Welcome to another edition of the Crystal Schnoz NFL Precaps, a weekly column where the Schnoz looks ahead to all the games played between two professional football teams in which they try to score more points than each other while wearing cool helmets.
If you’ve wandered here by accident, federal law requires you to read this entire post before exiting. Skimming – while not technically illegal – is greatly frowned upon.
Week 12 features 15 games, including one that was played last night!
Raiders 24, Chiefs 20
I took the Raiders last night as 7.5 point underdogs and why not? If ever a team is going to get its first win, why not on a Thursday night when their opponent beat the Super Bowl champion the week before and has the Super Bowl runner-up the following week? Total trap game for the Chiefs.
They’ll be fine though, probably headed for the playoffs.
And the Raiders will finish 2-14.
Browns at Falcons (-3.0)
Crappy NFC team in a crappy division with a crappy record vs. a better AFC in a better division with a better record? Sounds like a road win for the Browns, right? Wrong.
This Falcons defense is dreadful, but Brian Hoyer has not been great, and I don’t see the return of Josh Gordon breathing life into this carcass his first week back. Sorry to everyone who’s been watching him on their fantasy bench for 3 months.
Falcons 24, Browns 20
Buccaneers at Bears (-5.5)
With those weapons, the Bears offense seems capable of putting up a 50-spot on any given week. And yet it’s game after game of stalled drives and head-scratching play calls.
Chicago’s defense was expected to be bad, but this? If they go 6-10 this year, Marc Trestman should be fired so he can find his destiny as the Rams’ O.C. under Jeff Fisher.
Bears 26, Bucs 23
Bengals at Texans (-2.0)
In their 3 losses this year the Bengals have averaged less than 7 points/game (and none of those three were top ten defenses). In their other 7 games (which included a tie), they are averaging over 29.
Which offense shows up this week in Houston? I’m betting it’s the good version, and I don’t think Ryan Mallett can hang with them.
Bengals 31, Texans 21
Jaguars at Colts (-14.0)
For as angry as the Colts will be coming off that whooping to New England, I think they’re going to realize in this game just how much they miss Ahmad Bradshaw. The Jags’ defense (which isn’t as bad as you think) will be able to drop back more and dare Trent Richardson to beat them.
Colts 24, Jaguars 13
Packers at Vikings (+7.5)
No team looks better than the Packers right now, which is the only reason I’m picking against them this week. With the Patriots coming up next week, maybe Aaron Rodgers and company R-E-L-A-X a little too much?
I’m prepared to be dead wrong, but…
Vikings 28, Packers 27
Lions at Patriots (-7.0)
Speaking of look aheads, Bill Belicheck better have his squad focusing on this week’s NFC North opponent at Gillette Stadium and not looking ahead to the Patriots’ first trip to Lambeau in eight years. (Which the Pats won 35-0.)
This week it’s a feisty Lions team who seems like they should be scoring more points than they are. Are they saving touchdowns for the playoffs? They do know it doesn’t work like that, right?
Patriots 20, Lions 17
Titans at Eagles (-11.0)
Special Teams and Defense have kept the Eagles atop the NFC East, not Chip Kelly’s offense, and you can expect more of the same this Sunday.
Eagles 34, Titans 24
Rams at Chargers (-5.0)
If this game was played a month ago, San Diego would be favored by 12. My how things have changed.
And yet looking at this banged-up Chargers team, you have to wonder if they’re any good at all. In the past eight weeks they have 4 wins – two against the Raiders, and two wins at home against the Jaguars and Jets. Even their Week Two win against Seattle might not be as impressive as they thought.
On the flip side, as impressive as the Rams’ win over Denver was last week, are we really willing to make them less than a touchdown dogs on the road? This line feels like it’s a victim of recency bias, and while I don’t trust the Bolts that much, I trust the Rams less.
Chargers 43, Rams 27
Cardinals at Seahawks (-7.5)
Remember in the pre-season how we talked about no Super Bowl winner making it back to the playoffs the next season for ten straight years?
Remember how after Week 1 we were 100% sure that streak was going to end because Seattle looked unstoppable?
My how things have changed. (Yes, I am plagiarizing from myself in the previous game writeup.) The Seahawks are 8th in the NFC right now with two Cardinals games, two 49ers games, and a game in Philly on the schedule.
Not sure if they sneak into the playoffs or not, but this IS a must win for them, and I think they show up.
Seahawks 30, Cardinals 26
Dolphins at Broncos (-7.0)
Since losing back to back games in Week 2 and Week 3, you could argue that no team has been better than the Dolphins. The only teams who might have a case are the Patriots, who Miami beat in Week 1, and the Packers, who beat Miami in Week 6 on the last play of the game.
According to Football Outsiders they are one of only four teams to boast a top ten offense and defense right now (Broncos, Packers, and Seahawks being the others), and with two games against the Jets and a home game against the Vikings left on the table, they have a great shot at 10 wins.
Denver’s health will be a factor in this game, but so will the Dolphins defense, as I see them making a statement on Sunday.
Dolphins 28, Broncos 24
Redskins at 49ers (-9.0)
It’s the all-turmoil bowl as two of the most tumultuous locker room situations in the league meet in Santa Clara.
As Bill Simmons wrote last week, the Niners might be peaking at just the right time, both in their level of play and in their health.
As for the Redskins, I think I’ve seen enough of Robert Griffin the Third String.
Niners 34, Redskins 10
Cowboys at Giants (+3.5)
The forecast is calling for 40-degree temps, rain showers, and a heavy dose of DeMarco Murray on Sunday night in East Rutherford.
And even though I think the Giants will fall to 3-8, look out for them making a late season run. Their Weeks 13-16 opponents have a win % of .250, and in Week 17 they play the Eagles, who may not be playing for anything. A 5-game win streak to finish 8-8 and save Couhglin’s job would be classic Eli, wouldn’t it?
Cowboys 28, Giants 21
Jets at Bills (-2.5)
The Bills were favored by a couple more points until this game got moved to Detroit and pushed back a day. You feel bad for the Bills and their fans, but how can you focus on football when there’s six feet of snow in your driveway? I get stressed out by six inches.
Jets 33, Bills 20
Ravens at Saints (-3.0)
I picked the Saints to win the Super Bowl before the season. Obviously I do not feel good about that pick these days.
This is my last stand with this team before I jump ship. They’ve lost back to back home games! They had to go to OT to beat Tampa Bay at home in Week 5! They couldn’t even score 21 against the Vikings at home in Week 3! And now Brandin Cooks is out for the year!
There’s no reason to believe they can beat a good Ravens team at home in prime time, EXCEPT that they did it to the Packers a month ago in prime time.
Saints 44, Ravens 36
Enjoy the games, everyone!