Week 14

So last week’s picks went 3 from 6 as the Texans, Dolphins and Panthers let me down. That’s the first time Carolina have let me down on the spread this year. I thought Houston were in with a shout after another lousy second half start by Buffalo but a pick and a quick turnover on downs put pay to that one as Buffalo improved to 6-6 and are level with Houston in the AFC playoff picture. The Colts join them there after a rather humbling 45-10 loss to Pittsburgh. The Patriots stumbled against Philadelphia and have now lost two straight. They stay in control at the top of the AFC East but the win keeps Philly alive in the NFC East. Green Bay had a lucky escape in Detroit thanks to a negligible facemask penalty which lead to Aaron Rodgers doing Aaron Rodgers type things. A 61 yard hail mary as the clock expired to take a 27-23 victory. That puts them back on top of the NFC North thanks to the Seahawks hammering the Vikings 38-7. Minnesota couldn’t get any game going at all and only got 7 points from a kick-off return. No team can win a game when the offence doesn’t score a single point. Chicago dropped back as well with an overtime loss against the 49ers, San Francisco are probably wishing they’d put Gabbert in earlier in the year, they look a different side with him compared to Kaepernick. The Falcons lost their fifth straight game against the resurgent Buccaneers who move ahead of Atlanta in the NFC South. Carolina squeaked past New Orleans to stay unbeaten and clinch the division in a game that was much closer than most would have expected. With two games against the Falcons, the Giants and the Bucs left on the schedule they can go 16-0 but will need to tighten up the defence come January. The Titans got their third win of the year in a 42-39 win over Jacksonville mainly thanks to some great play from Mariota. The Cardinals crushed the Rams 27-3 and the Bengals went even further in a 37-3 win in Cleveland. The Chiefs overcame another rocky start to ease past Oakland and win their sixth straight game and look a threat for the playoffs. Unbelievable to think this team was 1-5 earlier in the year! They’ll probably not catch the Broncos but they certainly look good for a wildcard. Denver won a dull game in San Diego and the Dolphins held on to win against the Ravens. Dallas won another game, this time against the Redskins which keeps the entire NFC East under .500. To think one of these teams is going to the playoffs is awful. It’s becoming an embarrassing repeat of last year’s NFC South.

Vikings@Cardinals – TNF
What a difference a week makes. I was clearly wrong about the Seahawks game as Minnesota totally failed to make an impression with only 125 yards of total offence. Peterson was held to only 18 yards. Arizona will have been watching that closely because they’ll need to do the same thing this week. The Cardinals blew the Rams out of the water to stay in control at the top of the NFC West and will be looking for another win here on a short week. I would have had this spread nearer 3 or 4 so the 7.5 starting price gave me a start. I think it’s a bit of an overreaction personally after a big win for Arizona and a big loss for Minnesota. The Vikings can bounce back a bit here in my opinion and get more of a ground game going than they managed last week. I’m tempted to go with the Vikings with that +7.5. Bear in mind the Vikings do have a slightly depleted defence this week with injuries and Palmer and the Cardinals will certainly try and exploit that.

Bills@Eagles
Both teams surprised me last week getting wins but I doubt anyone saw the Patriots falling at home to Philadelphia. The Eagles didn’t really have a great offensive game but their special teams and defence did a great job. Buffalo played similar to how they did against Kansas, a strong first half and a lead at halftime before keeping their punter busy in the second half. Sammy Watkins showed that good things continue to happen if you throw him the ball with over 100 yards from just 3 catches and a score for his afternoons work. LeSean McCoy went down in the fourth quarter but cleared concussion protocol very quickly on his way to another 100+ yard game. The bookies have made Buffalo 1 point favourites for their trip to McCoy’s old side (bank on Rex Ryan making him a captain this week then) and I think that’s fair. Philly aren’t a great side this year but if they can put up some points with this quick offence Buffalo will struggle to put enough up to cover them. This will be a big test for the defence, getting a couple of picks will make the afternoon a lot easier for the Bills.

Titans@Jets
Tennessee edged an all-out scoring battle with Jacksonville last week thanks to some great play from their rookie quarterback. If you haven’t seen his 83 yard rushing touchdown get yourself onto youtube for it. Fantastic awareness of a lane opening for a chance of a first down and then some good blocking from his teammates for one of the best plays of the day. The Jets needed overtime to get past the Giants and aren’t looking quite as good as they were earlier in the year on either side of the ball. They are doing enough at the minute to get into the playoffs and another win this week will keep them in the pound seats. They’re 7 point favourites here. Tennessee haven’t lost by a margin that big since their week 10 loss to the Panthers (27-10).

Steelers@Bengals
The Bengals edged this one last time 16-10, since then the Steelers offence has been getting better and better. The Colts might not be the team they were last season but to put 45 on any team is an accomplishment. Pittsburgh can still technically catch Cincinnati for the AFC North and a win here would put them 2 games behind but with similar schedules it’s going to be too big an ask. They do need a win to stay in the wild card fight, Cincinnati will want the win to stay in the pound seats for a playoff bye. Home favourites by 3 keeps it tight, hopefully we’ll get a few more points than that week 8 matchup to keep it entertaining. I’m not sure which way I’m leaning… maybe towards Pittsburgh? Tough call.

Colts@Jaguars
More uncertainty for the Colts at quarterback after Hasselbeck went off injured in last week’s loss against Pittsburgh. They’re fairly confident he will play as Andrew Luck won’t be ready until next week at the earliest but without him they’re left with a third string quarterback who has 9 starts in 9 seasons. For a team that has been so up and down this year they’ll want some stability at QB. The Jaguars will want to get the win to help with their slim playoff chance. At 4-8 they should be well out of it but in the AFC South this year it is still possible they make it. I kind of hope they do, just for laughs! No spread on this yet with the uncertainty around the guy taking snaps for the Colts, with Hasselbeck it’ll likely be around -5 Colts I think, without him and the Jags will probably be made favourites.

Chargers@Chiefs
San Diego were blown out last week in the first half by Denver who just sat back in the second half where there was no score. Kansas took a while to get going but thanks to some awful play from Carr they got hot in the fourth quarter and came away with a big win. More of the same here, they’ll ease into the game and grind away at the Chargers and come away with their seventh straight win. At 9.5 point favourites I’m tempted to back San Diego as Rivers is capable of putting up scores despite not having much to throw at. Kansas don’t have a defence as strong as Denver who held the Chargers to 3 so Rivers can probably lead his team to a couple of scores. It’s a question of how much Kansas can get. Tough call on a big spread like this.

Redskins@Bears
Chicago are out of it now in the NFC North with that OT loss against the 49ers leaving them with a 5-7 record. They’ll be annoyed that the Redskins are still in with a hope of winning the putrid NFC East with the same 5-7 record. Washington were in that pathetic game with the Cowboys with 18 points in 58 minutes and then 17 in the last 2! If Washington play like that again Chicago will easily put them away. Cutler had a bit of an off day last week but has been very good for most of the rest of the year. If he plays like that again despite being out of the playoff picture the 3.5 point spread will be childs play. It depends how misery Jay takes it.

Falcons@Panthers
Will Carolina take their foot off the gas now they’ve tied up the NFC South for the third year running? Or will they go for it all and try and stay unbeaten? Differing opinions for this. Should they rest starters to eliminate the risk of injury so they’re around in the playoffs or will that mean they lose momentum? Carolina without Cam Newton in the playoffs are one and done so they won’t want to risk an injury to him, and he has been taking hits. But will a Panthers team strolling into the playoffs with him well rested and out of practice be any better? It depends what Ron Rivera decides to go with here but Carolina can do the Falcons in. They had a bit of a scare in New Orleans last week but Atlanta are nosediving and Matt Ryan just isn’t playing anywhere near his best to keep them in with a shout. I can’t believe how far they have fallen with 5 straight losses but they are playing terrible football at the minute. Carolina are 7 point favourites.

Saints@Bucs
New Orleans came close last week in that 41-38 battle with Carolina and could have taken the win if it wasn’t for a dropped pass on fourth down. Tampa did enough to put Atlanta down and have won 3 from 4 to improve to 6-6. The Saints will want to break their losing streak, having lost 4 straight and I think they can manage that this week. Tampa are 3.5 point favourites but I think even without Mark Ingram who is out for the season with a shoulder injury, New Orleans will get it done on the road.

Lions@Rams
I’m not sure why the Rams are favourites here. They’ve lost 5 straight and given up 132 points in those games. You can’t expect to win many games giving up that many points, especially when you’re averaging scoring less than 15 per game! Detroit had won 3 straight and then lost on the back of a Hail Mary against the Packers. Stafford is playing better than he has all year and the Rams have just fired their offensive coordinator.

49ers@Browns
And Johnny Manziel is back in. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the Browns! Their quarterback situation is like the hokey cokey!! I think people should probably get off Manziel’s back a little. He’s obviously got a few problems but I don’t think you’re going to stop a guy who is renowned for partying from doing so. He’s young, rich and in his dream job. Would you not be partying on your weekend off? Maybe Cleveland keep the drama-o-meter cranked up to full so nobody will talk about just how completely awful their football team is! The 49ers are looking better under Gabbert and have won or been in with a shout against better teams, I think they’ll take this one. Cleveland are favourites (really?!) by a point and a half. I’m taking San Francisco.

Seahawks@Ravens
Barring a horrific accident which takes out the Seattle team bus this is only going to go one way. Baltimore might have kept games close this year with only one game being decided by more than 7 points. Seriously, this is their record – lost by 6, lost by 4, lost by 4, won by 3, lost by 3, lost by 5, lost by 8, won by 3, lost by 2, won by 3, won by 6, lost by 2. I think that might be about to get smashed. Seattle are coming hot at just the right time to make a good playoff run. Wilson is playing out of his mind well and Rawls is a perfect stand in for the injured Marshawn Lynch. No spread on this yet but I think it’ll be big. Anything under 10 and I fancy Seattle to take it.

Raiders@Broncos
Can Brock Osweiler go 4-0 as a starter? Yep. Oakland have dropped off in recent weeks but are certainly building a strong team. Carr made some big mistakes last week when the Chiefs came to town and Denver can certainly get some interceptions if he doesn’t improve his decision making and his receivers don’t get some more separation. Denver are 7 point favourites which is more than they had against San Diego last week. People are starting to have faith in Osweiler. I think 7 is definitely do-able for this Broncos team but they need to put up some points again. Oakland like a shootout, remember that Steelers game in week 9? Carr was magnificent in that game. We haven’t really seen that from Denver. Their defence should stop it turning into a shootout but they need to get past having a great defence and become a great all round team. They’ve got the pieces, they need to get to work together.

Cowboys@Packers
Dallas won a game and are still (somehow) in a position to fight for a playoff spot at 4-8. I think the NFL should make a rule that no team with a losing record should be allowed into the playoffs. We’re a couple of upsets away from a Cowboys@Jaguars Super Bowl!! Nobody wants that – well, maybe Jerry Jones, but he doesn’t seem to mind having Greg Hardy on his team so who cares what he thinks?! Green Bay played better last week but I still don’t have faith in this team. Rodgers isn’t hitting his targets when he’s on the run like he used to and a lot of times the passes are still being dropped. The Packers are not a scary proposition right now. They should be able to get a win here, Dallas aren’t really strong enough to stop Rodgers for a full 60 minute game and Matt Cassel just isn’t good enough to, well, be an NFL starter. Green Bay are 7 point favourites. They’re certainly back-able but it’s whether or not you trust them to not mess it up.

Patriots@Texans
Can Houston bounce back from that loss in Buffalo and deal the Patriots their third straight loss? New England are in trouble without their usual starters and that’s been reflected in them only being 3 point favourites here. Edelman is still out and Gronk didn’t practice on Wednesday so is doubtful for Sunday. Will we see another play where Brady is the receiver like in Philadelphia? I doubt we’ll see the drop kick play again! How many times will we see JJ Watt get to Brady? Without his favourite targets his release has slowed down and that will be music to the ears of JJ Watt! New England are a much better side than Houston, even without a bunch of star players, but Houston are still in with a shout of that AFC South title… they’ll be out to pound the Patriots. Normally this would be an easy call for New England but I’m unsure. Are they really in that much trouble?

Giants@Dolphins – MNF
Does Coughlin regret that fourth a 2 call from last week yet? He says he doesn’t but Pete Carroll says he doesn’t regret the pass call from last year’s Super Bowl! It was a ballsy call, and I like teams that go for it on fourth down but with a chance to make it a 13 point game with less than 9 minutes to play? I’d have kicked the field goal. This team should know what it’s like to give it up in the fourth quarter this year. I don’t think they should have the same issues against Miami, New York are a much better team and I fancy them to get the win on the road here. They’re favourites by a single point.

Pick 6:
49ers +1.5
Giants -1
Lions +1
Bears -3.5
Saints +3.5
Packers -7

Week 13

Week 13

5 out of 6 last week with the Cardinals letting me down for that elusive full house! Thanksgiving started with a pair of easy games with the Lions and Panthers easing past the Eagles and Cowboys before the Bears stunned the Packers who were in a party mood while retiring Brett Favre’s number at halftime. Chicago had other plans and took home the spoils to cap off turkey day. It could have been seen mind as Chicago are playing well at the minute and Green Bay are really starting to struggle and are now a game back in the NFC North thanks to another Minnesota win over the similarly struggling Atlanta Falcons. The Jets got an easy win over the Dolphins to move into second in the AFC East as the Bills folded in the second half against the rising Chiefs. Sammy Watkins managed 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half before getting nothing in the second half. The Saints defensive troubles continued as they were hammered 24-6 by Houston who are behind the Colts in the AFC South on the tiebreaker. The Chargers surprised me in getting their first win in 7 games over the Jaguars, which puts Jacksonville 2.5 games back in the AFC South with San Diego pretty much out of everything at 3-8 and stone last in the AFC West. Pittsburgh failed to keep up with Seattle in an end to end game and a fantastic day for Russell Wilson who threw 5 touchdown passes in the 39-30 victory. The Broncos needed overtime to get the win over the Patriots who will be thankful Gronkowski didn’t suffer a worse injury to his reconstructed knee. That loss means Carolina are the only team left with a perfect record and 5 games left, and they are all winnable. The slate for this week starts with an NFC North battle which could have big playoff implications. There are 9 divisional games with only the AFC East teams not getting in on that action along with the battle of the two New York teams.

Packers@Lions – TNF
The struggle in Green Bay is real. Losses to the Broncos, Panthers, Lions and Bears since their bye week with a trip to Arizona and a visit from Minnesota still on their card. They still look good for a wild card thanks mainly to the competitiveness – or lack of – in the rest of the NFC but this was a team that I had as my Super Bowl pick pre-season. I could probably cash that out for about 38 pence now! The defence is up and down and despite some of Rodgers best tricks no offence is going to move far when the receivers keep dropping the ball! Detroit look like a different side than the one that started the year. At 4-7 you’ve got to say they’re done for the year but they could still mathematically finish the year with a winning record! I doubt anyone fancies that but they could get another win at home here. The problems Green Bay are having moving the ball consistently are hurting them way too much, scoring just 59 points in the last 3 weeks, compared to 96 in the first 3 weeks and 81 by Detroit in the last 3 weeks. Would it actually be an upset if Detroit beat Green Bay for the 2nd time this year? The Pack come in as 2.5 point favourites and I just don’t have faith backing them right now.

Cardinals@Rams
They might be the team that let me down last week but I do have faith in backing Carson Palmer and this Cardinals team. They may have lost the reverse fixture earlier this year and St Louis might be 3-0 against the NFC West but have lost 4 straight by a combined 54 points! Arizona haven’t been winning by big margins since their bye but against Seattle and Cincinnati that wasn’t really to be expected was it? Last week I thought they would eviscerate San Francisco and yet they struggled to edge a win. I’m thinking a team this deep with talent can bounce back and march through St Louis by more than 5.5.

Falcons@Bucs
The poor Falcons slide continues. Since going 5-0 they’ve gone 1-5 as they remind everyone of the NFC South of last year and threaten to catch the Saints. Tampa Bay are massively improved on last year and come in as favourites here. I think this could be quite an interesting little game as it would tie the records at 6-6 and give the Bucs the advantage going into the playoff battle with an easier schedule. For Atlanta this is the definition of a must win game as they’ve got the Panthers twice in 3 weeks. A loss here and they’re done. Personally I think they are anyway but a loss here will surely be it for them. Tampa were pretty soundly beaten by Indy last week but a convincing win in Philadelphia the week before showed they can put up points on a team in trouble.

Ravens@Dolphins
Aside from that kick six on Monday night there hasn’t really been much positive said about Baltimore this year. They have won 3 of their last 4 games but at 4-7 and without Flacco they’re deader than Jesus’s pet lemming! Miami are better than they started the year but they’re done too. That crazy contract they gave Suh just hasn’t paid off the way they expected and Tannehill hasn’t really improved on last season. Miami are favoured by 4 and should be able to manage that. If Cleveland can get close to the win then Miami should be able to get it!

Bengals@Browns
Ah Cleveland. Even against a decimated Ravens team and a last second field goal to kick for a win, somehow you still manage to get it all wrong and end up losing. And after reinstating Josh McCown he gets injured again. Why did McCown get the starter job back again? Oh yeah, your first round pick from last year lied about partying during the bye week so you put him back to third stringer. After his stint in rehab. I REALLY want to know what you did to so mightily piss off the footballing gods! Suggestions on a postcard!
The game this week? Really? Alright, Cinci are 9.5 point road favourites on the back of a 24 point win against the Rams last time out. Cleveland couldn’t kick a field goal against Baltimore. Last time out was a 21 point win for the Bengals.

Texans@Bills
Another big game for the playoffs this. Buffalo are still in with a shout at 5-6 but Houston are starting to click at last with 4 straight wins and a shot at the AFC South title. The Bills had Kansas on the ropes last week with some big plays to Watkins before giving up tons of yardage and not challenging calls. Rex Ryan for most of this season has been great with his little red flag but last week was shocking. The Bills still lead the league in penalties and I reckon they’ll end up giving a few more out this week trying to contain JJ Watt. Tyrod Taylor can be an evasive quarterback but Watt is a beast, a couple of hits from him and we might be seeing EJ Manuel back on the field and the Bills hopes up in smoke again. Houston need some more of the consistency they’ve been showing in recent weeks and I think they can edge out a tough road win here.

Jags@Titans
Despite the Titans sharing the worst record in the NFL with Cleveland they come in as favourites against Jacksonville. The same Jaguars team that was being seriously talked about as a playoff contender just a couple of weeks ago. Probably because they’re in the AFC South and it’s been garbage all year but nevertheless. Bortles has been making some silly mistakes of late, penalties for throwing after the line of scrimmage – rookie mistakes in his second season. Mariota has been solid in games other teams would have won. The reverse of this game was just a couple of weeks ago where the Jags ground out a 19-13 win. I fancy another similar game where it’s ugly and you think those who didn’t watch the game won it.

Jets@Giants
The battle of New York (or should that be New Jersey?) has the Jets having a really long trip to this away game! The Jets have been a bit up and down after a rather lightning start to the year but had a pretty good showing last time out against Miami managing 38 points, a season high for them. The Giants had a good showing in the loss to New England but then looked awful against Washington last week with Manning tossing 3 picks and going 26-51. They are anything but good numbers going up against the Jets this year. Fitzpatrick looked fine last time out and hit 22-37 of his passes and Chris Ivory showed up again in the running game. I’ll make a bold prediction that New York will win… 2.5 point spread favouring the Jets and I’ll say they can manage it.

Seahawks@Vikings
This could be a riot! Despite losing Marshawn Lynch the Seahawks still have a great ground game thanks to Rawls. Wilson had an amazing game last time out and the defence looked surer for more of the game. They will be without Jimmy Graham who had a season ending injury but he hasn’t looked comfortable in this offence all year. Going up against a similar styled team in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson in great form I think this can come down to how often the defences can get to the opposing quarterback. Bridgewater can take some punishment but Seattle have been getting through gaps and attacking bigger quarterbacks than this, he’ll need to keep on his toes or quicken his release or Minnesota may be in trouble. Wilson is usually great at avoiding sacks either by darting off on a run of his own or just throwing the ball away. Minnesota will want a lot more of the latter or we could have a walkover on our hands. I’m hoping it won’t be, I’m hoping for a tight defensive battle with a strong running game from both sides here. The Seahawks are favoured by 1; can they get their third win in a row for the first time this season? Or should the bookies be favouring the home side which is leading the NFC North after winning 6 of its last 7?

49ers@Bears
Well, Gabbert has proved a lot of people very wrong. Since the Jags gave up on him he has clearly been working hard and has almost turned this offence into one that can win games. He did of course lead them to one but I don’t think he’ll have another one this week. Chicago have been playing very well lately winning 3 of 4 and the loss being a 2 pointer against the Broncos. Chicago are favoured by 6.5 which is definitely do-able at the minute for this side. Yes the 49ers defence stepped up and allowed only 19 against the Cardinals but I’m thinking that was a one off and Cutler and the Bears will get a fair sized victory this week.

Broncos@Chargers
Osweiler has clearly learned a lot behind Peyton Manning after leading his team to a huge win over the previously unbeaten Patriots last week. New England may have been hit with a lot of injury problems but to come back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter is huge. The Broncos are starting to come back to life and can earn another win this week against the Chargers. San Diego may have got the win last week thanks to Philip Rivers, who is still playing amazing football despite having half a team, but against this Denver defence they will struggle. Broncos are 4.5 point favourites on the road here which is a big ask for Osweiler in his third start, but if he can beat Brady and New England, he can do this!

Chiefs@Raiders
This game is huge for the AFC playoff picture. Oakland slumped to 3 straight losses after looking like a serious contender after their week 8 win against the Jets, and even after that close fought battle with Pittsburgh in week 9. Kansas meanwhile have hit serious form, winning five straight and looking so much better than the team everyone fancied preseason. A slow start last week against Buffalo showed they can still be beaten with some good defending but that is something Oakland don’t really have. Alex Smith tends to keep to short passes and longer drives so stopping receivers after the catch will be crucial. Kansas favoured by 3 on the road. Oakland can be a tough place to go, but I have some faith in this KC side.

Panthers@Saints
This one is more a question of how many points will New Orleans allow this week isn’t it? Drew Brees didn’t throw a touchdown last week in the first time in 45 games. He is capable of bouncing back but the Saints just don’t have much for him to aim at. Carolina meanwhile are still unbeaten and marching toward a playoff bye. How many will Cam and the Panthers put on New Orleans this week? Over 30. Can New Orleans get within 7 of that? Doubtful.

Eagles@Patriots
The big question surrounding this game is whether or not Gronk will be back. Reports were saying he’ll be out for a maximum of one week but the Patriots put out a statement saying they’ll be evaluating him week to week. That’s pretty sensible seeing as they’re surely going to make the playoffs but won’t go much further without him when you look at their other injuries. Gronk has been a huge part of this Patriots offence and without Lewis, Edelman and Amendola, Brady doesn’t exactly have a ton of targets does he? Can the Pats really make a run with just Gronk and LaFell? They can certainly beat the Eagles. This team has gone from bad to worse this year but somehow is still in with a shot at the playoffs thanks to an awful NFC East. It would be a huge upset for them to get a win in New England and I don’t think it’s even likely. With a 9.5 point spread you never know, especially if the Patriots decide to rest Gronk. I still think it’s unlikely the Eagles will get that close but New England are hurting right now.

Colts@Steelers
Still no spread on this one, probably while we wait to see what’s going on with Big Ben and his concussion/migraine and whether or not Luck will be back. Hasselbeck has been a good backup for Indy this year but I don’t think he could hold off a Roethlisberger lead Steelers offence this year. This should be a big game as well for the AFC playoff picture, a loss here and a win for Houston will see movement at the top of the AFC South. A loss for Pittsburgh could see them drop out of a wild card spot depending on other results around the league. Hard to predict a spread without knowing who is likely to be starting QB for each side but I’m leaning towards the Steelers by around 5.

Cowboys@Redskins – MNF
Romo didn’t last long did he? Again. The Cowboys haven’t put him on IR yet on the slim chance they make the playoffs. My (not so) bold prediction? They won’t. They’re 2 games behind the Giants and this week’s opponents and relying on a backup quarterback who hasn’t been able to win a game for them this year. In short, not gonna happen! Washington have shown improvement this year behind Cousins and Dallas weren’t exactly lighting it up last week, even with Romo playing, while Washington got an important win over the Giants. Washington is the favoured side by 4.5 and I’m thinking that sounds pretty tempting. The Cowboys defence can be pretty decent and can keep the score down but I’m thinking Washington can capitalise on any turnovers and get the win.

Pick 6:
Texans +3
Cardinals -5.5
Chiefs -3
Panthers -7
Bengals -9.5
Dolphins -4

As always, good luck with any bets you have.

Week 12

2 right and one push last week wasn’t the best pick six, The Raiders really let me down with that loss to Detroit. Are the Lions finally getting some traction late in the year or are Oakland running out of steam? Green Bay seemed to find something again with a cracking win over the Vikings to tie the NFC North at 7-3 with Minnesota sitting in the top spot thanks to their 3-1 divisional record with the Pack being 2-1 going into their game against the Bears this week. The Ravens had a narrow win in a lost season but have also lost Flacco for the rest of the year to injury. The Colts managed a win over Atlanta, the Falcons are really coming unstuck at the minute and are under threat from the Bucs in the NFC South with their big win over the Eagles. The Texans stayed in touch in the AFC South with a win over the Jets with the Colts staying top thanks to the tiebreaker earlier in the year. The Jags are still hanging around at 4-6 thanks to their win in Tennessee. The Chiefs demolished the Chargers and the Seahawks did similar things to the Gabbert fronted 49ers. The big game was the Cardinals close win over the Bengals with a last second field goal to stay out front in the NFC West. The Bills stayed close to the Patriots but had a bit of a breakdown offensively and might be missing Tyrod this week with injury. New England are still struggling with injury and relied quite heavily on Amendola and missed him late in the game but held on to stay unbeaten. Onto this week, we have no teams on a bye and 3 games on Thursday what it being Thanksgiving in America. The games don’t look amazing so we don’t have too much to be thankful for!

Week 12

Eagles@Lions – TNF 5.30pm
Philly seemed to miss Sam Bradford in their embarassing 45-17 home loss to the Buccaneers while the Lions have won two straight coming into this. The Eagles are still going in as one point favourites which I don’t agree with. They can win games as they showed against the Giants but that was way back in week 6. They are way too up and down to believe in as a team and may still be without Bradford this week leaving it up to Sanchez again. Stafford meanwhile had a very good outing last week against the Raiders and I’m tempted to take the home side to get their third win in a row and improve to the heady heights of 4-7.

Panthers@Cowboys – TNF 9.30pm
This line started with the Cowboys as favourites with them welcoming Romo back into the fold and finally breaking that losing streak at Miami. It has flipped back and forth all week and right now is back with the ‘boys being 2 point favourites against the unbeaten Panthers. Dallas could have been a playoff calibre team had Romo not been injured but have to be considered a long shot at 3-7 despite being in the awful NFC East. That being said they lost 7 in a row without him and Carolina have been showing more and more promise each week and look like a legitimate Super Bowl candidate thanks to some great defending and Super Cam! I’ve got to fancy Carolina to stay unbeaten here, and quite honestly look more likely to go 16-0 than New England right now!

Bears@Packers – TNF 1.30am
Green Bay where have you been?! We still had drops galore from Randall Cobb which has to start becoming worrying this late in the season but they got a very important win last time out against the Vikings. Lacy played his part at long last but I need to see more than one game to start believing again. Chicago couldn’t capitalise on the Broncos starting Osweiler and were narrowly beaten but look a different team than earlier this year when the Seahawks shut them out. Chicago actually looked alright in week 1 in the reverse of this game and with Cutler playing better they could cause some problems at Lambeau to close out Thanksgiving Thursday. They are missing Matt Forte but with the bookies making this an 8.5 point spread I quite like the look of the Bears.

Bills@Chiefs
Whether or not Tyrod is fit will settle my opinion on this one. I think Kansas can get it done against a banged up Bills side despite Buffalo holding New England to a 20-13 game on Monday, it was physical and Buffalo had a lot of men carted off the field. Kansas has been great at stopping the run recently and on a short week Shady McCoy must be exhausted. Kansas are field goal experts this year and Buffalo can hold them to needing a lot of them, but Kansas tend to score a lot. 6.5 points? If EJ is listed as a starter that’s probably money in the bank, if Tyrod isn’t fully fit it could be too. As much as I hate to say it. Both sides at 5-5 and in the AFC playoff hunt, this is an important game.

Jets@Dolphins
Divisional matchup and the Jets can move into second in the AFC East with a win here. They’ve been a bit out of sorts recently with back to back losses. Miami have improved on the start of the year and won’t get embarrassed like they did in London.The Dolphins defence has gotten tougher but was exposed by Houston last week which must give the Jets hope. The Jets defense meanwhile needs to get back to how it was at the start of the year as Tannehill can make plays given the chance. A 3.5 pointer here and I’m tempted to take the Jets again as they are a better side than Miami, they just need to show it!

Vikings@Falcons
Vikings. Atlanta are 2 point favourites yet lost against the 5-5 Colts with their backup quarterback. Minnesota were stuffed in the running game by Green Bay but I think they’ll have a field day against the collapsing Falcons. Not much else to say on this except I’m backing the Vikings. Hard.

Saints@Texans
Can’t bring myself to really care about this matchup. Sorry. The Saints defence is utterly, utterly atrocious and Drew Brees just can’t do enough to keep this team respectable. The Texans are staying in the hunt in the terrible AFC South and should probably win here but what a pair of underachieving teams. Both sides expected better this year and frankly so did all the NFL fans. Houston are 3 point favourites and if they don’t do that they ought to be ashamed of themselves!

Giants@Redskins
The reverse fixture this year was a pretty poor game that started with a safety Washington should be ashamed of. Cousins has turned the team around since then however and Washington remain in play, just a game behind the Giants, so big game again. New York still find ways to lose games and I hope they spent their bye week reflecting on how NOT to lose games. They could have got a big scalp against New England but faltered. Manning (the one with 2 Super Bowl rings and less than 6 million interceptions this year) can lead this team to wins but is failing too much. I still think they’re the best team in the awful NFC East but not by much against this improved Washington side. Giants 1.5 point favourites. Go on.

Raiders@Titans
Oakland have stuttered the last two weeks in games they were capable of winning. I can forgive them in that shootout with Pittsburgh in week 9 but they could have beaten Minnesota with a better run game and they definitely should have beaten Detroit last week. If they don’t beat Tennessee I worry for them. They’re much improved and I still like Carr as a quarterback, but they need a bit more in the backfield and on defence. The Titans should be easy picking for them this year but Tennessee can put up surprises. Oakland are 2 point favourites and I like them on that, but don’t discount the Titans totally. They aren’t as bad as that 2-8 record suggests.

Chargers@Jags
You have to feel for Philip RIvers. The man has kept this team in games all year despite watching his team fall apart at the seams. Last week it all went the way we expected since about week 4! They got humiliated 33-3 by Kansas City and come in against a Jaguars team that can smell the chance of the playoffs. Bortles is better but is still getting hit too often and rushing throws because of it. There shouldn’t be too muchh worry of that this week and I predict a win for Jacksonville but perhaps not by a huge amount. This Jags defence has holes that Rivers can find despite being missing a lot of his targets. Jags -4? Hmmmm…

Rams@Bengals
St Louis must be done now surely? They can’t win games against anyone outside of their division unless they’re Cleveland! Cincinnati lost a close fought game with Arizona and will want the win here to keep Pittsburgh at bay in the suddenly competetive race for the AFC North. They’re 8.5 point favourites against this up and down Rams side and Dalton can fire that up surely?

Bucs@Colts
Anyone have these two meeting at 5-5 in week 12? Didn’t think so! Tampa are so much better this year and, well, we’ve all seen what has happened to Indy. The Colts are 3.5 point favourites but I’m not sure I agree with that. Tampa ran riot over the Eagles last week after a close fought win over the Cowboys the week before. This is a side with some edge right now. I think Indy are the better overall side but they haven’t been putting it all together all season long. Potential upset on the cards? Maybe.

Cardinals@49ers
9.5 points for the Cardinals? If Seattle can do Gabbert and the 49ers by 16 surely the high scoring Cardinals can go more than that! Kaepernick is offically out now and the Niners are apparently looking at trade options for their previous franchise quarterback. Trouble has found this team a lot this year and I don’t see this week being the time for a big upset win over their divisional rivals. Straight easy win for Arizona methinks.

Steelers@Seahawks
This could be interesing. Both sides are improved and fighting for a playoff spot and this game could be a very important one in that battle. The Seahawks have home turf advantage the bookies reckon is worth 4.5 points here. Pittsburgh have Big Ben back and on the back of their 30-9 win against the Browns have had a week off. I think the road team can make a case for a win here to stay in the hunt for that winning spot in the AFC North. Seattle need the win but aren’t looking like the focussed team they have been these last few years. They’re also without Lynch as he goes in for surgery for a sports hernia. Roethlisberger and Brown to go for a pair of big touchdowns and a big road win in Seattle.

Patriots@Broncos
No Brady vs Manning here. Probably for the best as Manning struggles through his injuries. Osweiler showed well in his debut last week and lead Denver to a win. It’ll probably be harder against Brady and the unbeaten Patriots, but this is a much weakened New England side. Denver have the defence to shut them down like Buffalo did for most of the Monday game, it’s mainly on the New England defence to shut down Osweiler and the Broncos offence. New England are 3 point favourites and I think I’ll take them. You never know though, I think it could be a defensive battle and a low scoring grind with someone coming out on top by a couple of points.

Ravens@Browns – MNF
What a way to end the week eh? 3-7 @ 2-8. No Flacco with his season ending knee injury. No Manziel as the Browns benched him after pictures emerged of him enjoying the bye week with a party. Not the end of the world normally but he is weeks out of rehab and supposed to be setting himself up as the best in the NFL – what a pillock! Cleveland are rightly in as favourites by a pair of points which has to be because Baltimore are probably lucky to still have enough players to name as a starting lineup! I haven’t gone with Cleveland yet in my pick 6, is this the week to go with them?

Pick 6:
Lions +1
Panthers +2
Vikings +2
Raiders -2
Cardinals -9.5
Texans -3

Nah, can’t bring myself to back Cleveland. Sorry!

Good luck with any bets, and ya’ll know this is just my opinion right?

Introduction

Greetings Internet folk. I signed up for this a while back with the intention (mainly) of posting my weekly musings of the NFL which I have been writing for the last couple of years but I never got round to it. I’ve finally decided that it’s time to make this available to any poor sod who wants it. Starting at the logical time in the season the first one will land on these very pages just in time for week 12 of the regular season. When would you have started?

 

I’m probably also going to throw up some other random musings about other sports so there isn’t a big empty gap after Super Bowl 50.

 

This also might make it a little easier to share for the main reader of this (you know who you are – Dave!) and for people to either congratulate me when I make spot on observations or, more likely, throw abuse my way for picking the Packers when they were clearly going to lose at home for the first time since 1991 to the 1-7 Lions! Seriously, if you bet on Detroit last week, well done! I thought a ragtag band of one legged Kenyans and a couple of hermit crabs could have beaten the Lions this season. Sometimes strange things happen in this league and that’s one of the main reasons I love it so. Behind all the crap that goes on it’s a great sport.

Anyway. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you make a few quid. Feel free to shout back to me. Game on!