Daniel’s Decisions: Week 12 in the NFL

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The NFL’s Week 12 is upon us, and there are many intriguing matchups this weekend which have huge implications on the playoff picture in both conferences. With that said, this week is vital for many teams–it’s win, or sit at home in January.

 

Sunday, Nov. 23: 1:00 pm: Detroit @ New England

 

The Lions and Patriots each hold one of the top records in their respective conferences, but this matchup, will be a one-sided affair in favor of the hometown Pats. The Lions, although possessing one of the best defenses in the NFL, are too reliant on passing the ball to score on offense, which does not bode well against the Patriots, who have one of the best cornerback tandems (Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner) in the league. Look for them to shut down the Golden Tate-Calvin Johnson duo. New England, meanwhile, has been stellar on offense, as they’ve been clicking on all cylinders. The x-factor for this game will be if the Lions can play well enough in the cold-weather elements of Foxborough, which is to say, having the ability to run the ball.

 

Prediction: Detroit 14 New England 31

 

Sunday, Nov. 23: 1:00 pm: Cincinnati @ Houston

 

This matchup brings two familiar foes to the gridiron, as the AFC North-leading Bengal take on the wildcard-hopeful Texans. Houston is coming off a much-needed win against Cleveland last weekend, bringing their record to 5-5 and only one-and-a-half games out of the final wildcard spot. The Texans looked alright on offense last week, with newcomer Ryan Mallett starting at quarterback, but he showed signs of inexperience and inconsistency. The Bengals, however, have been on a roll lately, with their defense returning to their usual dominance against the Saints, allowing only ten points. The x-factor for this game will be if the Texans’ pass rush can get to Andy Dalton, forcing turnovers, and scoring off of those mistakes.

 

Prediction: Cincinnati 20 Houston 17

 

*NFC Matchup of the Week*

 

Sunday, Nov. 23: 4:05 p.m. Arizona @ Seattle

 

I know last weekend I was not aboard the Drew Stanton express, but he proved me wrong. This week, he leads his Cardinals up to the great Northwest to take on division rival, Seattle. The Seahawks are not the same team from last year, as their rush defense has been pathetic as of late. They are also not on point with their offense, especially in the passing game. The Cardinals bring a vaunted defense which was stellar against the Lions in their 14-6 win. Their offense is definitely not as threatening with Carson Palmer out due to injury, but Stanton seems to do just enough to lead them to victory. The x-factor for this game will be if Russell Wilson can get his focus back, especially in front of his home crowd against a division foe, and look like the MVP-caliber quarterback he seemed to be early on in the season.

 

Prediction: Arizona 16 Seattle 20

 

*AFC Matchup of the Week*

 

Sunday, Nov. 23: 4:25 p.m. Miami @ Denver

 

The most intriguing matchup of the week will take place in Denver, as the Dolphins take on the suddenly injury-ridden Broncos. Last week, Denver did not look like their usual selves against St. Louis, as they only mustered a mere seven points en route to a 22-7 loss. Denver suffered more than just a loss in the standings, but lost star tight end Julius Thomas, and breakout wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to game-ending injuries. Both questionable for this weekend’s game. The Dolphins, on the other hand, are on a role as of late, as they dethroned Buffalo last Thursday night in a key divisional game. They sit at 6-4; one half-game behind the Steelers for the final wildcard spot. The x-factor for this matchup will be if the Broncos can overcome their injury situation against the stalwart defense of the Dolphins.

 

Prediction: Miami 20 Denver 27

 

Monday, Nov. 24: 8:00 p.m. Baltimore @ New Orleans

 

Although these two teams do not have the best of records, there are still major playoff implications with this matchup. The visiting Ravens (6-4) sit tied for third place in a crowded AFC North, and only a half game behind Pittsburgh for the final wildcard spot. Their offense has been off and on this year, but their defense has shown a lot of promise, considering how young they are. The Saints, on the other hand, have struggled on both offense and defense, but being in the weak NFC South, sit tied with the Falcons for first place, despite being 4-6. The Saints got demolished by the Bengals last week, and have lost two consecutive home games for the first time in years. The x-factor for this game whether the Saints can establish a solid passing game against the Ravens’ secondary, which has given up many big plays all year. Sorry Ravens fans, but I’ll take my odds with the Saints not dropping three straight home games.

 

Prediction: Baltimore 23 New Orleans 26