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On to the picks. As always, the pick is in bold.
New York Jets @ Denver
Say whatever you want about Tim Tebow, but he’s 3-1 as a starter. I’ll be interested to see how the new option offense of the Broncos works against the Jets defense. These guys aren’t the Chiefs, whose small front got manhandled by the Broncos line. The Jets have a really short time to prepare for a tricky offense though, which could pose a problem, as Mark Brunell is not Tim Tebow (and can’t possibly emulate him in practice).
Oakland @ Minnesota
Yes, Minnesota just got blown out 45-7, but there were some promising signs from Monday Night’s game. Bear with me, I swear it will make sense in the end. They were able to run the ball pretty effectively and they forced two early fourth down conversions from the Packer. They made three critical mistakes that ruined their chances: the Randall Cobb kick-return, Christian Ponder’s interception in Packers territory, andRyan Longwell’s missed field goal. All three of these mistakes happened in the first half.
Buffalo @ Miami
This is simply because I don’t think Miami could win three in a row. The Bills defense, Barnett and Wilson, the leaders, need to step up big time. They were embarrassed last week by the Cowboys. Utterly embarrassed.
Jacksonville @ Cleveland
If you’re coming here for analysis about this game, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Dallas @ Washington
Who needs Miles Austin and Felix Jones? DeMarco Murray is playing absolutely out of his mind right now. I think the Cowboys have found their RB of the future. You’re seeing how a consistent running game is opening up the passing game for the Cowboys.
Tampa Bay @ Green Bay
They’re like a machine, like the 2007 Patriots. You know they’re coming out throwing but you simply cannot stop it. I’ve run out of things to say about them a long time ago. Instead, let’s talk about how much of a disappointment the Bucs are. I didn’t expect them to make the playoffs but, where is the fight? They just seem to roll over once they get down.
Carolina @ Detroit
With a Thanksgiving meeting against the Packers and a visit to the Superdome on the horizon, this is a must-win for Detroit. Lose this game and all that playoff talk from earlier in the year will mean nothing. They simply cannot and will not lose this game. They’ll be in a dome so Stafford won’t have the wind to blame for his inaccuracy. It’s put up or shut up time.
Arizona @ San Francisco
The 49ers keep doing what they do, and keep doing it well. They’re not a dominant defense, as they’ll allow their share of passing yards, but they are very stingy in the red zone. They force teams to settle for field goals, they protect the ball, and they stop the run.
Seattle @ St. Louis
Seattle and St. Louis are both coming off wins. How rare is that? I choose St. Louis simply because they are playing at home.
Tennessee @ Atlanta
Love the way Matt Ryan has been playing lately. Hate that they couldn’t get a few inches on their final offensive play. Roddy White’s drops would worry me though if I was a Falcons fan. They lost control of the division, but they still remain in great shape for a Wildcard though.
Philadelphia @ New York Giants
There is something about these Giants that wasn’t there last year. I haven’t quite put my finger on it just yet, but I really like what they’re doing on both sides of the ball. They’ve got a quarterback playing out of his mind and a good defense. The one thing that would worry me about the Giants is their tendency for weird mental lapses, like the blown coverage on the Vernon Davis TD, Mario Manningham not finishing route on the Eli Manning interception, and Manningham again not laying out for what could have been the game tying TD.
Kansas City @ New England
The Chiefs got manhandled by the Broncos. They’ll be starting a backup and they’re traveling to Foxboro on Monday night to face Tom Brady and the suddenly resurgent defensive line. The key for the Patriots the rest of the season is their defensive line. Was this one game an aberration… or is this the beginning of better play?
San Diego @ Chicago
The Bears were dominant on Sunday, defensively, offensively, and on particularly special teams. Why don’t people learn and just not kick it to Devin Hester? The Chargers are reeling, and they need this game badly. They’re sinking fast, having lost four straight but it’s not like they’re getting dominated. All four losses were by a touchdown or less, including a loss to the Packers. Can the Chargers win this game? Absolutely.
Cincinnati @ Baltimore
The Ravens are a very weird team. Emotionally unstable is what I would describe it as. They get amped up for the big games and play very well. Yet, they lost to Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Seattle, and needed a huge comeback to survive against Arizona. Luckily for the Ravens, this is a big game against a tough divisional foe. The winner of this game ties Pittsburgh atop the AFC North standings, a team the Ravens have already beaten twice. The Bengals, on the other hand, should have A.J. Green back in the lineup and that should make a huge difference. The absence of Green left a huge void in the Bengals passing attack, they lost their deep threat and their only true playmaker.