? Really?). Henne didn't do much better dropping back to pass as he completed 4 passes to Bills defenders. Meanwhile, I'm sure you heard by now how Tom Brady's bunch got drilled on Monday night. The Patriots winning this division is just a formality but with the Dolphins' constant issues throwing the ball that could be a problem. And Patriots' running back, Laurence Maroney is running a lot better.
NEW ENGLAND-27 MIAMI-17
SAN DIEGO (-12.5) AT CLEVELAND- I'll keep this real short and sweet. The Chargers are hot. The Browns are still the Browns. In 11 games this season, Cleveland has gotten into double digits 4 times. San Diego has caught fire winning 6 in a row and Antonio Gates had his biggest game of the season after struggling with nagging injuries. The momentum doesn't stop here.
SAN DIEGO-38 CLEVELAND-6
DALLAS (-2.5) AT N.Y. GIANTS- Issues abound for the Giants. Now they're thin at running back with Ahmad Bradshaw nursing injuries and Danny Ware already out for this week's divisional rivalry against the Cowboys. Plus, Eli Manning is still nursing that foot injury. Add to that both coordinators for the G-Men looking like a couple of first graders. On the other side, we've seen the December fade by the Cowboys before. Yes it is December. But Felix Jones is healthy and there are too many options running the football for this Giants defense that lost its edge when Steve Spagnuolo moved on.
DALLAS-26 N.Y. GIANTS-21
SAN FRANCISCO AT SEATTLE (PK)- I'm not sure you could have two more evenly matched teams. The Seahawks have found their true running back in Justin Forsett. The 49ers defense got some confidence back after drumming Jacksonville. San Francisco is in slightly better position for the wild card though and Vernon Davis has been a huge part of that by finally busting out and realizing his full potential. It will be an interesting battle between 2 solid ground games, but I'll try Matt Hasselbeck again being able to slightly outperform Alex Smith.
SEATTLE-19 SAN FRANCISCO-16
MINNESOTA (-4.5) AT ARIZONA- The Vikings are simply clicking on all cylinders. Adrian Peterson isn't even playing at a high level, but nobody notices because of MVP candidate, Brett Favre. Add in a tough as nails run defense and the Cardinals could have their share of struggles. Kurt Warner looks to be back this week setting up a very nice quarterback battle. But the Vikes barely takes this one.
BALTIMORE AT GREEN BAY (-2.5)- You can see the difference in the Packers playing at home compared to on the road. Green Bay is 4-2 at home this season. The Ravens come in fighting for their playoff lives as well after taking a huge win against Pittsburgh last Sunday night. It wasn't the prettiest win, but the Ravens defense stepped up to take it. Aaron Rodgers has been excellent this season, but can Ryan Grant keep the steady improvement going against one of the top 10 rushing defenses in the league? That's the big key, but I think Baltimore takes this one away.
BALTIMORE-22 GREEN BAY-20
10-6 STRAIGHT UP
6-10 AGAINST THE SPREAD
115-61 STRAIGHT UP
88-88 AGAINST THE SPREAD
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