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- Ian's week 12 picks

Ian Hetherington November 22, 2007
Ian Hetherington
NFL Columnist

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NFL Week 11 thoughts

MoJo's block: Golly, Shawne Merriman has 9 inches and 64 pounds on Maurice Jones-Drew according to official stats. And yet MoJo still put Merriman on his backside on a passing play. You'd struggle to find a braver block than the one by the diminutive Jaguars running back.

Priest Holmes retires: Nice try Priest, you said you were coming back and you even stepped in for a couple of starts, but we're all glad you've stopped if your health was at stake.

Jet-powered pass-rush: Roethlisberger was really given the runaround by the Jets, wasn't he? A bunch of sacks and they generally kept him moving around the pocket. Why can't Mangini's men do that every week?

Phil Dawson’s wonder-goal: That was a pretty crazy situation, eh? The field goal’s missed, the game’s “finished” and then…. Oh wait, no it isn’t, after a couple of freakish rebounds that caused the ball to come BACK out of the posts and then it’s given and… oh I dunno. Crazy occurrences seem to be a given these days. Expect an NFL rule change soon.

NFL Week 12

Game predictions
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
I think with all the talk about the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC and Brett Favre the individual, the Packers as a team have gone relatively unheralded. Perhaps this suits them, but at 9-1 it’s not what they deserve. Judging by the last couple of weeks, they may be starting to put together something approximating a running game as well. As for the Lions… well, a more flippant prediction seemed to work last time after weeks of failing to correctly predict their games so I’ll try that again. I think Green Bay will win. They’ll keep up with a more balanced Lions offense by making the big plays when they need to and then get their noses in front after half time.

New York Jets vs. Dallas Cowboys
A morale-boosting but probably meaningless win over Pittsburgh flattered the Jets in week 11. Thomas Jones pass the hundred mark helped, but the Jets were gifted by a failure to pull the trigger in the Steelers offense, being allowed to get their hands on Roethlisberger far more than they should have and the Steelers giving up enough penalty yards to equate to a drive or two. Fair play to them for making the most of it, but they won’t get that sort of charity from the Cowboys who will have been buoyed by a win over their fiercest rivals.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Atlanta Falcons
If Atlanta had given the Buccaneers more of a game last week there’d probably be more to talk about here, but even after the Colts had to grit their teeth and grind out their first win in a few games by a field goal over Kansas, and even with Peyton Manning having more trouble than we thought he would with a diminished group of receivers it’s hard to envision the Falcons putting one over on the AFC South leaders.

Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Given the injuries riddling their roster the Bills should be commended for being 5-5. They’ve tried to make the most of what they have and but for a heart-breaking Monday Nighter against Dallas and facing a rampant Patriots team their position might be better still. Whether Dick Jauron has managed to quell the disappointment of that drubbing remains to be seen, but with Garrard back in the driver’s seat the Jaguars took care of San Diego as they will probably take care of Buffalo. Buffalo will have learned one thing though, never under-estimate the blocking abilities of Maurice Jones-Drew.

Denver Broncos vs. Chicago Bears
Up until the point where I began to write this I had the Bears penciled in for a win but then as I started to come up with reasons for that to be the case I started to realize I didn’t know if I believed any of them. Both teams have disappointed on defense, but Denver have survived an arguably tougher schedule to date, they’ve got a quarterback they’re happy with, seem able to find decent running backs at will and will likely force Chicago to win with their running game. I read that and it doesn’t start to sound nearly as rosy for the Bears as I first thought.

Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns
The returns of Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub clearly made a big difference last time out and put the Texans nearer to where they were at the start of the season. With those two linking up, the absence of a reliable running game is less glaring and the promising defense can work without the extra burden of needing to make up for a weak offense as well. It’s a tough Browns team they’re set to play, however. Schaub and Johnson will almost certainly put up a couple of scores on Cleveland’s defense, but it’ll be down to their own D to minimize the powerhouse threat of Jamal Lewis and the aerial assault from Derek Anderson. Given how we’d have viewed this one a few months ago this one should be a surprisingly fun game to watch, one where I think the additional threat of Jamal Lewis to think about will give the Browns the edge they need.

Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants
Chester Taylor was as good as I suspect he might be last week, but the Vikings still don’t have an awful lot to offer to give Tom Coughlin too much cause for concern. Eli Manning has had his ups and down this year and will probably hope the Vikings pass defense plays to form and is more forgiving to him than others have been. The pressure will be on him as ever though, with the Giants fans expecting them to keep within range of Dallas and in the playoff spots. As long as they keep attempting to run the ball against that tough Minnesota run D, the Vikings won’t be able to afford to just sit back and wait for the pass giving the Giants an opportunity to punish them with a variety of passing plays.

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
If the Saints had put together any kind of running game last week then they might not have lost by the margin they did against Houston. Whether they get Bush’s motor going or not, the Panthers are looking devoid of any signs of life at the moment giving New Orleans an opportunity to steady the ship again and try to make something of the season.

Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
AFC West is a synonym for uninspiring football right now. Led by two teams who have looked absolutely mediocre, it leaves Kansas at least in a strong position to battle for a post-season place if they can string some wins together. They’re losing running backs by the day, but Oakland aren’t a team who are likely to take advantage of this by handing them a beating. Short of Oakland finding an old offense they haven’t tried yet moulding down the back of the sofa Kansas should notch one up here.

***Game of the Week***
Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams
I don’t know why. I should probably say I’m leaning toward the Rams because while they top the division, Seattle have been pretty uninspiring and they visit a St. Louis team spurred on by having found ways to win. I don’t think that’s it though, I just have this feeling which will probably end up making me look very foolish. The Rams have to play as if they believe miracles can happen, and that all starts with a win over the ‘Hawks.

Tennessee Titans vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Beating Baltimore was a victory of mediocre drives over slightly less than mediocre drives for Cincy, and they don’t enjoy home comforts nearly enough for to have any confidence in picking them against a tough Titans unit. Tennessee missed Albert Haynesworth and they didn’t cover Denver’s receivers well but Carson Palmer didn’t exactly rip Baltimore a new one. Vince Young even threw a touchdown last week. How about that?

Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Washington’s problems seem to stem largely from being good at sprints but not marathons. Of the five games they’ve lost, they had the lead at half time in four of them. I don’t know whether it’s the players, whether it’s Joe Gibbs, whether it’s the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn or because they’re just not eating their greens, but something changes at half time for this team. Jeff Garcia is facing a tough defense and I still find Tampa a hard team to judge. I still feel though that in their backyard and coming off a pleasing win over the Falcons that the Buccaneers will find ways to frustrate Washington.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Last season I had big issues trying to decide what I thought of the 49ers. Not so this year, they’ve made things much easier for all of us. It’s a shame, but there it is. They’ll continue to fit the bill of “disappointing” this week when the Cardinals roll them over for a comfortable win.

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers
This is simpler than you might think. A team who can only score seven past Cincinnati and allowed themselves to get beaten by field goals alone. At home. Okay, so another game has been and gone and they stuck a few points on the Browns before losing to that field goal, but I trust the Ravens to perform even less than I trust San Diego. Not a nice way to pick a result, but maybe if they played nicer football I’d have to try harder to find reasons to pick against them.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots
Making predictions on Patriots games is getting to the point where it’s downright impossible to make it interesting. IF McNabb plays well and IF Brian Westbrook is at his best and IF the rest of the team should be sheer coincidence all play well on the same day the Eagles, like any other team, have a shot. But is anybody but the most upset-happy of gamblers go against the Patriots in New England?

Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Miami could do a hell of a lot worse than looking at what the Jets did to Big Ben last week and mimicking it. So what if it feels like borrowing somebody else’s notes to do your assignment? You still have to get the work done yourself and all Miami care about now is getting that win. Mike Tomlin won’t be rattled by the loss to the Jets, he’ll prepare the team the same way and won’t treat Miami like an easy win. The Steelers will take the Dolphins seriously and treat them with respect. A win will shortly follow.

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