Hello and welcome back to the Cowan Corner for another week of predictions for the upcoming slate of NFL games.
With December officially upon us, the NFL has hit its homestretch with each team having just five games left to play. Most playoff spots are very much up in the air, but performances this week could effect a lot of the playoff picture.
Without further ado, let’s get into this week’s picks.
Cowboys over Redskins
This Thursday night game probably looked a lot more appealing before the season, but now both these teams seem dead in the water.
I think this will be a close game, but the Cowboys won in Washington earlier this season so I will pick them to win again here.
Vikings over Falcons
This is probably the best game of the week and could mean big things long-term in the NFC. The Vikings have pretty much locked up their division while the Falcons are a game back in theirs and in position for a wild-card spot.
I think the defense of the Vikings will be able to cause problems for the Falcons this season which will allow the Vikings to win a close game.
Patriots over Bills
A win by the Patriots would pretty much end any hope of the Bills catching them in the division and I see that happening here, though I think it will be closer than people think.
I just don’t think the Bills can match up with the Patriots on offense well enough to claim a win.
Bears over 49ers
I thought about this one for a surprising amount of time given the terribleness of the teams involved, but it is more difficult to pick with Jimmy Garoppolo taking over quarterbacking duties in San Francisco.
I think Garoppolo will lead to a more effective 49ers offense, but I think the Bears will be able to pull this one out at home after being embarrassed by the Eagles last week.
Packers over Buccanneers
Jameis Winston will be back for the Buccaneers this week and I don’t think it will make a difference at all because there is frankly very little difference in quality between Winston and backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Both of these teams are bad, but the Packers at least showed flashes of promise with their close loss to the Steelers Sunday night.
Titans over Texans
The Titans are in full control of their playoff destiny as they hold the top spot in their division and a tiebreaker over the Jaguars with five weeks to go.
I think the Titans will stay at the top of their division with a home win over a Texans team which is lost without Deshaun Watson.
Dolphins over Broncos
There are no winners in this game, but if pressed to pick one, I will go with the Dolphins.
The Broncos are just an utter mess which is not helped by the fact that all of their quarterbacks are dreadful. The team is in need of a complete reboot at that position if they want to be competitive in the seasons ahead.
Jets over Chiefs
Speaking of utter messes, the Chiefs have gone from apparent Super Bowl-contender to looking like they may not even be good enough to make the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Chiefs fans, I don’t think things will get any better this week as I think the Jets will be able to sneak away with an upset win to bring the Chiefs down to 6-6.
Jaguars over Colts
After a bad loss to the Cardinals on the road last week, the Jaguars need to turn things around this week to keep pace with the Titans in the division.
Luckily for them, the Colts are terrible and should be easy picking for their defense.
Lions over Ravens
The Ravens may be 6-5 right now, but don’t be fooled, they are not a good team. Joe Flacco has become one of the most unreliable quarterbacks in the game and their offense is almost nonexistent as a result.
I think the Lions will get a slight upset win here to get to 7-5 and send the Ravens to 6-6 this season.
Chargers over Browns
The Browns got their only win of 2016 on Christmas Eve against the Chargers and now these teams rematch with the Browns once again winless going in.
Unfortunately for Browns fans, I don’t think lightning will strike twice as the Chargers are playing good football right now while the Browns can’t seem to do anything right.
Raiders over Giants
I would like to say that benching Eli Manning is one of the most ridiculous decisions I have seen this season considering who his replacement is.
While Manning hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his play as of late, you cannot honestly tell me that Geno Smith will do any better than a man who brought New York two Super Bowls.
The move strikes me as one of desperation for Ben McAdoo who will be out the door soon after a terrible stint as head coach. With that being said, I expect the Raiders to walk all over Smith and the Giants this week.
Saints over Panthers
This is a game with major playoff implication as both teams sit at the top of the NFC South with identical 8-3 records.
The Saints won the last game against the Panthers by a score of 34-13 and I am expecting a similar result this week with the return of Marshon Lattimore to the field.
Rams over Cardinals
The Rams picked up a convincing win against the Saints last week as they thoroughly controlled the game on both sides of the ball.
While the Cardinals have done a good job hanging around with a weak roster, I think they will be knocked down hard this week by a Rams team which is hitting their stride.
Eagles over Seahawks
The Seahawks were dealt a heavy blow by a season-ending injury to Kam Chancellor Sunday which, combined with the injury to Richard Sherman a few weeks ago, erases a sizable portion of the Legion of Boom.
Now, the Seahawks will face Carson Wentz and the Eagles who have torn through pretty much everyone this season. I expect the Seahawks to put up a fight, but the Eagles will pick up their 11th win here.
Steelers over Bengals
This has the potential to be an early trap-game for the Steelers if they’re looking too far ahead to the Patriots.
However, I think the Steelers will end up winning this contest in what will likely be a close game.
That does it for this week’s picks. Check back next week for more NFL picks and analysis of the week that was in football.
Week 12: 13-3