Lineman NFL picks Week 13

December 2, 2011

We got our season back pointed in the right direction with a 4-2 Week 12 but now the always-interesting Week 13. The Lineman has had some bad luck this season but expecting only good things this Sunday and a first 6-0 of the season.

Record: 37-35. Last week 4-2; Pick of the Week: 10-2

San Diego Chargers (4-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) (Line Chargers minus-2.5)
The Chargers have zapped me so many times this season I am starting to feel like a Tazer test dummy.

Normally, taking a team on a six game losing skid making a cross-country trip would be like sticking  your finger in an electric socket but not when the opponent is the toothless Jaguars, who have benched  their starting quarterback (Blaine Gabbert), fired their head coach (Jack Del Rio) and sold the team all  in the last seven days.

In past year’s you would include Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in the same conversation with  Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers but this season he has played more like Colts Curtis  Painter tossing more interceptions (a league worst 17) than touchdowns (16).

San Diego is loaded with explosive offensive talent with tight end Antonio Gates, speedy wide  receivers Vincent Jackson and shifty running back Ryan Matthews but Rivers has just not been able to  light the fuse.

Still the Bolts offensive woes seem minor compared to the Jaguars who are last in the league in  scoring (12.5 point per game), total offense (250 yards per game) and passing yards (131.3 ypg). The one and only real scoring threat the Jags have is running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who ranks  second in league rushing yards with 1,040-yards.

The Jags, however, have been much better on the other side of the ball with the league’s fourth ranked defense allowing an average of 292.5 ypg.

The Chargers have likely left themselves too much work to do to earn a playoff spot but late season rallies are the norm for San Diego, who have been almost unbeatable in December going 20-2 over the last five years.

Jacksonville pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season when they toppled the Baltimore Ravens 12-7 in a Monday Nighter back in October.

Could they pull off another Monday Night shocker here? Not this time. Break out the defibrillator, Chargers jolted back to life. Take the Chargers and give up the 2.5.
– – – –
Dallas Cowboys (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (4-7) (Line Cowboys minus-4.5)

It’s December and that means it is time for the annual Tony Romo meltdown.

In what has become a Christmas tradition in the Big D, once December hits the Cowboys  quarterback goes colder than a Canadian winter.

Red hot in November going 19-2, Romo has been ice cold in December posting a 7-10 record when it matters most.

Coming off another perfect 4-0 November, Romo is declaring there will be no December swoon this  season as the Cowboys head to Arizona with the NFC East division sitting there for the taking.

The Cowboys cling to a one game lead at the top of the division over the tanking Giants and could  tighten their grip on a post-season spot with a win in the desert.

The Cardinals have won three of their last four but let’s not get too excited, two of those wins coming against the lowly Rams.

Still Arizona could represent a tricky opponent.

Beanie Wells rumbled for a franchise-record 228 yards in last Sunday’s 23-20 win over St. Louis and Dallas will have to be wary of explosive rookie return man Patrick Peterson, who has run back four punts for touchdowns.

Cards starting quarterback Kevin Kolb is expected to be back under centre after sitting out four games with injury while Romo’s favourite target sure-handed Miles Austin could be back in the Dallas huddle after missing three games with a sore hamstring.

With two meetings against division rivals the Giants left on the schedule, the pressure is on Dallas and this is one the Cowboys cannot afford to get away.

That means, a win is in the Cards for the Cowboys. Take Dallas and give up the 4.5.
– – – –
New York Jets (6-5) at Washington Redskins (4-7) (Line Jets minus-3.5)
After two losses and a squeaker win over the Bills last Sunday we have not heard the usual bravado coming out of the Jets camp this week.

The fact is (although it hasn’t stopped Rex Ryan before), the Jets have had little to brag about as they watched the Patriots pull away at the top of the AFC East and now must focus on locking up a wildcard.

That starts this weekend with a visit to the U.S. Capital and clash with their longtime rivals, the Redskins, who are suddenly showing signs of life.

This matchup features two of the NFL’s most unpredictable and unreliable quarterbacks in the Jets Mark Sanchez and Redskins Rex Grossman.

Grossman is back under centre after a brief flirtation with John Beck and led the Redskins to a win over the Seahawks last week snapping a six game losing streak.

The Jets have stuck with Sanchez, who is feeling the heat in the Big Apple for is up and down play.

The New York running game is expected to get a boost with the return of LaDanian Tomlinson while Washington is getting solid production from rookie Roy Helu, who has revived a Redskins ground game that ranks second last in the league.

The Jets have won just once on the road this season but this is a short trip. A lot of people seem to be picking this one as their upset of the week with Redskins pulling out a win and I admit this one looks like a trap.

But the Redskins still turn the ball over way too much and I’m betting with their season pretty much on the line, this is a must win for the Jets.

Jets hit some turbulence but land win. Take the Jets and give up the 3.5.
– – – –
Atlanta Falcons (7-4) at Houston Texans (8-3) (Line Falcons minus-2.5)
Texans may have the NFL’s number one ranked defense giving up a measly average of 268.4 ypg but they are also playing with their number three quarterback rookie T.J. Yates, who replaces Matt  Leinart, who replaced Matt Schaub.
After a slow start, the Falcons have taken flight winning five of their last six to sit one game back of the streaking Saints in the NFC South.

Matt Ryan has the Falcons attack humming and will test the Texans D with a superb receiving trio  of Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones or pound it out on the ground behind running back Michael Turner, who sits fourth in rushing yards with 948.

Despite their quarterbacking issues, the Texans hold a two game lead over the Titans in the AFC South but I cannot see Mr. Yates doing enough against a very good Atlanta defense to keep pace with Ryan and the Falcons.

Running back Arian Foster can expect a busy afternoon for the Texans but will find the going tough against a Falcons defense that is ranked second against the rush allowing an average of just 83.5 ypg.

The last time the Falcons won in Houston their team was Oilers and the Astrodome was still one of  the world’s man made wonders. A lot has changed since 1981.

Texans take a tumble. Take the Falcons and give up the 2.5.
– – – –
Green Bay Packers (11-0) at New York Giants (6-5) (Line Packers minus-7.5)
You know that constipated, painful look Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has on his face, well there is good reason for it the past two weeks.

On Monday, the Giants coach watched his team get clobbered by Drew Brees and the Saints and now has Aaron Rodgers and the unbeaten Packers come for a visit.

While the G-Men have watched their season slip away with three straight losses, the Packers can wrap up a playoff spot and clinch the NFC North title with a win on Sunday.

It is fair to say, with the Cowboys holding a one game lead in the NFC East that the G-Men have much more riding on this contest but after an 11-0 start the Packers seem to have set their sights on a perfect season.

Can the Packers go unbeaten? I’m not sure. However, I am sure it won’t be the New Yorkers who  stop them.

After their Monday Night meltdown in New Orleans, it has been a short week for the Giants not nearly long enough to forget about being burned by the Saints for nearly 600-yards in offence.

The banged up G-Men, who had their hands full with Brees, now must grapple with red hot Rodgers and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense.

New York was unable to put any pressure on Brees and getting to Rodgers will not be any easier with pass rusher Osi Umenyiora ruled out with a sore ankle.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning has kept the Giants in many games they had not right to be in but will have trouble against an improving Green Bay defense.

With the league’s worst ground attack averaging just 82.3 ypg, if the Giants are to have a chance it will rest on Manning’s ability to get the ball to speedy Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

Unless the Packers lose interest, there is no way they can lose this game. Take the Pack and give up the 7.5.
– – – –
Detroit Lions (7-4) at New Orleans Saints (8-3) (Line Saints minus-8.5)
Like the Giants, the Lions are completing a deadly double Saints-Packers postseason shredder.

The Lions return to action well-rested after a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Packers and catch the sizzling Saints on a short week coming off a dismantling of the New Yorkers on Monday Night.

While the Saints might be running a little low on fuel, I expect their high-octane offence to still be firing on all cylinders.

Drew Brees, who is the NFL’s top ranked passer tossing for 3,689-yards and 27 touchdowns, put on a quarterbacking master class against the Giants and I expect the Lions to be schooled as well.

Against the New Yorkers, Brees showed the damage he can do when given time and the Lions will be hard pressed to keep the Saints quarterback under pressure without defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is sitting out two games for stomping on a Green Bay opponent last week.

The Saints, who top the league in total offense averaging 449 ypg, can attack you from all directions,  through the air with tight end Jimmy Graham and wide out Marques Colston while the backfield is an embarrassment of riches with Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.

Detroit cannot match the Saints offensively but does have a game breaker in Calvin Johnson who leads the league with 12 touchdown catches.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown 26 touchdowns but has been off target of late with nine of his 13 interceptions this season coming in the last three games.

Saints defense gets a boost with the return of middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who has been
sidelined with a knee injury.

With just two wins in their last six, Lions post-season hopes are starting to fade. The Saints have put up some big flashy numbers but are looking over their shoulders at the Falcons who trail them by just one win for top spot in the NFC South.

Saints on the march, tame listless Lions. Take the Saints and give up the 8.5.

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