Week 13 picks

Week 13 is already off to an exciting start.

Last night, the Texans fought from behind for most of the game to take a 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter. However, Philadelphia rallied behind LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick to win 34-24, and move to 8-4 on the year.

When thinking about our games of the week, it felt like analyzing the playoffs…five weeks early.

Before we get started on our picks, here are the year to date standings.

Mike’s picks
Last week: 4-2 (17-14 overall)

Rob’s picks
Last week: N/A (12-13 overall)

Chicago (8-3, 4-1 road) @ Detroit (2-9, 2-3 home)
Mike’s pick: DETROIT

How are the Bears 8-3? Jay Cutler personifies inconsistency, yet last week he threw four touchdowns and zero interceptions at home vs. the Eagles. Only David Garrard has thrown more interceptions (11) in less pass attempts (249) than Cutler (10 INT in 292 attempts).

Chicago is 3-0 in the division, while Detroit is 0-3. So why is the this one of our games of the week?

Week 1. Calvin Johnson. Gene Steratore. No catch. Revenge.

My pick is based on both the revenge/spoiler factor, as well as Ndamukong Suh & Kyle Van Den Bosch collapsing Chicago’s offensive line (which should force Jay Cutler to throw a couple of interceptions).

Also, Detroit has ten days to prepare, which is a big deal this late in the season.

Atlanta (9-2, 3-2 road) @ Tampa Bay (7-4, 3-2 home)
Mike’s pick: ATLANTA

The majority of Atlanta’s success this season has been when they play at home. They are slightly above average on the road. They are also coming off of another close win at home, vs. Green Bay.

Tampa Bay is beginning a three game home stand this week, after losing a tough game in their week 12 loss at Baltimore.

This seems to be somewhat of a stalemate on paper, but I’m going with Atlanta, for two reasons.

First, their offensive balance is the reason they’re successful and difficult to defend. Atlanta ranks 14th in passing (236.5 yards per game and 8th in rushing (127.9 yards per game).

Second, their kicker, Matt Bryant (former Buccaneer) is really performing well. He has made 24 of 27 field goal attempts this season, including his last eleven, and is 26 for 26 on extra point attempts.

As this may be a close game, Bryant’s familiarity with Raymond James Stadium is an advantage for the Falcons.

Although Tampa Bay is resilient and determined, I think Atlanta will be too much for them to handle on Sunday.

Pittsburgh (8-3, 5-1 road) @ Baltimore (8-3, 5-0 home)
Mike’s pick: BALTIMORE

Baltimore is looking to sweep the Steelers like the Steelers swept the Ravens in 2008, en route to winning Super Bowl XLIV.

Both Ben Roethlisberger and Ed Reed will be playing in this game, unlike in week 4, when both players were inactive.

The Steelers rookie C Maurkice Pouncey is playing in his first road game in this rivalry. It will be the toughest atmosphere he’s ever played in. The way he makes line calls, adjustments, blitz pick-ups, etc. will be something to keep your eye on.

WR Mike Wallace is a key player for Pittsburgh, as his speed can beat the Ravens secondary for big plays.

LB Terrell Suggs is a key player for Baltimore. He has 11 career sacks against the Steelers. Roethlisberger is famous for escaping the grasp of defenders and converting third downs into first downs and touchdowns. Suggs and the Ravens need to make absolutely sure they sack Roethlisberger if they want to win on Sunday night.

By the way, the winner of this game will be virtually guaranteed the AFC North title and a first round bye.

Even for this rivalry, these stakes are high. This is the game of the week. Don’t miss it.

N.Y. Jets (9-2, 5-0 road) @ New England (9-2, 5-0 home)
Mike’s pick: NEW ENGLAND

Although this pits the two top teams in the NFL against each other, I don’t think this game will be as close as many people think.

New England lost at New York, 28-14, in week 2.

Since then, New England traded Randy Moss, traded for Deion Branch and has seemingly improved.

New York has been living on the proverbial edge lately, waiting until the last-minute of regulation or overtime to win games. Yes, they won, but when you’re playing in New England against your archrival, you can’t leave any detail to chance.

Although New England has the worst statistical secondary in the NFL (285.5 yards per game), the Jets are a running team. And many of the Jets’ big pass plays over the last four weeks have come by way of the quick slant pattern. That is a pattern well-coached teams don’t allow touchdowns on.

I think it’s safe to say New England is a well-coached team. If you don’t think so, why are they ranked 31st in overall defense, but are still 9-2?

And as if he needed any extra motivation, a win on Monday night would give Tom Brady 26 consecutive regular season wins at home. He’s currently tied with Brett Favre (Green Bay, 1995-1998) with 25 straight regular season home wins.

Upset of the Week: St. Louis (-3.5) @ Arizona
Mike’s pick: ARIZONA (+3.5)

Honestly, I don’t think Arizona is this bad. Yes, they got embarrassed on Monday night against the 49ers, but Frank Gore is a special back and make a lot of defenses look bad.

St. Louis isn’t as good as San Francisco is defensively. Arizona has something to prove, and against the division leader, I think they will let out their frustration in a productive way. Besides, they have already beaten the Rams once this year (17-13, week 1 @ St. Louis).

Arizona may not win, but with the points, I like their chances.

Mike’s Fantasy Stud: Peyton Manning (vs. Dallas)

Peyton Manning is being doubted? Bad idea, haters.

Dallas’ pass defense is currently ranked 23rd in the league and has played worse than that at times this season.

Manning figures to put up big numbers, as the Colts need this win to keep pace with the Jaguars in AFC South (both Indianapolis and Jacksonville are 6-4, but Indianapolis lost at Jacksonville in week 4).

Mike’s Fantasy Dud: Troy Smith (@ Green Bay)

There are many reasons why Troy Smith could struggle to generate offense, let alone fantasy points this week.

San Francisco is: playing at Green Bay (the best scoring defense in the league, allowing 15.1 points per game), coming off of a big win, in a short week, facing the best defensive player in the league (Clay Matthews) and are without their best offensive player (Frank Gore).

Any questions?

Here are Rob’s picks for week 13.

Chicago (8-3, 4-1 road) @ Detroit (2-9, 2-3 home)
Rob’s pick: CHICAGO

I’m going with the Bears on this one, for a few reasons. First reason, I chose the Bears as one of my featured picks for my own NFL blog which is slowly being rolled out over the next few months.

The second reason was that all year I said the Bears aren’t this good. Well, now they are. After they beat the red-hot Eagles, I knew the Bears were a legitimate 8-3.

If you recall all the way back to week 1, Calvin Johnson made what looked like a game-winning touchdown catch, but it was later ruled incomplete because he didn’t complete the catch.

The Lions will be looking for revenge but won’t get it with QB Drew Stanton expected to start.

Atlanta (9-2, 3-2 road) @ Tampa Bay (7-4, 3-2 home)
Rob’s pick: ATLANTA

This is a great match-up of the number one and number three teams in the NFC South, who are playing solid football right now. However, the Falcons aren’t just playing well, they’re playing great. As a Baltimore fan, I’m still a little bitter that my Ravens (8-3) did lose to the Falcons.

Tampa Bay is known for their “Tampa 2” zone defense. However they will have their hands full with Matt Ryan aka “Matty Ice”, “Rowdy” Roddy White and Michael “Dirty Bird 2.0” Turner.

This will be a good game to watch, but in the end the Falcons are just too good this year and will end this series being 2-0 on the year.

Pittsburgh (8-3, 5-1 road) @ Baltimore (8-3, 5-0 home)
Rob’s pick: BALTIMORE

It always seems to come down to the Steelers and Ravens, doesn’t it? This match-up is currently the number one rivalry game in the NFL today. These two teams hate each other and you better believe the Steelers are out for blood after losing at home by the Ravens in week 4.

This morning, 105.7 “The Fan” reported that about 80% of the Associated Press are picking the Ravens to win.

Here are the key factors for the game:

  • Penalties (Steelers feel like they are being targeted)
  • Is Big Ben healthy enough to play or make an impact on the game?
  • Can the Ravens defense contain RB Rashard Mendenhall and explosive WR Mike Wallace (Ravens have struggled containing big play receivers this year)?
  • Will the Ravens finally open up the playbook, get a solid win and prove they’re a true Super Bowl contender?

N.Y. Jets (9-2, 5-0 road) @ New England (9-2, 5-0 home)
Rob’s pick: NEW ENGLAND

As if this match-up couldn’t get any more intense, it has. It’s no secret the Jets and Patriots do not like each other at all. Even better, they’re in the same division and share the overall best record in the AFC. I’m giving the nod to the Jets for having beat the Patriots in week 2.

First and foremost, a round of applause for Monday Night Football on the upgrade from last week as this game is one of the biggest of the year as opposed to the Boring Bowl, Part Two (San Francisco @ Arizona).

This is your classic street fight. It should be a close one, but Tom Brady is playing top-notch football right now and will get the job done at home, evening the series at one game apiece.

Upset of the Week: Jacksonville @ Tennessee (-3)
Rob’s pick: JACKSONVILLE (+3)

The Jaguars are going to travel to Tennessee Sunday and not only win, but put a pretty good whooping on the Titans. The Jaguars just came off of a disappointing loss to the N.Y. Giants and will be taking it out on the Titans who are in shambles right now.

Titan’s head coach Jeff Fisher is done with QB Vince Young and suddenly, Chris Johnson is ineffective, due to no passing game from QB changes between Young, Collins and Smith. Randy Moss, who has had four catches for 49 yards since he’s been there, has yet to lead the Titans to victory. Jacksonville will win this one outright, leaving the Titans at 5-8.

Rob’s Fantasy Stud: Peyton Hillis (@ Miami Dolphins)

Projected stats: 22 carries, 114 yards, 2 TD; 4 receptions, 35 yards

Rob’s Fantasy Dud: Randy Moss (vs. Jacksonville)

Projected stats: 3 receptions, 26 yards

Wow, as if I have to say it again…Week 13 has some huge games and should be a great weekend of football. Be safe and enjoy!

-Robby Diesel

Rob was right. This the kind of week where you don’t mind too much if your picks are wrong or your fantasy team loses, so much as you get to enjoy all of the action.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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