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- Week 12 Predictions: Ben's Back

Chris Pokorny November 26, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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Although Week 12 officially started on Thanksgiving, there are still 14 more games to look forward to this Sunday. I already have a perfect 2-0 record this week, after both Turkey Day games went down as planned. The Falcons got back into their groove as the Lions remained inconsistent, while the Broncos and the Cowboys battled in a very close game. Could Dallas be foreseeing the same fate that the Jets and Chargers did last year, where they couldn't rely on their kicker to get the job done?

One of the featured games this week is the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into Indianapolis to take on the Colts. In the NFC, there is a similar match-up between two top-tier teams when the Giants battle the Seahawks. A lot of focus will be put into these games around the nation, but don't forget about the importance of the Patriots and Chiefs game.

Let's get to the Week 12 games of the week.

(Red = Prediction).

Looking for Help in Big Ben
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts
You could make a case that the big story in this game is once again whether or not the Colts can stay undefeated. A bigger story, perhaps, is the fact that Ben Roethlisberger will be returning for the Steelers. People may not realize it, but the Steelers are not even close to being considered a "lock" for the playoffs. If the Bengals continue with their success and the Chargers keep rolling, then the Steelers will have to do some scoreboard watching with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Do not expect the same type of shootout game that occurred last week between the Colts and the Bengals. The Steelers defense is much better than Cincinnati's, but they are definitely beatable. It has been ages since a running back has rushed for over 100 yards against the Steelers, but that streak will end in this game. No one can possibly know what Peyton Manning and the Colts offense will pull off at any second. If the Steelers blitz, he'll know it's coming and throw it to a wide-open receiver. I'm not saying this game will be a blowout, but expect the Colts to win by at least a touchdown.

Under-rated Playoff Implication Game?
New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The Patriots have won two in a row for the first time this season, and a win against the Chiefs would make things much easier for them to make the playoffs in their fairly weak division. The problem is, the Patriots are not able to finish games off with the running game, which allows teams to rally late. Even the New Orleans Saints almost came back to tie the Patriots on the road no less last week. Heading into Arrowhead, New England will be focused, but the Chiefs see an opportunity to make a push in the playoff race as well.

Larry Johnson looks as if he can rush for an automatic 150 yards plus per game if he really wanted to. The key for Trent Green is to get the ball to Tony Gonzalez, which they finally did last week. The Chiefs defense is starting to play better, and will be able to stop the Patriots running attack early, forcing them to go one-dimensional. I'm not sure if this should be considered an upset pick or not, because both teams could equally win this game. I'm taking the Patriots due to the potential of their running game.

NFC Home Field Advantage
New York Giants vs. Seattle Seahawks
With all due respect to the other teams in the NFC that are competing, there is a good chance that these two teams will be in the hunt for home-field advantage. The Seahawks can even lock up their division with a win this week, showing that the bottom of the NFC West could be the worst division in football. The Giants were pleased that Eli Manning was back to consistency last week after throwing four picks the week before.

This game features the two best running backs in the NFC in Tiki Barber and Shaun Alexander. Alexander is having the better season statistically, but the Giants are going through the air to pick up points more than the Seahawks are. That's not to discredit Matt Hasselbeck though, who is having a great season as well. This game should be very similar to the Cowboys and Broncos match-up we saw on Thanksgiving due to how close these teams are talent-wise. The Seahawks will have the slight edge being at home, forcing me to go with them.

What? Only three games of the week instead of the usual four? Not really, since Denver vs. Dallas was the other game of the week, which I predicted in my Thanksgiving Day column. So now, the rest of the week...

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals had a breakthrough offensively against the Colts. They have been doing great things all year, but they really performed top notch last week. The Ravens defense has better cornerbacks than the Colts do, so Chad Johnson won't find things as easy as he did last week. One of the Bengals secret weapons has been Chris Perry catching the ball in the open field and taking off. Kyle Boller actually had a good game for his standards last week, but it won't be enough to beat a team with their first string quarterback.

Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills
Even though the Panthers only lost "one game" last week after being red-hot, something tells makes you worry about the possibility of them going on a losing streak, especially since Tampa Bay and Atlanta are breathing down their neck. Fortunately for them, they are running into a Bills team that is in even worse shape after being blown out last week. J.P. Losman wasn't really at fault, but he won't be able to get too much production against the Panthers defense. Jake Delhomme will rebound and throw touchdowns to Steve Smith again, rather than just plain old receptions.

Chicago Bears vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bears have been simply outstanding defensively as of late, and the offense is pitching in just enough to take an advantage in games. The Buccaneers are on a two-game winning streak after two uncharacteristic weeks for their team. Their defense, which should be dominating, is giving up a ton of points while their offense, which should be slowed by the inexperience of Chris Simms, is scoring a ton of points. The Buccaneers defense will bring it's "A" game early on since the Bears can't strike quickly, leaving it up to Simms to produce some points - or field goals - here and there. Rex Grossman may be the Bears best option in the next few weeks, despite Orton's success.

Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings
Although the Vikings offense has not been very good the past few weeks, the veteran instincts of Brad Johnson are taking over late in games, allowing them to score after their defense and special teams kept them in the game. The Browns have won two of three and are starting to find their niche offensively by getting Rueben Droughns and Braylon Edwards involved on every drive. This game should be close like the past few games have been for Minnesota, but you can't win with the same exact "drive late and score" game plan every week. The Browns defense will make a play late and seal the win.

San Diego Chargers vs. Washington Redskins
It looks as if the downhill road - despite solid play - could continue for the Redskins this week. It looks as if no one can stop San Diego, who might as well be book an automatic three touchdowns for Tomlinson and two for Antonio Gates every week. The status of Gates is still questionable this week though, but Tomlinson can just toss a touchdown to Brees if he wants instead. I'm not saying the Redskins don't have a chance to win, but they have lost their winning ways recently.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Tennessee Titans
Both teams already know they're not in the playoffs, but the Titans have a better offense at this point. Every week, Tennessee falls about three points too short after going back and forth in a shootout. For once though, they will be favored over a team, allowing them to be in front late in the game instead of behind. Brandon Lloyd has made some amazing plays for the 49ers this year, but I have a feeling this will be one of those 49er performances where you just go "ugh".

St. Louis Rams vs. Houston Texans
Sometimes, you just sense that something is bound to happen. I have that "gut feeling" that the Texans will win their second game of the season. Brad Johnson was able to go 3-0 as a starter for Minnesota, but how can Jamie Martin possibly go 3-0 for the Rams? This will be Martin's first start that isn't in the Rams stadium, and will expose why he is the backup. The Rams defense will be caught off guard when Andre Johnson breaks out with his best performance of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Arizona Cardinals
It'll be back to reality this week for the Cardinals offense. They still have no running game, meaning that their passing game will be jumped all over by the Jaguars defense. Byron Leftwich is finding Matt Jones in the end zone on a consistent basis now, expanding their offense's potential. Rather than letting the Cardinals hang around like they did the Titans last week, the Jaguars will win by two possessions this time around.

Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders
Want to know why the Dolphins offense got shut out last week? Of course you give credit to Cleveland's defense, but they refused to run the ball on a more consistent basis, despite averaging about 5+ yards a carry. Instead, they threw the football when it obviously wasn't working all day long. The Raiders, meanwhile, are still trying to hang on by a thread in the playoff race. Expect a breakout day for Randy Moss, who is due for his biggest game as a Raider.

Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
It's hard to imagine that just two years ago, these two teams met in the playoffs and experienced the famous "4th-and-26" play. Both teams are much different now, depleted by injuries. The Packers will not have a lot of success running the football against the Eagles, but the Eagles really won't be able to do anything offensively again. Favre only needs to throw two touchdowns to win this game.

New Orleans Saints vs. New York Jets
When was the last time the Saints won a game? Or the Jets? This is the "cellar" game of the week basically. Whoever wins may be hurting their chances at a draft pick in the long run, but you still have to fight for pride. The Saints are due for a win since they still have quite a bit of talent, while the Jets are just a complete mess. Saints win in an ugly game.

That's it for this weeks predictions. I re-started my survivor winning streak last week by picking the Seahawks to defeat the 49ers. This week, I'm taking the San Diego Chargers to defeat the Washington Redskins. The Redskins have been on the downhill lately, but the Chargers continue to rise.

Predictions Record to Date: 102-60
This Week: 2-0
Last Week: 10-4
Survivor Streak: Won 1(Sea over SF)

Thanksgiving Weekend is almost over, but there are still plenty of weeks left in the NFL before the playoffs.

-Chris Pokorny

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