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Thursday, 26 November 2015

NFL Week 12 Picks 2015 (November 26-30)

On Thursday we have Thanksgiving Day in the United States which means there is a slate of Football and Turkey for fans on that side of the pond.

I'll be visiting a friend, which has become something of a tradition, and catching the first two games with him while enjoying the food that he will have been preparing for much of the day. It's usually good fun catching up with friends and watching some NFL which is on at a very reasonable time, but it is especially fun with the host a Dallas Cowboys fan.

The three games this year look decent too and obviously the big news out of the final game is that Brett Favre will have his number retired at Lambeau Field at half time of the Chicago Bears game at the Green Bay Packers.


Week 12 Picks
The Week 11 Picks looked to have hit the buffers with some bad luck not helping as the Atlanta Falcons blew a 14-0 and 21-7 lead thanks to Matt Ryan's inept decision making which cost the team a seven point lead.

It was followed by the Arizona Cardinals also blowing a fourteen point lead in the second half of their win over the Cincinnati Bengals and the week was completed with a push from the Buffalo Bills at New England thanks to some huge open Touchdown passes missed by the Bills.

So instead of what should have been a winning week, Week 11 produced a slight loss although the season remains in the positive. However, I do need some luck to fall my way to make sure the positives for the season are not erased over the last six weeks of the regular season and ahead of the Play Offs.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The rumours continue to swirl that Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are heading for an acrimonious split in the off-season. Kelly was given full control of the roster in the last off-season but the Eagles have looked a mess far too often this season although they are still in contention in the NFC East and have a legitimate shot at making the Play Offs for the second time in three seasons under Kelly's guidance.

A couple of weeks ago Philadelphia won a big road game at the Dallas Cowboys to move back to 4-4, but consecutive home losses to teams like the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have dampened enthusiasm. In fact the Eagles crowd are never far from showing their disgust and there was a real tension in the blow out loss to the Buccaneers.

However, the Eagles are only a game behind the NFC East Division leaders and the loss to the Buccaneers might just have been a game in a bad spot for Philadelphia. Mark Sanchez is likely to start this game at Quarter Back for the second time in a row as Sam Bradford is still being troubled by a shoulder injury and the concern with Sanchez is that he is something of a turnover machine.

It was a ill-advised throw that cost Philadelphia the game against the Miami Dolphins and Sanchez has to be better if the Eagles are to win here. He is facing a Detroit Lions Defensive unit that has looked good since coming out of their bye week in slowing down the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders, while Sanchez might not be given much help from DeMarco Murray who has been accused of 'lacking effort' at Running Back.

Ryan Matthews isn't likely to return this week, but Sanchez could have some success throwing against this Secondary that might just have raised their level the last couple of weeks. Detroit do get pressure up front so Sanchez has to be careful of rushing his throws or the 'strip-Sack' but I can see the Quarter Back having a better outing than last week.

Matthew Stafford is another Quarter Back who might have a big day on Thanksgiving Day after seeing what Jameis Winston did to this Defense in Week 11. That is an easy suggestion to put together though and I don't think this Eagles team is going to allow such a slack effort to come about for a second game in a row.

There are a couple of differences with this Detroit Offense compared with Tampa Bay- the first is that they haven't been able to put together a consistent running game so are unlikely to rip off huge gains as Doug Martin did in Week 11; the second is the Offensive Line has struggled to protect Stafford effectively and one of the strengths of the Eagles Defense is in the Defensive Line and getting pressure on the Quarter Back.

Stafford will have success throwing against this Secondary when he does have time, but the Eagles can stall drives much like Green Bay and Oakland have been able to. The Packers Defensive unit is better than Philadelphia's but Oakland's isn't and I think some big plays on this side of the ball will give Philadelphia the edge in the first game on Thanksgiving Day.

The spread has made a big move from last week's results and Detroit have gone from the underdog to being favoured to win. However, I think the Eagles will bring it together in this one and this is a big move in favour of the Lions who had been awful prior to their last couple of tough wins.

Detroit haven't been a great team to back on Thanksgiving Day over the last few years and backing the road underdog to keep it close and perhaps win outright is my pick. The public are very much behind a small home favourite in this Thanksgiving Day opener, but I want to go against them here.


Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: This spread has been jumping all over the place as two unbeaten teams meet up in the second of the three Thanksgiving Day games on Thursday.

What? New England aren't involved in this game, but the Dallas Cowboys are actually 3-0 when Tony Romo has played this season after winning in Week 11 and they are looking to knock off the Carolina Panthers who are at 10-0. The Cowboys failed to win a game without Romo but they remain just two games outside of the Division lead in the pretty terrible NFC East and will be looking to build momentum with Romo back at Quarter Back that could potentially lead to the Play Offs.

Dallas will have to be at their best to beat the Carolina Panthers who have the inside track to the Number 1 Seed in the NFC and have Cam Newton playing at such a high level that many are tipping him for the MVP award.

Newton threw five Touchdown passes last week, but he will have to watch out for ex-Carolina Panther Greg Hardy who has to be motivated to show he is more than a distraction for the Cowboys. The Quarter Back is no longer looking to rely on his legs to make plays but he is capable of doing that and might need to in order to help the Panthers establish the run.

Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert have been the predominant Running Backs for the Carolina Panthers and they might have some success running the ball. However the Dallas Cowboys are back to full strength at Linebacker and can certainly slow down the Panthers on the ground and try and force Newton to beat them with his arm, although he has shown he has the capabilities to do that.

The Cowboys will believe they are getting sufficient pressure up front to at least stall drives from Newton although they have to keep an eye on the Quarter Back when he gets out of the pocket and looks to move the chains on the ground. That pressure from the likes of Hardy, Tyrone Crawford, Jack Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence can help the Cowboys limit what Carolina do Offensively and give their team a chance to win this game.

Carolina will also have a strong pass rush on display as Charles Johnson is back this week to join Mario Addison and Kony Ealy in getting pressure on the newly returned Tony Romo against one of the best Offensive Lines in the NFL. It might be down to Romo as Carolina have been able to limit the damage done on the ground and so the Cowboys could be reliant on their Quarter Back making big plays through this game.

Dez Bryant might not have a huge day being covered by Josh Norman, but Dallas are a better passing Offense with Romo at Quarter Back as he is able to scramble around and make some big plays. The likes of Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Gavin Escobar and Cole Beasley might not have had much success without Romo, but the starting Quarter Back makes them all better and Dallas could have success moving the chains.

The public seem to be very much behind Carolina, but the sharps have moved this spread in favour of the Dallas Cowboys and I like the latter too. Dallas are in a more desperate spot and the Cowboys are 8-5 against the spread on Thanksgiving Day in recent years.

I would expect the Cowboys Defensive unit to step up and make a couple of big plays too. It would have been much nicer to take the Cowboys as the underdog, but I am fading the public here again as Dallas get back into the NFC East with a vital win over the current Number 1 Seed in the NFC.


Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers Pick: The Green Bay Packers didn't need Aaron Rodgers to tell their fans to 'R-E-L-A-X' as he did after a couple of losses in consecutive weeks like he did last season, but they did come out with a huge win at the Minnesota Vikings last week. That has put the Packers back in control of the NFC North and they will like to cement that position by beating the Chicago Bears in the final Thanksgiving Day game.

It is going to be an emotional night at Lambeau Field as Brett Favre will return to have his number retired as he is finally brought back into the Green Bay Packers family. I expect that will inspire Aaron Rodgers to want to show the Packers that their present Quarter Back can proudly sit alongside Favre in the history books and I am expecting a big showing from him.

This season hasn't produced the Offensive numbers that Rodgers has done in recent seasons, although he has still protected the ball very well. The loss of Jordy Nelson in the off-season was always going to be a big blow, while some lament the lack of a consistent threat at Tight End in the passing game even if Richard Rodgers is improving all the time.

Rodgers has been under more pressure of late behind his Offensive Line as his Receivers have sometimes struggled to break free of the coverage and Davante Adams is a little banged up again. However the Bears pass rush hasn't been the most consistent so I expect the Quarter Back to have time to make his throws and will certainly make some big ones down the field.

He will be aided by the rejuvenation of the running game which came alive in the win over Minnesota thanks to Eddie Lacy's best game of the season. Lacy and James Starks provide a decent one-two out of the backfield and if both are performing to a high level it will make life easier for Rodgers and his Receivers to find their connections. Green Bay should be able to establish the run as Chicago perhaps focus their attention on the passing game and the question for the Bears is whether Jay Cutler and the Offense can keep up.

Cutler's Offense will be boosted by the return of Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery who are both expected to come through the injuries that have kept them out. While Jeremy Langford has played well in relief of Forte, Jeffery is a huge target for Cutler in the passing game and he will need all the help he can get after watching how Green Bay's Defensive unit have played the last two weeks.

It would be tough for a healthy Forte to really establish a running game, but both Forte and Langford provide a safety blanket for Cutler in the passing game too. That will be important for the Quarter Back who has limited taking Sacks this season by getting the ball out of his hands quickly, but the Packers Defense has been flooding the backfield in their last couple of games which is going to be a concern for Cutler.

However, I expect Cutler will make some big plays to a returning Jeffery although the big concern is whether he can steer clear of the turnovers that have blighted him in games against Green Bay. It was a pick that cost Chicago the first game between these rivals and I can see that being the reason the Bears fail to cover against them again.

Green Bay have covered in four in a row against Chicago and I do like their chances to do that on Thanksgiving Day too with Aaron Rodgers helping win the turnover battle by limiting mistakes compared with Jay Cutler. The balance on the Offense and the high level of play from the Defense should give Green Bay the edge and the Packers remain a very strong home favourite to back.

The backdoor cover is a concern with the way the Bears have been playing in recent weeks, but the disappointing home loss to Denver is a setback in confidence. I'd expect Green Bay to win this by at least ten points and I am looking for them to cover.


New Orleans Saints @ Houston Texans Pick: The Houston Texans are very much in the mix to get into the Play Offs after a victory over the New York Jets at home last weekend and they come into this weekend as the favourites to knock off the New Orleans Saints.

The latter dropped to 4-6 before heading into their bye week and that resulted in Rob Ryan finally being dismissed as Defensive Co-Ordinator even if Ryan himself feels he was overly blamed for all of the New Orleans problems. He even dropped a clanger by claiming he is being blamed for Katrina on the NFL Network days after his firing which won't have had too many missing his presence in New Orleans.

It will be interesting to see how the Defensive unit reacts to Dennis Allen who has taken over play-calling. The Saints don't have the best Defense in the NFL by any stretch, but a lot of their problems are not getting off the field in third down situations while a young team is still trying to find consistency on that side of the ball.

Brian Hoyer is back for the Houston Texans this week to try and expose any vulnerabilities that Allen hasn't been able to plug in his two weeks with the team. In fact it was only one week as Sean Payton had given his team a week off but Hoyer should still be able to have a decent game coming off his concussion which forced him out of the game last week.

The Saints will get a little bit of pressure on Hoyer up front, but the Quarter Back will also be benefited with a running game being established, something Houston have struggled with all season. While Alfred Blue has had problems, the Saints have been horrific stopping the run so you have to expect the Texans to have some joy there while I don't think they have much of an answer for DeAndre Hopkins who has grown in each passing week.

I am expecting the Texans to have some Offensive output this week, but the key to their three game winning run since being blown out by the Miami Dolphins has been a Defensive unit giving up just 29 points in those wins. That unit should be tested by the New Orleans Saints Offense which is still amongst the best in the NFL on their day, although a lot more inconsistent at the moment.

Houston have just started getting things going up front which as begun to pressure the Quarter Back and New Orleans haven't protected Drew Brees to the extent they are used to. Brees hasn't been helped by a lack of support in the run game nor from his Receivers who don't win their battles in the Secondary as much as when they had Jimmy Graham.

Mark Ingram might not be able to churn out too many yards on the ground so the pressure is on Brees to lead the Saints in this one and he hasn't been at his best on the road. The Houston Secondary has played well too, but you have to think New Orleans have got a few things ironed out in the bye week and I do think the Saints move the ball in the Dome conditions they will be used to.

Both teams have big games next week that could be taking away some of the focus, but I think the Saints coming off a bye are perhaps being given too many points here. The Saints have covered off a bye in their last couple of seasons and I think Houston are not really as good as their last three games suggest.

The public are very much behind the small home favourite, but I like the underdog to perhaps shine a little off the firing of Rob Ryan and produce a big performance. I'll take the points in this one.


St Louis Rams @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: This is a big week for the Cincinnati Bengals who have followed up their 8-0 start by losing back to back games. That has reinvigorated Pittsburgh's interest in the Division and the Bengals have two Division games to come after this one as they look to knock off the St Louis Rams at home.

It has been a terrible week for the Rams who are being accused of deliberately hurting players after seeing Justin Forsett's arm in the loss at Baltimore which followed a recent head shot on Teddy Bridgewater when the Quarter Back was clearly sliding.

Jeff Fisher has attacked his critics this week, but Case Keenum looked clearly out on his feet yet was not pulled from the game as he would have been expected. That is on the Head Coach and I would not be surprised if Fisher is removed at the end of the season.

St Louis do host Arizona next week which is a huge Division game, but that won't mean much if the Rams are dropped to 4-7 this week. There is some hope for an Offensively challenged team though as Cincinnati have struggled against the run and that could mean Todd Gurley having a very big game for St Louis.

If Gurley can run the ball effectively, St Louis might not be asking too much from Nick Foles/Case Keenum at Quarter Back to make a few plays to keep the chains moving and I do think the Rams can have some success this week.

I just don't trust St Louis who have their best games when I am seemingly against them and who rely on a lot of gimmick plays Offensively. However that moving off the chains Offensively will mean a very good Defensive unit is given enough of a rest to be effective through this game and I like the way the Rams match up with Cincinnati.

The Bengals have struggled to run the ball with their one-two punch out of the backfield and they don't figure to get a lot of joy against this Defensive Line. That will mean Andy Dalton having to drop back in third and long situations where the St Louis team can get a very strong pass rush at his face even if the Bengals Offensive Line has been solid enough for much of the season.

St Louis' Secondary have actually played better than I expected too and they will have their chances if they are forcing Dalton to throw from long distances on third down. AJ Green and Tyler Eifert are big targets in the passing game, but Cincinnati have not quite been at the races their last couple of games.

Cincinnati are usually a very strong favourite to back at home, especially in these 1pm Eastern Time games. However, I think they just will want to escape with the win in this one and the Rams match up well on both sides of the ball to think they can keep this competitive throughout. It does look a lot of points, but my lack of belief in the Rams means I will keep the interest to a minimum.


Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: When the Play Offs are decided in the NFC, games like this one could be all important in deciding which teams have earned the Wild Cards and which teams are booking their holidays while waiting for the 2016 season.

The Atlanta Falcons have been awful since their 4-0 start as they have gone 2-4 in their last six games and were beaten at home by the Indianapolis Colts last week despite leading 14-0 and 21-7 at times. Matt Ryan has not played well enough at Quarter Back in the last few games and he will be without Devonte Freeman at Running Back who is still in concussion protocol.

It might have been a game where Freeman could have been a big factor after seeing Eddie Lacy trample over Minnesota last week. Tevin Coleman isn't a bad replacement, but he has had some fumbling issues with a critical one last week in his own territory so it might be down to Ryan to find his Receivers like Julio Jones who has slowed considerably since the opening weeks.

I like the Falcons again this week despite them letting me down in Week 11 and that is because the Defensive unit might have some success in at least limiting Adrian Peterson. Forcing Teddy Bridgewater to beat them is the way to success even if Atlanta have not got the pressure up front that they would have hoped and one to perhaps expose the Minnesota Offensive Line issues.

The Vikings are off that really disappointing home loss to the Green Bay Packers last week and I am not sure they pick themselves up that quickly. As I have said though, I don't really think the Atlanta Falcons are that good either and been in a poor run, but I think they know they need this win and can put together enough scoring drives to see off the Vikings.


New York Giants @ Washington Redskins Pick: The New York Giants would have enjoyed their Thanksgiving Day dinner while seeing both the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys going down to defeats. A win on Sunday at the Washington Redskins would mean the Giants have opened up a two game lead in the Division with just five games left to play and would make the New York Giants big favourites to reach the Play Offs.

This is a game they have enjoyed in recent meetings and the Giants have won five in a row in the series including two wins in a row at Washington.

One area the Giants would have looked to improve over their bye week is their ability to the run the ball and it might be an opportunity for them to do that this week. It didn't work so well when they first played the Redskins earlier this season, but the Giants know Washington have struggled to stop teams being able to run the ball against them and that should be music to Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen's ears.

However it might not matter so much to New York if they can't get the running game going as much as they would like because Eli Manning and Odell Beckham have been carving teams up together. Manning will have time in the pocket to make plays and Beckham is fully healthy and is unlikely to be stopped in this one.

Players like Vereen and Dwayne Harris have been big too for Manning in the passing game and I think the Giants will be very effective with the ball in their Offense's hands, but they can't take the win for granted.

That is because the Washington Redskins have played very well at home where Kirk Cousins seems to be at his most comfortable. Cousins hasn't been very productive against the New York Giants though so he has to overcome some mental hurdles in this one and this is likely to be down to the Quarter Back if Washington are going to surprise and join New York at the top of the NFC East.

Washington are reliant on Matt Jones and Alfred Morris to get the Offense going, but neither is likely to have a huge game against the New York Giants. Jones has fumbling issues and Morris has been banged up so this could be on Cousins arm to get things going here although that hasn't been comfortable for him against these Giants.

There is space in the Secondary to exploit though and Cousins has some big weapons in the Receiving game with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed all reliable targets. Cousins has been well protected so I am expecting him to make some plays, although the fear of the big turnover is never far away from the Quarter Back even if he has been a lot better at home than on the road.

I just can't ignore how well New York have matched up against Washington and they are coming in off a bye week although the Giants have failed to cover the past two years off their bye. The Giants are 8-6 against the spread in road Divisional games in recent seasons and they have had the better of the games with the Washington Redskins.

Washington are 3-0 against the spread when set as the home underdog of three points or fewer this season and they have to be respected. However, I like the Giants to win and take a firm grip on the NFC East and continue their run of success against the Redskins.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: How many people would have expected this to be a game between two teams battling for a Play Off spot in late November? The Indianapolis Colts were the favourites to perhaps win the entire AFC this season but have underachieved while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gotten behind their rookie Quarter Back to perhaps look to sneak out a Wild Card spot in the NFC.

That would make the Buccaneers ahead of the schedule as they have improved on both sides of the ball while Jameis Winston has taken over as a leader who is avoiding the big mistakes that he made earlier in the season.

The Buccaneers have won four of their last six games to get back into the Play Off mix in the NFC and this is a big game for them as they will be facing the Atlanta Falcons next week. Maybe that takes away some focus, but I would be surprised as a loss here might mean they have slipped too far behind Atlanta.

Doug Martin has been a big help for Winston with the way he has been running the ball and the Tampa Bay team have perhaps been overlooked on that front after the Quarter Back threw five Touchdown passes in Week 11. However Martin might not have the big running lanes this week against a Colts Defense that has actually played that element well for most of the season.

That might mean it is up to Winston to open the running lanes by throwing the ball effectively and he is certainly capable of doing that. He has been given decent protection and the likes of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans can win their battles against a porous Secondary as long as they can steer clear of the drops that have plagued this Receiving corps.

Winston is a rookie, but Indianapolis won't have their own Number 1 Overall Pick in action this week as Matt Hasselbeck will start at Quarter Back instead of the injured Andrew Luck. Hasselbeck has taken the Colts to a 3-0 record under his watch at Quarter Back, but he was very fortunate to get away with the win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11 and has to play better.

That won't be easy for him against an under-rated Tampa Bay Defensive unit that has been sparked by Head Coach Lovie Smith. Smith needs credit for that and his team have been very strong against the run which means Indianapolis will be throwing from third and long with veterans Ahmad Bradshaw and Frank Gore unlikely to have a lot of success.

Hasselbeck is likely to feel some heat when he drops back to pass in third and long and he hasn't avoided some big turnovers which could be key in this game. Tampa Bay have actually been very good Defensively when Winston has looked after the ball and played the field battle and I do like the underdog in this one with a small number of points.

Tampa Bay are 4-1 against the spread as the road underdog this season and they look to match up with the Colts on both sides of the ball. The public are very much with the road underdog which is a concern, but I still think Tampa Bay are the right side.


San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars Pick: I have to say that I am finding the line movement on this San Diego Chargers game very hard to understand because I quite liked the road team in the underdog spot earlier in the week. It seems like the majority of the bets in Vegas are on the San Diego Chargers, yet the sharp action has moved this a couple more points in their direction because those people like the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So the Jaguars have the better record, are still in the Play Off hunt and are facing a West coast team in the early Eastern Time Zone, but the Chargers have won here in 2011 and 2013.

San Diego are trying to bounce back from an embarrassing home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs out of their bye week, but that was a rare game when they haven't been competitive. The players might have given on Mike McCoy which is a concern, but I can't imagine a competitor like Philip Rivers allowing his team to produce another decrepit performance like the one they did at home.

It is also strange to see the Jaguars not just in a position of being a favourite, but a considerable favourite and they were fortunate to cover in their last game against the Tennessee Titans as a three point favourite. Jacksonville have won three of their last four games to build some momentum and become a threat in the AFC South, but prior to Tennessee, they haven't won a game by more than three points since the end of last season, again against the Titans.

Blake Bortles and TJ Yeldon should both have strong performances in this one to give the Jaguars good balance Offensively. Bortles has been aided by Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns while Julius Thomas is becoming more of a feature in the passing game, while Yeldon should have more running room than he has seen in recent weeks against this Chargers Defense.

That is where it has been more difficult for Philip Rivers and the Chargers as they have not been able to generate an effective running game all season. Melvin Gordon has struggled in his rookie season and that has left the team on Rivers' arm and he didn't have a good game last week.

Rivers will be put under some pressure by the Jacksonville Defensive Line, but the Secondary is not great and I think Rivers can have success moving the chains. Antonio Gates is a week healthier and Malcolm Floyd could be back to give Rivers another effective target and I am fully expecting San Diego to be far more competitive than last week.

It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me that the Jaguars are not just favoured, but favoured by a fairly big number in this one. This is a team that has two Divisional games to come and the focus might not be great having seen San Diego blown out last week.

Jacksonville don't blow out too many teams that aren't called the Tennessee Titans and San Diego know how to travel here and win. The Chargers do host Denver next week which might be the biggest game they have left this season, but I expect them to want to prove last week's loss to Kansas City was an exception to their usual competitiveness and I like them to cover. The Chargers are 11-6 against the spread as the road underdog since 2013 and I like them to improve that.


Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets Pick: The Miami Dolphins were embarrassed in London by the New York Jets earlier this season and another loss to their Divisional rival will likely end any lingering Play Off hopes. It is also a big game for the New York Jets who were beaten at the Houston Texans last week and have lost four of their last five games.

Both teams are looking to get into the Wild Card mix in the AFC but the losing team might find it difficult to pick themselves up over the last five weeks of the regular season.

It looks like the Jets have begun to taste the injury bug at the wrong time and Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled at Quarter Back since a thumb injury and the required surgery. There is clearly not enough belief in Geno Smith to come in and win games so Todd Bowles has admitted that Fitzpatrick will remain the starting Quarter Back at this moment in time.

The injury to Nick Mangold hasn't helped Fitzpatrick as the New York Jets running game has not been able to function without him on the Offensive Line. Chris Ivory has had some big moments, but he might not have a lot of success against an improving Miami Defensive Line when it comes to protecting against the run.

By keeping the Jets from establishing the run, Miami will force Fitzpatrick to throw into the Secondary where a healthier Brent Grimes has played well the last couple of games. Fitzpatrick has players like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker capable of making big plays, but the Miami pass rush has been more effective under Dan Campbell, who replaced Joe Philbin as Head Coach following the loss to the Jets, and it might be difficult for the Jets to move the chains effectively through the game.

The bigger question for the Miami Dolphins is whether they can get enough from a limited Offense to give themselves a chance of the upset. Lamar Miller has played well along with Jay Ajayi, but neither player is expected to have a lot of room running the ball against a vaunted Jets Defensive Line.

That same line has gotten a lot of pressure up front which is going to rush Ryan Tannehill, but the absence of Darrelle Revis might open the door for some big plays from the Dolphins passing game. I expect Tannehill to take a few hits in this one and be under pressure in third and long situations, but he won't have Jarvis Landry blanketed by Revis and I think there are some solid gains to be made through the air.

Miami have won their last three visits to the New York Jets and they do tend to play better on the road in this series. In fact the road team is 6-1 against the spread in recent games between these teams while the Jets are 4-13-1 against the spread as the home favourite in Divisional games.

It hasn't been the best plan to back the Dolphins as the road underdog in Divisional games in recent seasons, but this is a team that has played well in that spot over the years. I just don't think the Jets have done anything in recent weeks to think they should be getting more than a Field Goal against anyone and I will take the points yet again.


Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers Pick: The Arizona Cardinals look to be in a commanding position to win the NFC West and earn a First Round bye in the Play Offs at the very least. A chance to pummel a rival from the Division won't be ignored if their 47-7 home win over the San Francisco 49ers is anything to go by and now they visit a Stadium where they hope to return in February.

It is hard to see a situation where the San Francisco 49ers make this more competitive than they did in losses to the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks here earlier in the season. Since then they have made the move from Colin Kaepernick to Blaine Gabbert at Quarter Back, but it is tough to see the former Jacksonville Jaguar First Round Draft Pick make enough plays to keep the 49ers in this one.

Both Carlos Hyde and Anquan Boldin are questionable to play in this game which makes it that much more difficult for the home team against one of the best teams in the Conference. The Arizona Defensive Line has only allowed 4 yards per carry on the season and they won't be worried about having to shut down that part of the San Francisco game and force Gabbert to beat them with his arm.

Gabbert is playing behind a porous Offensive Line so could still face some pressure from an Arizona pass rush which hasn't always been able to generate a lot of pressure on the opposing Quarter Back. However I expect the Cardinals to be around Gabbert and force him to hit Receivers against a very strong Secondary.

It does look like Patrick Peterson will sit in the game which will Gabbert a few more chances, but I think San Francisco will continue their struggles to move the chains.

That is less likely to be a problem for the Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer who is having arguably his best season of his professional career. Palmer has been well protected and now faces a team that hasn't gotten consistent pressure up front which has exposed a Secondary that has been depleted over the last year through injury and retirements.

Palmer is likely to have a huge game again after a big one against Cincinnati last week and he is likely to be ably supported by the likes of Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington who should establish the run. Glenn Dorsey is out on the San Francisco Defensive Line and both Johnson and Ellington should open up the play-action for Palmer who is limiting the mistakes he is making.

The concern I have in picking Arizona is that they have a revenge game at St Louis next week which could take some of the focus. This is also the last big game San Francisco will really feel they have in a miserable season and will put in a huge effort, but the quality of the two teams is a big gap to bridge.

However, San Francisco had a huge game at Seattle last week and might struggle to match that emotion two weeks in a row, especially after losing handily enough. Thomas Rawls trampled them last week, but this week it could be the passing of Carson Palmer and I like the Cardinals to win impressively.


New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos Pick: The Carolina Panthers have maintained their unbeaten run through eleven games and the New England Patriots will be looking to do the same thing in the late Sunday Night Football game. It looks a big test for the Patriots as they visit the Denver Broncos although it won't be one more big game between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Instead of Manning, Brock Osweiler will be making the start for the Denver Broncos at Quarter Back and the feeling remains that he is better suited to what Gary Kubiak wants to run from an Offensive standpoint. Add in the fact that Manning just hasn't looked himself all season and Osweiler is the right man to take the Broncos forward, especially as they feel the Defensive unit is one that can take them to the Super Bowl.

Seeing Osweiler under Center rather than in the shotgun that Manning likes has perhaps given Denver a better chance of running the ball and also employing the play-action and bootleg passes that Kubiak is known for. Osweiler played a very strong game against the Chicago Bears which was highlighted by zero turnovers and the Defense stepped up to help put that game to bed.

We might see more of Osweiler this week as the New England Patriots have been able to limit what teams have done to them on the ground. Both CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman may have some success, but the key gains might need to be made through Osweiler's arm and the big question is whether he will be bamboozled by Bill Belichick's impressive Defensive plans.

Those have been used in the past to surprise rookie Quarter Backs and Osweiler won't be any different although he has been supported by Peyton Manning this week. A big part of the plan for Denver is not to give the ball away and Osweiler might be able to make the big throws to at least keep the Broncos from giving away the game.

Denver will certainly feel they have a chance to win the game if they can win the turnover battle and allow their Defense to get after Tom Brady. As good as Brady is and as well as he has played this season, it can't be ignored that New England are banged up Offensively and missing so many pieces that might make it difficult for them.

LeGarrette Blount will get the majority of carries out of the backfield, but there won't be a lot of running room against this Defensive Line while the pass rush can rattle Brady even without DeMarcus Ware. The Broncos Defense has been able to shut down many passers this season, most notably Aaron Rodgers, and facing Brady without the likes of Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson should give them the edge.

The public do seem to like Brady over an inexperienced Quarter Back, but the sharps are behind the Denver Broncos and I like them as the home underdog. It might be a tough day for Brady to move the chains effectively as it was against Buffalo last week and I think Denver win this game if Osweiler protects the ball as he did against Chicago.

Of course it is a much bigger test against New England's Defense than it was against the Chicago Bears, and Bill Belichick's Defensive mind can't be underestimated. However, the injuries on the other side of the ball for New England are hard to ignore and I think Denver can improve to 3-0 against the spread as the underdog this season. They were the same number of points as an underdog at home to Green Bay too and covered and the New England Patriots might be a little over-rated here.

MY PICKS: Philadelphia Eagles + 2 Points @ 1.95 William Hill (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 8 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints + 3 Points @ 2.05 Paddy Power (2 Units)
St Louis Rams + 9 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Atlanta Falcons - 1 Point @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
New York Giants - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers + 3 Points @ 1.95 Betway (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Miami Dolphins + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals - 10 Points @ 1.95 Betway (2 Units)
Denver Broncos + 2.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Week 11: 3-4-1, - 1.38 Units
Week 103-6, - 5.54 Units
Week 96-2, + 8.08 Units
Week 80-1, - 1 Unit
Week 72-4, - 4.23 Units
Week 63-5-1, - 3.33 Units
Week 53-5-1, - 3.48 Units
Week 44-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 24-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 15-2-1, + 6.46 Units

Season 2015: 41-39-5, + 6.14 Units
Season 201477-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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