Finally, Week 12 turned out to be a strong week for Sportsmasher as he continues to battle his way back from an awful midseason slump, and work his way back to making you money. Sportsmasher went (10-5-1) on his bets over Thanksgiving Weekend, including a (2-1) on his best bets, and is back over (.500) on the season. He is feeling both cocky and confident right now, and is claiming that he will be over (.600) in his winning percentage by the time the season is over. RexRated meanwhile went 1-1-1 in his best bets, and his numbers on the season continue to be strong, well at least stronger than Sportsmasher in that department. An exciting week lucky number 13 is now coming up with a lot of exciting games and playoff hopes on the line, so let’s get to the picks:
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons (-3) In what should be the best Thursday Night Football game of the year, the Falcons (10-1) are one of the best teams in the NFL and are cruising into a first round bye in the playoffs, but I expect them to show up this week when their hated division rival Saints come to town. The Saints (5-6) are still barely alive in the NFC playoff hunt, however they must win out to have a chance at the postseason, meaning they have to win this game. The Falcons would love to end the Saints season, and dispose of their divisional rival for good, however the Saints already beat the Falcons in New Orleans. In what should be a hard fought tight game, I’m taking the points, take Drew Brees on a short week on the turf.
The Pick: Saints (+3) FINAL SCORE: Saints 30 Falcons 27
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Buffalo Bills (-6) This is a tough game to call, because although they are horrible, the Jaguars (2-9) have been playing better over recent weeks since starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert was injured and replaced by veteran Chad Henne. Last week the Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans, and the week before they were edged by the Houston Texans in overtime, who are the best team in the AFC. The Bills (4-7) are not much better than the Jaguars, however, they are better at home. I think that this game will be closer than the spread, unless Bills running back C.J. Spiller goes wild, so I am taking the points.
The Pick: Jaguars (+6) FINAL SCORE: Bills 24 Jaguars 20
Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears (-2.5) The Seattle Seahawks (6-5) are once again undefeated at home (5-0) while they are absolutely terrible on the road (1-5) and they need to win this game to stay firmly in the NFC Playoff hunt. Too bad it is a road game in hostile territory. The Seahawks dangerous defense, especially their ferocious pass rush, will give the Bears nightmares all afternoon. However, the Chicago Bears (8-3) are a resilient team, and despite all of their injuries and their porous offensive line they will find a way to win this game. Count on Jay Cutler and the Bears defense to get the job done at home.
The Pick: Bears (-2.5) FINAL SCORE: Bears 20 Seahawks 17
Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions (-4.5) I know that for some reason nobody believes in this Indianapolis Colts team (7-4), despite the entire organization gelling and believing in each other, as head coach Chuck Pagano battles cancer. I know that for some reason, everybody still believes in this Detroit Lions team (4-7) despite the fact that nothing has gone their way all season long, and they cannot stop anybody. Even taking that into account, this line is far too big, I thought the spread would be even and think it comes down as we get closer to game time. Chuck Strong. Andrew Luck. I think the 4.5 points for a turf team on the Detroit turf is a lock.
The Pick: Colts (+4.5) FINAL SCORE: Colts 27 Lions 24
***REXRATED BEST BET: COLTS (+4.5)***
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-7) The Green Bay Packers (7-4) are still in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt, and should have a wild card spot pretty much locked up, however they need to win this game because they trail the Chicago Bears by one game for the NFC North division lead. The Packers seem to be limping towards the postseason, with several key injuries on both sides of the ball, and I wonder if they are too banged up to seriously contend this season. The Minnesota Vikings (6-5) have been impressive at points during the 2012 season, and they are clearly headed in the right direction as a franchise, however a (1-4) road record means they will be in trouble in this game. I think the Vikings are a year away from seriously contending for a playoff spot, they need more legitimate playmakers on the outside offensively. I think the Vikings will keep the game close, but in the end Green Bay pulls away at home and covers, getting a win that they need.
The Pick: Packers (-7) FINAL SCORE: Packers 34 Vikings 23
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans (+6) I say this with complete certainty right now, there is absolutely no way that the Tennessee Titans (4-7) will be able to move the ball against the Houston Texans (10-1) and their elite defense. If the Titans cannot run the ball, it is really difficult for them to throw the ball, and move their offense downfield. The Texans defense is elite, J.J. Watt and company will dominate the Titans in the Texans, and even with a subpar effort in a meaningless game the Texans should roll. Big game for MVP candidate Arian Foster on the road, Texans win easily.
The Pick: Texans (-6) FINAL SCORE: Texans 27 Titans 10
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: TEXANS (-6)***
***REXRATED BEST BET: TEXANS (-6)***
Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs (+2.5) The reigning NFL rookie of the year, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, has really struggled this season. However he seemed to rebound and play better last Monday night in the Panthers victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia. It is important for Cam Newton to rebound and play well at the end of this season, because even though the Panthers (3-8) are out of it, Newton can renew his confidence entering the 2013 season. The Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) are without a doubt the worst team in the NFL, and although they have been covering spreads recently and are better at home, I think this team has given up.
The Pick: Panthers (-2.5) FINAL SCORE: Panthers 24 Chiefs 13
San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams (+7.5) When these two teams meant earlier this season in San Francisco, the game ended in a tie, which I assume the 49ers will use for motivation in this game. The Rams (4-6) are better than their record indicates, and if they can add a few playmakers on offense this offseason I think they could be very dangerous in 2013, but they are not there yet. The 49ers are an elite defensive team and new starting quarterback Colin Kapernick seems to have given the offense a spark, plus they proved they can play on turf by beating the Saints in New Orleans last weekend. The spread is a little daunting, being that these two teams recently tied in San Fran, but I’m still taking a hot 49ers team.
The Pick: 49ers (-7.5) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 27 Rams 17
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: 49ERS (-7.5)***
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins (+9) The Miami Dolphins (5-6) are a scrappy team that is a few players away from competing in the division, but their biggest weakness is the secondary. Against the Patriots (8-3) you do not want your biggest weakness to be the secondary, and although New England has struggled in recent trips to Miami, I expect Tom Brady to shred the Dolphins secondary. I think Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill will move the ball on the Patriots enough to scare them, but in the end, the Patriots pull away and cover.
The Pick: Patriots (-9) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 31 Dolphins 20
Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets (-4.5) The New York Jets (4-7) have to be absolutely embarrassed by the way that they played on Thanksgiving, and need a win at home to show the fans that they should still have some hope in their failing franchise. The good news is the Arizona Cardinals (4-7) are coming to town a team that was once (4-0) and looked like the most improved team in the NFL, but have since lost seven straight games, and will be starting inept rookie Ryan Lindley at quarterback. This should be a rather low scoring game, and as long as the Jets can keep the ball out of Patrick Peterson’s hands (on interceptions and in the return game) they should handle their business against the Cardinals at home.
The Pick: Jets (-4.5) FINAL SCORE: Jets 20 Cardinals 10
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos (-7) The Broncos (8-3) will cruise to the playoffs and the AFC West title lead by Peyton Manning, and now that I think about it, I am interested in their Super Bowl odds. This game means everything to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) who after a tough loss to Atlanta last weekend will be desperately fighting for a wild card playoff berth in Denver this weekend. When a solid but desperate team like Tampa has everything to lose, with a spread this large, I always take the points. If I am taking the points in this game, and picking Tampa, I may as well pick them outright.
The Pick: Buccaneers (+7) FINAL SCORE: Buccaneers 27 Broncos 24
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: BUCCANEERS (+7)***
Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders (+2.5) The Browns (3-8) may not be a good team, however they are playing with some fire, and they have nearly won several games against better teams. Their pass rush has really improved in recent weeks since massive defensive tackle Phil Taylor returned from injury, and I expect them to pressure Carson Palmer all afternoon, which we all know can lead to turnovers. The Raiders (3-8) are totally inept, and I am sure they are regretting trading away all of those draft picks for Carson Palmer, as they have no organizational depth. Seems like the new, post-Al Davis front office, will be starting from scratch this offseason.
The Pick: Browns (-2.5) FINAL SCORE: Browns 24 Raiders 13
Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers (+2) The Bengals (6-5) are still very much in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card playoff spot, especially with the collapse of the Pittsburgh Steelers, without their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. If they can win in San Diego, which has been a relatively easy thing to do lately, they will soon be in position to control their own playoff destiny. The Chargers (4-7) have totally given up on their season, following a demoralizing home loss to the Ravens last weekend, in a game they should have won. Norv Turner will not be back as head coach, and the front office has basically said that they will be in talent evaluation mode from here on out, to see who they will keep for the 2013 season. All of these factors do not bode well for the Chargers in this game, I’m glad I got the Bengals (-1.5) on Tuesday.
The Pick: Bengals (-2) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 34 Chargers 16
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: BENGALS (-2)***
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) This line is based on the strong indications that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not play this Sunday, and if he does the line will surely change, but if he does not the Steelers will be starting Charlie Batch at quarterback in a must win game. As we saw last weekend when the Steelers (6-5) turned the ball over eight times, if Charlie Batch is your quarterback, no matter how good your defense is the line cannot be high enough. Although I still think the Steelers defense plays well, the Ravens (9-2) will capitalize on Steelers turnovers and Ray Rice will do enough, that they cover.
The Pick: Ravens (-7.5) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 23 Steelers 10
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (-6.5) When this game was booked for Sunday night football it sounded good didn’t it? Two long time rivals in the NFC East collide when the Eagles take on the Cowboys with playoff implications on the line. Except that is not what happened at all. The Eagles (3-8) will likely be without quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy again in this one, when they take on a Dallas (5-6) team that looks great on paper, but simply cannot play. With Nick Foles starting at quarterback for the Eagles, and despite the fact that rookie running back Bryce Brown looked impressive in a Monday Night loss to the Panthers last weekend, the Cowboys just have more healthy talent than the Eagles. Take Dallas.
The Pick: Cowboys (-6.5) FINAL SCORE: Dallas 31 Eagles 17
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins (+3) Just like at the beginning of the season, when everyone was predicting that the NFC East race winner would be either the Dallas Cowboys or the Philadelphia Eagles, everyone was declaring the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants done going into last weekend’s game with the Green Bay Packers. And what happened? That Giants (7-4) absolutely crushed the Packers, and are now sitting firmly atop the NFC East, headed for another playoff berth. We all know, when it comes to playoff time, there is not a team in the NFL that wants to face the Giants. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has been sensational for the Washington Redskins (5-6) and the Giants have not played well in Washington in recent years, however, Tom Coughlin will have his team fired up on Monday Night. The Giants pass rush looked revitalized against Green Bay last weekend, and I expect them to make things difficult for RGIII all night long, Giants essentially lock up the NFC East.
The Pick: Giants (-3) FINAL SCORE: Giants 31 Redskins 23
Week 1: (9-7)
Week 2: (7-8-1)
Week 3: (10-5-1)
Week 4: (8-7)
Week 5: (5-9)
Week 6: (6-7-1)
Week 7: (6-7)
Week 8: (5-9)
Week 9: (8-6)
Week 10: (5-9)
Week 11: (9-5)
Week 12: (10-5-1)
2012 Season: (88-84-4)
Sportsmasher’s Best Bets: 16-19
RexRated’s Best Bets: 20-15-2