Oh, what could have been …
5-4 heading into the late games Sunday and the primetime games still left, we looked poised for a winning week, but losing three out of four, including Pittsburgh on Monday night who barely won and did not cover, hurt our record for Week 11 (6-8).
We turn to Week 12 at 80-78-2 for the season, slightly above .500, but well below our standards. This can be a make-or-break week as a handful of games feature spreads of a touchdown or more and you have to hope for late points or guard against the backdoor.
Either way, the snow is falling across the country and we’re looking to get hot just in time.
It starts in Week 12 …
Kansas City (-7) at Oakland
One team, the Kansas City Chiefs, is the hottest team in football. The other, the Oakland Raiders, hasn’t won a game in its last 16 tries. The Thursday night visiting team is always at a disadvantage with traveling on a short week, but if there is one team built to win on the road with three days rest, it’s Kansas City. Alex Smith doesn’t turn it over and Jamaal Charles can carry a team.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-7)
Cleveland at Atlanta (-3)
The Browns happily welcome back Josh Gordon, who should light a spark to their offense that was absent in their Week 11 loss at home to Houston. The Texans could stop the run. Atlanta cannot. Cleveland should get back to their ground-and-pound style and utilize Gordon in the passing game. Atlanta may be in first place, but their record is what it is. They are a 4-6 football team with major deficiencies.
THE PICK: Browns (+3)
Tennessee at Philadelphia (-11)
Philadelphia was in a no-win spot last week traveling to Lambeau Field in the tundra against a red-hot Aaron Rodgers. This is the perfect bounce back for them. Tennessee ranks 29th in the league against the run, so look for Philadelphia to establish LeSean McCoy in order to make life easier on Mark Sanchez who was battered around in Green Bay. Tennessee poured their hearts out to fall short to Pittsburgh on Monday night. Look for them to come out flat in this one.
THE PICK: Eagles (-11)
Detroit at New England (-7)
Real good game here. Second game in a row on the road for the Lions as their offense was non-existent in a loss in Arizona last week. If New England isn’t the hottest team in the league, New England is. Darrelle Revis has good career numbers against Calvin Johnson and he’ll have to be good for the Patriots to pull away in this one. Detroit’s defense should keep Jonas Gray and Shane Vereen in check, so it’ll be up to Matt Stafford to provide the offense with a jolt to keep this one close.
THE PICK: Lions (+7)
Green Bay (-9.5) at Minnesota
We just aren’t sure how you stop Aaron Rodgers right now. This is a tough line to back, on the road, against a divisional opponent, but Minnesota showed little life against a Bears team that has been gashed in recent weeks. But you have to wonder if Green Bay loses a little focus here with New England on the horizon next week. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will have a gameplan to slow down the Packers’s offensive attack, keeping the game close or even “backdooring” the cover.