Friday, December 14, 2012

Showdown Sunday Predictions

This week in the NFL, there will be six match ups between teams with winning records, a record for week 15 or later.  All of these games will have playoff implications, and should be great games.  It's a shame one of them couldn't be flexed to Monday night, so we don't have to watch the Jets and the Titans.  But I digress.  Time to pick some games.

Denver at Baltimore - The Ravens' defense has not been at full strength all season, with Ladarius Webb, Ray Lewis, and Terrell Suggs missing significant time, sometimes at once; Lewis is expected back for this game, while Suggs is doubtful. Still, the Birds are in disarray at this point.  They have thrown away two consecutive games against average teams that they have been leading late and just got their offensive coordinator fired.  Jim Caldwell's likely conservatism when calling plays Sunday has the potential to limit the damage caused by lethal pass-rusher Von Miller, but it's not close on the offensive side of the ball: Denver's high-flying passing attack is much better than Baltimore's.  The best hope the Ravens have is to give the ball to Ray Rice 35 times and hope he can keep the ball and the possession battle in their favor. Broncos 31, Ravens 13.

Green Bay at Chicago - Both of these teams have been bitten by the injury bug this season, with Brian Urlacher still out for the Bears and Charles Woodson as well as Jordy Nelson not expected to play for Green Bay.  Packers linebacker Clay Matthews is likely to return, giving the Packers another weapon to take advantage of the Bears' awful offensive line.  This game is in Chicago and the Packers' offense is one-dimensional enough at this point that the Bears certainly have a chance to keep it close and have Brandon Marshall win it, which he's proven he has the ability to do to this season.  Still, I can't bet against Aaron Rodgers at this point in the season, especially with no Urlacher - though I think it will be closer than people think. Packers 27, Bears 24.
Indianapolis at Houston: The Texans were just smoked on national TV and don't lose at home.  They're bound to be mad and pumped up with so much on the line against the upstart Colts, and have the defensive packages to confuse the hell out of Andrew Luck, who hasn't played well against the good defenses he has faced this season and is usually average until the fourth quarter.  With all of this considered, I really don't think the Colts have much of a shot in this one.  Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and the rest of the powerful Houston offense should give them a ride in what has "bounce back" written all over it. Texans 34, Colts 17.
Pittsburgh at Dallas: Both of these teams have underachieved this season because of injuries, with the Steelers missing multiple key cogs on both sides of the ball and DeMarco Murray's absence proving that the Cowboys need him to be healthy for their offense to run effectively.  But Murray is healthy now and has been playing well as a runner and receiver.  Dez Bryant's finger problem is a huge issue for Dallas, as the mercurial Oklahoma State product has finally realized his potential and has morphed into a star.  It sounds as though he will play, but in what capacity remains a mystery.  Still, the Steelers have looked god awful over the last three weeks, and Dallas seems to be on an emotional high after a big win last week. Cowboys 24, Steelers 21.
New York Giants at Atlanta: The Falcons are good, but have been tested by most teams they have played this year and looked very poor on both sides of the ball in a loss against Cam Newton the Panthers last week.  The Giants scored 52 points against the Saints last week and are back in rhythm after a bad set of games that brought the NFC East into question once more.  Atlanta is fully healthy, at least as much as you can be in this time of year, as are the Giants, so it will likely come down to the home field advantage that the Georgia Dome provides for the Falcons.  This should be another close game, but I'm taking the Falcons as the NFC East will be very interesting once more. Falcons 28, Giants 27.
San Francisco at New England: The crown jewel of this weekend, the high-flying, dominant Patriots will welcome the stout 49ers to Gillette Stadium for a Sunday night showdown with snow in the forecast that could be a preview of the Super Bowl.  The Pats are four points over three losses away from being 13-0, and have looked incredible over the last four weeks.  The Niners look awesome one week and average the next, but still boast one of the best defenses in football and an exciting quarterback in Colin Kaepernick that could pose problems for New England's defense.  Still, the Pats have stomped everyone that comes to Foxborough in December over the last five seasons, and I see no reason that would change for this game.  They are just too balanced right now and have everything going for them. Patriots 31, 49ers 24.

1 comment:

  1. Do you offer any predictions on unemployment? Do you think structural unemployment will be resolved? Do you think the President's stimulus for the economy will make a difference.

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