Week 12 NFL Picks – Division Champ With 5 Wins Edition

WEEK 11 RECORD

DAN K: 1-2
ESPO: 2-1
DICK: 3-0

SEASON RECORD:

DAN K: 13-17-1
ESPO:  14-15-2
DICK:  16-14-1

ESPO

CLEVELAND BROWNS +3 AT ATLANTA FALCONS

Interesting little inter-conference matchup here. The Browns are trying to keep pace in their ridiculously competitive division, where they and the Ravens are 6-4, the Steelers are 7-4, and the Bengals are 6-3-1. The Falcons, meanwhile are somehow LEADING THE NFC SOUTH at 4-6, thanks to the tiebreaker they hold over New Orleans, after being them Week 1. The Falcons have have won two straight divisional games, both on the road, against Tampa Bay and Carolina. While the Matthew Thomas Ryan Falcons winning on the road is kinda impressive in and of itself, they didn’t really look all that impressive doing so, and uh, both those teams are pretty bad.

The Browns came off a demolition of Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football to lay an egg against a motivated Houston team. Houston simply ran over them. The Browns are giving up 142 rushing yards per game, 3rd worst mark in the league, ahead of only the Giants and Titans. And the Texans took advantage, with FIFTY FOUR rushing attempts to Cleveland’s 24, for a respectable 3.9 yards per carry. They also rushed for 13 first downs, to Cleveland’s 4. The Browns strength this year had been running the ball, but as I correctly pointed out last week, they’re still feeling the loss of Alex Mack, and have had trouble getting into a rhythm. They also unceremoniously jettisoned Ben Tate, who was grumpy about not getting carries, or something. Who cares.

But wait! Who’s that on the horizon? My goodness, it’s Josh Gordon, emerging from a limousine in a cloud of budsmoke! Yes siree, the original NFL scapegoat before Ray Rice and before got Woodshop and Parenting 101 confused, the MARIJUANA MARTYR himself, the scourge of fantasy drafters, Josh Gordon will be back on the field for this one. And what a time it is. Atlanta’s run defense is bad, but not nearly as bad as their WOEFUL bottom-ranked pass defense. With a flaccid pass rush and subpar corners, enemy passers have thrown all over them to the tune of a whopping 281 yards per game. They’re also giving up the highest average yardage per pass, tied for the Bears with 8.2. So basically they are giving up big passing plays, and lots of them. What an opportune time to welcome back last year’s reception yardage leader, eh?

The Falcons can’t run the ball, and can’t stop the throw or the run. The Browns are solidly average in most parts of the field. With Tate’s dismissal, Isaiah Crowell seems to be in line for another big day, and the kid has some truly explosive tendencies. I’m betting the Browns offense can put enough together here to cover, and very possibly win outright, despite the Falcons home advantage.

THE PICK: BROWNS +3

DALLAS COWBOYS -3.5 AT NEW YORK GIANTS

Well, well, well. Here we are. Cowboys / Giants. It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Cowboys. They got upset on MNF by the Redskins, then lost to the Cardinals with Brandon Weeden, then played a London game against Jacksonville which exactly nobody bothered to watch. At first blush, this line seems low to me. I guess it means that Dallas would be a 9.5 point favorite at home, which sounds right, but… agh. The Giants are SO BAD!

Eli Manning and his I-just-sucked-on-a-lemon face can go to hell and die. 5 picks! 5 PICKS AGAINST SF! And because SF is also garbage, they only narrowly won, and never ran the ball against the LEAGUE WORST run defense, who Seattle tuned up for 350 YARDS!! I mean, let’s not overthink this here, eh? Bye-rested DeMarco Murray + bye-rested Tony Romo + EGREGIOUSLY BAD GIANTS DEFENSE = Dallas runs all over them. Is my math correct there? I mean, how much more can you dive into this game, really? The Giants are 0-5 straight up and against the spread over the last 5 weeks. Dallas had a brain fart implosion against Washington, started BRANDON WEEDEN against the league’s best team, and blew out Jacksonville. Is there some reason to bury them I’m missing, aside from the fact that they are just the Cowboys?

Like, what does this Giants team have to offer? Rashad Jennings is just there. Odell Beckham Jr. has sick, SICK hands, and one of the best nicknames in football. That’s basically it, the guy is just awesome. Is that really enough? I mean he’s equally as good as Dez Bryant, so that should cancel out, in theory. Murray >>> Jennings. Eh. I don’t know. I guess is the Dallas defense still good enough, is the question. And will Romo “CHOKE IN PRIMETIME” like he “DOES” while Eli is “CLUTCH” and “BIG IN BIG GAMES”. Ugh, fuck that narrative. Fuck Eli Manning and all the Giants fans who think Tony Romo is some punchline because their ugly fucking lemon-faced nerd quarterback threw a pass against some nobody’s helmet to win a fucking Super Bowl JUST GET OUT OF MY FACE WITH THAT. Cowboys by ten thousand.

THE PICK: COWBOYS -3.5

ARIZONA CARDINALS +7.5 AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

The other game I was so smugly satisfied with myself last week was that Chiefs / Seahawks game. The moment I looked at it I knew I was going Chiefs, because frankly the Seahawks just aren’t that awesome, and the line was skewed to reflect that. So of course Vegas comes back with an EQUALLY PERPLEXING LINE. The Arizona Cardinals, the current best team in the NFL, are over TOUCHDOWN UNDERDOGS in Seattle?! Wow. I mean, wow. Moreover, there’s some reverse line movement going on here. The Cards opened up as 6.5 dogs, and despite the public being on them to the tune of about 60%, the line has continued to move in their favor, up to 7.5 now! And that’s passing a HUGE key number with 7! What the hell, man? I don’t know… the books are standing firm on Seattle. I mean, it’s not crazy. Up and down year aside, this is still one of the best standing home field advantages in football.

And I guess that’s where the line comes from. “Public perception” is that this is Drew “Who?” Stanton in the raucous noise of the Hawk’s Nest. It’s felled greater quarterbacks than him before, that’s for sure. This could easily be one of those close games, a misread late in the game, backbreaking pick or something of that nature, all of a sudden it’s a 10 point Seattle lead. Arizona tries to march back down the field, can’t get it done. I could totally see that. Will it happen, though? Arizona continues to defy all logic and expectation, and continues to win week after week. They’re impossible to run on, and while they allow a lot of yardage in the passing game, I tend to think that’s more because you can’t run on them. Even with that they can get picks, they can stay with receivers, and they can play basically however they want to play. They can dictate the game on defense, which is largely why they’ve won. And, who is Russell Wilson throwing to again? Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin? Sure, they’re fine, but not gamebreakers. They cover games like this on the back of getting a lead, shutting down on defense and pounding relentlessly with Lynch, and Wilson scrambling. I’m not so sure if they’ll have the opportunity to execute that gameplan in this matchup, 12th man or not.

I don’t like this pick because of the extremely suspicious reverse line movement and the fact that it even opened so high at all. I also don’t like that Larry Fitzgerald is highly questionable – while he hasn’t been a HUGE part of what the Cardinals are doing this year, he’s as reliable as they come and a big piece of this offense – even having him out there solely as a decoy will help the Cards tremendously. There’s also the Stanton implosion factor – while I think this guy actually has a pretty good chance of not imploding, he is still unseasoned and you simply never know. ALL THAT BEING SAID… I can’t lay 7.5 points with a team who’s looked very exploitable against a team who is 9-1. Cards.

THE PICK: CARDINALS +7.5

DAN K

DETROIT LIONS +7 AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Immovable force vs unstoppable object? I think that’s how it goes. Years of watching Ricky from Trailer Park Boys fuck up metaphors has caused me to forget entirely how they’re supposed to sound. Anyway, this is the best matchup of the week because we get to see if a top 5 defense can slow the Pats down at all during their tour of Benghazi-ing every team in their path. They have their work cut out for them. Sure, Detroit has the fearsome tandem of Ziggy Ansah and Ndamukong Suh, but Brady can just toss it to Gronkowski and watch him throw off tacklers like that weird statue of the dude tossing babies in the air. Not to mention, the Pats seemingly found a running back in Jonas Gray (though they will assuredly give him like 3 carries in this game and go for a steady diet of short passes to Shane Vereen to slow down the interior pass rush and bedevil all of the fantasy owners who start Gray this week). Of course, Detroit has weapons of their own in Megatron and Golden Tate – facing up against two top cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner – and a solid running back in Joique Bell. I guess this pick comes down to whether or not you think that the Detroit front 7 can put enough pressure on Brady to force him to make a mistake or two – it is possible, as we saw last week. Even if the Lions’ passing game is limited by NE’s cornerback tandem, they still have a decent running game, though it could be a problem for them to keep up if the Patriots get going considering that they’ve only scored more than 25 points once this year.

This is a tough one. The Lions are a good team, and even on the road, 7 points seems a bit high. I know the Pats have been manhandling everyone, but Detroit’s d-line is the real deal. Plus like 88% of the money is on the Pats. Are the Lions underrated? I’ll bite at that. I think the Lions D keeps it close enough that the Pats only win by 3 or so. Lions cover.

THE PICK: LIONS +7

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +5.5 AT CHICAGO BEARS

For real? Chicago, a team with a sieve of a defense that had 50 scored on them in consecutive games before eking out a 8 point victory over a mediocre Vikings team is favored by 5.5? This line is weird as hell. For one, I get that Chicago beat Minnesota last week, but it’s not like Cutler was doing anything different. The running game was able to get going, but Cutler was just doing the ‘ol “Fuck it, throw it deep” and happened to connect with Brandon Marshall. Those balls could have just as easily have been picked (and Cutler did throw 2 picks to 3 TDs in that game). Meanwhile, the Buccaneers, who are not good by any stretch of the imagination, took care of business against a Washington team in absolute meltdown. Josh McCown was benched earlier in the year but came back to play an efficient game that made him look like the QB they signed in free agency. They couldn’t get their running game going last week, but that shouldn’t be a problem against the god-awful Chicago D. Not to mention, rookie WR Mike Evans looks like a beast and if McCown figures out a way to get him the ball, it could be a long day for the Bears defense. Tampa Bay’s secondary and defense in general is pretty bad as well, so this could turn into a shootout. Don’t get me wrong, the Bucs have a well-deserved 2-8 record, but they aren’t THAT much worse than the Bears.

I’ll keep it short and sweet – Chicago has no business getting this many points over anyone. If it were the erratic Mike Glennon playing I’d consider it, but I like McCown to manage this game and keep it close. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tampa Bay wins outright, but even if not, I think they’ll definitely cover. Bucs.

THE PICK: BUCCANEERS -5.5

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM +9 AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

Washington is a tire fire, and while San Francisco has serious flaws that will prevent them from a playoff run this year, they have more than enough weapons to beat Washington handily. RGIII’s own coach is ripping him in the media and basically saying he’ll get yanked at the first opportunity, RGIII is slamming his teammates, the team’s name is a racial slur, and so on. I have a pounding headache due to drinking too much whiskey last night and want to get this done so I just say Niners cover.

THE PICK: 49ers -9

DICK

GREEN BAY PACKERS -9.5 AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Oh, fuck, really? This is another of the most public of horrible of god shoot me in the face. Look, no one is going to deny that Rodgers and company are ruling the roost right now, but even with Adrian Peterson sidelined for pretending he is living the life of Richard Pryor it’s damn nigh impossible to justify a fucking 10 point spread unless you are Joe Public, which I am the advocate of because someone has to be. Okay, so, Rodgers is rolling, the snow is six feet deep, and uh, why in the workd would you ever take the Vikings? Because you like the value? Really? Every time I hear that I think of assholes going shopping for crap they don’t need. Fuck you and the world, I am taking Rodgers and company to come through for one more week before I get off this bandwagon of money making.

THE PICK: PACKERS -9.5

DETROIT LIONS +7.5 AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The Patriots will win and I am stating up front that by taking Detroit I am breaking rule of picking the dog that may not win because Detroit is better than everyone thinks. God damn it, Detroit is so much better with Jim Caldwell because he dropped the hammer and cut the penalties by half, but FUCK ME why am I betting against my man crush Brady? Because Detroit is no joke and plus a touchdown is ridiculous and because unlike Indy, Detroit can tackle. So suck it, and no disrespect to the guys who have made me lots of cash, congrats, you are dealing with a motivated bunch of retards this week.

THE PICK: DETROIT LIONS

ST LOUIS RAMS +5.5 AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

It’s my birthday, my mother doesn’t love me, and all I have to live for is gambling interests, so fuck the Chargers and the Rams will cover because I will be there. Can you find a reason to deny me one moment of pleasure? Yes, because the Rams are up one week and down another. They do this and they will until the end of time, but right now I couldn’t care less because fuck you, the Rams will find a way to stay alive until about midway through the fourth quarter before they become HULK SMASH because I am irrational and unpredictable and drunk.

THE PICK: RAMS +5.5

About Dan K

Dan is a Southern hip-hop historian who hitchhiked from his home in rural Pennsylvania to Montreal to pursue his dream of working in a call center. Within days of seeing his first computer, @dankmtl became a twitter celebrity by skewering the evil and stupid in immensely entertaining fashion.