From the Bleachers NFL picks – Week 13
NFL Week 12 results 9-7
Season to date 114-62

Saints @ Bengals
The Saints have relatively quietly righted their ship and set course for the playoffs, making a mockery, so far anyway, of the curse of the Superbowl winner. Their rebound from a poor-ish start and their current winning streak show the professionalism and focus of that organisation under head coach Sean Payton. Meanwhile! The Bungles, where do you start with them? They are almost the mirror image of their guests. Still, something tells me The Bungles will make a proud last stand at home, and keep it close until late, when the Saints professionalism and class will show as they eek out a tough road win.
The pick: Saints 27-24

Bears @ Lions
And so it was written. As we suggested last week, the Lions have put in a good shift this season, playing well for a young team, and playing through adversity in the form of serious injuries, however they are now running out of steam. The Patriots sliced through them like a knife through warm butter on Thanksgiving. Hopefully the Lions coaching staff can keep moral up because they can be a serious football team in ’11. Meanwhile, the Bears continue to make nice adjustments on offence. They understand they can’t protect QB Jay Cutler for more than 2’5-3.5 seconds and thus are dropping off a lot of short-mid range passes, quick drops and quick release by Cutler. Their speedy, athletic receivers are then taking the rock and making some really nice –yard-after-catch runs. Death by a million paper cuts, for the opposition. No reason to think the Lions can avoid this slow, painful death, seeing as the Bears made it work against a vastly superior team last week, the Eagles.
The pick: Bears 28-12

49ers @ Packers
Losing Frank Gore for the season the week before you play the Packers is not a recipe for success. The Packers played a great game against the Falcons last week, and only lost because Matt Ryan produced a very clutch performance at home with under a minute left in the game. Every week the 49ers lose and yet their division is so poor people exclaim, ‘amazingly, they are still in it!’. After this rout, they will no longer be saying it. The Packers rebound and put a firm nail in the 49ers coffin.
The pick: Packers 35-17

Jaguars @ Titans
There is something rotten in the state of Tennessee. Their franchise QB (Vince Young) has been tossed to the wind. Their backup is hurt and they are voluntarily starting a rookie who looks completely overwhelmed. Their stud RB Chris Johnson is facing nine and even ten men ‘in the box’ since the Titans don’t have a passing game. Meanwhile, the Jaguars went down in a close game last week, a very commendable effort in New York against a good team. Jacksonville look very much a team on the upswing and can cause the Colts some sleepless nights between now and the playoffs by pushing them all the way in the AFC South. A close fought road win can keep their season going. Tennessee just needs to go home, lick its wounds and start again.
The pick: Jaguars 24-20

Broncos @ Chiefs
As Homer Simpson would say, Well, well, wellity well. Look who’s coming to dinner. If you recall, a few weeks ago Denver ran the score up on Kansas, blitzing late in the game and also throwing out of max protect packages when they already had 50 points. Now they have to go play Kansas, in Kansas. The Sports Karma Gods will have noted Denver’s bush league behaviour and a newly invigorated Kansas team will literally run them into the ground in this one.
The pick: Chiefs 30-21

Browns @ Dolphins
This is going to be one hell of a quick game. Both teams will be looking to run the ball, above all else. It is almost impossible to predict what kind of effort Miami are going to put forward. The Browns? You are going to get a strong running game and a surprisingly decent passing game under Colt McCoy, who will become a star in 2011. Miami has actually struggled at home a little. The Browns in a kind of a shock win.
The pick: Browns 20-17

Bills @ Vikings
Has anyone noticed the Bills are scaring the shillelagh out of everybody they play? The Steelers were very, very lucky to get away with a win, Buffalo had a receiver drop a pass in the end zone towards the end of the game. Before that, Buffalo hammered The Bungles and handled Detroit too. The Vikings received a boost last week from their new coach and won his first game, as teams often do. Just a hunch, Buffalo gets a lead and Favre throws a few away, and the Bills come out with a high scoring upset of a team that’s really going nowhere this season.
The pick: Bills 30-27

Redskins @ Giants
How on earth are the Redskins still in the race at 5-6? They won’t be after this week. The Giants finally managed a good win against true-quality opposition last week against the Jaguars. Earlier this season the G-Men built a nice win streak bullying bad teams. They will continue that trend with a beat-down of a bad football team this weekend.
The pick: Giants 27-10

Raiders @ Chargers
Yes, yes, yes. We have all heard the cliché, the Chargers start the year slow, then pick up and make the playoffs on the back of a strong winning streak. Here’s the problem. The Chargers are not as good as previous incarnations of their team. They are high on confidence after beating a very banged up Colts last weekend. I want to pick the Raiders, on the basis that they are a well coached young team which needs a win badly. However, the odds are stacked heavily against them. The Chargers are 4-1 at home, and only lost to the Raiders earlier this season because of two flukes, two blocked punts. The Raiders have lost two in a row whilst the Chargers have outscored their opponents 72-28 the last two weeks. The Raiders, finally, traditionally struggle in San Diego. Can’t see anything but a big Chargers win. Staying away though as the handicap is pretty ‘long’.
The pick: Chargers 27-20

Cowboys @ Colts
The Cowboys are rejuvenated and playing well under their new coach, however, there is a huge quality gap between them and the Chargers, who managed to beat the Colts last week. The Colts will have licked their wounds and learnt their lessons. The Cowboys will play hard for their new coach but come up short against a relatively desperate Colts team who need the win badly to stay ahead in the AFC South.
The pick: Colts 23-16

Rams @ Cardinals
No need to think too long about this one, the Rams proved last week they can win on the road and this means they now check all the boxes and can potentially be trusted going forward. They have a great RB, a young and exciting QB and some good pass-rushing defenders too. The Cardinals? They have nothing going for them this season. At all.
The pick: Rams 28-17

Panthers @ Seahawks
Mercy me, what a terrible game. The ‘Hawks still have a decent home field advantage, which would be more than enough to take this Superbowl of Suck.
The pick: Seahawks 17-10

Falcons @ Buccaneers
This is potentially as good as test for the Falcons as last weeks hosting of the Packers. Going on the road against a really talented up and coming Tampa team will let us know if the Falcons are really Superbowl contenders, or just a decent team that wins its home games. Give Matt Ryan the ball and something around 1-2 minutes, and the Falcons can kick another field goal to win it. Tampa, meanwhile, could very well be a monster in 2011.
The pick: Falcons 23-20

Steelers @ Ravens
Those Steelers are doing a lot of talking. Come to think of it, so are the Ravens. These two teams talk more than any other bar maybe the Chargers. Should be interesting to see if they actually play any football here, or just trash-talk for 60 minutes. Two bitter, angry little teams, clashing with their seasons on the line. The Ravens, at home, have more urgency and probably more weapons too. If Big Ben’s ‘boo boo’ means he can’t play, we could see a wipe out.
The pick: Ravens 27-24

Jets @ Patriots
What was Homer Simpson’s title bout against Drederick Tatum called? The bout to knock the other guy out? This is very much the bout to knock the other guy out, with the winner potentially taking all the marbles in the AFC East. Potentially explosive game. Clear out your Monday night schedule, put on the popcorn and sit back and enjoy. You know, it’s interesting, the Jets a couple of years ago called this game their Superbowl. This year they are openly calling it their biggest game of the year. The Patriots are instead calling it a big game, and noting it is no bigger than their recent win over the Colts. The Patriots coaching staff always urge their team to take one game at a time. The Jets noisy coaching staff are openly and publicly calling this their biggest game of the year.

There is no doubt the Jets have a healthy, hard earned record, and when they fire on all cylinders, on both sides of the ball, they are a very good team. However, they have really had to work for that 9-2 record. They narrowly beat ‘lesser’ teams in overtime in consecutive weeks in Detroit and Cleveland, and then needed a touchdown with 10 seconds left Sunday beat Houston. They were behind at half time to The Bungles before winning.

Their defence is upper echelon, but can you say the same about their offence? Their biggest question mark is the often under-whelming QB Mark Sanchez. Realistically, what do you call Sanchez other than a third-tier QB, way behind Brady, Manning and Brees, and considerably behind Matt Ryan and the rest of the tier-two crowd. Put it this way, 16 of 28 for 166 yards with a touchdown and an interception against The Bungles is probably not going to get it done at The Razor.

The Patriots are continuing to look like a young, well coached team, which makes mistakes but also makes some spectacular plays on both sides of the ball. They are 5-0 at home this season and protect The Razor well. The Patriots have won 25 straight home games with Tom Brady at the helm.

Often these highly touted and much hyped showdowns can fall flat. Hopefully this game lives up to the enormous hype. The Patriots should have enough diversity on offence and enough momentum playing at home on defence to squeak out a win in what could be a tight, hard fought game.

The pick: Patriots 30-27

Other weeks to date:
Week 12 (9-7)
Week 11 (14-2)
Week 10 (8-6)
Week 9 (10-3)
Week 8 (10-4)
Week 7 (10-4)
Week 6 (8-6)
Week 5 (8-6)
Week 4 (9-5)
Week 3 (8-8)