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Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 13 NFL Predictions: December 05, 2010

UPDATE: With the news that QB Shaun Hill is probably out this week (and maybe the entire season), I have taken DET off the card and bought back on CHI.  It's better to eat the juice instead of taking DET with Drew Stanton at QB.  Sometimes these things happen when you jump on the opening lines, but the long-term advantages far outweigh these occasional situations.

Check here for the latest odds. 

Washington Redskins vs New York Giants: NYG -7
The NFC East battles continue on Sunday when the Skins take on the G-Men in week 13 action.  I had NY in a couple teasers last week and they made a late comeback to get the cover, but they will need to play much better ball if they hope to contend for the division crown.  Losing two of the better receivers didn't help, but their struggles against JAX extended beyond the passing game as they had trouble getting it going on both sides of the ball.  Despite this lull, I still love them to win by at least a TD this week because they have a number of significant mismatches against a porous WSH team.
Two categories that should allow them to dominate the game is on the ground and on the line of scrimmage.  NY backs might have problems securing the ball, but they should be able to have their way on Sunday.  This will alleviate the pressure off the passing game and allow Eli to pick his spots down the field.  In fact, Eli could have a big game because WSH have been giving up big chunks of yards all season.   WSH can't generate enough pressure on the QB and when you can't stop the run or the pass you usually lose the time of possession battle too.  This is reflected in the stats as WSH only average about 42 completed offensive plays per game.  This ranks near the bottom of the league and puts far too much pressure on the defense.

The story doesn't get any better for the WSH offense.  They only average about 10 points per game from long drives and this is largely due to their league-worst third down percentage.  They simply can't sustain drives on a consistent basis.  I wouldn't be shocked if the NY defensive line win this game all by themselves and McNabb will need to find the fountain of youth quickly if he hopes to stay alive much longer.   The only bright spot for this team will be their return game.  WSH should get some favorable field position throughout the game, but how much will it matter?  When a team can't drive down the field and score points then I'm also less concerned about a late cover with garbage points.   This is a team going nowhere and now they have another handful of injuries to contend with on both sides of the ball.  Prediction: Bank NYG -7.

Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ATL -2.5
I managed to get ATL at -2.5, but I would still take them at -3 without giving it a second thought.  I am a little surprised that ATL is not favored by more, but I'm guessing that it is only 3 because TB played ATL tough the first time around, it's a divisional game, and TB is at home.  These are all good reasons to like TB, but are they really on the same level as ATL?  Josh Freeman will get some time to make some plays in this game because ATL's pass rush isn't anything to get scared about, but TB do not hold many other advantages in this one.  Their record is a mirage because they haven't beat anyone of note yet.  All their losses have come against good teams and after Sunday you can chalk up another one to the list.

I might sound like a broken record when I describe how ATL will cover, but there are always new people reading this for the first time.  In this game ATL will once again dominate the game on the ground and Ryan will have a lot of time to scan the field to make plays.  They are very good in red zone offense and defense and lead the league in many critical categories.  Third down offense, points from long drives, and completed offensive plays per game.  They also rank near the top in turnover differential and least amount of penalties per game.  I'm not sure about you, but when you can do these things on a consistent basis you are going to win most of your games.  Last season ATL lost most of their tough games, but this year they are winning them.  This is a clear sign of a team that has taken that next step.  Even if this game is close, ATL have a QB and a kicker who get it done in the clutch.  Jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride. Prediction: Bank ATL -2.5.

Dallas Cowboys vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -5
At first this was a tricky game to get a good feel for when I did my evaluations.  DAL was terrible in most statistical categories up until a few weeks ago, but they have played hard since Garret was promoted to interim head coach.  After looking at things a little closer I still like how IND match up against them.  Much like Brees on Thanksgiving, I expect Peyton to bounce back in a big way and torch this porous DAL secondary.  A lot of people might be hesitant to do that after he threw 7 INT's in the last 2 games, but we are still talking about the greatest QB to ever put on a uniform in the NFL.  He still has Wayne and Garcon to throw to and Tamme has proven that he's reliable in the passing game.   The blowout to SD was shocking to some, but it's no secret that IND don't match up good against them and there were a number of uncharacteristic dropped passes in that game.  To make matters worse for DAL, they won't be able to generate enough pressure on Peyton to disrupt his rhythm.  With more time in the pocket, Peyton will get things rolling once again.

It is also no secret that Jon Kitna isn't Tom Brady or Philip Rivers and the IND defense will be able to do enough to limit the DAL passing attack.  The main advantage they will have will be in the return game.  However, as we have seen over the last couple of months, when your only mismatch on the field is on special teams, your chances of winning are dismal at best.  DAL still turn the ball over too much and can't get enough points from long drives.  This is a very bad formula if you are facing the Colts.  If they fall behind like I expect them too, they won't have the home crowd to rally them this time and Kitna could morph into a turnover machine.  DAL can't run the ball either so controlling the clock and limiting Peyton's opportunities isn't much of an option.  The motivation meter in DAL is dropping as that initial surge of change has passed.  Fade the Cowgirls this week with confidence.  Prediction: Bank -IND 5.

St Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals: STL -3
This game just opened on the books a few hours ago and much like the ATL game I was surprised at the line.  It doesn't take a professional handicapper to know that ARI is a horrible team and that was on full display in the MNF game.  I won't be shocked if the line moves at some point during the week because I don't know anyone in their right mind who would back ARI +3.   STL simply have too many advantages on both sides of the ball and in all areas of the game.  Bradford and Jackson should be able to lead a balanced attack down the field a number of times against a disinterested ARI team.  STL is still fighting for the division crown so they have more than enough motivation in this one.

The ARI offense and defense might need to be separated in the locker room and the sidelines because Anderson is doing no favors for his team right now.   Coach Spags will bring the pain on Sunday and force whoever is at QB into some ill-advised passes down the field.  STL should also have little trouble limiting a running game that hasn't had any consistency all year.  The only thing ARI have going for them is the return game and I've already stated what I think about a team in that situation.  I could go into more detail on this one, but I think it would be unnecessary to list all the reasons I like STL to win this game.  STL is 8-3 ATS and ARI is 3-8.  Need I say more?  Prediction: Bank STL -3.

Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs: OVER 48 
Since this game is a total I'm not going to give a full game analysis for it.  With so many games going over the total this year I am limiting my total picks to one or two a week that I think will continue the trend.  48 is a large number and in years past I would normally stay away from picks like this, but this is a new NFL that does everything it can to generate offense.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this game generated over 60 points.  DEN have proved all year that they can put up points in the air.  I'm not sure what supplements Kyle Orton is taking, but whatever it is it's working.  Whether it is early in the game or late, this team puts up points.  On the other side of the ball, Matt Cassel has caught fire over recent weeks and has found a nice chemistry with Dwayne Bowe.  This is likely due to the massive success of the running game and I see the same story playing out on Sunday.  I was high on Jamaal Charles coming into the season and I think he continues to fly under the radar this year.  He should be getting a lot more national attention because he is an electrifying back who can kill you rushing or receiving.   Neither of these defenses is about to pitch a shutout anytime soon and neither defensive line has enough push to stifle the passing attack.  Look for a lot of big plays and back and forth scores in this one.  Prediction: Bank O48.
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