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Week Twelve Picks

November 24th, 2013

We’ve got to the point in the season where you can actually see how games could matter, even in instances where the teams playing them don’t. So that’s kind of exciting, right? Here’s what not to expect.

Tampa Bay (+8) at Detroit
The Buccaneers only need one thing to be able to truly competitive in games like this: An offense. Here’s one of those instances where the team that wins the turnover battle still loses the game, as Tampa comes out +1 in giveaway/takeaway and -7 on the scoreboard. That is, Lions by a touchdown.

Jacksonville (+10) at Houston
The Texans haven’t won a game since week two. The Jaguars are the Jaguars. Houston by nine.

Minnesota (+4.5) at Green Bay
The 5-5 Packers are holding on for dear life, hoping Aaron Rodgers can get back on the field before their post-season hopes are completely wiped out. And while the 2-8 Vikings are in a race for nothing but the first pick in the 2014 draft (they’re not “winning” that one, either), there’s no question that they’d be happy to play spoiler against their hated division rivals. If this game were in Minnesota, the Vikings would have a chance. But it isn’t. Green Bay should manage to get just enough done at home to steal a win and stay alive for another week. Or, you know, four days — until they get to Detroit on Thanksgiving. Packers by a field goal.

San Diego (+4) at Kansas City
Whether the Chiefs actually have something to prove after their week eleven loss at Denver (I don’t think they do) doesn’t matter. The Chiefs no doubt think they have something to prove. And the Chargers offer them a chance to prove it up and down the field. The Kansas City offense puts up 30-plus for the first time this season, and the defense adds a score as the Chiefs bring San Diego’s season to an ugly, early conclusion. Kansas City by 17.

Carolina (-4.5) at Miami
Bit of a change of pace for the Pass Interferences, who might actually manage a legitimate victory this week. Carolina by six.

Pittsburgh (+2) at Cleveland
If the Browns had a running game, they’d be able to effectively eliminate the Steelers from playoff contention while keeping their own hopes alive. And if I had a banana, I’d be a … well, I’d be a guy with a banana who doesn’t think the Browns can win this game. Pittsburgh by four.

Chicago (+1.5) at St. Louis
At some point, the Bears’ injury situation has to begin to catch up with them, doesn’t it? Rams by a field goal.

NY Jets (+3.5) at Baltimore
You could, and many are, look at this game as the match that decides the AFC six seed. But it isn’t. The Jets are headed for 8-8. The Ravens are headed for 7-9. Baltimore is going to have to settle for knowing that they were the better team head-to-head. Ravens by seven.

Tennessee (-1.5) at Oakland
This is what we wait all week for, isn’t it, football fans? I don’t know what to make of this game. I know what to make of these teams. They’re bad. Both of them. But I’m not sure which is worse. So I’m just going with the home team by three. Because that way I can stop thinking about it.

Indianapolis (+3) at Arizona
If the season ended today, the Colts would be the AFC two seed. The Cardinals would be one of a handful of teams to just miss the NFC six seed. But the Cards are going in the right direction while the Colts are trailing off. Arizona by four.

Dallas (+2.5) at NY Giants
Neither of these teams has any business being in contention for anything. And yet … NFC East. Ugh. So long as they can hold on to the ball, the Giants should win it by a touchdown.

Denver (-2.5) at New England
Remember when the Patriots used to beat Peyton Manning‘s Colts by controlling the ball, slowing down the game and keeping Manning’s offense on the sideline? I expect this game to look a lot like that. The Patriots (who will actually take the ball if they win the toss) will come out throwing short passes, then, once they’ve opened up running lanes, start pounding the ball up the middle. The New England D will get two turnovers, one fumble (against a Broncos team that leads the league in fumbles lost) and one pick. Aided by the cold and wind, the Pats will limit the Broncos to their lowest point total of the season, and they’ll come out ahead 27-24.

San Francisco (+5) at Washington
One of these teams is making a run at a repeat trip to the playoffs. The other is making a run at last place in the NFL’s worst division. I’m not sure what else needs to be said. 49ers by 13.

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