The scores from Week 12 paint a disastrous picture for picking games, with yours truly going 4-10 after several upsets in the NFL.
It never helps when a previous one-loss team loses to a six-loss team. Or when the allegedly talented Houston Texans (2-9) can’t seem to steal a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9). Or, perhaps, when the Arizona Cardinals (7-4) blow away what is supposed to be one of the top teams in the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts (7-4).
And then there was the Patriots-Broncos game. I was on the wrong end of that.
So we go into Week 13 with a more concerned perspective of each team that has caused all of this confusion, including the Cardinals and Jaguars.
Here’s my Week 13 NFL picks:
Packers (+6.5) at Lions (-6.5) — If the Lions can’t win this game, just write them off completely. Green Bay is still without Aaron Rodgers and there’s really nothing else to say. It’s a matter of execution on Detroit’s part.
My pick: Lions
Raiders (+9) at Cowboys (-9) — The Raiders are expected to get Darren McFadden (hamstring) back, but will continue to be without Tyvon Branch (ankle) and Jason Hunter (foot). The Cowboys are coming off a strong division win over the New York Giants. Here’s the thing, these two teams are at odds. The Raiders can’t pass (ranked 29th overall in the league) and the Cowboys can’t defend the pass (31st overall in the league). But the Cowboys can certainly throw the ball and the Raiders have a helluva time stopping it (25th overall passing defense).
My pick: Cowboys
Steelers (+3) at Ravens (-3) — After Baltimore’s convincing 19-3 win over the New York Jets, one would be more inclined to favor this home team. The Ravens have a defense that can handle a moderately improved Steelers passing (262.2 yards per game) attack and most assuredly Pittsburgh’s luke warm running game (77.3 yards per game). But then you look at Ben Roethlisberger’s history against the Ravens (11-4 in the regular season), which isn’t necessarily in complete agreement with what we’ve seen so far this season between these two teams, and you go and look back at the Steelers’ previous 19-16 win over the Ravens, and all of a sudden your mind is made up. It’s like fate between these two teams and the Steelers somehow always come out on the right side of it.
My pick: Steelers
Buccaneers (+9) at Panthers (-9) — The Bucs are on a three-game winning streak, which has been punctuated by huge wins against the Atlanta Falcons (41-28) and Detroit Lions (24-21). In other circumstances, that would be very convincing. But these Bucs are 3-8 for a reason: an inability to throw the ball against quality defenses, neither of which are the Falcons or Lions. The Panthers on the other hand, are seventh best in the NFL against the pass and third best against the run. Plus, they have Cam Newton.
My pick: Panthers
Jaguars (+7) at Browns (-7) — The Jaguars put together their best win of the season last week, which is not saying much for a 2-9 team, against the Houston Texans, holding their opponent to only six points. But the Browns have this weird allure to them and a surprisingly good defense to hang their hats on. It’s been an up-and-down ride in Cleveland. This is not one they want to lose.
My pick: Browns
Patriots (-9) at Texans (+9) — Plenty to like about the Patriots after their 34-31 overtime win over the Denver Broncos. Now going into Houston (2-9), the Patriots have only to worry about staying healthy on a somewhat questionable field.
My pick: Patriots
Titans (+4) at Colts (-4) — Two weeks ago, the Titans kept it close against their AFC South rival, losing 30-27, leaving one to believe there is some parity between the two teams. And there’s some truth to that. The Titans have lost four in a row to the Colts by an average of 6.7 points. But there’s reason to believe they’ll break the streak, especially after another demoralizing loss for the Colts, 40-11 to the Arizona Cardinals.
My pick: Titans
Bears (+1) at Vikings (-1) — Jay Cutler (ankle) is still out and now Bears running back Matt Forte (knee) has missed a practice. Forte is reportedly still going to play. But the concern over their availability would normally make you worry about Chicago and its ability to move the ball. But Josh McCown, with 352 yards passing and two touchdowns last week, is impressive enough to continue to side with Chicago in a matchup with a Vikings team that is remarkably inconsistent, having won two of their last eight games.
My pick: Bears
Dolphins (+1) at Jets (-1) — The Dolphins have lost six of their last eight games. But each and every game in that span, save for Miami’s matchups with the New Orleans Saints and Patriots, has been decided by four points or fewer. Whereas the Jets are in a rough stretch, having lost two straight road games by a combined 39 points. Geno Smith has been a huge part of the problem, going 9 of 22 passing last week. But New York is 4-1 at home and the familiarity of a division opponent will probably help with the Jets in their place of comfort.
My pick: Jets
Cardinals (+3) at Eagles (-3) — We’re getting to a point in which we can no longer discount the accomplishments of the Arizona Cardinals (7-4), who have won four straight games. The league’s second best rushing defense (81.3 yards allowed per game) will have to deal with the likes of LeSean McCoy (1,009 rushing yards) and a Nick Foles led offense that has found its rhythm.
My pick: Cardinals
Falcons (+3.5) at Buffalo (-3.5) — At some point, all the fight in the Falcons (2-9) will likely dissipate. They’re in the midst of a five-game losing streak, keeping it close last week against the New Orleans Saints (17-13). The Bills on the other hand are coming off the bye after a strong win over the Jets. They’ll have both wide receivers Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods back. There’s more than a strong chance the Bills will continue Atlanta’s slide.
My pick: Bills
Rams (+9) at 49ers (-9) — If the first meeting between these two teams is any indication, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will continue to improve upon his season and Frank Gore will get out of his rut. Kaepernick threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns in that Week 4 matchup and Gore ran for 153 yards. Add in a healthy Michael Crabtree and the odds appear in San Francisco’s favor.
My pick: 49ers
Broncos (-5) at Chiefs (+5) — The Denver Broncos are dealing with some injuries after their loss to the Patriots. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (shoulder), running back Knowshon Moreno (ankle) and backup tight end Joel Dreesen (knee) all did not participate in Wednesday’s practice. (Peyton Manning also did not practice Wednesday, but he’s expected to play in Sunday’s game.) At the same time, the Kansas City Chiefs have their own injury woes. Linebacker Justin Houston reportedly will miss Sunday’s game after suffering a dislocated elbow last week. It’ll be tough for the Chiefs to deal without Houston, who is a big part of the team’s pass rush.
My pick: Broncos
Bengals (+1.5) at Chargers (-1.5) — Philip Rivers led an amazing comeback last week against the Chiefs. He’s thrown for 3,381 yards and 22 touchdowns so far this season, helping the San Diego Chargers to the fourth ranked passing offense (296.9 yards per game). The Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) are coming off the bye after a blowout win over the Cleveland Browns (41-20). In each game they’ve lost, the margin of defeat has been an average of 4.75 points, usually just one score away. And they’re 5-0 at home.
My pick: Bengals
Giants (-1) at Washington (+1) — Prior to last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants (4-7) were streaking, winning four games in a row. They’ve made significant improvements, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Washington, despite a stout running game, can’t seem to figure out how to win consistently. With the spread at just one point, it’s easy to take the Giants without putting too much thought into this one.
My pick: Giants
Saints (+6) at Seahawks (-6) — You gotta think that with the help the Seattle Seahawks (10-1) get at CenturyLink Field because of the noise, it’s tough to think even the talented New Orleans Saints (9-2) won’t struggle. The Seahawks are 5-0 at home this season, winning by an average of 17 points. They have also won 13 straight at home and are 8-1 in primetime games under coach Pete Carroll.
My pick: Seahawks
Last week: 4-10
Zuri Berry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.