Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week 12: Stuffed with Football

We know Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez
are always hungry...for football. (Getty)
This is the time of year you just can't get enough football.  It started Thursday when we got our full-slate of games (although none of us got the Family Reunion on NFL Network, of course).  Then, we had two days of college football, including a 50-0 Trojan beat down of ucla!  Sunday, we'll get to wrap up the long weekend with a lot of meaningful games in the  NFL.

At this point, we're done guessing who's going to be good and who's not.  We know exactly what scores we need to watch and what games have the biggest implications.

We hope you haven't gotten full yet, because it's a great weekend to fulfill an appetite for football.

Stally (Eight-Point Pick) - Pittsburgh over @Kansas City

Stally: This wasn't the game NBC bought into when it scheduled it on Sunday night.  Kansas City was supposed to be a contender poised for an upset over an AFC powerhouse thanks to a crazy home crowd.  Instead, the Arrowhead Faithful will watch their depleted Chiefs get run over on both sides of the ball.

Austen: All you need to know is that Tyler Palko is the Chiefs' starting quarterback. He put up three points against the Patriots' league-worst defense. Now he plays the Steelers defense. He will be lucky to get three points in this matchup.

Austen (Eight-Point Pick) - @Atlanta over Minnesota

Austen: With a healthy Adrian Peterson, this team has won two games. Now that he is out, it will be very tough for them to be effective on offense against an improved Falcons' defense. The Falcons are very tough to beat at home and I cannot see them losing this game.

Stally: The Falcons are actually just 3-2 at home this year, but I see no reason why that doesn't increase to 4-2 with Peterson out for the Vikings.

Stally (Seven-Point Pick) - @Dallas over Miami

Stally: Phew!  This was a close one on Thanksgiving Day as Dallas hit the game-winning field goal (while trailing) with no time left.  I think we need to accept that this Miami team has gotten better and, sadly for them, played their way out of the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes (they no longer suck for Luck).

Austen: Matt Moore was a guy that I was very excited to see in a starting role last season in Carolina. He had a horrible start to the season and then ended up on IR. This season he is making his case again to have a shot at being a starting quarterback in the NFL. You have to love the way he has turned this team around, they just came up a little short in this matchup.

Stally: You know when a guy runs out-of-bounds and crashes into a camera man?  Moore once ran into me when I was filming a USC game at Oregon State.  (Just wanted to put that on record.)

Austen (Seven-Point Pick) - Houston over @Jacksonville

Austen: Matt Leinart would probably have to throw at least one pick-six for the Jags to have a shot in this game. I do not care how good the Jags' defense has been playing, they are not going to be able to contain the Texans' formidable running back duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The Texans defense is one of the toughest in the league and the Jags' cannot seem to put up more than 13 points against anyone. I see this being a blowout.

Stally: I don't.  I actually think Jacksonville pulls off the upset, especially on their own turf.  They have a strong defense, as you mentioned, and I think the Texans are going to have trouble with the transition to a left-handed Leinart.  Andre Johnson's return brings optimism for the Houston passing game, but as a fantasy owner of Johnson, I'm tempering expectations that he's going to be 100% his old self this weekend.

Stally (Six-Point Pick) - @New York-J over Buffalo

Stally: Austen, if your Jets lose at home to Bills, it's officially time to start time to communicating with the people sitting in the emergency row of their aircraft.  Keep in mind that in the event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device, but that this team certainly hasn't built up the wins to float its way into a playoff berth.

Austen: If I had known Fred Jackson was out for the year when we drafted, this probably would be been my first pick. The Bills have gone back to being one of the worst teams in the NFL and all is right with the world. I see the Jets winning big.

Austen (Six-Point Pick) - @Cincinnati over Cleveland

Austen: The Bengals have been on a bit of a losing streak thanks to their tough schedule, but the Browns should cure that. The Browns' running backs are all healthy again, but the Bengals are getting back A.J. Green, who will have a much bigger impact on this game than any of the Browns' backs. This could be a close game, but I really think the Bengals come out on top due to the Browns' inability to score points.

Stally: I have a weird hunch that Cleveland pulls off the upset, thanks in part to the return of their running game.  However, Yahoo locks its Pick 'Em five minutes before kickoff.   I was still debating three minutes before nd had Cincinnati picked earlier from this week, so I'll stick with the Bengals, since my pick locked as that.  Cincy's the better team, but I don't think they're great.  A rivalry game like this could go either way, so you definitely spent a lot of points on this one.

Stally (Five-Point Pick) - Green Bay over @Detroit

Stally: The Lions look like the Pilgrims hurrying to get everything packed up for winter in time for Thanksgiving dinner.  Detroit went from one of the great stories in the NFL to a completely unnoteworthy season of mediocrity.  The Packers are still undefeated, so why consider picking against them?

Austen: I really think the Packers are going to go undefeated unless they get hit with a rash of significant injuries. Their defense isn't that good, but they lead the league in interceptions and always seem to make plays when needed. As for the Lions, they are horribly undisciplined and their dumb mistakes cost them a shot at keeping up with the Packers. This team is not going to make the playoffs without Suh, who looks to be suspended for at least two games thanks to his misconduct on Thanksgiving.

Austen (Five-Point Pick) - New England over @Philadelphia

Austen: Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin and Nnamdi Asomugha all will be out for the Eagles this week. I really cannot see a way the Eagles pull off an upset in this game.

Stally: Just as I was giving up on it, the Patriots defense finally looks half competent.  I can't see Vince Young being the one that causes a regression; it's not 2005 anymore, V.Y.!

Stally (Four-Point Pick) - @Tennessee over Tampa Bay

Stally: The Titans 5-5 record says everything you need to know about my feelings on their mediocrity.  The Bucs 4-6 record suggests their worse.  I'll take Tennessee at home in this one without batting an eye.

Austen: I think this one will be closer than you think. Matt Hasselbeck is banged up and LeGarrette Blount is finally getting his mojo back. Chris Johnson is still playing unbelievably poorly. I think this will be close.

Austen (Four-Point Pick) - Carolina over @Indianapolis

Austen: I really think Cam Newton will dominate this Colts defense and the Colts offense is too inept to keep up.

Stally: You can tell Austen is having trouble focusing on writing, since he's basically just started giving one sentence answers.  (Long Saturday night in the city that never sleeps, buddy?)  I'm taking the Colts.  The Panthers are a lousy team and Cam Newton has regressed noticeably.  I just don't think Indy's going to go 0-16.  At home against a poor defense and turnover prone offense, this is a good opportunity for them to win.

Stally (Three-Point Pick) - @Baltimore over San Francisco

Stally: My logic for this one was simple.  Despite how bad the Ravens have looked at times, they seem to have a knack to play down to the level of poor competition and all their losses had come on the road.  In this case, they were playing at home against a good team, so I expected them to win.  And, they did!

Austen: It is hard to bet against the Ravens at home, so I didn't. I knew it would be a close game, but the Ravens simply have more offensive weapons than the 49ers.  They made the difference in this game, which only featured one touchdown.

Austen (Three-Point Pick) - @San Diego over Denver

Austen: I think Tebow gets grounded in this game. I don't know why, but I just have a feeling. This is the time of the year the Chargers thrive.

Stally: You'd hope so, but the Chargers usually start thriving a little earlier than this.  At some point, we might just have to accept that they aren't that good this season.  I mean, they're in third place in one of the worst divisions in football and we only have a month left to play!

Stally (Two-Point Pick) - @Seattle over Washington

Stally: Perhaps Seattle's just a smidgen better than I've given them credit for.  They also seem to play well at home, while the Redskins haven't won a game since Oct. 2.  This seemed like the right choice for two points.

Austen: Rex Grossman had a great game last week and they still lost. Considering that was as good as he could possibly play, and we all know how bad he can play, taking Seattle at home is definitely the safe bet in this one.

Stally: Although, to play devil's advocate, if you played a great game against Seattle, you'd be more likely to win than if you had a great game against Dallas.

Austen (Two-Point Pick) - @New Orleans over New York-G

Austen: I hate betting against the Giants, but considering how bad they played last week and their recent struggles at the end of the season, taking the Saints at home seemed like a solid pick. Drew Brees is very tough to stop at home and this would be a pretty big upset if the Giants left New Orleans with a win.

Stally: I've bumped up my opinion of the Giants to being a Wild Card team, but I don't expect them to win this one.  If they can beat New Orleans on the road,  it's time for me to start giving them more credit than I have.

Stally (One-Point Pick) - Chicago over @Oakland

Stally: The Raiders are one team I just refuse to buy into.  Perhaps it's that their division is awful.  Perhaps it's the midseason acquisition and acclimation of a quarterbarck.  Perhaps it's that Darren McFadden is out again.  Perhaps, and most likely, it's because I'm used to the Raiders failing so often.  I think that despite the injury to Jay Cutler, a complete Bears team is still better than a dinged up Oakland one any day.

Austen: I have Oakland in this game. I have been a believer in this team since the start of the season. Michael Bush is no McFadden, but he is still better than the majority of teams' starting running backs. I think the Raiders will hit Caleb Hanie early and often and that will make the difference in this game.

Austen (One-Point Pick) - @St. Louis over Arizona

Austen: I don't get either of these teams, but I think Steven Jackson gives the Rams the slight edge in this game. This is no better than an educated guess, but it is the last pick of the week.

Stally: I'm not even sure if it's an educated guess.  After losing 24-7 at home to Seattle last week, any thoughts that I had of the Rams improvement went out the window.  On a neutral field, I think Arizona's the better team, slightly, and St. Louis doesn't seem to be noticeably better at home, so I'll take the better team (although that's a generous description of the 3-7 Cardinals).

Pick 'Em

Detroit @ Green Bay - Thurs.
Stally: Green Bay
Austen: Green Bay

Miami @ Dallas - Thurs.
Stally: Dallas
Austen: Dallas

San Francisco @ Baltimore - Thurs.
Stally: Baltimore
Austen: Baltimore

Minnesota @ Atlanta - Sun, 1 p.m.
Stally: Atlanta
Austen: Atlanta

Cleveland @ Cincinnati -  Sun, 1 p.m.
Stally: Cincinnati (reluctantly)
Austen: Cincinnati (with confidence)

Tampa Bay @ Tennessee - Sun, 1 p.m.
Stally: Tennessee
Austen: Tampa Bay

Carolina @ Indianapolis - Sun, 1 p.m.
Stally: Indianapolis
Austen: Carolina

Arizona @ St. Louis - Sun, 1 p.m.
Stally: Arizona
Austen: St. Louis

Buffalo @ New York-J - Sun, 1 p.m.
Stally: New York-J
Austen: New York-J

Houston @ Jacksonville - Sun, 1 p.m.
Stally: Jacksonville
Austen: Houston

Chicago @ Oakland - Sun, 4:05 p.m.
Stally: Chicago
Austen: Oakland

Washington @ Seattle - Sun, 4:05 p.m.
Stally: Seattle
Austen: Seattle

New England @ Philadelphia - Sun, 4:15 p.m.
Stally: New England
Austen: New England

Denver @ San Diego - Sun, 4:15 p.m.
Stally: San Diego
Austen: San Diego

Pittsburgh @ Kansas City - Sun, 8:20 p.m.
Stally: Pittsburgh
Austen: Pittsburgh

New York-G @ New Orleans - Mon, 8:30 p.m.
Stally: New Orleans
Austen: New Orleans

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