Time to move on from the euphoria of beating the Broncos, and move onto the Houston Texans. With their win over The Horseface, the Pats have an outside chance of earning the #1 seed in the AFC. Folks, wouldn't it be a much better scenario to face the Broncos again in Foxborough, than have to travel to Denver, and play before all those orange clad Yahoos? But to do so, the Patriots have no margin for error. They must sweep their remaining five games, @ Houston, Cleveland, @ Miami, @ Baltimore, and Buffalo. Though the Miami and Baltimore road games appear daunting, the Pats have the talent to pull it off. In any event, here are my Week 13 picks, with the "Game of the Week" being:
1.) (9-2) Denver Broncos @ (9-2) Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5): After squandering a golden opportunity to all but wrap up home field advantage in the AFC play-offs by losing to the Patriots, the Broncos may now have to win out to secure that advantage. Following this weeks' game, Denver has the Titans and Chargers at home, before finishing up with two cupcakes in warm weather games on the road, @ Houston and @ Oakland. The Chiefs have lost two straight. With top pass rusher Justin Houston out (elbow injury), and Tamba Hali trying to play through an ankle sprain, they're certainly going to have their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, unseasonably warm temperatures of 50 degrees is forecasted for Sunday...but with the chance of rain and wind. With RB Knowshon Moreno hobbled, windy conditions could put a strain on Mr. Dome's brain...and passing arm. Let's hope so: PICK: Broncos;
2.) (5-5-1) Green Bay Packers (+5.5) @ (6-5) Detroit Lions: Thanksgiving Day game marks the return of solid back-up QB Matt Flynn to Green Bay. A couple of years ago, you may recall that Flynn lit up the Lions defense for six TD passes and over 400 yards passing, in Detroit. It was that game that earned Flynn a huge free agency contract with Seattle...just prior to the arrival of Russell Wilson. I don't like the way the Lions are playing, as they have now lost two straight to not so great Pittsburgh, and even less great Tampa Bay. But then, some of the Packers' players ans ex=players started shooting their mouths off about how the Lions were a "dirty team". This could be serve to be the swift kick in the butt that the Lions so desperately need, and deserve: PICK: Lions;
3.) (4-7) Oakland Raiders (+9.5) @ (6-5) Dallas Cowboys: The second of three Thanksgiving Day games on paper should be a cake-walk for the Cowboys. But, Dallas has a tendency to play up to the level of their competition. It will also be interesting to see whether they suffer any let-down after an emotional win over the Giants in N.Y.. The 9.5 spread is too enticing to pass up: PICK: Raiders;
4.) (5-6) Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) @ (5-6) Baltimore Ravens: This amounts to a playoff elimination game between these two bitter rivals. Ever since getting blown out by the Patriots in Foxborough, the Steelers have regrouped, and won three straight games. But, the Ravens are playing better of late too, and are tough to beat on their home field. This should be a fun game to watch: PICK: Ravens;
5.) (5-6) Tennessee Titans (+4.5) @ (7-4) Indianapolis Colts: Tennessee's win in Oakland coupled with Indy's 40-11 debacle in Arizona has brought the Titans within striking range of an AFC South divisional title. A win over the Colts cuts Indy's divisional lead to just a game. The way the Colts have been playing of late gives the Titans more than a puncher's chance in this one: PICK: Titans;
6.) (2-9) Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) @ (4-7) Cleveland Browns: What are the Jaguars doing? By winning two of their last three games, they are playing themselves out of the top pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Cleveland's season went down in smoke after the Browns got smoked at home, 27-11, by the Steelers: PICK: Jaguars;
7.) (3-8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+8.5) @ (8-3) Carolina Panthers: The Bucs are on a roll, having won three straight games. But, Carolina has won seven straight. I doubt that the ucs will best the Panthers, but that 8.5 point spread seems to be a tad high: PICK: Buccaneers;
8.) (6-5) Chicago Bears @ (2-8-1) Minnesota Vikings (+2.5): Though Chicago's defense is awful, do the Vikings have enough fire power to take advantage? Bears' RB Matt Forte likely will miss this game after suffering a hyper-extended knee last week. In what should be a fairly high scoring game: PICK: Vikings;
9.) (7-4) Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) @ (6-5) Philadelphia Eagles: The Cardinals' defense is underrated. The Cards need a win to keep pace with the (7-4) 49ers, in hopes of earning a playoff birth. If their OL can provide Carson Palmer with enough time to make some plays down field, I like their chances: PICK: Cardinals;
10.) (5-6) Miami Dolphins (+1.5) @ (5-6) N.Y. Jets: The fact that these two teams still have a chance to earn a playoff birth speaks volumes against the NFL expanding the play-offs by adding two additional ward card teams per conference. Sorry Jets fans, but Geno Smith simply isn't the answer to your QB prayers: PICK: Dolphins;
11.) (2-9) Atlanta Falcons (+3.5) @ (4-7) Buffalo Bills: How the mighty have fallen. Hard to believe that the Falcons were within a score of going to the SB last season. Though I don't like surrendering 3.5 points, the Bills usually play well at home: PICK: Buffalo;
12.) (5-6) St. Louis Rams (+7.5) @ (7-4) San Francisco 49ers: Neanderthal football by the Bay. Both teams have good defenses, but are offensively challenged. The ams always appear to play the 49ers tough: PICK: Rams;
13.) (8-3) New England Patriots @ (2-9) Houston Texans (+8): Could be a trap game for the Patriots. Though the Texans haven't won a game since September, they still have a decent defense, led by that Biff from "Back to the Future" look alike, J.J. Watt. Watt is good enough to disrupt an offense on his own. Look for the revenge minded Texans to prepare and play in this game like it's their SB. The Pats must score early to remove all hope from the Texans. Otherwise, they could be in for a dog-fight. Though an eight point spread seems a tad high: PICK: Patriots;
14.) (7-4) Cincinnati Bengals @ (5-6) San Diego Chargers (PK): Huge game for both teams, with playoff implications. The Bengals are beginning to look over their shoulders in the AFC North, with the Steelers and Ravens in hot pursuit. The Chargers must have this game to retain their wildcard playoff hopes: PICK: Bengals;
15.) (4-7) N.Y. Giants (+2.5) @ (3-8) Washington Redskins: The Giants likely blew their chance of storming back and winning their division, by losing to Dallas for the second time this season. The Redskins are awful: PICK: Giants;
16.) (9-2) New Orleans Saints (+5.5) @ (10-1) Seattle Seahawks: When outside of the prestine conditions of his dome sweet dome, Drew Brees becomes a rather ordinary QB. The Seahawks are particularly brutal at home: PICK: Seahawks.
BEST BETS: Seahawks, Giants, Dolphins.
As always, your predictions and thoughts, particularly on the Patriots' game, are welcome. Have a great day, my friends!