Friday, November 30, 2012

NFL WEEK 13 picks by @CurtisJStock

Still smarting after Thursday’s loss with the Saints who had every opportunity to at least cover, I’ve had trouble coming up with a Pick 1 let alone a Pick-6 this week. But here goes:
LINE Giants 2 ½
Here’s a weird stat: Washington has lost 10 straight Monday night home games.
Now they get another chance against a team they lost to 27-23 in Week 7 when Victor Cruz hauled in a 77-yard catch and run touchdown with just 1:13 left in the game.
Washington ran the ball for 248 yards in that loss. QB Robert Griffin III had 89 yards of that with Alfred Morris getting most of the rest with 120 rush yards.
Washington has won two in a row – against the Eagles two weeks ago and then holding off Dallas 38-31 after they led 28-3 at halftime after scoring four TDs in the second quarter.
The Giants broke a two-game losing streak with a 38-10 victory over Green Bay when they pummeled Aaron Rodgers all game.
But it was also a game where the Giants lost RB Andre Brown who was having a fine season. That leaves Ahmad Bradshaw on his own. Bradshaw has been bothered all season with a foot injury.
Taking the Giants.
LINE: Carolina 3
Carolina is favoured on the road for the second straight week. It’s a role they like having gone 8-2 as road favourites.
But they are also 0-6 as non-divisional road favourites off a SUATS win.
Both teams will try and establish the run early as neither team defenses the run very well.
Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart injured his ankle last week but the Panthers still have DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert.
The Chiefs counter with Jamaal Charles who is running behind a very injured O-line that now has two rookies playing and could face even more juggling with veteran guard Ryan Lilja, who had to move to center, battling a knee injury.
On defense LB Tamba Hali is also injured.
The Chiefs haven’t scored more than 16 points in any of their last seven games.
Taking Carolina.
LINE Bengals 2
With the Bengals getting their running game going – BenJarvus Green-Ellis has back-to-back 100-yard running games – Cincinnati has won three straight by a total of 93-29, albeit the last two of those wins coming against Kansas City and Oakland.
San Diego remains a team that finds a way to lose. Last week Baltimore trailed by 10 points with 7:51 left to play and rebounded to win with the key play a conversion on fourth and 29 with just 1:37 left to play.
That was the third time this season the Chargers have gassed a double-digit lead in the second half.
They also couldn’t hold onto a 10-point lead against New Orleans and then let a 24-0 lead against Denver evaporate.
After winning three of their first four games, the Chargers have lost six of their last seven.
Phil Rivers isn’t getting much time to throw; Rivers was sacked six more times last week. That isn’t good news for San Diego given the way the Bengals got after Oakland QB Carson Palmer last week – four sacks, two turnovers and able to throw for only 146 yards.
Since winning their first two games, the Chargers have lost seven of their last nine – the two wins were against 1-10 Kansas City.
The Bengals are 6-0 ATS the week after scoring 30 or more points including three times this season.
San Diego is 1-6 in the first of back-to-back home games against non-divisional opponents.
The Chargers also have injury problems in their secondary with both of their safeties – Eric Weddle and Atari Bigby – getting injured last week.
Weddle may play after getting concussed last week but Bigby, who is second on the team in tackles, is gone. Bengals QB Andy Dalton will take advantage.
Taking the Bengals.
LINE: Buffalo 6
Jacksonville has played better the last two games – defeating Tennessee, which isn’t that much of a feather (Buffalo lost by a point to the Titans earlier this year) – and almost upsetting Houston (a team Buffalo fell to 21-9).
That said, Jacksonville is still last in offense and second last in defense.
Those last two improved games for Jacksonville came with Chad Henne at the helm throwing for a combined total of 615 yards with six TDs.
But while Henne sparked the Jaguars he was sacked seven times. With Buffalo DE Mario Williams showing vast improvement after wrist surgery helping a defense that has only allowed one offensive TD in each of the last two games that isn’t a good sign for the Jags.
The other factor is Buffalo’s running tandem of C.J. Spiller and the recently activated Fred Jackson. Jacksonville gives up an average of 136 rush yards per game.
Not that Buffalo is any better stopping the run – they are actually worse – but Jacksonville’s main RB Jalen Parmele is now out for the season.
While Buffalo is averaging 140 yards on the ground, Jacksonville’s 81.4-yard average is the worst in the AFC.
Jacksonville also has a key defensive injury with CB Derek Cox injuring his hamstring last week. Cox is the Jags best cornerman.
Buffalo isn’t all that bad. Their defense but they have don’t have a clue what to do when they get into the red zone – settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. Last week they finally got a TD from inside the 20-yard line – their first in their last seven trips.
Taking Buffalo.
LINE: Denver 7
Hmm. Petyon Manning against a Tampa Bay team that can’t stop the pass. First in the NFL in run defense, the Bucs are last in pass defense giving up an average of 315 yards per game.
That leaky secondary was further hit this week with the four-game suspension of CB Eric Wright.
But before you open your wallets too wide, Denver has failed to cover 14 of their last 17 games when they are favoured by six points or more.
Tampa has also been exceptional on offense putting up 27 or more points in six of their last seven games. The only time in that span that they didn’t up at least 27 points was when they lost to Atlanta last week 24-23.
The latter was a game Tampa could easily have won – the one-point margin notwithstanding. Three times the Bucs settled for field goals when deep in Atlanta territory including three chances to punch it in from the Falcons 3-yard line.
Competitive in every game they have played, none of Tampa’s losses have been by more than a touchdown which is this game’s betting line.
Taking Tampa.
LINE: Houston 7
Tennessee can’t stop run or the pass and Houston can do both.
Houston QB Matt Schaub has averaged 421 passing yards in the last two games while RB Arian Foster is looking for his sixth straight game rushing for 90 yards or more.
After going 2-6 on the road last year, the Texans are 5-0 away from home this season.
Houston has a long injury list though. OLB Brooks Reed. CB Johnathan Joseph, ILB Bradie James, RG Antoine Caldwell and RT Derek Newton are all out.
That’s on top of losing Brian Cushing earlier this season.
While the defensive injuries are a big concern, there is nothing wrong with Houston’s offense which put up 77 points and almost 1,154 yards of total offense the last two weeks. But even with that output Houston failed to cover the spread in both of those games as their injured defense allowed a total of 791 passing yards.
Tennessee somehow lost to Jacksonville last week. The Titans got inside Jacksonville’s 24-yard line six times but registered just one touchdowns settling for field goals the other five times.
Houston defeated Tennessee 38-14 in Week 4 a game in which Houston capitalized on three turnovers with two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Houston was 12 point favourites in that game. Now, after the line opened at just 4 ½ points it has been steadily pushed upwards to 7.
The stats are mixed.
Taking Houston.
LINE: Jets 4 ½
Hard to believe the Jets are favoured against anyone. But Arizona is a mess on offense. Down to their third string QB Ryan Lindley, who threw four interceptions last week – two returned for touchdowns – the Cardinals weak O-line will now be without starting C Lyle Sendlein. For the season Arizona QBs have been sacked 46 times.
Last week Arizona lost 31-17 to St. Louis – a team the Jets defeated 27-13 two weeks ago – albeit with the help of three turnovers.
Hate to even try to make a stab at this game but reluctantly taking the Jets.
LINE: Browns 1
This isn’t just the first time the Browns have been favoured, they haven’t been favoured on the road since 2007.
Little wonder given that the Browns lost 12 straight road games.
Cleveland had their win over Pittsburgh last week gift wrapped when they were plus seven in turnovers. The two touchdowns they scored were directly the result of turnovers as both of those drives totaled just 41 yards.
But Oakland is just plain bad getting blown out in their last three games and losing their last four games by allowing opponents to score a total of 169 points.
Cleveland’s defense has stepped it up since their bye week three weeks ago. In the two games since the bye the Browns have given up an average of just 56 rush yards. They allowed 49 rush yards against Pittsburgh and 63 yards against Dallas. In the latter game they also sacked Dallas QB Tony Romo seven times. Prior to the bye the Browns allowed 132.2 rush yards per game.
The return from injuries of tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor has been a big reason for the vast improvement.
Oakland hasn’t had much luck playing Cleveland as they have covered just one of the last six meetings.
With the forecast calling for miserable weather with the possibility of torrential rains this probably is going to be a low scoring game with the emphasis on running the ball which is why the possible return of Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson is so important.
Cleveland counters with rookie RB Trent Richardson who has averaged over 100 yards on the ground in his last four games.
Browns QB Brandon Weeden has been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion last week.
Cleveland has covered five of the last six meetings.
The Browns have at least been competitive in all of their games this year; Oakland hasn’t.
Taking Cleveland.
LINE: Chicago 3 1/2
Two of the NFL’s top defenses and two of the worst offenses meet even if one of them, Seattle, allowed Miami to put up 435 yards against them last week. That was also a game where Seattle’s bread and butter Marshawn Lynch only had 46 yards on 19 carries.
Seattle doesn’t win on the road. While they are 5-0 at home they are 1-5 on the road and this is another one of their long eastern treks.
Overall, since the start of the 2002 season, Seattle is 56-29 at home and 31-55 on the road. Since 2007 they are 12-34 on the road.
Chicago, which continues to rely on their defense which has scored seven touchdowns – all off interceptions – rebounded from two losses to defeat Minnesota 28-10 last week with Jay Cutler targeting Brandon Marshall 17 times while connecting on 12 of them.
While Seattle coach Pete Carroll is just 2-10 against teams coming off double-digit wins while seeking revenge, the Bears are 8-3 after a double-digit ATS win.
Although Seattle CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will both probably play this week, they both face suspensions for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Chicago has more than enough of its own problems. RG Lance Louis is gone for the season while LG Chris Spencer is also out with a knee injury. WR Devin Hester won’t play either. Also hurt are LB Lance Briggs, RB Matt Forte, and CB Charles Tillman.
The Seattle Seahawks could be without defensive end Red Bryant this week at Chicago because of a foot problem.
Not expecting much offense.
Despite the injuries taking the Bears.
LINE: Dallas 10
Just how low can the Eagles sink?
Philadelphia, losers of seven straight, is a 9-point dog against a Dallas team that has lost both inside LBs – Bruce Carter and Sean Lee – and also have injuries on their offensive line and at wide receiver.
Kevin Ogletree was inactive with a concussion last week – a game in which they also lost WR Miles Austin, who may play this week.
RB DeMarco Murray, who hasn’t played the last six weeks, is finally expected to play. Without Murray the Cowboys, which only average 78.7 rush yards per game, has really stalled. But with their patchwork offensive line it probably doesn’t matter who their running back is.
The Eagles, which have given up at least 30 points three weeks in a row – and four in their last five outings (the only exception being a 28-13 loss to New Orleans – have several injuries of their own. Michael Vick remains on the sideline with Nick Foles, who has been adequate at best, again getting the start. Their leading receiver, DeSean Jackson, is on injured reserve after fracturing several ribs last week. RB LeSean McCoy has a concussion. DT Fletcher Cox injured his tailbone and offensive lineman King Dunlap sprained his knee.
McCoy’s absence wasn’t a factor last week as Bryce Brown came in and set an Eagles rookie record with 178 yards rushing.
Home hasn’t been kind to Dallas which has failed to cover their five home games this year and have lost three of the those last four straight up. In each of those last four home games the Cowboys have trailed by at least 10 points before halftime.
Last week the Cowboys trailed Washington 28-3 at halftime in a game they would eventually lose 38-31.
The Cowboys defeated the Eagles three weeks ago but that was a game where Dallas had three special team touchdowns.
The stats are mixed.
The Eagles are in total disarray – their longest completion in last week’s loss to Carolina was just 16 yards – but giving up 10 points seems a tad high facing a Dallas team which is banged up on both sides of the ball.
Taking the Eagles.
LINE Detroit 4 ½
Detroit had the lead in the fourth quarter against both Green Bay and Houston the last two weeks. But in both games they gave up touchdowns with less than two minutes to play to lose those two games by a combined seven points.
Last week’s loss to Houston was especially heart breaking for Detroit when they were victims of a goofy rule for challenging an obvious official’s rule that Houston RB Justin Forsett wasn’t down – though he clearly was – when he got up and ran for an 81-yard TD.
The Colts have won five of their last six – the only loss when they were minus-4 in turnovers against New England.
They will be without DT Fiji Moala who is gone for the season.
Taking the Colts.
LINE: Packers 8
While Green Bay thumped Minnesota 45-7 in their last meeting last season, 15 of the last 19 regular-season games have been decided by seven points or less.
Obviously the Packers have to stop Adrian Peterson. But they will have to do it without one of their best run-stoppers C.J. Wilson. Compounding matters LB Clay Matthews has missed the last two games.
That’s on top of already being without Sam Shields and Charles Woodson.
Peterson leads the NFL with 1,236 yards rushing.
Last week the Packers got thumped 38-10 by the Giants who sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, hit him seven other times and clearly won the line of scrimmage as the Giants piled up 390 yards of offense.
Rodgers has now been sacked an NFL-high 37 times this season.
Missing RT right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was lost for the season, has been a big reason.
The Vikings had two players – TE Kyle Rudolph and strong safety Harrison Smith – leave last week’s game with concussions but both have been cleared to play.
WR Percy Harvin,, another big cog who has missed the last two games, is doubtful.
Green Bay’s WR Greg Jennings, on the other hand, is expected to return after missing the previous seven games.
For an injured team coming off that kind of a loss the 9-point line seems, on the surface anyway, pretty big.
The stats however say otherwise.
Minnesota is 2-8 vs. divisional rivals in Week 9 and afterwards, 1-14 as road dogs vs. conference opponents off a SUATS loss and has failed to cover four of the last five meetings in Green Bay.
Furthermore, Green Bay has won its last nine games against the NFC North and have won 23 of its last 25 regular season games at Lambeau Field.
Don’t feel comfortable with laying this many points but going with the stats and taking Green Bay.
LINE Patriots 9
Tom Brady gets to throw against a Miami secondary that gives up an average of 261.7 passing yards a game.
The Patriots have a very long list of injuries but it didn’t slow them down last week against the Jets when they led 7-0 for one minute and then went up 28-0 another minute later.
But they came out of last week’s game with even more wounds. Not to mention the four-game drug suspension handed out to DE Jermaine Cunningham.
DE Chandler Jones, their leading pass rusher, and LG Logan Mankins are also out along with TE Rob Gronkowski. RT Sebastian Vollmer and RG Dan Connolly are questionable. Mankins, Connolly and Gronkowski were out last week and it sure didn’t hurt as the Patriots won 49-19 and Brady wasn’t sacked.
Miami woke up last week putting up 435 total yards against Seattle’s tough defense including over 100 yards on the ground – the first time they have done that since Week 3. At the same time they limited Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch to only 46 yards in 19 carries.
New England is 14-2 off consecutive SUATS wins when meeting less than .500 divisional teams.
Taking New England.
LINE: 49ers 7 1/2
One of the best road teams in the NFL, the 49ers are 10-3 away from home since 2011 including four of five this year – all four of those covers.
Once again Colin Kaepernick will start at quarterback for San Francisco – a move which hasn’t sat well with regular starter Alex Smith.
Three weeks ago these two tied 24-24 with St. Louis having 458 yards of offense compared to 341 for San Francisco.
The 49ers were 13-point favourites for that game. For this game in St. Louis they are 7 1/2 –point picks.
Since the tie, the 49ers defeated both Chicago and New Orleans – the latter returning two interceptions for TDs to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 28-14 lead — while the Rams lost 27-13 to the Jets and beat the hapless Cardinals 31-17 outscoring Arizona 17-0 in the second half with Steven Jackson running for a season-best 139 yards. It was no coincidence that C Scott Wells who had been out since Week 1 with a broken foot was back for that game – allowing replacement C Robert Turner to move to LG – against Arizona.
The Rams are 6-1 at home when exiting a SU dog win but they are 2-12 as divisional home dogs of 4 points or more and 1-8 as dogs of 9 points or less against teams coming off a double-digit win. San Francisco is 2-5 as road favourites vs. teams coming off a win but 9-2 as road favourites of six or more against divisional opponents.
Taking the 49ers.
LINE: Baltimore 8
Pittsburgh has shown nothing with the loss of Ben Roethlisberger but they played Baltimore tight two weeks ago in a 13-10 loss when they had 311 yards of offense to just 200 for Baltimore.
The Steelers will probably get back Pro Bowlers WR Antonio Brown and S Troy Polamalu.
Most of the stats favour Baltimore which has won 15 straight at home and 12 straight vs. the AFC North. At home the Ravens have averaged 37 points a game, on the road they have only averaged 16.
However, six of the last seven regular-season games between the two have been decided by three points so this line seems a trite high.
Pittsburgh should be able to run on the Ravens which are giving up 128.5 rush yards a game although their four running backs combined for five fumbles last week – part of eight turnovers in total – while only generating 49 yards.
A big reason was that Cleveland put eight men in the box and dared Charlie Batch to throw. Multiple injuries on their offensive line certainly didn’t help either.
Last week Baltimore converted on fourth and 29 to knock off San Diego. Can’t see the Steelers doing that.
Taking Pittsburgh.

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