NFL WEEK TWELVE PREVIEW

by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan

Here at FOH we try to discuss what goes on in the field of play as opposed to the hype machine that surrounds the non-stories other websites will toss down your throat.  Koz isn’t going to like this, but there are two stories that should be non-issues here and one of them involves his team.  The New England Patriots faced a do-or-die situation on the last play of their Monday Night game with Carolina.  There was a flag that suggested that another untimed down was to take place, but it was picked up because of a judgment call.  The other was a Washington Redskins Offensive lineman (whose name I refuse to mention) that has opened a whole different can of worms because he is accusing a referee of swearing at him – not something that would have happened thirty years ago.  The point here is:  Both of these are non-stories, and this is what will really be happening on the field this upcoming weekend.

Thursday Night Football: New Orleans Saints (8-2) -9.5 at Atlanta Falcons (2-8) (53)

Meehan: There’s no way this one is a trap game for the Saints. The Falcons just simply don’t have the resources, firepower, or drive to ruin a Thursday night flight back home in New Orleans. Sure, it’s a home game for the Falcons but hardly an away game for the Saints because they also play in dome. They may have gotten away with one last week because of a questionable call (depending on whether or not you played defense or offense in high school) but they need an explosive win here because this is the last game before they play the Seahawks in what is sure to be a brutal Monday night matchup to wrap-up week thirteen. That game is likely going to end up deciding who gets home field advantage in the NFC playoffs, so while every team says they are only focused on the next game don’t believe anybody wearing a black and gold uniform that spews that rhetoric this week. The Falcons are looking to play spoiler since their season is pretty much toast, but it’s hard to imagine that they are going to become super inspired after getting blown out by a one-win team. They’ll get a couple of late touchdowns just like they did in the Tampa game, but as far as making the game competitive that just ain’t gonna happen.
Meehan’s Prediction: Saints 38, Falcons 21
Coach’s Prediction: Saints 34, Falcons 16

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) +10 at Detroit Lions (6-4) (48.5)

Coach: Detroit had a huge chance to go up a game in the NFC North last week and they nailed it, fake out! Coming off the Lion’s unwanted publicity after Jim Schwartz decided to go for the fake field goal in Pittsburgh last week the Lions welcome the Bucs in a game they absolutely must win. Tampa Bay to the surprise of everyone decided to play like they had an offense last week putting up 41 points on the Falcons. Atlanta is one of the biggest disaster stories north of Tampa but still 41 is what it is making this game a little worrisome with a 10 point spread. At this point of the season you never can take a team like Tampa Bay too lightly. Greg Schiano finally is coming off three solid weeks of football and he along with the rest of the Bucs are playing for their professional lives. Will it be enough to save Schiano’s job?  Maybe. Will it be enough to upset a team like Detroit on the road?  It’s doubtful. At the same token the Lions are a much more talented team, and with being tied for the division lead this is the type of game that separates the playoff teams from the rest of the pack. While I don’t see Detroit losing the game, Tampa’s new found confidence along with a big spread makes this a game I’d be careful waging on. Remember three weeks ago Tampa took Seattle to overtime which at the time a lot of people chalked up to Seattle not taking Tampa seriously?  Since then they’ve won two straight so you have to give Tampa a little credit. The spread is -10 Lions and I’m taking Detroit with the win but not covering the spread.

Coach’s Prediction: Lions 31, Buccaneers 24

Meehan’s Prediction: Lions 31, Buccaneers 18

Minnesota Vikings (2-8) +4.5 at Green Bay Packers (5-5) (44)

Meehan: Eh…Part of me really wants to pick the Vikings here because the Packers still won’t have Aaron Rodgers back in the mix, but…eh… You know what? Fuck it…I’m just going to go ahead and do it. Even as bad as the Vikings are at 2-8, they’ve lost a couple of close games and they probably are a lot better than people are giving them credit for. Green Bay has allowed all of their problems to be magnified in Rodgers absence, and those are holes in the boats that you can’t plug with chewing gum. (At least not looking up at the Bears and the Lions with six weeks left in the season) I like this kid that the Packers have in there, but it doesn’t change the fact that they just have too many problems going on to make a late-season push. If they get in, I’ll be shocked but probably nowhere near as shocked as Detroit or Chicago will be. I would say that this is the upset of the week, but I don’t exactly consider the Vikings winning here to be Greg Louganis coming down too close to the diving board.

Meehan’s Prediction: Vikings 20, Packers 17

Coach’s Prediction: Vikings 24, Packers 21

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) +11.5 at Houston Texans (2-8) (43.5)

Week 11 Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Pick

Coach: Much like the Detroit and Tampa this is a game with a huge point spread and two unpredictable teams. Houston’s not a good team and anytime you give bad teams a double digit advantage in a division game you have the leery. Jacksonville is one of the worst teams in the NFL but never underestimate the potential of how close a division game can be. Although Case Keenum has showed potential he was benched last week by Head Coach Gary Kubiak. Look at the facts; Houston has lost eight games in a row, they have one of the worst quarterback situations in the NFL, they are playing a team within their division, and finally they are playing Jacksonville. I’m almost surprised the NFL didn’t put this game on Monday Night. The good part about this game is that these teams play each other twice within a three week period so perhaps holding off this week to see what happens for Week 14 may be a good idea. The spread on the game is -11.5 Houston and this is another instance where I’m taking the home team but staying away from that huge spread.

Coach’s Prediction: Texans 27, Jaguars 19

Meehan’s Prediction: Jaguars 23, Texans 19

San Diego Chargers (4-6) +5 at Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) (41)

Meehan: San Diego’s had some problems finishing games and they should probably be 6-4, but since Kansas City is coming back home after a loss to Denver on Sunday night they are going to be so pissed off I don’t think it’s going to matter. The Chargers should have beat the Dolphins – they are a teetering team with offensive line issues and San Diego couldn’t put them away. Five years ago, the Chargers could easily have put up 34 points without even flinching against a defense like that but that was a much different team. Nobody in the league has seemed to get old quite as quickly as Rivers has, while everyone else in that division (other than the Raiders on select weeks) has improved substantially. Kansas City has been one of those teams, causing the entire AFC to press the “Oh shit, this is for real” button all at once. This of course overloads the system and causes a massive shutdown, and that’s precisely why there is no other clear AFC favorite outside of the Denver Broncos. It leaves these two levels in the upper and middle half of the conference – 1) The Chiefs, Broncos, Colts and 2) a host of teams of somewhere in the middle. The success of Kansas City this season has ensured that the Chargers will stay in the second category until they finally make the decision to have Rivers end his career in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. I think +5 is a very early Christmas present this year, so go ahead and jump all over that.

Meehan’s Prediction: Chiefs 26, Chargers 9

Coach’s Prediction: Chiefs 24, Chargers 17

Carolina Panthers (7-3) -4 at Miami Dolphins (5-5) (41)

Coach: This week is really throwing me off on the spreads. With huge spreads in Houston and Detroit we have a really close one in Miami. Last year the Seahawks were my darlings of the NFC and became my favorite team to watch (behind Cleveland of course). As much as I still enjoy watching the Hawks this year my favorite team to follow has hands down been Carolina. The Panthers are coming off yet another massive win on Monday Night against the Patriots and at this point show no signs of slowing down. A lot can be said about Carolina’s struggles on offense but their defense is just plain nasty and in the NFL sometimes that’s all you need to make a run at Super Sunday. Calm down, I’m not saying the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl but they have a defense that could take them there. Worse teams have won Super Bowls with worse quarterbacks. Trent Dilfer ring a bell? Miami on the other hand continues to keep their playoff hopes alive in the crazy race for the second AFC Wild Card after their win against the Chargers last week. Even though the second playoff spot is going to go to a mediocre team I just don’t see the Dolphins being that team. If Miami is going to make a legit run at the last playoff spot they are going to have to win at least 3-4 of their last six games, I just don’t see this as one of those games. The spread is -3.5 Carolina and although I don’t think this is going to be a blowout I think Carolina will win and cover.

Coach’s Prediction: Panthers 30, Dolphins 24

Meehan’s Prediction: Panthers 25, Dolphins 15

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) +1 at Cleveland Browns (4-6) (41)

 

Coach: If you’re a fan of a sports team you know there’s always that one team that you despise more than anything, for fans in Cleveland that team is Pittsburgh. Cleveland is used to losing along with getting their hopes up before they get shattered like last week in Cincinnati. In Pittsburgh that losing feeling is new and not something they want to get too used to. Over the past few weeks both these teams have shown potential and have had a few good wins to go with a couple bad losses. In the end this game is going to come down to an old fashion AFC North defensive battle for field position. While I obviously give the edge to Pittsburgh on the offensive front the Browns defense is out for blood after letting up a ton of points last week due to mistakes on the offense and special teams. If Jason Campbell is able to play like he did a few weeks ago keeping the defense fresh the Steelers are going to have to rely on their receivers and the way the Browns secondary is playing it could be a long day for Big Ben. The Browns are favored by -1 and I’m taking them to cover and take care of their hated rivalries in a tight game.

Coach’s Prediction: Browns 26, Steelers 23

Meehan’s Prediction: Steelers 30, Browns 24

Chicago Bears (6-4) EVEN at St. Louis Rams (4-6) (45.5)

Meehan: I know that the Bears did knock off the defending Super Bowl Champions last week, and I know the Rams looked awfully good against the Colts two weeks back but Bears fans are probably throwing a fit that they aren’t favored. And why wouldn’t they? It’s not like Kellen Clemens is the next Tom Brady…But that matchup isn’t really what this game will be about. Although St. Louis’ offense is far from powerful, their defense and special teams are exactly the type of squads that can really get at a second stringer and the guys behind him and wreck their dinner plans. And this game has EVEN odds, so it will only take one of these mistakes to bury the Bears and drop them to 6-5. And it’s not even done in a spoiler role, as one might think given the Rams’ position in the NFC West race. While spoiler teams are hell bent on vendettas and revenge aimed at teams that don’t warrant the wrath of their anger, teams like St. Louis are just plain crazy like we saw in the Indianapolis game. Spoiler squads are the guy who carefully crafts a letter to the local paper when he views injustice in his community, but the Rams are the guy who cuts his nipples off with a paper slicer, goes outside naked and bleeding profusely from the chest with a wreath dangling from the tip of his Johnson, and shoots an assault rifle into the air until someone from the police force shows up and informs his family that 1) those funeral arrangements aren’t going to make themselves, and 2) you might want to go inside because you’re probably not going to want to watch this. In other words, the Rams are just plain crazy. I really like them at home to win this one and be much less out of control than the above situation I just described.

Meehan’s Prediction: Rams 24, Bears 17

Coach’s Prediction: Bears 21, Rams 20

New York Jets (5-5) +4 at Baltimore Ravens (4-6) (40)

Coach: In another battle for positioning for the final playoff spot this game is a perfect representation of how strange of a year it’s been in the NFL. Although the Jets are only 5-5 they currently are holding onto the final playoff spot in the AFC just above the 4-6 Ravens who technically still have a shot at it as well. Out of the entire NFL there might not be a more confusing team than the Jets who lost handily to the Bills a week after beating the Saints. The Jets have been awful on the road winning only at Atlanta and Baltimore if anything has at least played well at home. Although the Ravens are favored in this game you have to wonder if what Jets team you’re going to get. Rex Ryan has been able to stop the Jets from losing more than one game in a row and typically is able to get them to play their best football following a loss. The Ravens on the other hand are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Bears and at this point are playing for their playoff lives. The Jets are holding onto their playoff hopes having tough but winnable games the rest of the way with the exception of Carolina in a few weeks. The spread on the game is -4 Baltimore but this is a game that has Jets written all over it. Rex Ryan will have his team ready to play and New York will win a tight one to stay in the hunt.

Coach’s Prediction: Jets 23, Ravens 20

Meehan’s Prediction:  Ravens 19, Jets 16

Tennessee Titans (4-6) EVEN at Oakland Raiders (4-6) (41.5)

Meehan: Raiders games are like the 1-800-BETS-OFF games of the Vegas Strip. They don’t want you to gamble on the lines and that’s why they seem to post so many even odds on Oakland regardless of who they’re playing. And I can’t tell if that’s because they really are unsure about the odds or if they just think putting money on it is too depressing. (But then again, that’s what the over/under is there for. You can go back to filling out your payday loan paperwork now…) In this instance, it’s dead on because the Titans are basically in the same wheelhouse here. The Titans actually didn’t start the year out that bad…They were 3-1 but shortly thereafter it became pretty apparent that they weren’t going to be able to weather the same injury-related storms that the rest of the league has, and it’s been a rocky road ever since. Remember that limbo area I said the Chargers were in earlier on in this piece? The Titans are bringing up the rear of that group along with Buffalo, only Tennessee is in 2nd place. I can’t write anymore about this without wanting to call my doctor up and ask him for a Cymbalta prescription, so I’ll wrap it up right here. I don’t get to do this a lot, so Eric – this one’s for you…

Meehan’s Prediction: Raiders 33, Titans 24

Coach’s Prediction: Raiders 19, Titans 16

Indianapolis Colts (7-3) +1 at Arizona Cardinals (6-4) (45)

Coach: In one of the most interesting games this week, Andrew Luck and the Colts head west to take on the Cardinals. It’s been obvious that the Colts aren’t the team they were with Reggie Wayne, but they still are able to sit as the number two seed in the playoff picture. With Indy only having three more games against opponents with winning records starting this week with Arizona. There’s going to be a lot of emotion between sidelines with Bruce Arians having to go up against his former team and mentor, so this should be a really tight game. The Cardinals are going to have to be at their best in their secondary which shouldn’t be impossible considering the lack of running game Trent Richardson has been able to put together. In picking this game you have to go with the idea that the quarterback is the most important position and in a big game I’d much rather go with Luck over Palmer, regardless of who is surrounding him. With the spread at -1 Arizona I’m going to go against them and pick the Colts to pull out a close win.

Coach’s Prediction: Colts 24, Arizona 21

Meehan’s Prediction: Cardinals 30, Colts 28

Dallas Cowboys (5-5) +2.5 at New York Giants (4-6) (47)

Meehan: Okay, so this is my team and their season is pretty much on the line here. If they win, they split the season with the Cowboys and then the tiebreaker will drop to conference record. But realistically, both of these teams are chasing the Eagles which is a sentence I honestly didn’t think I’d have type this year. The Giants are winners of four straight, getting everybody to believe that the are the team that is capable of a Super Bowl run such as they had two years ago. They have looked good at times, but the same conservative play calling that has allowed them to seal the deal like they did in the Green Bay game isn’t going to work in a shootout like this. With the Giants still leading the league in giving up yards after contact and overall buffoonery on that side of the ball, and the Cowboys in last place in every other defensive category this could very quickly become a repeat of the Dallas/Denver game from earlier this year. I understand why the Giants are favored in this game, with the difference being the usual adjustment in the spread made for home teams. However like I’ve said before if the Dallas Cowboys don’t make the postseason this year Jerry’s going to start taking it out on something other than his liver for once, so I have to figure every game from here on out will be viewed with a heightened sense of urgency from this point forward.

Meehan’s Prediction: Cowboys 33, Giants 37

Coach’s Prediction: Cowboys 22, Giants 19

Sunday Night Football: Denver Broncos (9-1) -1 at New England Patriots (7-3) (55.5)

Coach: This will be the fourteenth time we have Manning going head to head with Brady and my advice to you is to sit back and enjoy. Forget that The Patriots are coming off a Monday Night heartbreaker or that Peyton Manning just won his biggest game of the year against the Chiefs, this game comes down to pride between two AFC Powerhouses. The last time these two teams met was last year when New England went into Denver and dominated the Broncos, but that was early in the season and the Broncos have gotten significantly better. Since the Broncos lost that game they have gone 20-1 in the regular season with their only loss coming to the Colts. The Patriots on the other hand have dealt through a lot and somehow have managed to stay near the top of the AFC. Forget last week’s games between these two teams this is the battle of the heavy weights and right now Peyton is favored -1 in the spread. This will be Denver’s toughest matchup to date and although I think they’re the best team in the AFC I think not having Wes Welker combined with a banged up Peyton gives a slight edge to New England. Remember the Patriots are angry after Monday’s Night letdown in Carolina and I don’t think the Broncos will like the Patriots when they’re angry.

Coach’s Prediction: Patriots 31, Broncos 28

Meehan’s Prediction: Broncos 34, Patriots 31

Monday Night Football: San Francisco 49ers (6-4) -5 at Washington Redskins (3-7) (47)

Meehan: There is a certain amount of justified panic that is currently swirling around the San Francisco 49ers, who are losers of two straight. And complicating matters is the fact that Monday night Carolina beat New England, making them 7-3 and they would own the tiebreaker against the Niners because of head to head. Shit has got real on SF real fast, but they still have time to turn it around. Colin Kaepernick is getting a lot of the flack from the media and rightfully so because he’s averaging 168 yards per game, last in the NFL. The great news for the Gold Rush is that they are facing the Washington Redskins, who are dead in the water despite being ranked first in rushing yards per game. The Skins are also ranked 11th in passing, but for some reason all of that hasn’t translated to a damn thing this year when the final gun sounds. Don’t buy the whole “Two of the most explosive young quarterbacks in the league” argument that ESPN is trying to sell you to make sure that you watch this football game. It’s total bullshit as Griffin has underperformed this year and takes quarters – even halves sometimes – to get into a rhythym, if he even gets into one at all. The biggest question mark around RGIII is leadership, and as far as this season goes the only game left on their schedule I can see them winning is against the Falcons. I don’t really think he’s ever going to be the same athlete that we saw during Washington’s 7 game winning streak to close the season last year, and to be honest for you unless he can figure out a lot of his on the field issues in five years I don’t even think he’ll be in the NFL at all. Take San Fran to cover the spread – I have them winning this game by 17, but it could be even worse than that given the fact that it’s sort of a do or die situation for them from here on out.

Meehan’s Prediction: 49ers 27, Redskins 10

Coach’s Prediction: 49ers 33, Redskins 17

Bye Weeks:

Buffalo Bills (4-7)

The Bills used to have a killer running game…

Meehan: The Bills’ bye week should be a positive one, because if there’s no home game it’s impossible for someone to fall out of the stadium drunk. If you missed it, here’s that story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/bills/2013/11/18/falling-fan-banned-ralph-wilson-stadium/3630105/ As for the team, they are pretty much out of playoff contention, but as we all know the Bills love playing the spoiler role. Second only to losing Super Bowls, it’s the only thing that franchise is really any good for. Their remaining schedule has them facing Tampa, Jacksonville, the Dolphins, and Atlanta so you have to wonder what kind of offers from other teams would be flying around if franchises were allowed to swap schedules later on in the season. That schedule is going to end up doing the Bills one bad in the end, because they will likely win every game but the New England one, finish somewhere around .500, and then be stuck in the middle with a draft pick they can’t really use. And then they’re right back where they started – off my radar and out of my way.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

Who Dey? Great question

Coach: The Bengals enter the bye after getting away with a huge victory against Cleveland with the help of great defense and special teams. Right now they’re in control of the AFC North and should be able to win the division IF they are able to keep up the good play. Problem is, this has been a team that has been inconsistent at times and doubts are high on if they can put together a deep playoff run. Andy Dalton has struggled at times this season and AJ Green has had a few games where he has been a non-factor. After the break the Bengals will have a tricky rest of the season still having two division games and a huge matchup against the Colts in Cincinnati. Although they are sitting on top of their division they can’t let their standings get in the way of bringing this team together to potentially go deep into January.

Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)

Coach: At the moment the Eagles are leading the NFC East in one of the stranger divisions I’ve seen in a long time. If there’s a team that’s been more inconsistent than the Jets it’s been the eagles who have looked everywhere from stellar to a team that could be getting a top three pick. The most impressive part of the Eagles has been the play of Nick Foles who has given them some stability but you have to question how good they are. Even though they have won three in a row they have done so against teams that either aren’t any good or are lacking an Aaron Rodgers. They have a very tough schedule against teams that could give them some trouble. Then again this is the Eagles so who knows what we’re going to get the rest of the way.

Seattle Seahawks (10-1)

Meehan: If you read this blog from time to time you’re aware that they are my second favorite team in the league, so you know I’m a fan. Plus I’ve been doing these Monday night segments on KUGR out of Washington State, so I am well versed in Seahawk talk. They are still going to be without Brandon Browner for the next 4 to 6 weeks, but the odds that they won’t get a bye week are very slim so I expect him to be good and ready for whomever has the unfortunate task of going up to Seattle divisional playoff weekend and getting smeared. Overall I still think that they are in good shape heading into their Monday Night meeting with the Saints in a week and a half, which will likely decide who will control home field advantage in the NFC postseason. And although they need to focus on one game at a time as the sports cliché so aptly is regurgitated, I can’t help but think that they have to be thinking about heading to San Francisco the week after where the 49ers will be looking to avenge one hell of an embarrassing week 2 loss against the Seahawks.
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan and Coach Ryan

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