NFL Week 12 Picks: Last-Minute Expert Predictions from Around the Web
Well, 12 weeks into the 2013 NFL season, we're fresh out of oh-fers.
The Denver Broncos' win over the Kansas City Chiefs last week means that every team in the NFL has at least one loss. Similarly, even the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars have at least one win.
The Broncos are in the spotlight again this week, thanks to yet another prime-time showdown Sunday night, this time with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
As we gear up for that game and the rest of Week 12's slate, which started with the Atlanta Falcons continuing their 2013 free-fall, let's take a look around cyberspace at who experts from around the web think will emerge victorious this week.
Experts' Roll Call
Before we move on to Week 12's games, let's take a look at our panel of experts.
ESPN: ESPN's picks are a combination of the selections of 13 experts. Those experts include writers like Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, as well as former players such as Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson.
CBS Sports: The CBS Sports picks feature eight writers, including senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco and NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
USA Today: As with the other sites on our panel, USA Today uses a committee approach, with seven writers offering their picks for this week's games.
Bleacher Report: I would be remiss not to include the prognostications of my esteemed colleagues here at Bleacher Report. This year's starting lineup for Bleacher Report's picks team features each of the national lead writers as well as the lead writers covering the NFL's divisions.
There you have it: over 40 NFL experts (plus one computer) all will their eyes squarely on this week's games.
Week 11 went fairly well for the experts, who should top 100 games correct this week.
Last Week: 8-6
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) at Houston Texans (2-8)
Final Verdict: Just when you think that the Houston Texans have hit rock bottom, the team punches right through that and finds a new low.
After losing 13-6 to the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, the Texans have now dropped nine games in a row, falling behind the Jags and into last place in the AFC South.
This, from the team that won the division each of the last two years.
ESPN: Texans (12-1)
CBS Sports: Texans (7-1)
Fox Sports: Texans (5-0)
USA Today: Texans (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Texans (12-0)
Overall: Texans (43-2)
The 2013 season has been nothing short of a nightmare for the Houston Texans.
A Texans team that entered this year with Super Bowl aspirations has now lost eight straight games. At the end of last week's loss to the Oakland Raiders, star wide receiver Andre Johnson got into an altercation with quarterback Matt Schaub and left the field with about a minute left in the game.
It's been ugly, folks.
This week, the experts believe that the Jacksonville Jaguars provide the recipe to finally, mercifully, end Houston's eight-game skid. According to Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter, "There are signs of life from Jacksonville and big, big problems in Houston, but the talent disparity is just too huge."
Of course, much the same was said about Oakland the week before.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Final Verdict: Don't look now, but the Pittsburgh Steelers have clawed their way back into the playoff chase in the AFC.
Despite 14 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown from Cleveland wideout Josh Gordon, the Steelers dispatched the Browns with ease in Week 12, building a big lead early and coasting to a 27-11 win.
It's Pittsburgh's fifth win in seven games since starting the season 0-4.
ESPN: Steelers (9-4)
CBS Sports: Steelers (6-2)
Fox Sports: Steelers (4-1)
USA Today: Steelers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Steelers (8-4)
Overall: Steelers (34-11)
If the Pittsburgh Steelers or Cleveland Browns are going to get back into things in the AFC North, this is the week to do it. Another loss, and it's play-out-the-string time.
Granted, neither of these teams is likely to make a deep playoff run this year, but the Steelers at least have some positive momentum, winners of four out of six after starting the season 0-4.
It's those Steelers who are the experts' choice this week, with Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller crediting that momentum as one of the reasons why:
The Steelers are suddenly hot, and the Browns are not—they are quite the opposite, actually. A hard-nosed divisional game will come down to who makes bigger plays on offense. Pittsburgh has the playmakers to do that, and Cleveland doesn't.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) at Detroit Lions (6-4)
Final Verdict: Much like the NFC East, it's starting to look like no one wants to win the NFC North.
Just when it appeared things were falling into place for the Detroit Lions the team decided to drop two in a row to teams with losing records, including a 24-21 setback at home in Week 12 against the two-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Well, make that three wins (in a row) for the Bucs, who have some positive momentum going after losing their first eight games of the year.
ESPN: Lions (12-1)
CBS Sports: Lions (8-0)
Fox Sports: Lions (5-0)
USA Today: Lions (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Lions (12-0)
Overall: Lions (44-1)
Break up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
After losing their first eight games, the Buccaneers have reeled off two wins in a row, the last a 41-28 win over the similarly floundering Atlanta Falcons.
ESPN's Mike Ditka doesn't see the first-place Detroit Lions as a roadblock to the resurgent Buccaneers.
The other 44 experts, including Bleacher Report AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst, don't see the Bucs as being nearly resurgent enough:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be on a two-game winning streak, and the Lions may have given away what should have been an easy win in Pittsburgh last week, but don't be fooled. The Lions lead the NFC North for a reason.
Chicago Bears (6-4) at St. Louis Rams (3-7)
Final Verdict: you know how I mentioned how no one wants to win the NFC North?
Allow me to present Exhibit B.
With the Lions falling at home to the Buccaneers, the Chicago Bears were presented with a golden opportunity to move into first place in the division.
The only problem is, a Bears defense that has been ravaged by injuries and now can't stop anyone got embarrassed by the Kellen Clemens-led St. Louis Rams, allowing over 40 points in a 42-21 loss.
ESPN: Bears (9-4)
CBS Sports: Bears (6-2)
Fox Sports: Bears (3-2)
USA Today: Bears (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Bears (7-5)
Overall: Bears (29-16)
The Chicago Bears are reliving several movies at once in 2013.
The injuries that have decimated the Bears on both sides of the ball again in 2013 have left the team feeling like it's Groundhog Day. Last week's two-hour weather delay was like something out of Twister.
However, the Bears were able to salvage an overtime win last week, which, coupled with a Detroit loss, moved them into a tie atop the NFC North.
Most of the experts expect the Bears to keep the pressure on Detroit with a Week 12 win on the road in St. Louis.
However, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey is one of a large minority who feel the home team will prevail:
Backup Josh McCown has played well for the Bears, but the Rams have had an extra week to prepare, and Kellen Clemens hasn't been a slouch either. Tavon Austin and the Rams special teams could be the difference.
San Diego Chargers (4-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
Final Verdict: If last week's loss to the Denver Broncos was just a bump in the road, then this week's game against the San Diego Chargers is cause for real concern.
It's not just that the Chiefs lost at home. Or that the team allowed 41 points and 392 passing yards to Philip Rivers.
Outside linebackers Tamba Hali (ankle) and Justin Houston (elbow) were both forced from the game, and their importance to the Chiefs defense was very evident after the pair left the game.
If either player is sidelined a significant length of time, the Chiefs could be in trouble.
ESPN: Chiefs (12-1)
CBS Sports: Chiefs (8-0)
Fox Sports: Chiefs (5-0)
USA Today: Chiefs (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Chiefs (12-0)
Overall: Chiefs (44-1)
As was mentioned in the introduction, the Chiefs lost their first game of 2013 in Week 11, falling at Denver 27-17.
However, they are still perfect within the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, and that's where they will meet an up-and-down San Diego Chargers team in Week 12.
It's a game that all but one of the experts feels the Chiefs will win. However, NFC South Lead Writer Knox Bardeen was the only scribe at Bleacher Report who predicts a double-digit victory for Kansas City this week:
San Diego’s best weapon is its aerial attack, and that should be neutralized by Kansas City’s ninth-ranked passing defense. The Chiefs lost their perfect season last week and will take out their frustrations by thumping the Chargers.
Minnesota Vikings (2-8) at Green Bay Packers (5-5)
Final Verdict: In a week that's gotten off to a very rough start for our panel, the matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings presents a conundrum.
You see, nobody won.
With Matt Flynn the latest band-aid under center for the floundering Packers, Green Bay was unable to beat the Vikings.
Of course, the Vikings were also unable to beat the Packers.
The teams played to a 26-26 tie. Since nobody won, everybody loses.
ESPN: Packers (10-3)
CBS Sports: Packers (7-1)
Fox Sports: Packers (5-0)
USA Today: Packers (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Packers (11-1)
Overall: Packers (39-6)
The NFC North was represented by a pair of teams in last year's playoffs, but the 2013 season hasn't been kind to either of those clubs.
The season has been a train wreck from the get-go for the Minnesota Vikings, but not too long ago the Green Bay Packers were a 5-2 football team. Then Aaron Rodgers got hurt, and the result was three losses in a row.
Rodgers or no Rodgers, Bleacher Report NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse is among the overwhelming majority who thinks Green Bay will get back on track this week at home:
Green Bay is struggling to score with Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines. To save a sinking season, the Packers defense needs to step up at home, especially against a team with such a volatile quarterback situation.
However, AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz is calling the upset:
This is anyone's game with Aaron Rodgers out for the third straight week. The Vikings are still a one-man show on offense, and only recently has Adrian Peterson found his legs. The Packers defense has yielded 27 points or more in four straight weeks. That trend will continue in a loss to Minnesota.
Carolina Panthers (7-3) at Miami Dolphins (5-5)
Final Verdict: For most of Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, it appeared the Carolina Panthers' last-second win over the New England Patriots last Monday night had left the team tired and ripe for a letdown.
However, sometimes good teams have to find a way to win ugly. The Panthers took another step towards being considered one in Week 12, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left to get past the Dolphins 20-16 and win their seventh straight game.
ESPN: Panthers (12-1)
CBS Sports: Panthers (8-0)
Fox Sports: Panthers (5-0)
USA Today: Panthers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Panthers (12-0)
Overall: Panthers (44-1)
The Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins are two of the most talked-about teams in the NFL, albeit for very different reasons.
For the Dolphins, it's the surreal saga of Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin and a locker room so dysfunctional that a player up and left the team.
For the Panthers it's a much happier tale, singing the praises of "Riverboat Ron" Rivera and the Panthers during the six-game winning streak that has Carolina in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt.
It's the belief of the panel that the Panthers will run the streak to seven.
In the words of Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter, "I've been riding the Panthers' train for quite a while, and I'm not getting off now. Tannehill won't score on that defense."
New York Jets (5-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-6)
Final Verdict: Maybe the New York Jets aren't so hard to figure out after all.
It certainly seems that opposing defenses have figured out quarterback Geno Smith.
The rookie's recent struggles kept right on rolling in a 19-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Smith managed to complete only nine of 22 passes for 127 yards, tossing two interceptions and posting a passer rating of 22.3.
122.3 is good. 22.3? Bad doesn't really do it justice.
ESPN: Ravens (12-1)
CBS Sports: Ravens (6-2)
Fox Sports: Ravens (4-1)
USA Today: Ravens (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Ravens (8-4)
Overall: Ravens (36-9)
The New York Jets are impossible to figure out.
In Week 9, they played by far their best game of the year, shocking the New Orleans Saints at the Meadowlands.
They then followed that up by getting rolled on the road at Buffalo last week.
Apparently, 80 percent of this week's experts have had it with Dr. Jetsyll and Mr. Hyde, predicting that Rex Ryan's return to Baltimore will not be a happy one.
However, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter feels another former Raven's return home could portend a win for Gang Green.
"I'm going to regret this pick," Schalter wrote, "but I can't shake the idea that Ed Reed is going to intercept Joe Flacco seven or eight times."
Indianapolis Colts (7-3) at Arizona Cardinals (6-4)
Final Verdict: The Arizona Cardinals' blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts may not have been the biggest stunner of Week 12 so far as fewest votes for a winning team, but it's easily the week's biggest surprise.
Sure, one-third of the panel picked Arizona and their stout defense at home against a Colts team having some issues with consistence on offense.
If any of them tell you they thought the final score would be 40-11, you may want to step back.
They're about to be struck with lightning.
ESPN: Cardinals (10-3)
CBS Sports: Cardinals (6-2)
Fox Sports: Cardinals (3-2)
USA Today: Cardinals (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Tied (6-6)
Overall: Cardinals (30-15)
They haven't earned many style points along the way, but 10 games into the 2013 season, the Arizona Cardinals sit at 6-4 and very much in the playoff hunt in the NFC.
This week will go a long way toward establishing whether the Cardinals are contenders or pretenders, as Sunday the Redbirds welcome the first-place Indianapolis Colts to the Valley of the Sun.
The majority of the experts like the Cardinals to get the win, but the vote was split right down the middle here at Bleacher Report.
NFC West Lead Writer Tyson Langland agrees that Arizona is the pick:
Ever since Reggie Wayne landed on injured reserve, Andrew Luck has had trouble finding consistent playmakers outside of T.Y. Hilton. I would have never imagined saying this prior to the season, but the Arizona Cardinals are a more talented football team than the Indianapolis Colts with six weeks left to play.
However, NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey feels that the disparity at quarterback will carry the day. "The Colts offense is floundering without Reggie Wayne," Schottey said, "and the Cardinals defense is legit. Yet, in the end, I believe a whole lot more in Andrew Luck than in Carson Palmer.
Tennessee Titans (4-6) at Oakland Raiders (4-6)
Final Verdict: Since starting this article at the beginning of the season, there has yet to be a week this year where the experts got more picks wrong than right.
Until this week.
It was the narrowest of margins that made the Oakland Raiders the pick this week, but it was a slightly larger margin that got the Tennessee Titans the win.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 30-of-42 attempts for 320 yards and two scores, the second of which gave the Titans a 23-19 win.
ESPN: Titans (7-6)
CBS Sports: Tied (4-4)
Fox Sports: Titans (4-1)
USA Today: Titans (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Raiders (9-3)
Overall: Raiders (23-22)
The Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders are having similar seasons in some respects.
The Titans surprised many pundits with a 3-1 start to the season, but after dropping five of their last six games, it looks like just another losing season in Nashville.
Meanwhile, the Raiders surprised this year by being competitive at all. Many folks predicted that Oakland would vie for the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, but at 4-6 the Silver and Black have exceeded expectations.
In this battle of backup quarterbacks, the vote at three of the five sites polled goes to the visiting Titans.
However, it's the Raiders who are the overall pick, as well as the choice of the writers here at Bleacher Report, including AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen: "Matt McGloin? Is this guy the next big thing? I guess we'll find out. The Raiders are playing at home, and the Titans don't have the kind of offense to do what the Eagles did a few weeks ago."
Dallas Cowboys (5-5) at New York Giants (4-6)
Final Verdict: Well, you see, what had happened was.
It's been that kind of week for the experts, who saw their slide continue in Sunday afternoon's NFC East showdown in frosty New Jersey.
Neither Eli Manning of the New York Giants or Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys was especially effective in windy conditions. It was Romo that got the ball last, guiding the Cowboys into position for a Dan Bailey field goal that notched Dallas a 24-21 win.
ESPN: Giants (10-3)
CBS Sports: Giants (7-1)
Fox Sports: Cowboys (3-2)
USA Today: Cowboys (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Giants (8-4)
Overall: Giants (29-16)
Saying that the New York Giants have had an up-and-down season is one lulu of an understatement.
After dropping their first six games, the Giants have reeled off four wins in a row. In a weak NFC East, they have a very real chance of becoming the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs after starting the year 0-6.
This week, the Giants will attempt to avenge a Week 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, who have perfected the art of looking great one week and awful the next.
The Giants are the consensus pick here, but Bleacher Report NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon disagrees, forecasting a three-point Dallas win:
Dallas looks as though it got a fair bit healthier on its bye week, and the Giants have been beating up on bad opponents. This will be another wacky, tight NFC East game, but I think the Cowboys will pull it out.
Denver Broncos (9-1) at New England Patriots (7-3)
Final Verdict: Sunday's action in Week 12 certainly ended with a bang.
The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots played a wild one Sunday night. Denver raced to a 24-0 halftime lead on the shoulders of three Patriots; turnovers, only to turn it over three times themselves while allowing 31 unanswered points.
The game went to overtime, where a muffed punt opened the door for a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave the Patriots a 34-31 win and our experts yet another loss.
ESPN: Broncos (11-2)
CBS Sports: Broncos (5-3)
Fox Sports: Patriots (3-2)
USA Today: Broncos (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Broncos (9-3)
Overall: Broncos (33-12)
This week's Sunday night showcase is a game rife with subplots.
The nine-win Denver Broncos, fresh off a big win over the Kansas City Chiefs, travel to face a New England Patriots squad smarting from a close loss to the Carolina Panthers last Monday night.
With a game this big, it's only fair to get a take from both sides.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey expects the Broncos to nail down their status as the AFC's top dog:
Don't be surprised if this one has at least a little flavor of "defensive struggle" as the teams feel each other out in the first half. That said, it's going to be difficult to hold Peyton Manning and Tom Brady down for long. The Broncos will get the tough road win and cement themselves as the best team in the AFC.
NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller, on the other hand, thinks the Pats will pull out a big win at home. "The Patriots at home are nearly unbeatable," Miller writes. "As good as the Broncos are, they're due for a letdown."
San Francisco 49ers (6-4) at Washington Redskins (3-7)
Final Verdict: An ugly week for our experts ended with an even uglier night for the Washington Redskins.
Questions about the futures of quarterback Robert Griffin and head coach Mike Shanahan aren't getting any quieter after Monday night's loss to a San Francisco, a 27-6 shellacking in which Washington could do nothing on offense.
There will be no miracle finish in Washington this year.
ESPN: 49ers (12-1)
CBS Sports: 49ers (7-1)
Fox Sports: 49ers (5-0)
USA Today: 49ers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: 49ers (12-0)
Overall: 49ers (43-2)
When the 2013 season began, this game looked like a marquee matchup. Two division champions from a year ago. Two outstanding young quarterbacks in Washington's Robert Griffin and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick.
However, both quarterbacks have struggled badly in 2013. The difference between the two clubs is that San Francisco's stout defense has allowed the 49ers to weather those struggles, while the Redskins have floundered on both sides of the ball.
The 49ers are the overwhelming favorites among our panel, and Bleacher Report NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon doesn't expect the game to be close:
I don't like the vibe out of Washington right now, and I get the feeling they won't react in a positive way to what happened last week in Philly. San Francisco will rebound from last week's heartbreaker, rolling Washington on the road.