It suddenly occurred to me whilst setting the recording of the Thanksgiving games this morning that I couldn’t finish this blog this evening and post as games would already be in progress so I’ll present the first part now, and will follow up with the rest of the games this evening:
So rather worryingly, the current struggles I’m having finding time to maintain this blog is not having an adverse affect on my picks, in fact they seem to be improving as I’ve not only caught, but I have passed him taking a one game lead.
It will have to be another quick tour though the NFL this week, but I’m looking forward to sitting down with the three Thanksgiving games this Friday and writing up a running diary this weekend. In the mean time, let’s take a look at the games for Week 13.
Gee: Week 12 10-5 Overall 91-85
Dan: Week 12 8-7 Overall 90-86
Bears @ Lions (-7.5)
It’s not time to panic if you’re a Lions fan, but you have to be worried about the offence at this point in the season. There’s no shame in losing to the Patriots with the way that they are playing at the moment, but the offence has been struggling to move the ball for weeks and are currently ranked twenty-fourth by DVOA. The defence is still ranked first in the NFL, but with the race for the wild cards hotting up, they can’t afford to lose too many more games and could do with the offence beginning to function properly..
That said, despite their recent pair of wins, it may not be the worse time to be entertaining the Bears who had to come from behind in the second half against the woeful Buccaneers last week, having beaten the Vikings the week before. Apart from the fact that they have won their last two game 21-13, the odd thing about the Bears has been that the defence might have made a bigger improvement than the offence over the last few weeks. It seems like the Bears are trying to minimise the damage with Jay Cutler, which given that his current contract is guaranteed for over fifty millions dollars is somewhat worrying.
I’m not convinced by the Bears defence and am seriously worried about how Jay Cutler is going to play against the Lions defence so I think the Lions get back on track at home on Thanksgiving, but I’m too scared by the points to take them beating the spread.
Gee’s Pick: Bears
Dan’s Pick: Bears
Eagles @ Cowboys (-2.5)
After a possible slow start, I think the next two Thanksgiving games should be great and this is my game of the day.
The Cowboys showed how good their o-line is as they came from behind to beat the Giants. I worry how long Tony Romo can keep going with the injuries he’s carrying, but I don’t think there’s a better line for him to be limping around behind than the one he’s got and with the support of DeMarco Murray in the run game he should be okay.
I’m on record as being all in on Chip Kelly and his team have the record to back that confidence, but neither of his starting quarterbacks are truly outstanding and the play of Mark Sanchez worries me. The Eagles ran out comfortable winners last week but with Sanchez throwing two interceptions to one touchdown, it was more behind their running game and another special teams touchdown than outstanding play by him.
I think this will be a close game, but in the end I just have bit more confidence in Tony Romo and that Cowboys o-line.
Gee’s Pick: Cowboys
Dan’s Pick: Cowboys
Seahawks @ 49ers (-0.5)
I suspect final Thursday game will be a lower scoring battle of a game.
The 49ers have been grinding out results with tough defence whilst their offence stutters through the game. They managed a pretty measly seventeen points against Washington and only scored sixteen the week before against the Giant’s despite their defence getting five interceptions in that game. However, whilst they are not making the most of what looks like a talented group on offence, they seem to know who they are and are winning games.
The Seahawks are playing a pretty similar style of football as well. I’m not sure how much of the defence’s excellent performance last week was down to the core veterans team meeting they held before the game against the Cardinals, and how much was facing Drew Stanton who doesn’t have a run game to help him. Their offence is also sputtering, with the run game working effectively but a serious dearth of talent at receiver meaning the passing game is seriously underpowered.
This is going to be a real throw back brawl of a game. These two teams have split their games recently with the home team winning and so in a pick’em game I’m backing the home team.
Gee’s Pick: 49ers.
Dan’s Pick: Seahawks
Well now it’s time for weekend games in part 2, and let’s hope I do a little better than the disastrous 0-3 I went yesterday:
Browns @ Bills (-1.5)
I do not know what to do with this game. The Bills had to play in Detroit last week thanks to the snow, didn’t practice for two days, and suddenly Kyle Orton looks like a competent quarterback again. They managed to score thirty-eight points against the Jets having gone seven consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown in the two previous games. The caveat however, is that they scored forty-three points against the Jest in week eight so I suggest we don’t get too excited yet.
The Browns are keeping themselves in the uber-competitive AFC North race despite Brian Hoyer’s patchy play over the last couple of weeks. It is a sign of Josh Gordon’s playing ability that in his first game back from suspension he caught eight balls for 120 yards despite Hoyer missing him more than once,
This is another really close game, but I just have more faith in the team getting results despite their quarterback’s patchy play, than the team whose quarterback unexpectedly looked competent in his last game, against the Jets…
Gee’s Pick: Browns
Dan’s Pick: Browns
Bengals @ Buccaneers (+3.5)
The Buccaneers have shown a few glimpses in recent weeks despite going back to starting Josh McCown at quarterback, which I do not understand given that there’s no hope of them making the playoffs even if they are only two games of the lead in the putrid NFC South. However, Mike Evans has demonstrated that he is right up there with any of the other receivers from this amazing rookie class. Imagine what he could do if they had an elite quarterback.
The Bengals seem to have found their identity again. Not only has the return of Rey Maualuga helped the balance of the linebackers, but Domata Peko is playing better and I’ve seen flashes of the old brilliance from Geno Atkins playing next to him. On offence, I was impressed how quiet the o-line kept JJ Watt despite losing Andre Smith in the second quarter to a tricep injury. Unfortunately, Smith is now done for the season and I’m not sure how I am going to cope watching Marshall Newhouse for the rest of the season, but Kevin Zeitler is playing really well at right guard so hopefully things work out.
I’m worried about picking the Bengals to win a third road game, but I think they have to win this one with games against the Browns, the Steelers twice, and the Broncos coming up.
Gee’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
Titans @ Texans (-6.5)
The Texans have lost Ryan Mallet to a torn pectoral, which I have heard both that he did it in warm-ups, and during he second quarter, either way this may explain the troubles that the Texans had on offence with their only touchdown coming from a pick-six interceptions. The defence was good, but I though JJ Watt was relatively quiet apart from an impressive pass tip and the only time I remember hearing Clowney’s name was him jumping offside.
That said, although there are signs that Zack Mettenberger might be their quarterback of the future, the Titans are still not a good team and they got comprehensively beaten by the Eagles last week.
The Texans are not making the playoffs so they may be better of trying their rookie quarterback Tom Savage to see what they have rather than go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick, but either way I think they will beat the Titans. However, the points make me worry and so I think I’m going to brave the Titans one more time, this could end badly.
Gee’s Pick: Titans
Dan’s Pick: Texans
Semi-Pros @ Colts (-9.5)
This is a lot of points given how the Colts have been a little up and down over the last few weeks. The Patriots demonstrated that they have a blue print to beat the Colts and their recovery win against the Jaguars was not pretty. However, this could be the game for them to get back on track.
On last week’s Tuesday Morning Football I heard afan repeatedly refer to their team as the Washington semi-professional football team, and given the mess they seem to be in, I am borrowing it for the rest of the season, although a little shortened. With the benching of Richard Griffin the third, the Semi-Pros are sitting a player they gave up two first round picks and a second round pick to get. I generally dislike trading up in the draft, and I don’t think you should ever mortgage future first round picks, there’s too much risk and you hurt the depth of your team in the long run. I am not going to write of RG3, but the break down with the head coach is pretty horrible and there doesn’t’ seem to be a lot of forward planning going on here. I don’t see Colt McCoy being the answer given the mess they are in.
What worries me is that there may well be a bounce back by the Semi-Pros this week just out of sheer relief and RG3 has been so bad. Part of me wants to pick them, but I would rather kick myself for being cautious than place any faith in the team from Washington.
Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Colts
Raiders @ Rams (-7.5)
The Rams covered the line in a tight loss to the Chargers, and demonstrated that they are a quarterback away from really competing as a team. Shaun Hill demonstrated he wasn’t that player losing a fumble for a touchdown, and being intercepted twice, including one in the red zone. The defence has really found its identity but that will only get them so far.
The Raiders finally got their win, and looked reasonably okay doing it. I liked the performance of their young linebacker unit barring the excessive celebrating, and they have two foundation pieces in Khalil Mack and Derek Carr
That said, I don’t think the Raiders are winning this game in Saint Louis, but I don’t see them being blown out either.
Gee’s Pick: Raiders
Dan’s Pick: Raiders
Panthers @ Vikings (-2.5)
It has been a hard season for the Vikings, who have the solid defence you would expect from a team coached by Mike Zimmer, but are not clicking on offence yet. I get the feeling that they are a season away from being good and it will be interesting to see how they kick on next season. They were able to keep the game close against the Packers last week and I don’t see them having a problem with visiting Panthers this weekend despite only having won one more game.
The Panthers are on a horrible run of form, not having won since week five and should have lost against the Bengals in week six. It feel like nothing is working quite right for them at the moment. The lack of pass rush and a horrible secondary is too much for even Luke Kuechly to overcome on defence, whilst the debate is ongoing about Cam Newton’s ability to lead in adversity and how hurt he may or may not be. They have had two weeks to prepare for this game, but I don’t see it as the one they are going break their losing streak in.
Gee’s Pick: Vikings
Dan’s Pick: Vikings
Saints @ Steelers (-3.5)
There was a time when you knew what you were getting with the Steelers. A tough defence, smash mouth football, ten or eleven wins, and a good run in the playoffs. That has not been the case over recent years and this season they have taken inconsistency to new heights and depths. They have scored fifty-one points against the Colts yet lost to the Buccaneers and the Jets. They got a close win against the Titans on Monday night football ahead of their week twelve bye, maintaining Dick LeBeau’s great record against rookie quarterbacks, and losing me a pick.
This week the Steelers welcome the Saints, who have just lost an unthinkable three straight games at home. Neither side of the ball is playing well, nor does their share of the lead in the NFC South hide the fact that they are not a good team. The Saints have not travelled well in recent years and I don’t expect them to start this week.
Gee’s Pick: Steelers
Dan’s Pick: Steelers
Giants @ Jaguars (+2.5)
Neither of these team are very good. The Jaguars continue to play tough and lose, whilst the Giants played a little better last week.
The only other thing I want to write about is Odell Beckham Jr’s amazing catch last week against the Cowboys. How he managed to arch his back and reel that ball in using one hand I shall never know. It is that rare thing, a highlight that you can keep watching. This why we love football and he’s pretty much the only reason to watch this game unless you are a fan of one of these teams. This could a chance for the Jaguars to get that second win, but my heart won’t let me pick against Beckham for at least another week. This is a terrible way to pick games…
Gee’s Pick: Giants
Dan’s Pick: Giants (Luckily, Dan agrees with me on this one)
Chargers @ Ravens (-5.5)
The Ravens were the latest team to go to New Orleans and get a win. Their secondary may not look as strong as we are used to, but they got a turnover and were good enough. The offence has slowed down compared to the start of the season, but they still have lots of talent and this is a good home team.
The Chargers managed to keep themselves in the playoff hunt with a win last week, and I’m sure that they were grateful for the return of running back Ryan Mathews. This is a team that have suffered a lot of injuries and I’m not sure if they can hold themselves together for the remainder of the season. Add to that the trip across country to Baltimore and I don’t see them winning this game.
Gee’s Pick: Ravens
Dan’s Pick: Chargers
Cardinals @ Falcons (+2.5)
I didn’t want to pick against the Cardinals last week, but I’m not surprised that they lost the game. The Seahawks in Seattle were too much for them to deal with, but they are still a well coached team that has a really good defence. The Falcons lost the game having played better, but Mike Smith’s time management was not the best at the end of the game. I was impressed how well the Falcons played considering the rest of their season so far, but I don’t see them having the same kind of success this week. I think the Cardinals get back on track.
Gee’s Pick: Cardinals
Dan’s Pick: Cardinals
Patriots @ Packers (-3.5)
This is the game of the weekend. Both teams are playing great football and this really could be a preview of the Super Bowl.
The Packers have been playing peerless football at Lambeau Field this year, with Aaron Rodgers throwing no interceptions all season at home (he’s only had three all year) and the defence has really been standing up over recent weeks.
After a rough start to the season, the Patriots have played themselves into great form, with Bill Belichick and his staff changing their play style to exploit their opponent from week to week.
I’m taking the Patriots as I’m getting points, but I wouldn’t be surprised by any result in what should be a fabulous game.
Gee’s Pick: Patriots
Dan’s Pick: Patriots
Broncos @ Chiefs (+1.5)
This should be a really good divisional game.
The Chiefs are coming off a very disappointing loss to the Raiders, that could cost them dear. I’ve been writing all season about how solid the Chiefs are, and for the most part they have been, but they now have two really bad losses and in a tight playoff race losing to the Raiders and Titans could really cost them. They have the tools on defence, particularly with Justin Houston leading the league in sacks, to cause the Broncos problems, but I don’t think they have the tools to manufacture the points they need against the Broncos’ defence.
The Broncos have had a bit of a wobble thanks to some injuries, and in particular some problems with their offensive line. However, they found a way to come back against the Dolphins and get the win whilst only giving up a sack against the excellent Dolphins defence. I think that will have enough to win this game despite travelling to Arrowhead Stadium, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t gone back and forth a number of times on this one. Still, I’m sticking with the Broncos. I think…
Gee’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Pick: Broncos
Dolphins @ Jets (+5.5)
The Dolphins are a good team that just needs to get both sides of the ball working at the same time to get a marquee win. In their close loss to the Broncos, Ryan Tannehill played well again but the defence that has been so strong can’t give up twenty-two points in the final quarter if they are going to win games. That said, they are travelling to the Jets who managed a measly three points last week against the Bills. The Bills defensive line is one of the best in the league, and they wreaked havoc against the Jets, injuring an ineffective Michael Vick so Geno Smith returns as starter. I get the feeling everyone on the Jets can’t wait until the end of this horrid season.
Gee’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins