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NFL Lineman Week 12 picks
Not bad last week as the Lineman continued to undo some of the damage done by fill in Wichita Lineman in Week 10.
So keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, no turkeys among this week’s picks.
Record: 33-33. Last week 3-3; Pick of the Week: 9-2
PICK OF THE WEEK
Minnesota Vikings (2-8) at Atlanta Falcons (5-5) (Line Falcons minus-9.5)
Let’s make this simple; no Adrian Peterson equals no chance for the Vikes.
Without All Pro running back Peterson, who is doubtful with a high ankle sprain, Minnesota’s rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has little to work with and could be in for a long afternoon against an improving Atlanta defence looking to boost its sack stats.
After a sputtering start, Falcons QB Matt Ryan has finally found some rhythm tossing for 300-yards the last two weeks and should have another productive day against a leaky Vikings 28th ranked pass defence.
Sensational rookie receiver Julio Jones remains questionable with a hamstring injury but Ryan still has plenty of weapons in rowdy Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and not to be overlooked the human cannon ball running back Michael Turner, who has eight touchdowns and is rumbling towards another 1,000 yard campaign.
The two-win Vikings are a team on the slide with four losses in their last five while the Falcons have taken flight with four wins over the same stretch.
The Falcons are also a tough out at home winning 11 of their last 14 at the Georgia Dome while the Vikings have been terrible on the road with just three wins in their last 16 trips.
When it gets cold, Atlanta gets hot winning seven of last eight in November. Take Hot-lanta and give up the 9.5.
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Carolina Panthers (2-8) at Indianapolis Colts (0-10) (Line Panthers minus-3.5)
Looking at the schedule, if the Colts are going to win a game this season, this would appear to be the one as they come off a bye week, playing at home against an opponent that has won just twice.
Well, I guess the Colts are headed for a winless season then because I just don’t see Indy getting a victory here.
The Panthers may only have two wins but with super rookie quarterback Cam Newton at the controls Carolina has been a tough out most Sundays.
The Panthers rank fifth in total offence averaging 400-yards per game while the Colts give up a league worst average of 30 points per contest.
Steve Smith sits third in league receiving with 992-yards but it is the Panthers triple threat running game of Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart that is likely to do the most damage against a porous Indy defence that is second worst in the NFL’s against the run.
To be fair, the Carolina defence is not that much better.
Ranked just one spot above Indy, the Panthers are giving up an average of 28.6 points a game but without Peyton Manning (remember him) the banged up Colts, who have scored just one touchdown their last two games, do not have the weapons to exploit any of the Carolina weaknesses.
Without an away victory in two season, the Panthers cannot win on the road. The Colts cannot win anywhere and look a lock for the number one overall pick and shot at Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
With the Patriots, Ravens, Titans, Texans and Jags on deck this just might yet be Colts Lucky year.
Panthers bounce. Take Carolina and give up the 3.5.
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Cleveland Browns (4-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) (Line Bengals minus-7.5)
I admit, I have been late to the party when it comes to the Bengals but the battle of Ohio seems as good as any place to jump on the Cincy bandwagon.
While Carolina’s Cam Newton has been getting all the hype, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton may be the true rookie of the year having put a team that was supposed to be going nowhere into the playoff hunt while challenging the Ravens and Steelers for top spot in the AFC North.
After narrow losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the Bengals turn their attention to a rather less threatening division rival in Cleveland.
Despite a putt-putt attack that is averaging just 14 points and less than 300-yards of offence a game, the Browns represent a tricky test for the Bengals if they plan to continue to challenge for top spot.
The Browns and Bengals boast two of the NFL’s best defences but Cleveland is tops against the pass giving up an average of 166.5 yards per game which could cause problems for Dalton, who has been a little wild at times tossing 12 interceptions including three last week.
Still, after staring down the Ravens and Steelers defence the previous two weeks, the Browns are unlikely to rattle Bengals rookie QB.
Cincinnati has come out on top in five of the last six Battles of Ohio, including a 27-17 decision in the regular season opener in Cleveland.
Defensively this one is a wash but the Browns will not be able to keep pace with the Bengals on offence.
Browns go down. Take the Bengals give up the 7.5.
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Houston Texans (7-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) (Line Texans minus-3.5)
You really have to feel for the Texans. Just when it looked like they might finally make the playoffs, BOOM, down goes starting quarterback Matt Schaub to a season-ending foot injury.
Houston’s season may be unraveling but the Texans will hold it together through this one, even with backup QB Matt Leinart, who will be making his first start since 2009.
Coming off a bye, the Texans have had time to ease Leinart into the starting job as the AFC South leaders travel to north Florida looking for a fifth straight win.
While the Texans have lost Schaub, they welcome back All Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson, who has missed seven games with a hamstring injury.
I am not expecting aerial fireworks in this one, which is shaping up to be a ground war with Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert handing off to the NFL’s second leading rusher Maurice Jones-Drew and Leinart doing the same with last season’s rushing champion Arian Foster.
The Jags have a quality defence that has allow an average of just 300-yards a game – fourth best in the NFL. But Houston’s defence has been just a bit better and has an easier assignment this Sunday.
Jacksonville’s offence is averaging just 12.5 points a game and a league worst 249.5 yards in total offence and now goes up against Houston’s top-ranked defence that is surrendering a league low 269.7-yards per game.
The Texans easily handled the Jags at home three weeks ago but have found little success recently on visits to north Florida losing four straight in Jacksonville.
Cannot see this one turning into a Jacksonville Five. Take the Texans and give up the 3.5.
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Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-6) (Line Steelers minus-10.5)
I almost liked this one for my Pick of the Week and I’m not sure exactly why I didn’t because this smells like a blowout.
The well-rested Steelers roll into Arrowhead off a bye to take on the Chiefs, who are on a short week and still reeling from a 34-4 thrashing at the hands of the Patriots on Monday Night.
Tyler Palko, making his second start in the place of injured Matt Cassel, was unable to impress against a non-threatening New England defence and now faces the menacing Steelers, who are second in total defence (280 ypg) and third best against the pass (183 ypg).
After a stuttering start to the season, the Chiefs had looked poised to take charge of the AFC West reeling off four straight wins but have been unable to weather the loss of Cassel scoring just one touchdown in three consecutive losses.
Not all is perfect in the Pittsburgh camp with Ben Roethlisberger expected to get the start in KC despite a broken right thumb.
If Big Ben is good to go, Mike Wallace is his favourite target, the speedy wide out fourth in receiving yards with 922 on 53 catches.
Arrowhead is hostile territory for visitors and has not been a happy hunting ground for the
Steelers, who have lost their last two visits to KC.
But the Steelers bag a big win here. Take the Steelers and give up the 10.5.
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New York Giants (6-4) at New Orleans Saints (7-3) (Line Saints minus-7.5)
There has been a lot of chatter about whether Giants Eli Manning is an elite NFL quarterback or not.
There is no such debate about Saints Drew Brees, who is at the controls of the NFL’s top ranked offence averaging 436.9-yards per game and top passing attack (319.4 ypg).
This a critical game for both teams with the Saints and Giants locked in struggles for top spot in their respective divisions.
The Giants had been in control of the NFC East but back-to-back losses to the Niners and Eagles has seen the G-Men concede top spot to the surging Cowboys, who moved into first place with a Thanksgiving Day win over Miami.
The Saints cling to a one game lead in the NFC South but are looking over their shoulders at the improving Falcons.
Coming off a bye week and playing at home where they have averaged close to 40 points a game, the explosive Saints are well positioned to produce some Monday Night magic.
The Giants lead the league in sacks and will try to keep the pressure on Brees but the Saints can beat you through the air or on the ground with a fleet of running backs led by speedy Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.
Defensively, not much separates the two teams yielding an average of 22.8 points a game and 239-yards a game passing. The Saints give up an average of 361 yards in total offence to the Giants 362.
The one worrying thing about the Saints is that they seem to throw a clunker in every now then like they did last month demolishing the Colts 62-7 one week then losing to the winless Rams the next.
Too much at stake this week for the Saints to get tripped up by the stumbling G-Men. Take the Saints and give up the 7.5.