Week 13 of the 2011 NFL season is upon us and the playoff races are heating up. The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos find themselves in a two-horse race at the moment with both teams going on the road. The Raiders travel to Miami while the Broncos travel to Minnesota in a pair of intriguing battles. Both teams are underdogs in must-win games.
Across the bay, the 49ers will host the St. Louis Rams with a chance to clinch to the NFC West with a win. They are double digit favorites in a game they should handle easily. Of course, they have to deal with any potential letdown from the Ravens game, even if it was over a week ago.
As always, the Thursday pick was made in advance of the game.
David - Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Both of these teams are huge question marks, although much more was expected of the Eagles. The Seahawks normally have a great home field advantage, but they put up a stinker last week against the Redskins that leaves me questioning that. It's a toss-up, but I think the Eagles get a bounce-back win.
James - SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (+3) over Phiiadelphia Eagles: No Michael Vick, no Jeremy Maclin and playing at one of the toughest stadiums to play in on the road. I think the Seahawks continue the Eagles' frustrations and notch another win in Seattle.
David - MIAMI DOLPHINS (-3) over Oakland Raiders: Normally I would pick the Oakland Raiders. I think they're a much better team than the Dolphins. But with all the injuries and now the turmoil surrounding Rolando McClain, I just think it all catches up with them. This is less to do with the talent and more to do with everything going on. Of course, I also think the Dolphins are playing some very solid football right now.
James - Oakland Raiders (+3) over MIAMI DOLPHINS: I am pretty shocked that the Raiders are underdogs in this game. Yes, Miami has been playing much better as of late, but the Raiders have overcome injuries to three of their best offensive players and continue to win. This will not be an easy game, but the Raiders should leave Miami with a win.
David - BUFFALO BILLS (-1) over Tennessee Titans: The Titans are playing better right now, but even with the loss of Fred Jackson, I think the Bills spring the home upset. The Titans are just a bit too inconsistent for my taste.
James - Tennessee Titans (+1) over BUFFALO BILLS: I loved the story of the Bills early in the season, but with the loss of Fred Jackson, I do not see them pulling out of the funk they are in anytime soon. Tennessee is not a world beater, but they are consistently better than anyone thought they would be. Titans get an important win on the road.
David - CHICAGO BEARS (-8) over Kansas City Chiefs: Kyle Orton makes his debut against the team that desperately wanted him after Jay Cutler went down. I could see Orton and Dwayne Bowe hooking up for some big plays, but I think the Bears defense, special teams and running game are enough to get the W and the cover.
James - CHICAGO BEARS (-8) over Kansas City Chiefs: This week, Caleb Hanie gets to go heads up with the man that was supposed to replace him in Kyle Orton. Fortunately for Hanie, he is surrounded by a much better supporting cast than Orton. I do not envision Orton playing all that well in his first game as a Chief, especially on the road against the Bears defense. Chicago wins big.
David - Denver Broncos (+1) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS: While the Broncos are winning because of defense and their strong rushing game, Tim Tebow gets many of the plaudits. They weren't winning when he was on the bench, they are now winning with him behind center. I know it does not necessarily correlate, but that won't stop me from picking the Broncos until they prove otherwise.
James - Denver Broncos (+1) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS: While everyone focusses on Tim Tebow, the Broncos defense is playing outstanding football and giving Tebow the opportunity for late game heroics. Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense will struggle to put points on the board, Denver will keep it close and pull out the win late. Sound familiar?
David - NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+21.5) over Indianapolis Colts: This is like a college game between USC and Our Ladies Sisters of the Poor. The line is monstrous and probably should just be avoided, but the Patriots should blow the Colts out of the water.
James - NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+21.5) over Indianapolis Colts: This was tough, I almost wanted to take the Colts. Wait, no I didn't. This line is absolutely insane, but I still refuse to pick the Colts.
David - PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-7.5) over Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals hung close in Cincy but came up short. Although Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with some kind of hand or finger issue, I think the Steelers can bounce back after their struggles in Kansas City.
James - PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-7.5) over Cincinnati Bengals: They Bengals and their rookie quarterback Andy Dalton are good, but they do not have the experience and polish of the Steelers. This will be a big test for the Bengals, but I think they fail. It will not be a blow out, but a two score win for the Steelers is highly likely.
David - TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (+3) over Carolina Panthers: Josh Freeman says he'll play but he's been limited in practice this week. Nonetheless, I think the Bucs can bounce back this week against an extremely questionable Panthers defense.
James - TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (+3) over Carolina Panthers: Now this really is a tough one to call. Both of these teams are underperforming to a degree. However, I think the Bucs will take advantage of Carolina's weak defense to break out of their five game losing skid.
David - New York Jets (-3) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS: I suppose the Redskins could swing the upset following their win in Seattle, but I just don't see it. The Redskins are decent enough to sneak in a win here or there, but they are just too inconsistent.
James - New York Jets (-3) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS: The Jets have not been as good as many thought they would be this season, but they are still a much better team than the Washington Redskins. The Jets defense will keep the lackluster Redskins offense in check and help the team pull out a win.
David - HOUSTON TEXANS (+1.5) over Atlanta Falcons: If I was putting real money on the line I would not touch this game with a ten-foot pole. They are going with rookie QB T.J. Yates as they are losing QBs left and right. However, this is a team built around the run and their defense. I think they've got enough talent around T.J. Yates to keep winning. Add in Atlanta's inconsistency on the road and I'll roll the dice.
James - Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) over HOUSTON TEXANS: I really wanted to take the Texans in this one but just cannot. Their defense is playing very good football and they have one of the better running games in the league. However, I just cannot take a team starting their third string quarterback. Had Matt Leinart not gotten hurt, I would have taken the Texans easily.
David - Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS: There is the possibility of a letdown after the brutal Thanksgiving battle with the San Francisco 49ers, but I think they will be able to overcome that for this game.
James - Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS: While the Ravens have had the tendency to lose to inferior teams on the road this season, I still cannot pick the Browns to win, or even keep this one close. The Ravens are the best team in the AFC and after beating the San Francisco 49ers will be playing with some swagger.
David - Green Bay Packers (-8) over NEW YORK GIANTS: The Packers have some challenges remaining, but this is arguably the biggest. The Giants are dealing with a variety of injury issues at wide receiver and I don't think they have a good enough defense to keep thus from turning into a shootout.
James - Green Bay Packers (-8) over NEW YORK GIANTS: I almost feel bad for the Giants. They are seriously struggling right now and after being humiliated by the New Orleans Saints last weekend, they are staring another embarassment in the face this weekend. Not that they should be ashamed of being destroyed by the Packers, but it is still never fun.
David - Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) over ARIZONA CARDINALS: The Cardinals have shown an ability to jump and sting teams overlooking them. If they can get a big return from Patrick Peterson I could see an upset happening. Nonetheless, the Cowboys are playing some solid football right now and should be able to keep the Cardinals at bay.
James - Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) over ARIZONA CARDINALS: The Cowboys are starting to play some good football and starting to look a little bit like the team many thought they would be this season. With Miles Austin coming back, Tony Romo has another weapon at his disposal. The Cardinals just cannot keep up with the Cowboys.
David - SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (-14.5) over St. Louis Rams: It's possible the 49ers could suffer a letdown after the physical loss to the Ravens, but I just don't see it happening.
James - SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (-14.5) over St. Louis Rams: Is there really any question here? If anything, the loss to the Ravens only helped the 49ers. They did not play well but only lost by ten points. They are still one of the better teams in the league while the Rams just might be the worst (after the Colts that is).
David - NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-10.5) over Detroit Lions: At this point I don't see any reason to pick against the Saints in the Superdome. I'd take the over as well without even looking at it.
James - NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-10.5) over Detroit Lions: No Donky Kong Suh is no good for the Lions. Especially when they are playing an offensive monster like the New Orleans Saints. After rolling on the Giants, the Saints really look like one of the best teams in the league. They will solidify that with a big time win over the Lions in New Orleans this week.
David - San Diego Chargers (-1.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: I'm actually tempted by the Jaguars in this game, particularly with a possible post-firing boost. But I don't know if they've got enough talent. The Chargers are struggling as well, but I'm just going with my gut on this.
James - San Diego Chargers (-1.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: What a terrible Monday Night game. While the Chargers are anything but super this season, they simply are not in the utter disarray that the Jaguars currently find themselves in. The Jags may have just made a power move to get a high draft pick, because they are going to be terrible the remainder of the season.
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