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NFL Picks for Week 13
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on November 30, 2006, 7:42 PM

John: Welcome to week thirteen of our weekly NFL picks column. I kicked some sweet ass last week nailing 13 of 16 games, so I'm on a bit of a high. I'm not going to be writing a lot this week due to a lack of time, but my brethren are here to analyze the games like usual, so let's get to that.

drq: After a couple weeks of struggles, I managed to post a halfway decent record of 10-6 for week eleven. Unfortunately, that seemed to have as much to do with the evidently predictable outcome of the games themselves as it did my own ability at handicapping... hence John's insane 13-win week. No matter, I'm sure one of these week's ol' Mr. Canton will mail in an 0-16 week and I'll get a chance to close some ground on his seemingly-insurmountable lead. Not a lot of marquee-level games are on the card this week, and one of the biggest - Cincy at Baltimore - isn't even being played on a Sunday. But hey, as the past twelve weeks have shown, anything can happen in the NFL. I'm not sure we'll see any upsets quite as surprising as last week's NYG @ Tennessee matchup, but I'm not about to write off the possibility, either.

Brett: Sorry about last week - I swear I did picks but I can't find them. The side effects of pneumonia, I guess. My record last week: 10-6

Last Week:
John Canton: 13-3
Brett Berliner: 10-6
drqshadow: 10-6

Season:
Brett Berliner: 111-65 (.631)
John Canton: 110-66 (.625)
drqshadow: 98-78 (.557)

Hey Brett, hear that sound? They're footsteps, buddy. The race is on!

Baltimore at Cincinnati 8:00 p.m. (Thursday)
drq: Both teams shut out a struggling divisional rival in their game last week, with Baltimore smothering the Steelers by twenty seven and the Bengals stomping the Browns by an even thirty. Both teams have had their problems with consistency this season, but their last meeting was tight all the way down to the wire. Remember the infamous no-call on pass interference at the end of the game, costing TJ Houshmandzadeh and Cincy a long gain and, basically, the game? I think they make amends for that right here. Carson Palmer's been white-hot since the middle of the season, and I don't think the Ravens will have an answer for him. Cincinnati: 27 - Baltimore: 14

Brett: I don't think I am ever happily going to be able to pick the Ravens. I get it, they're good, they are nasty, they play tough, but I still don't think they are that good. I said it. I think the Bengals will get them back for the game they SHOULD have won last time. They're a different team when Chris Henry is out there. Cincinnati 28, Baltimore 20

John: The Ravens have been good to me against the spread this year, which makes me tolerate them despite my extreme dislike of that arrogant jerk Brian Billick. I just don't think Cincy's defense is good enough this year to stop even an average offense. McNair's playing well and I think that offense will do enough to win a close game. Ravens 24-23

Arizona at St. Louis 1:00 p.m.
drq: One team has lost most of their offensive line to injuries this season, the other never had an offensive line to begin with. Edgerrin James has been having, far and away, the worst season of his career, while Stephen Jackson is emerging as a serious every-down rushing threat. Neither team is what I'd consider to be a good squad right now, but I think the Cardinals' tailspin is a little more uncontrollable than the Rams'. The new St. Louis team sneaks by the old one. St. Louis: 20 - Arizona: 17

Brett: Upset special! I think the Cardinals are a very bad football team, but the Rams aren't a [b]ton[/b] better. Stephen Jackson will gash the Cards for at least 500 yards, but with the way things have been going for the Rams, they will lose another winnable one. They're not quite there yet, but next year, watch out. Arizona 24, St. Louis 23

John: The Rams have O-Line issues as everybody knows but last week it's as if the light went on in Scott Linehan's head because he remembered how great of a back Steven Jackson can be. If the line sucks run the ball. Against the Cards it's going to work and it's going to lead to victory. We can't lose to the Cards, can we? I sure hope not. Rams 31-20

Atlanta at Washington 1:00 p.m.
drq: Who knows what's going on in Atlanta, between the Mora gentleman, Michael Vick and the receivers' apparant inability to... well, receive. It was seriously close to being comedic this past week, that corps was constantly dropping such perfectly-thrown balls. I'd imagine they've spent the past week working on their hands, playing toss and catch, and doing everything in their power to avoid that kind of disappointment again. This week should be a marked improvement over the last, but I don't expect it to be a long-time solution. Washington won't slip away with another squeaker here, and I see the Falcons' attack being too much for the Redskins to bear. Atlanta: 27 - Washington: 14

Brett: Hard for me to pick Atlanta, a good team, to lose so many games in a row. Despite all the criticism on Vick, I have always found him to be a winner, and to suspect he suddenly lost his ability to win games, I don't think so. I've been impressed with Jason Campbell, but I think the Falcons will get back on the winning track this week. Atlanta 19, Washington 13

John: Man, Atlanta has lots of problems right now. Of course that means I pick them. I just think the Redskins really suck. I don't know how they won last week. Oh, and in honor of Mike Vick's two middle fingers I'll say the Falcons win by...you guessed it...11. Falcons 27-16

Detroit at New England 1:00 p.m.
drq: Losing Junior Seau last week will be HUGE for the Pats for the remainder of the year. Not only did the veteren provide leadership and experience for a defense that badly needs it after Rodney Harrison's injury, but he was actually having a great year statistically. The Pats are still a very dangerous team, but one that's quickly showing signs of decline. None of that will be obvious this Sunday, though, as I think the Pats are going to eat the Lions alive without a fuss. New England: 24 - Detroit: 6

Brett: One thing about Detroit that's impressed me - they don't look like they've given up. Sure, they're overmatched and sure, they suck badly, but they play hard and that's something you don't see out of bad teams always (I'm looking at you, Browns). They need a lot of help, and Marinelli may never get it (come on, Matt Millen is the GM), but I think they have a shot in a couple of years. They aren't good enough to walk into Foxboro and beat a Patriots team that is going to run all over them, though. New England 35, Detroit 17

John: I think this is blowout city. The Pats are heading into the playoff run now and they know how important it is to finish the year off on the right note. They won't allow the crappy Lions to get close to them. At least I donít think they will. Patriots 30-10

Indianapolis at Tennessee 1:00 p.m.
drq: The last time these two met, Tennessee gave the Colts the scare of their season, missing a late field goal that would have given them the lead and finally succumbing 14-13. With the jarring national arrival of Joseph Addai as Indy's long term rushing-fix, the Colts are a much more three-dimensional team offensively than they were on the last occasion that these two met. Their defense is beginning to shore up. Peyton Manning is still managing the game effectively, and making the tough throws when he needs to. The Colts looked like they were in a groove against Philly last week, and I don't think the Titans can offer any thing to disrupt it here. Indianapolis: 24 - Tennessee: 13

Brett: Well, I know a lot of people are going to point to the fact that the Colts BARELY escaped with a win last time, Tennessee is playing good football, and it's in Nashville.. but it's still Colts/Titans. I am really starting to fall for Vince Young, but let's be fair - he isn't going to outduel Peyton Manning this year or the next. Indianapolis 24, Tennessee 13

John: I think the Titans are the most surprising team in the AFC for me. I don't know how they have more than two wins. Jeff Fisher is doing an awesome job there. Vince Young is looking like he belongs too. Is it enough to beat Indy? Nah, but I think they keep it close enough to put a scare in them. Colts 23-17

Kansas City at Cleveland 1:00 p.m.
drq: They're beginning to talk about Priest Holmes returning in time for the 2007 season, and Larry Johnson hasn't even finished running away with the rushing title (pun! pun!) this year. Imagine those two sharing the same backfield again, now that everybody knows LJ is every bit the monster his predecessor was. It's sad to see the situation breaking apart in Cleveland, since that team seemed to be on a slight incline at the beginning of the year. If the team can't stand each other, no amount of coaching on the globe can make them competitive. It's a bad time of the year for the Browns and an optimistic one in KC. Kansas City: 35 - Cleveland: 13

Brett: Boy, I think it's a good idea to turn Larry Johnson loose. The Browns actually don't have a terrible matchup here - they are DB neutered, not LB or DL, but they aren't good and it's going to be kind of gross. Kansas City 35, Cleveland 14

John: I really wanted to pick the Browns here, but they seem to have a lot of problems at the moment. With my "opposite" picks doing good last week it almost tempts me to pick them here. However, I'll just say the Chiefs take a tight one. Chiefs 23-20

Minnesota at Chicago 1:00 p.m.
drq: The Vikings played Chicago really tough when they met earlier in the season, at a time when the Bears were being heralded as angels come to Earth in the guise of a football team and the Vikes were a tough, under-the-radar style team that had narrowly missed the playoffs a year before. Since then, neither team has fared too well. Although the Bears hold the best record in the NFC, they've looked very shaky over the last month. Rex Grossman has begun to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, and their defense is beginning to spring leaks. If Minnesota had a few more playmakers on the team, I'd be inclined to give them the win. I mean, the Bears are looking like they're on borrowed time... but I can't side with the purple guys in this one. The Bears escape another hairy situation at the end. Chicago: 14 - Minnesota: 10

Brett: Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Grossman is overrated blah blah blah. He's not great yet but he's still one of the better young QBs in the NFL. They just ask him to do too much. Come on, Bears - be happy with your great running game and defense and put the pressure off of Grossman. The result will be joyous. Minnesota has some resiliency and a shot at this game, but I think the Bears have to have learned their lesson from last week, no? Chicago 28, Minnesota 17

John: Minnesota likes to run. You can't do that on the Bears. I think Chicago wins this game in a dominant fashion to show just how strong they are at home. This is their message game. Take note, NFC. Bears 27-10

N.Y. Jets at Green Bay 1:00 p.m.
drq: The Jets are seriously in the playoff hunt this year, but I still haven't seen an effort out of them that's truly impressed me this year. They've hung in some tight games with the big boys, even felled the mighty Patriots on their home turf, but there's something missing about this team. They're in need of a serious running threat, and although that isn't something I'd expect the Packers to be able to exploit, someone down the line will. The Jets hang on at the end of a turnover-heavy battle. New York Jets: 17 - Green Bay: 14

Brett: Man, this one is going to stink. Neither of these teams are very good - the Jets have a bad D and a meh offense, and the Pack, also a bad D and a meh offense. I am really glad I don't get to watch this one - Favre will have a good game, so will Pennington, but there isn't going to be much of interest here. Green Bay 28, N.Y. Jets 21

John: Even though the Packers aren't great it's still tough to win a game in Lambeau in December. Right? Hell if I know. Packers 30-20

San Diego at Buffalo 1:00 p.m.
drq: Willis McGahee made a surprisingly strong return to the roster last week, when the Jags were in town. He didn't just rush for two scores, he was moving around as though nothing had ever been wrong, throwing blocks, rerouting receivers and picking up the pass rush. If he can match that performance against the Chargers' somewhat depleted line this weekend, the Bills could very easily pull off the upset. The problem, in my eyes, is in both J.P. Losman's continued growing pains and in LaDanian Tomlinson's incredible string of touchdowns. The Bills should play tough, but I can't seriously consider them a threat to the Chargers right now. San Diego: 17 - Buffalo: 7

Brett: Quite a few analysts and Bills fans think that this game proves whether or not the Bills are for real. I tend to agree - they have played some tough games and beaten some decent teams, but if they can hang with the Chargers, they will have proved they are for real. The Chargers are playing some great football, and I just think they're too talented for the Bills to beat. But this right here could be your game of the week. Well, it might be mine. I am a sucker for underdog stories, even if they fall just short. San Diego 31, Buffalo 30

John: I almost wanted to pick the Bills, but Steroid Boy Merriman is back and he should be wreaking havoc out there due to his roid rage. I think teams are figuring out Phil Rivers, though. Last week he was mediocre. Tomlinson bails him out a lot. Look for the Bills to use eight man fronts a lot to try to limit him. I just don't like the Bills offense enough to pick them here even though McGahee's healthy and Lee Evans might cause problems for the Chargers. Losman's too shaky for me to pick against a good team. I like the Chargers on a late field goal. They always seem to do well in the close games. Chargers 24-23

San Francisco at New Orleans 1:00 p.m.
drq: The Niners had a nice surge for a few weeks there, culminating in a win at Seattle to move within a game of the lead in their division. Unfortunately for San Francisco, however, the rest of the NFC isn't quite as weak as their comrades in the NFC West. The Saints have the gold domes outmatched at basically every position, and have carried the lead in a much more competitive NFC South for the length of the season. I'll give SF a punchers' chance here... if more than a few big plays go their way, they could sneak away with this one... but I'm going to stick with the favorites. New Orleans: 21 - San Francisco: 13

Brett: This one could be more interesting than you'd think. The Niners are playing some good football, but I don't think they have the horses to keep up with New Orleans' offensive attack. New Orleans 25, San Francisco 14

John: Let's see here. Drew Brees is throwing easily for over 300 yards every week it seems and the Niners got backups all over the place in their secondary. I think that means a lot of points for the home team. Saints 34-14

Houston at Oakland 4:05 p.m.
drq: Oh boy. Houston is marginally better than Oakland on both sides of the ball, but I can't imagine either team is going into this game with the delusion that it really means much of anything. Andre Johnson and David Carr hook up a couple times, and Randy Moss and Aaron Brooks continue to disconnect. Houston: 14 - Oakland: 7

Brett: Shudder! This is going to be ugly. Oakland probably won't score the rest of the year unless a team playing them screws up horribly. Justin Fargas? Come on. Houston 17, Oakland 0

John: I don't pick Oakland. Ever. Lots of Andre Johnson should be enough to get the Texans the win here. Texans 23-13

Jacksonville at Miami 4:05 p.m.
drq: It's like Jacksonville wants to impress the nation, just not enough to actually make the playoffs or anything. Miami is on almost exactly the kind of roll they were on at this point last season, pushing hard at almost the exact point that their postseason hopes become out of reach. Sure, I suppose it's not mathematically impossible for these guys to play into January, but they'd almost have to win out, and that's not something I see the Dolphins being able to accomplish, no matter how much they seem to have improved. They do, however, have enough in the tank to derail more than one team's playoff hopes. I like them in yet another upset this week, plucking the Jaguars at their most vulnerable. Miami: 21 - Jacksonville: 13

Brett: This is a really intriguing matchup, I'd say. On one hand, the Dolphins are surging quite a bit. They aren't THERE yet but they are starting to play pretty well. The Jags are kind of on a descent. They have talent, but they need some major major help in their passing game and that never helps even a good running team. I think the Jags continued their slide here. Miami 16, Jacksonville 13

John: These two teams are about the same, but the Dolphins have more momentum right now and I'm going to ride them this week. By the way, you know why Joey Harrington is thriving in Miami? Good coaching. Take note, Detroit. Coaches DO matter. Dolphins 24-14

Dallas at N.Y. Giants 4:15 p.m.
drq: These teams seem to be passing like ships in the dark over in that NFC East. The Giants looked like the Conference elite for a while there, but Eli Manning's in the middle of a bad funk, the locker room is in disarray and they're losing games they have absolutely no excuse for losing. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have rallied around Tony Romo and turned in some outstanding performances against teams of all calibur through the last month. I don't think the Cowboys can continue to win like they have been, and I certainly don't think they'll be able to match their performance against a shell-shocked Tampa Bay, but they've got enough momentum to lean over the Giants here. I can't wait to watch the media feeding frenzy get even bigger over the following seven days. Dallas: 24 - New York Giants: 21

Brett: Pretty simple, huh? The Giants are on a slide, and the Cowboys are playing great, so the 'Boys win. Nope. I don't think so at all. The Giants are still a very good team, and although for the year they are going to underachieve, they will show up for this game, play heated, and eke one out. Romo is a good player, but he's too inexperienced to play that great every week. NY Giants 28, Dallas 27

John: Logic says that the Cowboys are on a roll and the Giants are in-fighting more than they are playing on the field. I say screw logic. The Cowboys had a lot of problems with the Giant offense the first time they played and I see that sort of thing happening again in what might be a shootout. Giants 34-30

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh 4:15 p.m.
drq: This is exactly the kind of game the Bucs have been winning this year - up against a struggling would-be powerhouse who's ready to overlook them. Sadly, as their record can attest, they don't find themselves in precisely that situation all that often. The Steelers are making a lot of mistakes offensively, which would spell instant death against Tampa in just about any other season. In 2006, though, the Bucs' defense hasn't been nearly the force it usually is, and the chances are good that Ben and his teammates will find themselves off the hook for more than a couple errs this weekend. Still, that Steeler defense isn't what it once was, and John Gruden seems to have suddenly remembered he has a former rookie of the year on his roster. The Bucs run out to an early lead, and ride the Cadillac throughout the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay: 14 - Pittsburgh: 10

Brett: Ew, this one could be gross, too. Neither team is playing well at all, and Hines Ward AND Polamalu are out. Yikes. I think the Steelers are still a lot better team than their record, though, and they should probably beat the Bucs at home. Pittsburgh 21, Tampa Bay 10

John: No idea, really. Steelers are banged up and sliding, but do I really think Bruce Gradkowski can win on the road in one of the toughest stadiums in the league? Hell no. Plus, Pittsburgh still has Willie Parker and he should be fine against an aging Bucs defense that needs to be imploded in order to get better. Steelers 27-13

Seattle at Denver 8:15 p.m.
drq: Neither team is quite what they were a year ago, but neither can be considered much of a slouch, either. I don't like picking rookie QBs, especially on opening night, but Matt Hasselbeck didn't look particularly impressive for most of the game against Green Bay. Hence, I don't have such an issue with siding with the rook. The Broncos don't have an answer for Shaun Alexander, if he's on, but few are the games that are decided on the back of just one man. I think Denver forces the most mistakes, their defense plays the game of their lives, and they march out with the big win in front of their home crowd. One thing's for sure - whoever grabs the W here will be extremely proud of this one. Denver: 20 - Seattle: 17

Brett: Seattle is on prime-time EVERY WEEK. I'm getting sick of it - nobody cares, they aren't interesting or fun to watch. Enough. Jay Cutler's debut is not going to go well, I don't think. He's okay, but he ain't ready. Seattle will get a few turnovers out of them, and Denver will call for Cutler's benching, because it's what football fans do. Seattle 30, Denver 16

John: Hey Brett, both of these teams are on prime time all the time. Denver was just on Sunday night two weeks ago. I guess the NFL doesn't care how many times certain teams are on prime time. Normally I'd say Denver's at home in prime time, so I like them. Last time that happened - two weeks ago against SD - they played like crap. They blame it on Plummer, but I think they got other issues. The Seahawks are back healthy and their defense will cause Cutler to make some mistakes. I'll take the road team here. Seahawks 26-16

Carolina at Philadelphia 8:30 p.m. (Monday)
drq: Neither team looks particularly inspiring right now, with Carolina slipping into something of a funk and Philadelphia having no answers for the Colts, still dazed after losing their starting QB for the rest of the year. Indy never even tried the longball against the Eagles last week, a mistake I don't think the Panthers will be repeating. The descent continues for the Eagles, with this loss pretty much serving as the final nail in their coffin. Carolina: 14 - Philadelphia: 13

Brett: Jeff Garcia against the Carolina defense is going to be nasty. You gotta feel for the Iggles. You just gotta. Carolina 24, Philadelphia 14

John: Upset! Look, I know Philly's reeling, but the Panthers lost to crappy Washington last week and they seem to have problems on the road. Throw in the fact that I usually like home dogs on Monday night and all signs are pointing to an Eagles win for me. Not saying I'm gonna bet on it. I just got a feeling. That's all. Eagles 23-20

JC vs. The Spread
I'll use the line that TheGreek.com provides and I'll pick four games that I think you should bet on for the week.

Last week: 3-1 - Very pleased with that. Last week was my best overall spread week too. I went 12-4 against the spread, which is fantastic.
Season: 24-21-3

Chicago (-9.5) over Minnesota
It's a big spread, but I think this is going to be a blowout. Minny isn't in their league.

New Orleans (-7) over San Francisco
Again, I'm thinking a comfortable win here.

Miami (-1) over Jacksonville
Miami's hot. Ride the hot team.

St. Louis (-6.5) over Arizona
Homer pick, I fully admit. I just think running on this team should not be a problem for my Rams.

Until next week (when we post the column before the Thursday game again), for Drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.



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