NFL Week 12 open thread

Ed: It’s time once again to pick ’em for this week’s NFL games, which thankfully follow after the Chiefs-Raiders game on Thursday. I made what I thought was a safe and easy (but unofficial!) prediction that Oakland would lose its 374th game in a row, or something. Turns out that the Harmonic Convergence took place — it rained in California, Obama couldn’t get TV networks to cover his speech live, and Oakland actually won a game, although they did try their best to give it away in the fourth quarter. Officially, though, I went 4-2 in last week’s picks to take my season to 49-23, although my fantasy football team looked as anemic as the Detroit Lions last week.

Jazz: Last week was exciting, mostly because the Jets had no chance of losing. Out of all the games we selected, Ed and I only picked three of them differently. Of course, he took two and I got one, bringing me to 33-39. This season is out of reach, but I’ll keep on swinging for the fences. At Politinerds, Ed and I remain tied for second place in our division. Not terrible, not out of reach, but not stellar.

Ed: The Pittsburgh Steelers have a bye this week, which gives them a few extra days to find a secondary. The Jets are playing the Buffalo Bills, but they’re going to play in Detroit because of the Thunder Snow Blizzard that has frozen the city. This game got moved to Monday night at 7 pm ET on CBS, which means football fans will have a rare choice of games for Monday. This should be a pretty good one, and the Jets should be competitive — but I can’t just can’t pick them in this one, even at a neutral site. Bills 24-17. The Vikings take on the Packers in a game that should have decent weather, around 40 degrees at game time (1 pm ET, Fox), at the University of Minnesota. The Vikes do pretty well at home, but the Packers are starting to look almost unbeatable again. Green Bay 33-20 over Minnesota.

Jazz: I’m picking the Steelers to not win. The Jets always beat Buffalo if the hapless Bills look like they have a chance, and they have proven their bite is nearly as good as their bite against, er… that other team, so I’ll take NY over the Bills, 27-13. The Vikings looked horrible against Chicago, and have not been able to lay a hand on Rodgers, so this doesn’t look promising. Green Bay in a romp, 37-14.

Ed: Let’s take a look at a few more of the games this week (all times Eastern):

  • Lions at Patriots (1 pm, Fox) – Detroit must feel a little odd going on the road and having two other teams play in its house. Unfortunately for the Lions, they’re going into Tom Brady’s house, and he’s looking hot. The Pats have scored 40 or more points in their last three games, and they’ll do it today, too. Patriots 41-27 over the Lions.
  • Bengals at Texans (1 pm, CBS) – The line has Houston up by 1.5, thanks to a surprise performance on the road in Cleveland and some struggles with Cincinnati. I hope the line’s right; I’ll take the Texans, 23-20 at home.
  • Dolphins at Broncos (4:25 pm ET, CBS) – What will make this matchup interesting is the Miami defense, which is 2nd against the pass and 8th against the run. Denver’s 2nd against the run, in part because their offense runs up such large leads that it forces opponents to rely much more on passing. Peyton Manning and his 2nd-ranked passing offense should prevail at home, but it may be more of a defensive struggle. Denver 27, Miami 20.
  • Cowboys at Giants (8:30 pm. NBC) – I know, I know, throw out the records and the standings when these two meet, yada yada yada. Dallas looks like it’s for real this season and they’re unbeaten on the road. The Giants look this season like they have an excellent chance to have a new head coach next season. Cowboys 31-17 over the Giants.
  • Ravens at Saints (Monday 8:30 pm ET, ESPN) – I’m starting Drew Brees this week because Big Ben’s got the bye, so I’m hoping for a big offensive show for New Orleans. Before their home win over Tennessee in week 10, Baltimore’s defense gave up 70 points in its previous two games to its two big division rivals on the road. The Ravens are only 21st against the pass, and Brees has the 3rd-ranked passing game in the league. Saints 35-27 over the Ravens in a shootout.

Jazz:

  • Lions at Patriots (1 pm, Fox) –  The Patriots are doing terribly good on offense and love the home field advantage, but the Lions have a defense that has surprised more than a few teams. The line goes with New England, but I’ll take the upset and pick the Lions to win in a low scoring defensive battle, 17-14.
  • Bengals at Texans (1 pm, CBS) –  The Bengals have gotten their act together on offense, as they demonstrated against the Saints. The question is whether or not they can handle J.J. Watts. I’m betting they can and will give them a rare road victory over the Houston, 27-23.
  • Dolphins at Broncos (4:25 pm ET, CBS) –  Miami has been better than expected, but they can’t stop the Broncos at home. This one should be an easy call. Denver over Miami 31-24.
  • Cowboys at Giants (8:30 pm. NBC) –  Here’s a shorter analysis than Ed’s. The Giants suck. Dallas 27-10.
  • Ravens at Saints (Monday 8:30 pm ET, ESPN) –  The Saints’ secondary is beat up pretty badly and they’ve shown a knack this year for losing games they should have won. The Ravens haven’t gotten much out of Joe Flacco but he’s always ready to deliver a surprise. I’ll go with the Ravens in this one, 30-27.