Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 12


Let last week be a lesson to me: Never pick against the Rams. It was the first time this season I expected the Rams to fail to cover a spread, but the team should all the potential that was expected during the offseason. However, I have managed to still host a respectable 57% win rate straight up and a 52% against the spread. Week 12 of NFL action has a lot of playoff implications and feels like this is the week when we see the postseason picture take shape.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.


Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (+7.5)

There may be no more dominant team in the NFL right now than the Kansas City Chiefs. After beating Seattle last week, the Chiefs have won five straight on the back of the league’s top passing defense and rushing attack. Kansas City’s old school approach to football has them crushing competition. The Raiders are looking like they are going to go another week without a win. The Raiders are throwing on 68.54% of their plays, which is easily the top in the league. With no real receiving threats and a non-existent running game, Oakland looks hopeless this week. Chiefs win 30-14 (Chiefs cover)


Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5)

The Browns came crashing back to earth when their dependence on defense failed them last week. For the first time since Week 5, the Browns defense allowed more than 17 points while registering no sacks on only one turnover. Defense has, once again, been the largest albatross for the Falcons. Atlanta is last in passing yards and 24th in rushing yards allowed this season. The reason the defense was able to hold opponents to 17 point in their past two games was because they faced the Bucs and Panthers. With both defenses terrible, I am leaning towards the offense that has provided more consistency this season. Browns win 24-17 (Browns cover)

Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles (-11)

Next season does not look nearly as bleak as this season was for the Titans. Zach Mettenberger looks like he can perform and the offense is starting to gel together. Though defensively the team has lacked, the Titans are missing key personnel on that side of the ball. In all honesty, Tennessee should be coming off a Monday Night win, but they just managed to get beat. Against one of the top blitzing teams in the NFL, Mark Sanchez reverted back to mediocrity. It took three quarters for the Eagles offense to put up a touchdown and Sanchez looked overwhelmed frequently. With the Philly run game imploding this season and the Titans above average secondary, this could be a trap game for the Eagles. Titans win 24-21 (Titans cover)

Detroit Lions at New England Patriots (-7)

The Lions defense did their job, managing to hold the Cardinals to 14 points, but the offense didn’t. The offensive line has been porous all season for the Lions especially over the past two weeks letting Matthew Stafford get sacked seven times while the team is dead last in rushing. There is no team in the NFL that has been better at attacking teams weaknesses than the Patriots. Last week’s dominance against the Colts average at defensive line can attest to that. To top off the coaching skills of Bill Belichek, the Tom Brady led offense is averaging over 40 points a game over their past six. The Patriots will exploit the Lions weaknesses, namely the offense, and win a lower scoring than expected game. Patriots win 35-24 (Patriots cover)

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (+10)

There can be no ignoring the Packers putting up 50 plus points in back-to-back games, but it’s the defensive coaching that is making this team great. Then decision to move Clay Matthews to inside linebacker has been a stroke of genius, allowing more athletes on the field for the Pack. The Vikings will need to face this rejuvenated defense after looking bad last week. The offensive line is allowing too many pressures and hits on rookie Teddy Bridgewater for the team to be effective. It seems like the offense in Minny has checked out, while the defense has been serviceable. A fresh and excited Packers D should have Bridgewater running all day long Sunday. Packers win 34-24 (Vikings cover)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-14)

The bye week should help the young Jaguars team that is not accustomed to the grind that is professional football. In the three weeks leading into the Jags bye week, Blake Bortles accounted for six turnovers while the offense sputtered. On the other side of the ball, the team is no looker either. The overdependence on the passing game destroyed the Colts last week. The Patriots were completely prepared and limited the air game of Andrew Luck as well as anyone this season. Running backs totaled 14 carries for four yards against the Pats, with Luck outperforming all of them with three rushes for 15 yards. The Colts will have bad intentions when they host Jacksonville, and the Jags are not going to pose any threat. Colts win 42-16 (Colts cover)

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-1.5)

Throughout the season the Bengals have changed. Sure it took some nasty losses, but Cincinnati has now discovered that Jeremy Hill can be a workhorse and elevate some of the strain on Andy Dalton. During the three games Hill has started since Giovanni Bernard went down, he has tallied 361 yards rushing. Ryan Mallett managed to completely change the Texans offense in one start. Mallett and the offense amassed 424 yards while averaging 5.0 yards per play in Cleveland. Defensively, the team was put in better positions which caused them to look much better than they did before. The new look Texans are not an easy out anymore, but the Bengals are finding a groove that will be too much. Bengals win 28-27 (Texans cover)

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-4.5)

Nobody has ever claimed that the Jets are a terrible defensive team and they showed their strength against the Steelers. Gang Green caused four turnovers and shut down a quarterback who had thrown for 12 touchdowns and no interceptions the two weeks prior. Michael Vick even played well in the limited reps he was needed. The Bills loss to the Dolphins means they are on the outside looking in within the AFC playoff race. The offense has been solid, but Kyle Orton has struggled mightily in the red zone and is hesitant to put up a long shot. Though it will be interesting to watch the conservative Bills offense against the Jets D, Buffalo’s defense will prove too much for the Jets. Bills win 21-13 (Bills cover)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears (-5.5)

The magic formula for the Buccaneers may have been discovered. Get Mike Evans the ball. The rookie receiver went off on the Redskins defense 209 yards and two touchdowns. Josh McCown seems to be a lot more confident going to the rookie too. Anything even close to a win will be a good sign in Chicago. After being outscored 106-37 in the previous two contests, the Bears picked up a win against the Vikings. Chicago’s offensive line was able to keep Jay Cutler safe and the defense was all over Teddy Bridgewater. Passing defense has been a sore spot for the Bears, but Mike Evans will be playing in Solider Field in cold weather for the first time. Expect the Bears to win a snoozer. Bears win 17-12 (Buccaneers cover)

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5)

It’s become apparent that the Cardinals are designed to win, but Drew Stanton is going to need to ensure he does not lose the teams any games. The injury replacement threw two picks in what was a one score game last week, but luckily for the Cards the Lions are abysmal offensively. This season has been a tale of two teams for the Seahawks. The team is a sterling 4-1 at Qwest Field, but only 2-3 away from home. The road issues were apparent last week when the once impregnable ‘Hawks D allowed the Chiefs to rush for three touchdowns. With Stanton’s issues of ball security, it will be critical for the Cards to get a run game going. I don’t expect that the Seahawks will let that happen at home. Seahawks win 24-21 (Cardinals cover)

St. Louis Rams at San Diego Chargers (-4.5)

The choice to go with Shaun Hill at quarterback may have been met with some question marks, but his steady presence helped stabilize an offense lacking an identity. The veteran completed 69 percent of his passes, which allowed Tre Mason to rush for more than 100 yards which was the first time a Rams back accomplished that feat this season. Defensively, there cannot be enough praise for St. Louis. The team showed what they were meant to be when the season started, a penetrative front four with physical corner play. New addition Mark Barron certainly helped, especially when he was shifted into a linebacker role. The Chargers are a team in disarray. Over the past four games, San Diego is 1-3 and has been outscored 101-54 and their secondary has been next to worthless without Jason Verret. As long as the Rams continue their play from last week, they should actually role over the struggling Chargers like the Broncos. Rams win 24-17 (Rams cover)

Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos (-7.5)

The Miami Dolphins have a real shot at the playoffs if they simply keep winning. The ‘Fins ground and pound offensive strategy mixed with an underrated defense can make them a real threat in the post season. Across the field will be the Broncos, who looked utterly stunned and defeated by the Rams last week. The blueprint to beat Denver has become perfectly clear. Physical defensive backs and a penetrating front four are the common denominators in all the Broncos losses this season. The Dolphins do have these assets, but Cortland Finnegan’s lack of underneath speed will be their undoing. Broncos win 35-24 (Broncos cover)

Washington Redskins at San Francisco 49ers (-9)

The secondary was a joke for the Redskins last week. Along with Mike Evans tallying more than 200 yards receiving, the team deflected one pass all game and provided no competition. Once again, the 49ers defense bailed out the mediocre offense. The ball control was not there and Colin Kaepernick was erratic as ever. The San Fran defense did intercept the pick machine that is Eli Manning though, giving the team the victory. The Redskins secondary is not going to be good enough to capitalize on the mistakes that the 49ers offer them and that will be the difference. 49ers win 28-21 (Redskins cover)

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (+3)

The monster truck that is the Cowboys running game has been losing gas. In the two games heading into the bye week, DeMarco Murray had 179 yards and no touchdowns. It seems the grind has been taking its toll, but the week’s rest should help fix that. The New York Giants are coming off another wonderfully Eli Manning-esque game in which he threw five interceptions. What’s really killing the Giants though is their rush defense, which is allowing an abysmal 145 yards rushing which is good for dead last on the season. Don’t expect a masterful turnaround on the G-men D, especially with a rested Murray on the field. Cowboys win 35-27 (Cowboys cover)


Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints (-3)

Though 6-4, the Baltimore Ravens are third in their division and will need better play from their secondary if they expect to move forward. The previous three games before the bye saw the Ravens give up 785 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Baltimore has the Saints and Chargers coming off their bye, so expect the secondary to be tested quickly. Inconsistency has defined the Saints this season and even with Drew Brees the team needs a strong running game to win. The leading rusher for New Orleans has averaged 73.8 yards per game in their losses compared to 107.5 in wins. The Saints game plan will likely revolve around torching a damaged Ravens secondary, but without run support they will not win. Ravens win 21-17 (Ravens cover)