The 2010 NFL Picks
Week Twelve


Every week strange things happen… and yet when you look at the standings, it seems like some order is being established.

That works for both the NFL, and for us.

Here in our game, Gus is moving like crazy. While his 9-6-1 mark wasn’t the best of the week (it was actually tied with Mike Jr. for third best behind Mike and I), it was enough to shake off some of the pack in the middle and tie him with Molly in third place for the year. 9 games out of first… 7 games out of second… there is still time for them to make a run.

And yet, for all the insanity Gus is causing, the standings overall are fairly solid right now. Mike and I are leading the way. I don’t believe any cushion is safe, but there is a separation between us and the middle with Molly, Gus and Terry. Then, in the background, Mike Jr. is mounting a furious charge on an impressive accomplishment. You might remember that he missed a week of picks. Well, he can see those middle slots just in the distance. A couple of good weeks could get him there.

And then Sam. Well… let’s just say that Sam made a trip to the vet early this season, and his picks have definitely been off.

Oh… yeah… the NFL. Well…

You tell me. If I said back in August that the Jets, Patriots, Steelers, Ravens and Colts would be part of the leaders in the AFC… would that have surprised you? What if I said San Diego was starting to kick a late season run into gear?

Ok… so that makes sense.

Now I think we’d all say that the story lines in the NFC are definitely surprising. But hold on.

The Giants and Eagles in the East? Playoff appearances, coaching staff histories, and everything else should make that a reasonable result here in late November.

Defending champion New Orleans in the playoff picture? Again, even trailing an Atlanta club that has seemed right on the cusp of moving from average to playoffs is reasonable.

Now sure, I’m leaving out some of the funny points. The Bears actually being ahead of the Packers… the Vikings being a mess… the events taking place in Tennessee… Jacksonville winning despite getting routinely outscored… the standings and results in both West divisions (AFC and NFC). Overall though, it’s a tale of insanity and sensibility. For every crazy story that steals the media and the headlines, a quick look at the standings and if-it-ended-today playoff teams shows that the reality isn’t too far off expectations.

You know the rules… never mess with a streak. This week, we move along with the series and go to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Before we get to the games though… a very quick word about Thanksgiving games. (Or… more specifically… short weeks that involve playing on Sunday and then Thursday.)

When you look at these games, it’s usually best to get as far away from your normal thoughts as possible. The easiest reason for why is that they are preparing for a game over a time that is half of their normal schedule. What had been Monday through Saturday for studying, practicing, traveling and anything else is now Monday through Wednesday.

That means crazy things can happen. But for the most part… judge a team by what it does best and then let it go.

When it comes to Thanksgiving Day games… there are also funny emotions involved. Ok, sure, it’s not always true that Detroit wins or even puts up a valiant fight… but it does seem like it’s true, doesn’t it? (More on this idea in a second.)

The simple point is, if you’re going to give praise and bonus points to teams and coaching staffs that do better with opening week games, bye weeks, and extra time… and it makes sense to do that when patterns of success or failure emerge… then it sure seems logical to understand that with less time some teams are going to react better than others as well.

Yeah… we may see some new plays or wrinkles that haven’t been there before. But by and large teams that are fluid and efficient are simply going to stick with doing what they do best. New England and New Orleans are going to hit the road, put their offenses on the field, and force Detroit and Dallas to try and stop them. No tremendous curveballs. Few formations that haven’t been run before.

And that usually means you shouldn’t get too fancy and elaborate in considering things.

New England (7) at Detroit“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” This is actually significantly tougher than it looks. At home the Lions have played four games, going 2-2. (They defeated the Rams and Redskins, and lost to the Eagles and Jets. The New York game went to overtime.) In those four games they scored 32, 44, 25 and 20. So… they are significantly better at home, have a couple of decent wins, a couple of losses that aren’t embarrassing, and they don’t appear to be scared of anyone. And… oh yeah… both of the losses were by 3-points. Score one for Detroit. Last year on Thanksgiving, Green Bay won by 22. In 2008, Tennessee beat them by 37. In 2007, Green Bay was there again, with the Packers taking the contest by 11. In 2006, Miami won by 17. (Holy crap… how far back does this go?) In 2005 Atlanta beat them by 20. Five straight Thanksgiving losses, with nothing even remotely close. Want to go back even more? In 2004 the Colts slammed them by 32, with a 41-9 final score, and I’ve had enough of this now. Score one for New England. Here’s the thing… I see New England controlling the first half of this game. I see New England winning this game. The only question for me is… do they win it comfortably, or do they take their foot off the gas and finish with a score closer than the game ever was? (By the way… last win by Detroit on Thanksgiving? 2003, over the Packers.)
Bob: New England
Terry: New England
Mike: New England
Mike Jr: New England
Molly: New England
Gus: Detroit
Sam: New England

New Orleans (3) at Dallas“If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” “He told me enough! He told me you killed him!” “No. I am your father.” I absolutely understand the idea of taking Dallas here. Two big wins in a row… new atmosphere in town… got it. These weren’t wins either… they were convincing wins, with 33 or more scored, 20 or less given up. But New Orleans doesn’t come into this game playing poorly. They are starting to play very well, and remember quite clearly from 2009 what a late season game against Dallas means. There is business to be settled.
Bob: New Orleans
Terry: New Orleans
Mike: New Orleans
Mike Jr: New Orleans
Molly: New Orleans
Gus: Dallas
Sam: New Orleans

Cincinnati at New York (Jets) (9) “Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?” “I’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.” “I can arrange that.” No. I’m not comfortable picking the upset here. I should be more willing to accept that New York has Cincinnati’s number right now when you consider the results of last season. And… let me say this… the last two passes thrown by Sanchez against Houston were two of the most beautiful, on the mark passes you will ever see. Hang them on the wall… works of art. Perfection. But there was no reason… none… grab their shirts and drag them to the ground if you have to… for those two receivers to even be in position to make those catches. Seriously. Houston played that last drive as poorly as can be played. Non-existent defense. The Jets had no timeouts and they gave them the sidelines. And… the receivers were quite honestly wide open. In short… nice win… great execution… but the Texans stink on ice. And after controlling that game the way they did, there was zero reason for the Jets to even have to need a late score. And that’s the story with the Jets lately… some bad play… so last second miracles needed. While I understand that it can be a bonus heading in to later games with the feeling you’re never out of it, the reality is that when you play with fire, you will eventually get burned. And this week… short preparation… huge spread… talented, unpredictable, playing poorly overall opponent… I see a really crazy fire as a possibility.
Bob: Cincinnati
Terry: New York
Mike: New York
Mike Jr: Cincinnati
Molly: Cincinnati
Gus: New York
Sam: New York

Minnesota at Washington (1½)“You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them.” The tempting thing to do would involve pointing at Dallas, say something that sounded insightful about a coaching change, and pick Minnesota. Instead, I’m going to pick the Vikings because I simply don’t see how Washington wins this game. Don’t believe me? Ok… check out the season. Washington is 5-5. Guess how many times they have both won a game and scored more than 20 points. (Don’t look it up. The answer is zero. Every game they have won has involved scoring 19 or less.)
Bob: Minnesota
Terry: Washington
Mike: Washington
Mike Jr: Minnesota
Molly: Minnesota
Gus: Minnesota
Sam: Minnesota

Pittsburgh (6) at Buffalo“I don’t… I don’t believe it.” “That is why you fail.” I’d like to make the case for Buffalo. Steve Johnson is playing well, and Ryan Fitzpatrick could be considered a pleasant surprise… I suppose. Add in that they seldom seem to get destroyed in games… at 2-8, you would expect it to happen… and you have a reason for liking them. The problem is… the Steelers only road loss this year was against New Orleans. Other losses for the year were to Baltimore and New England. So, evidenced by losses only to playoff teams, they handle the games you would expect them to win. Only in the losses and the game against Miami did they fail to outscore the opponents by 6 or more. I expect a business-like, solid win.
Bob: Pittsburgh
Terry: Buffalo
Mike: Buffalo
Mike Jr: Buffalo
Molly: Pittsburgh
Gus: Pittsburgh
Sam: Buffalo

Tennessee at Houston (6½)“They told me they fixed it! I trusted them to fix it! It’s not my fault!” Last weekend the Houston Texans played the worst two plays of football I have seen in a long, long time. They gave the Jets the sidelines, when New York had to have a touchdown to win, needed to drive the field, and had no timeouts. Sure… beautiful passes… but there was zero defense being played. It was sad. Very sad. And then the touchdown pass. Geez… everyone knew the ball was going to be thrown. And we get to watch an untouched receiver make a routine catch while waltzing half-speed into the end zone. Absolutely no intensity at all being shown by Houston. None. No sense of urgency. Just horrible, undisciplined play. And here we go… hosting Tennessee… the team without a quarterback. Wonderful. That means we have to really examine what we think will happen. Or do we? Because guess what? The thing I’m most comfortable predicting is 35 handoffs and a dominant running game from the Titans. After that… the way things have gone this year… whatever.
Bob: Tennessee
Terry: Tennessee
Mike: Houston
Mike Jr: Tennessee
Molly: Tennessee
Gus: Houston
Sam: Tennessee

Jacksonville at New York (Giants) (7½)“Would it help if I got out and pushed?” “It might!” Somehow, the Jaguars keep winning. They’ve been outscored by 50 for the year, but they are currently leading their division. And now we have the Giants heading into this contest with most of their wide receivers hurt. I’m tempted to take the Giants despite that… but I like the running game the Jaguars feature, and think this game will be close. And if it’s close… Jacksonville can steal it.
Bob: Jacksonville
Terry: Jacksonville
Mike: Jacksonville
Mike Jr: Jacksonville
Molly: Jacksonville
Gus: Jacksonville
Sam: New York

Carolina at Cleveland (10)“You’re not actually going in to an asteroid field?” “They’d be crazy to follow us… wouldn’t they?” I suppose the question is how much you trust the Browns here. The Panthers actually have been scoring a bit on the road… putting up impressive totals of 10 and 16 in the last two road contests. (I know… yes, I know. But when your last two home contests are 3 and 13 points respectively, 10 and 16 does count as scoring on the road. Plus… it just goes to show exactly what I mean about trusting the Browns.) I like the way Cleveland has played recently. I’m going to take them here, even though I think a 20-13 game is a real possibility.
Bob: Cleveland
Terry: Carolina
Mike: Carolina
Mike Jr: Cleveland
Molly: Carolina
Gus: Carolina
Sam: Cleveland

Tampa Bay at Baltimore (7½)“Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.” “Never tell me the odds.” Tampa Bay lost a close game against Atlanta (by 6), but got crushed in their other losses. And that’s something to keep in mind here… because they put up 38 against Arizona, 31 against Carolina, and 24 against Cincinnati. Out of 10 games, they are in respectable place in the middle of the league for points scored. But when they play quality opponents… yeah… you’re usually looking at 18 to 21 scored at the most and working hard on defense. Baltimore is capable of scoring 27 to 31 against anyone. I could go up and down the statistics, but there is one good thing that I think puts a decision in front of me. Baltimore is 4-0 at home, with the wins by 7, 14, 3, and 16.
Bob: Baltimore
Terry: Baltimore
Mike: Tampa Bay
Mike Jr: Tampa Bay
Molly: Baltimore
Gus: Tampa Bay
Sam: Baltimore

Philadelphia (3½) at Chicago“I won’t fail you. I’m not afraid.” “You will be.” Tough game to call. Philly has played great on the road (4-1 overall), and very well of late. I’d love to make a case that Chicago had extra time to prepare… but I don’t like their coaching staff that much, and they barely beat Buffalo coming off the bye week and Detroit to open the year. This is not a club that thrives thanks to preparation.
Bob: Philadelphia
Terry: Chicago
Mike: Chicago
Mike Jr: Chicago
Molly: Philadelphia
Gus: Philadelphia
Sam: Chicago

Green Bay at Atlanta (2)“All too easy.” The media loves Matt and the Falcons. At home, I like Matt and the Falcons. But against a Green Bay team that is playing well… I think the media might be stretching exactly how awesome Atlanta is just a bit.
Bob: Green Bay
Terry: Green Bay
Mike: Green Bay
Mike Jr: Atlanta
Molly: Green Bay
Gus: Atlanta
Sam: Green Bay

Miami at Oakland (Pick)“Lord Vader, what about Leia and the Wookiee?” “They must never again leave this city.” “That was never a condition of our agreement, nor was giving Han to this bounty hunter!” “Perhaps you think you’re being treated unfairly?” Same deal as last game… the Dolphins are too injured to compete right now.
Bob: Oakland
Terry: Miami
Mike: Oakland
Mike Jr: Oakland
Molly: Miami
Gus: Miami
Sam: Miami

Kansas City (1) at Seattle“Our ships have sighted the Millennium Falcon, Lord. But it has entered an asteroid field and we can not risk...” “Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want that ship, not excuses.” This is one of the most interesting games on the schedule for this week… partly because there are several really good games that will easily overshadow it. But consider… the Chiefs are 6-4 and on top of a division in transition. (Everyone seems to think it is just a matter of time before San Diego tracks them down and possibly ends their playoff dreams. Everyone could be right.) Seattle is 5-5 and winning a very weak division. If Kansas City was at home, I’d take them without a second thought. While not great at home this season, Seattle has been scoring more points there. And when facing a team that hasn’t played well on the road, yeah, I think that matters.
Bob: Seattle
Terry: Seattle
Mike: Kansas City
Mike Jr: Kansas City
Molly: Kansas City
Gus: Seattle
Sam: Seattle

St. Louis at Denver (4)“Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder.” “Who’s scruffy-looking?” The Rams have not won on the road… but, the Rams have been close on the road. 3 of their road losses are by 3 or less. The problem though is that Denver hasn’t looked good much at all this season.
Bob: St. Louis
Terry: Denver
Mike: Denver
Mike Jr: Denver
Molly: St. Louis
Gus: St. Louis
Sam: Denver

San Diego at Indianapolis (3)“This may smell bad, kid, but it’ll keep you warm until I get the shelter up. Ugh. And I thought they smelled bad on the outside.” I’m stumped here. Two things jump out: First, San Diego plays well against Indianapolis in recent years. Second, Indy has a history of losing back-to-back games. Granted, they don’t lose often… but if you go over their history, including 2007 when it was New England and San Diego, they lose two in a row. The problem is, circumstances vary wildly. This year Indy is 6-4 heading in to this game… and a loss puts them in a world of hurt for a playoff spot. That’s far from last year’s back-to-back, when the top seed was secured and they weren’t playing that hard to finish the season. I’m taking the Colts because… well… I don’t know why.
Bob: Indianapolis
Terry: Indianapolis
Mike: San Diego
Mike Jr: San Diego
Molly: San Diego
Gus: Indianapolis
Sam: Indianapolis

San Francisco (1) at Arizona“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” The 49ers still have playoff dreams.
Bob: San Francisco
Terry: San Francisco
Mike: San Francisco
Mike Jr: Arizona
Molly: San Francisco
Gus: San Francisco
Sam: San Francisco

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bob: Last week 11-4-1, currently 82-70-8
Mike: Last week 10-5-1, currently 80-72-8
Molly: Last week 5-10-1, currently 73-79-8
Gus: Last week 9-6-1, currently 73-79-8
Terry: Last week 5-10-1, currently 70-82-8
Mike Jr: Last week 9-6-1, currently 63-75-8
Sam: Last week 4-11-1, currently 57-95-8

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at