Friday, November 25, 2016

NFL Picks, Week 12

Home teams in CAPS.

San Diego (-1.5) over HOUSTON
This feels like a game San Diego should win. It's hard to get the stink of the Texans' offense out of one's mind when you go to pick a Houston game. And yet, Houston makes it work against all but the top teams in the league. Look at their losses: New England, Minnesota, Denver, and Oakland. Sure the Vikings are the one thing that's not like the others, but at the time they were 5-0. This would be an easier call if the game were in San Diego, but I still say the massive quarterback advantage tilts this one to the Chargers.

Tennessee (-5) over CHICAGO
Who's playing quarterback for the Bears again? It ain't Brian Hoyer, and it ain't Jay Cutler (and the fact that's seen as a negative is all you need to know...well, that and the fact that Chicago is a 5 point underdog at home to a 5-6 team. That too.)

BUFFALO (-7.5) over Jacksonville
Six more games until the Gus Bradley era ends, and someone else gets to disappoint the citizens of North Florida. LeSean McCoy is playing, so I see Buffalo putting up enough points to separate from the Jaguars.

BALTIMORE (-4.5) over Cincinnati
Without AJ Green, Cincinnati's offense is in trouble against this Ravens defense. So even though Cincinnati hasn't lost to the Ravens in regulation since week 1 of 2012, I'm going to trust the Ravens offense to put up enough points against another mediocre defense.

Arizona (+4) over ATLANTA
Apparently I'm going to die on the "the Cardinals will turn things around before the season ends" hill, because I keep talking myself into picking them even as they keep finding ways to lose. Atlanta is a bit too banged up for me this week.

MIAMI (-7.5) over San Francisco
I'd give Miami 7.5 points if this game were in San Francisco. And it's not just because the 49ers are that bad (they are), but the Dolphins are playing well. Granted, they usually make a mid-season run, only to throw it all away down the stretch, but I am a believer in Adam Gase (even if I remain a non-believer in Ryan Tannehill). Gase has coaxed winning offenses out of less. But add in a cross country trip for the 49ers and this feels like stealing.

NEW ORLEANS (-7) over Los Angeles
The Saints offense won't be held down at home. And the Saints defense has been better than expected over the last month-plus. And it would take a worst-ever defense to coax a competent offense out of that Rams scheme and Jared Goff in his second ever start. Either that or the Rams defense holds the Saints offense to under 13 points. I don't see either of those happening.

New York Giants (-7) over CLEVELAND
The Giants are good. The Browns are not, and they're crumbling under the weight of their 0-fer season.

Seattle (-5.5) over TAMPA BAY
Seattle just finished a rough 6-game stretch (ATL, @ARI, @NO, BUF, @NE, PHI), and this game was supposed to start a soft closing stretch, and then half their starting defense got hurt last game. Seattle will likely be without at least 4 starters against Tampa, including safety Earl Thomas, who a) makes Seattle's Cover 3 defense go with his range at free safety and b) has never missed a game in his career, so I have no idea what the defense will do without him. Normally this would be enough to make me take Tampa and the points (especially with this game in the Eastern time zone, though not at 10AM PST), but Seattle's offense, and specifically Russell Wilson looks like it/he's on their usual late season annihilation tour, so I'm keeping the faith.

OAKLAND (-3) over Carolina
If this were a road game for Oakland, I could see it as a trap game. Carolina is good enough to knock a couple of playoff teams off down the stretch, but not on a cross-country trip. This isn't last year's Panthers team.

New England (-8) over NEW YORK JETS
I say there's too much turmoil on that Jets team for them to band together enough to knock off the Patriots. New England's defense is bad enough that Ryan Fitzpatrick could have one of his good Fitz games and this game devolves into a shootout, but I don't think the supporting cast will allow him to go toe to toe with Brady.

DENVER (-3.5) over Kansas City
I was getting ready to buy into slow and steady Kansas City to take the AFC West, but that Tampa game last week is the type of game the Chiefs haven't been losing the last couple of years. The Chiefs would always take care of the low and mid-tier teams then fall to the good ones. They've aimed a bit higher this year (witness their 26-10 pasting of the Raiders a few weeks ago), but they've also lost to Houston and Tampa Bay this season.

Philadelphia is not the team to get right against. And neither side of the ball for Green Bay is anywhere close to right at the moment.

This week: 3-0 (Whoo-hoo!!!)
Week 11: 10-4 (.714)
Week 10: 7-7 (.500)
Season: 76-77-7 (.497)

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