John Canton: It's week thirteen of the NFL season. As always I'm joined by Bret Clev and Mike Maloney to go over every game this week.
Some quick thoughts on the Thursday game:
Atlanta 23 - New Orleans 13: I was the only one of the three of us that was on the Falcons this week although it wasn't because of their defense. I thought it would be a high scoring game that was typical of these teams. I expected the Falcons to show off their offensive firepower. That didn't really happen. What happened was their defense played amazingly well, forced Drew Brees into five interception with no touchdowns (who would have predicted that?) and showed the rest of the NFL that the Falcons are more than just an offensive team. I was right in thinking they would send a message. Consider that message delivered.
Standings Straight Up After Week 12:
Mike 117-58-1 .669 (Last week 10-6)
John 116-59-1 .663 (10-6)
Bret 113-62-1 .656 (10-6)
Nobody gained ground last week. We had different picks all over, but we all ended up with 10 wins.
John got the Falcons right while Mike and Bret picked the Saints. They were unaware that Drew Brees was going to throw five interceptions, I guess.
All game times are Eastern.
Jacksonville (2-9) at Buffalo (4-7) 1:00 PM
Bret: Poor Buffalo. They really are close to being a wildcard level team, but they just can't seem to get over that hump. Still, I think they have a shot to finish the season at, or near, .500 at the end of the season. 4 of their last 5 are at home, all against mediocre or worse teams. I wouldn't be surprised to see them rally a little bit here starting with this Jacksonville game.
The Buffalo defense has improve somewhat the last few weeks against the run, and isn't terrible in yards per completion against (19th) and should keep the vaunted Chad Henne offense from producing more than 3 touchdowns in the game.
Offensively, Buffalo is dominated by their ability to complete short to mid-range passes and get CJ Spiller some space - and Jacksonville's 64% completion percentage against will give Buffalo the opportunity they need to work. I'll take Buffalo at home. Buffalo 27 Jacksonville 20
Mike: A number of terrible games this week, this is our first one. We're getting to that point where more and more teams have nothing to play for, which just makes the games much less interesting for us fans. I think it's ridiculous that Buffalo is giving six points at home to just about anyone, let alone a Jacksonville team that has looked much better the last couple of weeks with Chad Henne throwing the ball instead of Blaine Gabbert. I'm picking the Jags to upset here and at the very least they should be able to cover the spread. Jacksonville 20 Buffalo 17
John: My interest in this game is very low. It's nice that the Jaguars offense has shown some life especially in the passing game with Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon emerging as WR threats for QB Chad Henne. I just think the Bills are the better team in this matchup. They can run the ball better with CJ Spiller and since the Jaguars defense is pretty bad, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick should be able to pick apart their defense for some scores too. Bills 33-23
Seattle (6-5) at Chicago (8-3) 1:00 PM
Bret: This should be a really fun, bruising, defensive game. But, it's also a really simple game to break down. Russell Wilson struggles on the road, and the Bears defense eats QBs like him for breakfast.
I don't think the Chicago passing game will be able to do too much in this game - Seattle is just too good in the secondary right now - but I expect Michael Bush to have a big, plodding, game allowing Chicago to edge out Seattle. If the Hawks want to win, they'll have to be mistake free, and I don't think that's very likely.
This game will look almost exactly like every other Seattle road game. Chicago 24 Seattle 20
Mike: Tough game to pick here. Going against Seattle is always a nice play, especially after their performance against Miami last week, but on the flip side the Bears have a number of players injured, possibly Matt Forte, Charles Tillman, Devin Hester, as well as more injuries on the offensive line. That being said, they still have Jay Cutler, they still have Brandon Marshall, and they're still playing the Seahawks at home and not in Seattle. The Seahawks would have to be playing a legitimately bad team for me to feel great about picking them on the road, and that's not what the Bears are. Chicago 24 Seattle 13
John: I'm a proud member of the "pick the Seahawks at home and pick against them on the road" club. I've been doing it all year. Their 5-0 home record and 1-5 road record proves that it works. I think another reason this may be a tough win for the Seahawks is that the Bears defense continues to play at a high level especially at home.
I'm not that high on the Bears right now. The offensive line is atrocious, their run game should be better than it is and I doubt I'm going to trust Jay Cutler in a playoff game, even at home. However for this game I think they're the better team. Against a rookie QB on the road like Russell Wilson, the defense should be able to confuse them enough to force him into some mistakes and as we know with the Bears they're great at capitalizing on mistakes. I think they'll win a close game. Bears 26-23
San Francisco (8-2-1) at St. Louis (4-6-1) 1:00 PM
Bret: A more interesting game than it has any right to be. The "St. Louis only beats teams in the division" thing is downright weird and really can't be explained statistically. And yet, I sort of believe in it. St. Louis should have beaten San Francisco in San Fran a few weeks ago. Now, not only are they at home (not a huge advantage), but they're healthier and playing better.
I love Colin Kaepernick in the long term, but for now I think he's going to be hampered by Harbaugh's reluctance to go full Kaepernick style offense (he didn't really do it against New Orleans.)
Without any good statistical reason for it, I just feel like St. Louis is going to outplay San Francisco in what is a very 'blah' game for them, and I'm picking the Rams. (Not to mention the fun it'll cause with the QB controversy!) St. Louis 17 San Francisco 14
Mike: Easy stay away game for me. I'd love to pick San Francisco -7 here, but it seems like there have been a number of big division spreads that the underdog ends up covering this year. Honestly I'll just be rooting for another tie here, because why not. So far the Colin Kaepernick experiment seems to be chugging along, although the Niners were definitely helped out by their defense scoring some touchdowns last week.
Given what the Rams' offense is going to be up against, I think they're going to need at least a couple turnovers from their defense to have a chance in this game. I'm going with the Niners in a closer-than-it-should-be game. San Francisco 21 St. Louis 17
John: I'm still bitter about the tie game in San Francisco. My Rams had that game. They were able to run the ball well (159 yards rushing) and Sam Bradford had one of the best games of his career going for 275 yards with two TDs and no picks. This was on the road against one of the best defenses in the NFL. It shocked me. I thought the Rams would get killed in that game. I'm glad it didn't happen.
I think this game will be a lot of fun to watch. There will be a lot of hard hits, both teams will likely run the ball a lot (Rams purposely lightened Steven Jackson's load early in the year so he'd be fresh now) and as long as they both take care of the football it should be a very even game. What worries about the Rams is that it's unlikely that star WR Danny Amendola is going to play, so that will hurt the passing game considering he caught 11 balls for 102 yards last time they played.
I'm leaning towards the 49ers to win. It pains me to say that, but I think there are still a lot of unknowns with Colin Kaepernick running the Niners offense. Alex Smith was 7 for 8 against the Rams when they concussed him, but it wasn't dominating. They know how to defend against him. With Kaepernick, the added dynamic of his running skills make him tough to stop. I think he'll be the difference maker in this game.
I hope I'm wrong and of course I want my team to win, but I think the Rams offense will struggle at times without Amendola to catch the third down balls as often as he does. Injuries to star players make a difference when you play an elite defense like the Niners. Despite what I want to see happen, I think the Niners are the better team. This year. Not for long! I hope. Niners 23-20
New England (8-3) at Miami (5-6) 1:00 PM
Bret: Here's one where I'm not picking the home team. Miami is in the bottom half of the league in pass defense, and against New England - that's trouble.
Tannehill's been pretty well figured out by defenses around the league it seems - and he certainly has some habits he's going to have to break to be a successful sophomore. I expect another New England pick 6 in this one. New England rolls and continues their streak of second half of the season wins. New England 42 Miami 21
Mike: Which Miami team are we getting this week? The Miami team that found its second wind last week and knocked off the Seahawks, or the atrocious Dolphins that can't beat anyone in the league? I don't think Miami has a legitimate shot of winning this game either way, but if Ryan Tannehill is on his game they could make it interesting for a while. This doesn't seem like the kind of game where the Patriots are going to miss Gronkowski too much. The 9-point spread is tough to get on board with, but either way I like the Pats. New England 34 Miami 27
John: I'm all in on the Patriots. I was before the year. They were my pick to win the Super Bowl and I'm sticking with them. I love the depth of their running game, the offensive line is one of the best in the league and Tom Brady is playing at such a high level once again even without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup. Their defense is coming around too. I think the Dolphins will put up a fight and maybe keep it close for a bit, but this Patriots offense that is averaging 37 points per game is too hard to stop. I think they'll beat their average by one point. Patriots 38-27
Arizona (4-7) at NY Jets (4-7) 1:00 PM
Bret: In this one we'll see just how big a motivator fear is. If New York loses to the Cardinals at home, the fans may burn the stadium to the ground - and I'm only barely kidding. About once every 3 games the Jets show a little life and do enough to win a game. Pulling that feat off against Ryan Lindley and a defeated Cardinals team will not be difficult. This is the easiest game of the week to predict. New York 24 Arizona 13
Mike: Yawn. Two bad offenses meet two good defenses. Should be fun to see if either defense can outscore either offense. I don't care about either of these teams, nor do I care about this game. I'm going with the Jets to win and the Cardinals to cover because I love picking against Arizona on the road, and Mark Sanchez is at least a better quarterback than Ryan Lindley. New York Jets 13 Arizona 9
John: Two teams I don't like watching, so I doubt I'll even put it on this game at all on Sunday. The Cardinals offense is probably the worst in the NFL right now. I pick them to lose. By default that means the Jets will win. Have I mentioned how mad I am that my Rams got beat handily by the awful Jets at home a few weeks back? It still hurts. Jets 23-13
Indianapolis (7-4) at Detroit (4-7) 1:00 PM
Bret: A tough game for Indianapolis here. Detroit has been respectable against the pass (10th in the league), while Indianapolis has not (21st in the league). Despite the records, Detroit has a better defense, a better passing game, and a better rushing game. There's really no reason to expect Indianapolis to win this game except team mojo - and that's not enough for me on this one.
Also, look for Ryan Broyles to have his break out game here. He's slowly increased his visibility in the Detroit offense over the past month, and with Titus Young dead and buried, I expect Stafford to really try to involve Broyles in the offense. Potential 'who is this guy!?' game coming here. Detroit 27 Indianapolis 21
Mike: I was talking to my buddy Sean, who is the only Colts fan that I know, and while he seems happy with how the season has gone along, he seems resigned to the fact that the team is almost a lock to be one and done in the playoffs. It's not that there's not talent there, it's just that there's not enough of it, and the team has too many holes to be anything more than a nice story this year. But again, that doesn't make them a bad team. So why are they 5-point underdogs to a Detroit team that hasn't looked very impressive this year? I think Detroit wins this game because I don't trust Indy on the road, but are they capable of winning by a touchdown? Not sure on that. Detroit 31 Indianapolis 27
John: The Lions tend to lose the close games while the Colts tend to win close games. That's the difference between a seven win season and a four win season. If you don't win those close games you're not going to be in the playoffs.
The spread in this game is weird since the Lions are favored by five points after losing on Thanksgiving while the Colts won last week. I guess the thinking is the Colts struggle on the road (2-3) while the Lions play better at home (2-3) when in reality the numbers show that there's not much of an advantage either way.
My thinking is the Lions will come out hot, the Colts will come back after the Lions offense goes into their usual period where they struggle so much that it brings the other team back into the game and it ends up being an exciting shootout. While I'm not sure about Andrew Luck on the road, he's not playing against a great defense here. You can put up points on the Lions. Obviously the Lions can score too with Matt Stafford finding Calvin Johnson deep down the field. I'm sensing there's potential for a shootout in this game.
I'll go with the Colts as a road underdog thanks to their ability to keep their cool late in games. It's proven to work for them. Colts 34-33
Minnesota (6-5) at Green Bay (7-4) 1:00 PM
Bret: Man, Minnesota was bland last weekend. I thought they could come up with something, anything, through the passing game to give AP enough room to work - and they had nothing. With Harvin still on the shelf, I don't expect that to change much this week. The Green Bay defense has weaknesses, and AP will get his yards, but that won't be enough to keep up with a healthy Green Bay offense.
This may be Green Bay's best chance yet to show what they can do offensively. At home, against a very mediocre Minnesota pass defense, with all his receivers back, Rodgers should be able to have a really nice day here - 300 yards and 4 TD level good - but he's going to have to adjust his timing to account for just how bad his offensive line is. If anyone one in the league can manage that, I think it's Rodgers, and I expect him to use this as a game to get things right and start gearing up for the playoff run. Very similar game to last week's Chicago/Minnesota game. Green Bay 31 Minnesota 20
Mike: Very important game for Green Bay here. If they manage to lose this one, they're going to be tied with Minnesota in the division, with another game against them in a few weeks in Minneapolis, and all of a sudden their spot in the playoffs will look to be in doubt. The Vikings are going to be without Percy Harvin again this week, which puts the number of dangerous weapons they have on offense at precisely one. Even with Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson out, you would expect Green Bay to have better results against the Vikings than they did last week against the Giants.
Speaking of the Giants game, I didn't take a ton from that game. It actually reminded me a bit of the Green Bay/Houston game earlier in the season, where Houston had been undefeated and Green Bay came in and streamrolled them. Green Bay was desperate for a win, Houston was a little bit in cruise control going undefeated thus far, it was just one of those games where the Packers needed and wanted the game more. I think the same thing happened here, with the Giants and Eli in particular really struggling the last few weeks, and without much of a cushion in the division. The defense looked inspired, Eli looked fantastic, the Giants' offensive line was great and opened up huge holes for Ahmad Bradshaw, and on the flip side the Packers just looked slow, out of sync, the offensive line was a total mess, there was no pass rush, nothing was working. So, it happens. I don't expect that to be a continued trend this week and I think Aaron Rodgers & co. will do a much better job of putting up points. Green Bay 30 Minnesota 17
John: If Percy Harvin was playing for the Vikings I might take them in this game. However, when he's out of the lineup like he will be this week that offense struggles a lot. There's no depth in their passing game. They rely too much on Adrian Peterson, which makes them easier to defense. Of course Peterson is the best RB in the NFL, but if you can't make plays down the field you're not going to win against a good team like the Packers. Vikings QB Christian Ponder is too inconsistent at this point in his career for me to pick him in a game like this.
I thought the Packers would beat the Giants last week. I had a lot of confidence in them. My bad. They got destroyed by the Giants in every aspect of the game. Their defense has a lot of issues with key players Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson out of the lineup. I think their offense will return to form this week at home with QB Aaron Rodgers spreading the ball to his full arsenal of WRs since Greg Jennings is back this week. That will be big for them even if he's still not 100% recovered from his groin injury. Packers are the better team. They need the win. They're not going to let this one slip by. Packers 34-20
Houston (10-1) at Tennessee (4-7) 1:00 PM
Bret: This could be a dangerous game for Houston. They've had two draining games and are now on the road against a divisional foe. Tennessee may actually improve offensively with the dismissal of Palmer as OC - Tennessee had one of the most bland set of playcalls in the league.
I still think Houston is too talented to lose this game, but I wouldn't be shocked if it came down to the last possession. Houston 28 Tennessee 27
Mike: So, another week, another game where Houston's defense gets rocked pretty badly. I was willing to let the Jaguars game go as just an anomaly, but two weeks in a row and you don't love to see your supposed rock solid defense giving up points so easily. This could be explained by the short week, but at the same time it's not like Detroit is teeming with offensive talent outside of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but they were making Mike Thomas and Ryan Broyles look pretty competent as well.
This is a relatively harmless game for the Texans, the Titans are very mediocre, and Chris Johnson is by far the clearest offensive weapon that Houston needs to focus on. I think they'll take the opportunity to use this game as a bounce back game and crush the Titans, but if Tennessee puts up over 25 points if I were a Texans fan I'd be a bit concerned. Houston 34 Tennessee 20
John: It's one of those games where Houston could play down to their opponent while the Titans have nothing to play for this year except a victory against the best team in their division. Teams get up for games like this. The Texans have won overtime games the last two weeks. How about a third in a row? No, but I think the Titans will cover. Texans 27-24
Carolina (3-8) at Kansas City (1-10) 1:00 PM
Bret: Reverse trap game for Kansas City! A win here may cost them the first round pick - and I think they're bumbling enough to pull that off.
Carolina is one of the worst teams in the league against the rush, and it seems Kansas City has figured out they'd be well served to do more of that. Big day for Jamal Charles here.
Defensively, Kansas City has started to improve - and is certainly better than that abomination of a defense Carolina faced Monday night. Kansas City gets a win at home here. For better or worse. Kansas City 17 Carolina 14
Mike: The pain, make it stop! I don't know what it would take for me to pick Kansas City in a game, whatever it is, it's not happening this week. I felt pretty good taking Carolina over a dysfunctional Eagles team, I have no problem taking them this week against a dysfunctional and untalented Chiefs team. Carolina 19 Kansas City 15
John: I don't think the Panthers are as bad as their record. They have a lot of close losses this year, which are the result of poor playcalling late in games and also the lack of explosive players on offense aside from their gifted QB Cam Newton. The Chiefs don't have much going for them. They look like they quit weeks ago and I have no interest in picking them to win another game the rest of the season. Panthers 23-17
Tampa Bay (6-5) at Denver (8-3) 4:05 PM
Bret: This is going to be a wide open game. The Denver rush defense is very average, and Doug Martin could have a big game here. Unfortunately for the Bucs, they also have the worst pass defense in the league, and are going to get shredded by Manning at home.
Denver's running game is still a question mark - and no one should be counting on Moreno for anything - but I don't see him being particularly necessary in this one.
This is the Manning 4 MVP game, and Denver continues to roll. Denver 31 Tampa Bay 20
Mike: So I really like both of these teams (which is actually kind of weird because as a fan I've historically hated Denver, as well as Peyton Manning. For some reason having them together works. Also, having Peyton and Demaryius Thomas on my fantasy team goes a long way), and it'll be unfortunate if Tampa can't make the playoffs, although they certainly have their work cut out for them the rest of the way.
I'm really surprised by the high line on this (Denver by 8). I think Denver is probably the more complete team, but both teams are playing really well right now, and it's not like Denver has made a habit of blowing out good teams this year, so a spread like this is interesting. I'd expect Peyton to really exploit Tampa's weak secondary, and I think Tampa and Denver fantasy owners such as myself will rejoice in a high scoring affair. Denver 35 Tampa Bay 31
John: Here's a Peyton Manning stat for you: 13 TD, 1 INT and 4-1 record at home. The Bucs defense is ranked dead last in the NFL giving up 315.5 yards per game. Do you think that defense is going to travel to Denver to face a team they're not familiar with and slow down this juggernaut of an offense? I don't think so. I like the Bucs in the years ahead. I just don't think they're ready to win a game like this. Not with the defense they have. Offensively they have a lot of talent, but can their defense slow down the Broncos enough to win this game? Nope. Broncos 41-27
Cleveland (3-8) at Oakland (3-8) 4:25 PM
Bret: Looks like Weeden will be playing in this one - and I'm not sure it matters. Oakland is bad and only getting worse. The release of Rolando McClain makes no sense to me either - he may not be great, but is anyone on that team? Didn't think so.
Cleveland is exactly the kind of reckless young team I really wouldn't want to be playing right now if I were vying for a playoff spot. Oakland is a corpse lying in a ditch. That's enough to call this one. Cleveland 35 Oakland 20
Mike: Unless I just missed it I didn't see a line on this one. Not that I care too much either way. I'm in full on "bet against Oakland" mode, and the Browns have at least shown an ability to look decent at times. Fade Carson Palmer. Win money. It's an easy strategy. Cleveland 20 Oakland 17
John: I'm going with the Raiders. The Browns have the better defense, but in games between two bad teams I want to go with the quarterback that has more weapons at his disposal. That's Carson Palmer with the Raiders. It's not like they're a good team. They can score, though. Good enough for me. Raiders 27-20
Cincinnati (6-5) at San Diego (4-7) 4:25 PM
Bret: San Diego has waved the white flag. Giving up on that 4th and 29 play was inexcusable and actually vindicates Norv a bit for me - no one can coach a team that filled with knuckleheads. That whole team needs blown up.
And in to town comes Cincinnati - a team developing an identity offensively and looking like a potential playoff team.
This game might be a blow out, but no matter what it's going to be ugly for the awful Chargers. Cincinnati 35 San Diego 24
Mike: The Norv Turner farewell tour continues, and I think it'd be hilarious if they won this week just to open up a glimmer of hope that he might be able to salvage his job. C'mon, think about it, San Diego improbably rolling off five wins in a row, finishing 9-7, either sneaking into a playoff spot or just missing, then the Chargers somehow decide that Norv did a good enough job to come back. I want this.
I'll go with Cincy here because Dalton is playing well, because Philip Rivers is a train wreck, and because NOOOOORV. Cincinnati 21 San Diego 20
John: I picked the Chargers a week ago and they should have had that win against the Ravens! I don't blame the coach for not tackling Ray Rice on a 4th and 29 that would have meant the end of the game most likely. I blame the players for not doing their job. Rice showed a lot of heart in making the play, but the defense messed up there. They played well all game until that moment.
The Bengals know they need the win to move into a potential playoff position and they would then be able to control their own destiny the rest of the way. I really like watching the chemistry develop between Andy Dalton and AJ Green. They are tough to deal with in the red zone. I also like Dalton has been finding other targets like Gresham, Hawkins and Sanu (now out with foot surgery) as the year has gone on as well. That's key. You need to spread the ball around.
I could see the Chargers getting the win, but I'd rather go with the team that has more consistency on their offense. I think the Chargers will blow it late just like last week. Bengals 24-23
Pittsburgh (6-5) at Baltimore (9-2) 4:25 PM
Bret: It's hard to pick this game without knowing who the quarterback will be for Pittsburgh.
I'll assume that Roethlisberger finds a way to play in this one - but not very well. (Note from John: He's been ruled out.) I think Pittsburgh then focuses on their running game, and I think they find some success there. Dwyer should have been the lead back all year. I really think Baltimore is an unimpressive team, and very susceptible defensively.
Last time I made good money on this game by nailing the score exactly. I'll go right back to that well. Pittsburgh 13 Baltimore 10
Mike: Also couldn't find a line on this one. I wonder if it's because the Steelers aren't sure if Roethlisberger is playing or if they're going to have to try and trade the Cardinals for Ryan Lindley so that he can come in and play. Without Ben I just don't see any way to pick the Steelers in this one. The Cleveland game was a perfect example of what Pittsburgh's offense looks like without Ben there to bail the offensive line out and make plays down the field. Baltimore's defense isn't intimidating in the slightest, and the Steelers will have to hope they can run the ball, but that's only going to get you so far when you have no fear of the passing game. Ravens win this won easily and move a little bit closer to locking up the division. Baltimore 23 Pittsburgh 13
John: I picked against Baltimore the last two weeks. I was wrong both times. They won 13-10 in Pittsburgh and then 16-13 in overtime in San Diego last week. Their offense sucks on the road. I don't know why, but they are a different team when they're away from Baltimore.
The good thing for Baltimore is that they're facing a Steelers team that will have Charlie Batch at QB. He was brutal last week. It didn't help that the Steelers fumbled the ball four times either, but Batch lacks the ability to make big plays. I'm sure the Steelers hope they can establish the run with Jonathon Dwyer, who they named as their starting RB, but you know Baltimore is going to focus on that and make Batch beat them. Can he? I doubt it.
This Steelers team looked fantastic three weeks ago as a 6-3 team. They looked like they could compete for the Super Bowl. Then Roethlisberger got hurt. Now I doubt they are going to make the playoffs even if he comes back next week because if he comes back, how healthy will he be? That's the NFL. You're one injury away from going from a contender to missing the postseason.
Even though I think the Steelers have the best defense in the NFL (definitely the best against the pass), I pick the Ravens to win this game. I think they'll force turnovers, capitalize on the short field and put some points on the board. Not a lot of points. I just think Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith and company will score enough to beat the third string QB of their divisional rivals. Ravens 20-10
Philadelphia (3-8) at Dallas (5-6) 8:20 PM
Bret: There may not be an easier team to bet against that Philadelphia right now. Bryce Brown is the real deal, and it's going to be interesting to see what Philly does with him at the end of the year - but that defense has completely quit on the team, and Dallas is going to be absolutely bombs away.
HUGE game for Dez and Romo. Another embarrassment for Philly. Dallas 41 Philadelphia 21
Mike: Hey look, it's a game that looked a lot more interesting before the season started and now no one really cares but there probably wasn't a better game available to flex so NBC just figured they'd try to garner whatever ratings they could get from the fan bases. I'm the first one to come out and admit what a total mess the Eagles are, but that is a lot of points to be getting (10.5) against a Cowboys team that I don't think could look less inspired if they tried. I mean, I'm not sure the Cowboys are two touchdowns better than anyone in the NFL right now, let alone a division rival, albeit a trainwreck of a rival. Take the points. Dallas 27 Philadelphia 23
John: The Cowboys got embarrassed in every way possible by the Redskins on Thanksgiving. Lucky for them they are playing an Eagles that is playing as bad as anybody in football right now except for the Chiefs. What's annoying about these games is people will still be convinced the Cowboys have a chance at the playoffs, which they do based on their record. But I don't think they're consistent enough. They should be able to score a lot and roll over this pathetic Eagles team. Cowboys 31-14
NY Giants (7-4) at Washington (5-6) 8:30 PM (MON)
Bret: I'm a nerd and I play with the ESPN playoff simulator all the time. And almost every time I do, the NFC East comes down to this game.
The initial reaction is to assume New York is clearly the better team, and should put away Washington easily, but I'm not so sure.
I think Washington may be better at one thing than New York is at any one thing. Specifically, the Washington running game which is third in the league in yards per attempt. The Giants rushing defense, worryingly, is only 21st in the league.
In fact, Washington probably should have won in New York this year - losing on a late 77 yard touchdown pass to Cruz. Washington can certainly give up the big plays to the Giants passing game - especially with Nicks healthy again - but I also think Washington is better than they were in the 1st meeting.
I'm going to pick the upset here. I think Washington outlasts New York in a really fun Monday nighter. Washington 28 New York 24
Mike: Yay, more NFC East in prime time, just what everyone wants! One can only hope that the Redskins pull off the upset here, sending the Giants to 7-5, and along with a Cowboys win, the Skins and Cowboys to 6-6, setting up a ridiculously close divisional race the last four weeks that the Giants end up pulling out at the last minute just like everyone expects because they're just better than the other two teams. In fact, I'm such a fan of that idea I'm going to take the Redskins in an upset. I'm not sure if you can have a letdown game after a big win if you had been playing like crap before that, but I'm going to say that you can, and that the Giants will. RGIII for MVP! Washington 28 New York Giants 25
John: I never know when the Giants are going to play well and look like the Super Bowl Champions or when they're going to play like crap like they did earlier in November. Of course last week they looked great when I was very confident in the Packers. Who knows with them?
The Redskins are coming off two very impressive divisional wins thanks to Robert Griffin III's four TD games in back to back weeks. I love that he's one on of my fantasy teams and I wish I drafted him on the others. Now that he's got his top WR Pierre Garcon back from a foot injury, the passing game is stronger than it was earlier in the year. Throw in the impressive run game thanks by surprising rookie Alfred Morris and they're turning into a tough team to defend against. Their defense still has issues, though, so they usually have to put up a lot of points to win the game.
For the Giants a win is huge because it would put them three games up on the Redskins and two games up on the Cowboys, who we assume are going to win. If the Redskins win then the Cowboys and Redskins would be just one game back of the Giants, as Mike pointed out.
I remember the game in week seven when the Giants beat the Redskins 27-23. Fun back and forth action. The Redskins ran on them all game. If the Giants try to key on that, the Skins will likely throw it deep down the field this time. It will be an interesting chess match to see what happens this time around. Gut instinct says Redskins. I'm going with them in a shootout. Redskins 34-31
The Degenerates Dungeon
This is where we give you some picks for our best bets of the week. Note that lines moves from the time we write this (Friday AM) to the time the games kickoff. We keep track of the odds and we'll use that to write down our records too.
Records so far:
Mike 30-30 (2-3)
Bret 28-30-2 (1-4)
John 24-34-1 (2-2-1)
1. New Orleans +3.5 (Already lost that one.)
2. Kansas City +3
3. New England -9
4. Pittsburgh +9.5 (I'd think about 9.5 as a total for the game!)
5. Washington -3
Jacksonville +6 @ Buffalo - Chad Henne to Cecil Shorts all day.
Seattle @ Chicago (-3.5) - This just reminds me of the Vikings game last week, I have a feeling the Bears are going to win handily.
Tampa (+8) @ Denver - Good teams with great offenses shouldn't be getting 8 points on the road against anyone.
Arizona @ New York Jets Under 36.5 - Too much offense is required for both of these teams to score that many points.
Philadelphia (+10.5) @ Dallas - Bad teams with vulnerable defenses shouldn't be giving 10.5 points at home against anyone.
Philadelphia @ Dallas -10.5 - Too many problems for the Eagles. Cowboys will bounce back here.
Tampa Bay @ Denver OVER 50.5 - Big number, but I feel like there will be a lot of points.
Tampa Bay @ Denver -8 - Lots of confidence in them at home.
Indianapolis +5 @ Detroit - Feels like a close game to me. Colts won't get blown out if they lose.
NY Giants @ Washington OVER 51 - Good offenses = lots of points.
That's all from us for this week. Follow us on Twitter:
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