It’s hard to believe that only three weekends remain in the 2012 NFL Season and we will be talking postseason NFL spreads in no time, this season has flown by, and there is still a lot to be decided in the final three weeks. The good news is Sportsmasher had a solid Week 14, going (9-6-1) including a strong (2-1) on his best bets. Rexrated went (1-1-1) on his best bets, but continued his solid performance throughout the season. Let’s get to the Week 15 picks:
Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles (+5) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is coming off of his first career victory, as the Eagles surprised the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa last weekend, and improved to (4-9) on the season. It is likely that both head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick, along with a slew of other veterans, will no longer be with the Eagles in 2013. The Bengals (7-6) lost a tight game to the Dallas Cowboys, and should be pumped up for this game, because they will need to win out to have a shot at the AFC playoffs. I think that star Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green will make plays in this game, and the Bengals defense will come to play in what has become a must win game for Cincinnati.
The Pick: Bengals (-5) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 27 Eagles 16
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (+5) The Bears (8-5) once again looked strong early in the season, but they are slumping, as age and injuries have since caught up with them. The Packers (9-4) also have a lot of injuries, and they have their weaknesses, but Aaron Rodgers is so good that these weaknesses can be masked. The line on this game may change, due to the uncertain status of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, however the latest report is that he will play. If the Bears are unable to win this game, it will be a serious blow to their playoff hopes, because they will not win the division and will be fighting for the wild card. I think the Bears surprise everyone and at home, with a sense of urgency, win this game.
The Pick: Bears (+5) FINAL SCORE: Bears 27 Packers 24
New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons (-1) The Atlanta Falcons (11-2) are (6-0) at home and currently have the top seed in the NFC, although the 49ers and Packers still have an outside shot of catching them, and the team still feels a lack of respect from the “experts” who pick against them every week. The New York Giants (8-5) have proven that they can beat the best teams in the NFL (49ers, Packers) while they struggle to show up in games that they should win. I give the Giants one huge edge in this game, the Falcons only have on pass rusher (John Abraham) which should allow Eli Manning ample time in the pocket to find his targets, while the Giants pass rush will bother Matt Ryan all afternoon. The Giants must continue to win to hold their NFC East lead over the Redskins and Cowboys, and they always play better with their backs against the wall.
The Pick: Giants (+1) FINAL SCORE: Giants 31 Falcons 28
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (-3.5) The Saints (5-8) proved once again last weekend that their defense cannot stop anybody as they surrendered 52 point to the Giants, and their only chance to win is in a shootout. The Buccaneers (6-7) absolutely blew two winnable games in back-to-back weeks and will now be on the outside looking in of the NFC playoff picture, so their team morale cannot be high. In a divisional game, where Tampa rookie running back Doug Martin should have huge numbers, this line seems too high for me. It’s tough to pick the Saints as favorites against anybody, because they simply cannot stop anybody, so I’m taking the points.
The Pick: Buccaneers (+3.5) FINAL SCORE: Buccaneers 34 Saints 31
Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams (-3) The St. Louis Rams have actually impressed me during recent weeks, and despite their (6-6-1) record, I think that Jeff Fisher clearly has this bunch headed in the right direction. I think that, following this offseason and another draft, this team will be a playoff contender. The Vikings (7-6) on the other hand, seem like they are close to contending for the playoffs right now, as they continue to win games because of the incredible season that running back Adrian Peterson is having (1600 yards, 10 touchdowns). I see a big game for Adrian Peterson on the St. Louis turf, and think that the Vikings keep their playoff hopes alive, while ending the Rams hopes in the process.
The Pick: Vikings (+3) FINAL SCORE: Vikings 24 Rams 20
Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns (+2) This line is subject to change, because Redskins rookie phenom quarterback Robert Grifin III is dealing with a sprained knee, and if he plays he will not be 100% for this game. There is little doubt that if Griffin is in the game the Redskins (7-6) will be limited offensively, and will not be running any options, for the first time this season defenders will be able to pin their ears back and rush Griffin. Here’s a little known fact, the Browns (5-8) are a much better team than their record indicates, and are only a few bounces of the ball away from three more wins (Dallas, Baltimore, Philadelphia) which would have them at (8-8). I think that the Browns will rush a hobbled Griffin and I see a big game for Trent Richardson in a Browns win, which effectively ends the Redskins season.
The Pick: Browns (+2) FINAL SCORE: Browns 20 Redskins 17
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins (-7) Chad Henne revenge game alert! The current starting quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars returns to Miami, where he was the former starting quarterback of the Dolphins. The Jaguars (2-11) have really struggled this season and will be in the mix for the first overall pick in the NFL draft when the 2012 season comes to an end. The Dolphins (5-8) have also struggled, but do have some strengths on their team, including their pass rush. I think that the Dolphins at home will be too much for the Jaguars, and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will make a few plays that will show off his talent and get Dolphins fans excited about the future.
The Pick: Dolphins (-7) FINAL SCORE: Dolphins 23 Jaguars 13
Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens (+3) The Baltimore Ravens (9-4) have faltered lately after a hot start, due to numerous injuries, and a failure to get the ball to star tailback Ray Rice in crucial situations. Meanwhile the Denver Broncos (10-3) have been on a roll led by quarterback Peyton Manning, and come into this game with all of the momentum, in what could be an AFC playoff preview. In this situation, I need to take the hot team, and the Broncos are cruising right now. I hate to say it Ravens fans, but the way Baltimore looks right now, Peyton Manning will come down and pick you apart this weekend.
The Pick: Broncos (-3) FINAL SCORE: Broncos 27 Ravens 20
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: BRONCOS (-3)***
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans (-9) The Texans (11-2) are coming off a short week, after they were absolutely demolished by the Patriots on Monday Night Football last week, and will be looking to make a statement against a hot division rival. The Colts (9-4) are the feel good story of the year, as they seem to have completely skipped over “rebuilding mode” led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who is already a superstar in the NFL. I am surprised this line is so high, and although I think the Texans win at home, I do not think they cover against a good team on a short week.
The Pick: Colts (+9) FINAL SCORE: Texans 27 Colts 24
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: COLTS (+9)***
***REXRATED BEST BET: COLTS (+9)***
Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers (-3) The Chargers (5-8) are coming off of a stunning win in Pittsburgh while the Panthers (4-9) just dealt the rival Falcons their second lost of the year, so both teams are coming off of upset victories. Each of these teams has been very up and down so far this season, and both teams tend to show up one week and not the next, so this could be an ugly game. At this point of the season, in a game between two flaky teams, I’ll always take the points.
The Pick: Panthers (+3) FINAL SCORE: Panthers 21 Chargers 17
Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills (+6) The Seattle Seahawks (In Toronto) The Seahawks (8-5) are probably the hottest team in football, and although they are much better at home and this is technically a road game, it is actually on a neutral site. The Bills (5-8) have a lot of problems offensively when they run the ball, and I expect them to struggle find any running room against a strong Seahawks defense, and be forced to throw. This does not bode well for the Bills chances, expect another big game from Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, and expect the Seahawks to roll in a meaningful game.
The Pick: Seahawks (-6) FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 31 Buffalo 16
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: SEAHAWKS (-6)***
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals (+6) The Arizona Cardinals are in danger of starting the season (4-0), being jinxed when Sportsmasher called them the NFL’s most underrated team, then losing 12 straight games. They are currently (4-9) and I am predicting that they will not win another game this season, due mostly to their absolutely atrocious quarterback play. The Detroit Lions (4-9) have been in a lot of close games, and are better than their record indicates, I think they are a few players away from being a good team. When a horrible team plays a good/bad team, it never works out for the horrible team.
The Pick: Lions (-6) FINAL SCORE: Lions 23 Cardinals 6
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys (+2) This is now a huge game for both teams as the Steelers (7-6) and the Cowboys (7-6) are both fighting to stay alive in their respective playoff races. It seems that Cowboys star wide receiver will attempt to play through a serious hand injury, while Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is clearly not 100%, as he deals with rib and shoulder injuries. I am surprised that Dallas is getting points at home, because the Steelers defense has not been the same without cornerback Ike Taylor and Big Ben is nursing injuries, so in this case I am grabbing the points.
The Pick: Cowboys (+2) FINAL SCORE: Cowboys 23 Steelers 20
***REXRATED BEST BET: COWBOYS (+2)***
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders (-3) In what could be the worst game of the NFL season, the Chiefs (2-11) travel to Oakland (3-10) in a battle of teams who will be picking at the top of the 2013 NFL Draft. I think that Kansas City will be able to run the football on Oakland with Jamaal Charles, but they did that against the Browns last weekend, and still got blown out. In what will be an ugly game, which neither team should really want to win to better their draft position, I think Carson Palmer throws a few touchdowns and beats the Chiefs at home.
The Pick: Raiders (-3) FINAL SCORE: Raiders 20 Chiefs 13
San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots (-6) I have gone back and forth on this game all week long, after picking the Texans against the Patriots last Monday Night and watching New England demolish Houston, I have to like the Patriots (10-3) at home. However, the 49ers (9-3-1) have an excellent pass rush, and the type of defense that bothers Tom Brady if such a thing is possible. San Francisco is starting Colin Kapernick, a second year player, who Bill Belichick should have an excellent gameplan prepared for. After what the Patriots did to the Texans last Monday, and with an unexperienced quarterback starting for the 49ers against a defensive mastermind, I’m leaning Patriots.
The Pick: Patriots (-6) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 31 49ers 20
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans (-1.5) Am I the only person who thinks that the Jets (6-7) will win out for the rest of 2012? Their schedule is incredibly easy, and now that they have signed Braylon Edwards off waivers, they have a big target who Mark Sanchez is comfortable throwing to. The Titans (4-9) have been absolutely horrendous this season as well, and this will be a low scoring, low rated Monday Night Football contest (despite the New York market being involved.) Tennessee needs playmakers on both sides of the ball, I still think Jake Locker has some long term potential, but he needs a lot of help.
The Pick: Jets (+1.5) FINAL SCORE: Jets 20 Titans 16
***REXRATED BEST BET: JETS (+1.5)***
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)
Week 13: (5-11)
Week 14: (9-6-1)
2012 Season: (103-101-5)
Sportsmasher’s Best Bets: 20-21
RexRated’s Best Bets: 23-18-2