Sunday, 2 December 2012


Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) @ Buffalo Bills (4-7)

Despite having one of the worst records in the NFL there is a bit of a feel good factor around the Jacksonville Jaguars at the moment.  Since Chad Henne has come in they have took the Houston Texans to overtime and followed it up with a win over the Tennessee Titans.  Sometimes a change at quarterback can provide a team with a boost and it has certainly helped the Jags.  Having said that, in the long term, I don't think Chad Henne is the answer and a few good games doesn't make him a good quarterback.  He was poor in his time at Miami and I can't see him maintaining this form for long.  The Bills have had a disappointing year.  I expected more from them but they have struggled and the playoffs look to be beyond them.  The one positive has been the form of running-back, CJ Spiller.  Spiller has had an excellent year and is averaging an outstanding, 6.7 yards per carry.  The Jags are 29th in run defense and I wouldn't be surprised if Spiller has another big day. 

Prediction -
Whilst the Jags have looked better in recent weeks, I think the match ups suit the Bills better and it will be a home win.

Seattle Seahawks (6-5) @ Chicago Bears (8-3)

The Bears host the Seattle Seahawks in a big game for both sides and one that will effect the NFC playoff picture.  The Seahawks still have a chance of a wildcard spot and for the Bears it could mean the difference in winning the division or settling for a wildcard.  The Seahawks look like losing their starting corner backs, Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman after they violated the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.  They are appealing the decision though so both will be available for the trip to Chicago.  Both sides have injuries to key players but most are listed as probable so should make it.  The teams are remarkably similar in their style and the match ups are quite intriguing.  They rank 31st and 32nd in passing and in pass defense they are 3rd and 6th so the game should be decided on the ground.  In run defense the Bears are 8th and the Seahawks are 12th.  The Bears running game is 10th and the Seahawks are 8th.  The match ups are very tight and it should lead to a close game. 

Prediction -
It's a tough call but the one thing that makes up my mind is the Bears are 5-1 at home and the Seahawks are 1-5 on the road so I will have to side with the Chicago Bears. 

Indianapolis Colts (7-4) @ Detroit Lions (4-7)

Way back in September when I wrote my NFL Season Preview ( ), I may have been looking at this as a game between a 7-4 team and a 4-7 team but it wouldn't have been the Lions at 4-7.  I predicted the Lions would reach the playoffs after a 12-4 year and I had the Colts struggling along to finish 7-9.  Sometimes you have to accept you were wrong and in this occasion I have to admit I got these two wrong by quite a bit.  The Colts have been very good to reach 7-4 and are doing Coach Pagano proud.  They are in pole position in the AFC wildcard race and another two or three wins should secure their place.  The Lions have had a disappointing year and have lost a lot of close games.  Only one of their seven defeats came by a margin of more than one score but ultimately it doesn't matter how close the games are and it's only wins and losses that count.  The Lions lead the league in passing and the Colts are 7th.  In pass defense the Lions are 12th and the Colts are 19th.  In rushing, the Colts rank 17th and the Lions are 24th.  In run defense the Colts are 20th and the Lions are 22nd. 

Prediction -
This looks like being a very good game and I think the Lions could edge it. 

Minnesota Vikings (6-5) @ Green Bay Packers (7-4)

The Vikings and Packers meet in a game that will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the NFC North title.  The Bears lead at the moment with an 8-3 record but they still have to play both of these sides so the divisional title is still very much in the balance.  These two will also meet again in week 17 so the NFC North race should go right to the wire.  Both sides have long injury lists and a few key players could miss out.  Clay Matthews has already been ruled out and could be joined by Donald Driver who is listed as questionable.  The Vikings injury list includes Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph, Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen.  Harvin is questionable and the rest are probable.  If the Vikings are going to get a result in Green Bay they will need as many of those to play as possible.  The Packers will trust in Aaron Rodgers to win them the game in the air.  Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he should be able to put points on the board.  The Vikings will aim to win the game on the ground and that plan will rely heavily on Adrian Peterson's availability.

Prediction - This should be one of the best games of the weekend and I think the Packers should be able to pick up the win.

Houston Texans (10-1) @ Tennessee Titans (4-7)

The 10-1, Houston Texans travel to Tennessee to take on the Titan's in an AFC South clash.  The Titans look to be done for the year at 4-7 but the Texans can guarantee themselves a playoff spot with a win on the road.  The Texans have a long injury list and have looked tired in recent weeks.  Once they guarantee the playoffs and seal a bye in the first round of the playoffs I expect to see them rest a few players and come back fresh in the playoffs.  The Titans will attempt to win the game on the ground.  Chris Johnson had a bad start to the season but he has picked up over 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his last six games.  The Texans are as close to the complete team as you can get.  They have a great defense and a very good running game.  Their passing game has a lot of potential too.  Matt Schaub is a good quarterback and Andre Johnson is in the elite bracket of receivers. 

Prediction -
The Texans should get a win here and guarantee themselves at least a wildcard place in the playoffs.   

Carolina Panthers (3-8) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-10)

This game will be very difficult for both sides after the sad news regarding Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher.  I'm not going to comment too much on it as I am not well enough informed to know what happened but I am deeply saddened at the tragic loss of two young lives and my heart goes out to the baby who has been left orphaned.  On the game, both sides have had bad years and the outcome will only effect the top of the 2013 draft board.  Both sides will be looking to next year already and making plans on how they can improve.  I wouldn't be surprised if either side changes their coach at the end of the season as both sides have underachieved.  The Chiefs will try to run the ball and although the Panthers have a more balanced offense they will most likely favour the run too. 

Prediction -
I thought the Chiefs might have a chance of winning this one but I can't see their players minds being on the game considering the tragic circumstances and will go for a Panthers win.

San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) @ St Louis Rams (4-6-1)

These two played out a tie in week 10 in San Francisco and this looks like being another close game.  The 49ers are a much stronger side but the Rams matched them in the last game and will no doubt make things difficult for them this week again.  The 49ers look to be playoff bound and should be able to clinch the divisional title and possibly even a first round bye if they can maintain their current number two seed.  The Rams are 4-6-1 and if they are to have any chance of reaching the playoffs, need to win this one.  The teams are quite similar in style and if anything the Rams remind me of a diet version of the 49ers.  They want to play the game in the same way but they just don't quite have the right players yet and aren't at the level the 49ers are.  They are both run heavy and rely on their defense to win them games.  The Rams are still a work in progress though but they have a good blueprint to follow in the San Francisco 49ers.

Prediction -
The 49ers will get the win.

New England Patriots (8-3) @ Miami Dolphins (5-6)

The Pats are on the verge of clinching the AFC East and would do so with a win over the Miami Dolphins.  The Pats have won the AFC East for the last three years in a row and regardless of whether it's tomorrow or not, they will win it for the fourth time in a row this year.  The Pats have come to form at just the right time and after a 3-3 start, they have now own five in a row and are chasing the Baltimore Ravens in the race for a bye in the first round of the playoffs.  Technically they are two games behind the Ravens as they lost to them in week 3 so they will face a tough task to get a bye.  The Dolphins are currently outside the wildcard spots in the AFC but they are only one win behind the Steelers who are currently in the sixth seed so they are definitely not out of the playoff race.  The Dolphins will aim to run the ball on the Pats but this New England team are different to any in recent seasons.  The recent sides have all had Tom Brady at quarterback but this side has a running game too.  Stevan Ridley has been in excellent form and needs just 61 more yards to reach 1000 rushing yards for the season.  The Pats can pass or run and the Dolphins will find it hard to deal with them. 

Prediction -
The one weakness this Pats team has is their pass defense but I just can't see the Dolphins exploiting it.  Pats win. 

Arizona Cardinals (4-7) @ New York Jets (4-7)

This will not be one for the purists.  Both teams have had poor seasons with little to cheer.  The Cardinals had a great start, winning their first four games but they have now lost seven in a row and they will be wondering where that next win is going to come from.  The Jets have had a bad year too and look set to miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.  The pressure is mounting on Rex Ryan and I think unless he benches Mark Sanchez, he will be unemployed in the not so distant future.  The Cardinals have had quarterback issues and once Kevin Kolb got injured, they haven't been the same again.  Kolb is far from the best quarterback in the league but he suits the Cardinals offense and he was getting it done for them.  The Jets will look to run the ball and let their defense do the rest.  Their defense should be good enough to stop an offense that is averaging just 292 yards per game.  Neither side are good at defending the run and this game could come down to whoever's rushers have a better day.

Prediction -
I don't see the Cardinals slide ending this week, Jets to get the win.   

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) @ Denver Broncos (8-3)

Week 13 is full of big games and this is another one of them.  The Broncos can win the division with a victory and the Bucs need the win to keep themselves in the race for an NFC wildcard spot.  Denver have won six in a row after a 2-3 start and it's almost as if Peyton Manning has been here all his life.  In the first few weeks of the season everyone had an opinion on Peyton Manning.  He was finished, his arm was weak etc.  The only opinion these same people are giving now is whether or not Manning is worthy of another MVP.  The Bucs also have a player who will have to be considered when the awards are being handed out at the end of the year.  Doug Martin will surely have to be considered in the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year.  Martin has already ran for 1050 yards and 9 touchdowns.  He has also caught 29 passes for 332 yards and a touchdown.  Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck are the favourites for the title but Martin has been exceptional and will surely merit consideration at the very least.  The Broncos are 5th in passing and have a strong defense.  They are 5th in pass defense and 9th against the run.  The Bucs are 13th in passing and 11th in rushing.  Their run defense is 1st in the league but their pass defense is 32nd. 

Prediction -
Peyton Manning against the 32nd pass defense in the league? The Broncos can't lose this one.       

Cleveland Browns (3-8) @ Oakland Raiders (3-8)

The Browns and the Raiders meet in Oakland on Sunday in a game that will have implications for the 2013 NFL draft.  These sides won't make the playoffs and at this stage it's purely about planning for the future.  The Browns have made a few good moves in recent seasons and have some good young talent on the roster.  Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and Joe Haden are all young players who could have big futures in the game.  Another good draft and the Browns could pick up a few extra wins and push towards a playoff spot.  The Raiders don't have as bright a future.  They have had a habit in recent years of trading away their draft picks and it doesn't bode well for the future.  Having said that when they have used their draft picks they haven't usually get that right either.  In recent seasons they have made their picks only to see the team behind them pick Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and CJ Spiller.  If the Raiders had picked those four they would be a Superbowl challenger every year.  The match ups in this one show that the defenses should be able to get on top but the big difference is Oakland's passing game.  The Raiders are 8th in passing and the Browns are 21st in pass defense.  If Carson Palmer can keep the ball in the hands of his own receivers, the Raiders could get the win.

Prediction - I'm putting my faith in Carson Palmer and going for a Raiders win.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) @ San Diego Chargers (4-7)

The Bengals go to San Diego and know they need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.  They are just outside the playoffs at the moment based on their head to head record with the Pittsburgh Steelers so they need to keep winning to overtake them.  The Chargers got off to a good start, winning three of their first four games but they have gone 1-6 since then and their playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread.  At present they are two games behind the wildcard spot but they still have to play the Steelers who currently hold the six seed and their last three games are against the Panthers, the Jets and the Raiders, who are a combined 10-23 for the year so the playoffs are certainly not out of their reach.  The Bengals are a better team offensively and are averaging 359 yards compared to the Chargers 324 yards per game.  The defenses are both giving up 334 yards per game. 

Prediction - The Chargers are better in run defense which won't help them when Andy Dalton starts throwing to AJ Green and I think the Bengals will get the win.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (9-2)

The Steelers and Ravens meet again just a fortnight after their last meeting and once again the Steelers will be without their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.  Charlie Batch will be the quarterback and he had a bad game last week, throwing for just 199 yards and 3 interceptions.  The Steelers should have Troy Polamalu back from injury which will be a big boost for them.  In the last game the Steelers defense done a good job but they didn't get much help from their offense and the Ravens got the win.  The Steelers defense is giving up just 257 yards per game and will make things difficult for a Ravens offense which is averaging 349 yards per game.  The Steelers have had to change their style in recent weeks since Roethlisberger's injury.  They were pass heavy but are having to go with more running plays now.  The running game has been hit and miss all year.  It started badly but has improved but I don't think it will be at it's full potential until they decide who their first choice rusher is. 

Prediction -
I can't see the Steelers going to Baltimore without Big Ben and getting the win, Ravens win.  

Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

What are the television companies playing at?  One week after two losing teams played on Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football now has a battle of the two worst teams in the NFC East.  I am pretty sure the national television audience does not want to see this game.  Of the fourteen games being played today, I wouldn't even have this game in the top ten.  I'm an Eagles fan too so imagine how the neutrals must be feeling about it.  Dallas won comfortably in Philly in week 10 and the Eagles have got even worse since then.  This week they are without Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson who have been their best three players on offense in recent years.  The younger players will get more game time and it will help for next season when the Eagles will hopefully have a new coaching setup.  The Cowboys need to start winning again as they have a difficult schedule remaining and need to win games like this one.  The only way the Eagles win this is if Tony Romo goes into an interception frenzy and hands the win to the Eagles. 

Prediction -
The Cowboys will get their season back on track with a win. 

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