The biggest theme going into Week 13 in the NFL is the myriad teams currently playing with a different quarterback than the one with which they started the season. Which teams do you feel can throw the ball with consistent success when a passing attack is needed? Conversely, which teams have the ability to run the ball and protect their quarterback? I'll be taking a few chances with my picks this week, and I'll lean heavily on the answers to those questions.
For Yahoo! fantasy leagues that utilize the confidence point system, my confidence rating is listed after the team names. For Sirius leagues with best bets, my 5 highest confidence choices are my best bets. Any time I pick the underdog to win, I call it an upset.
Season Total: 116 wins, 60 losses
Last Week: 11 wins, 5 losses
Average: 10 wins, 6 losses
Last Year: 157 wins, 99 losses
Best Year: 170 wins, 86 losses
Yahoo Rank: 1st out of 84
Sirius Rank: 249th out of 8,572
This Week's Picks
Bears over Chiefs, 1 - Tyler Palko looks horrible and the Chiefs defense looks to be the glue holding them together. You could say the same about the Bears. The difference is that Chicago has the better running back, better special teams and better head coach. Kyle Orton won't be ready, even if he's forced to play due to a horrible half by Palko. Chicago wins an ugly game at home.
Bengals over Steelers, 3 - Upset #2 - These two teams played a close game a few weeks ago and since then, Cincy has lost their top cornerback for the year. I don't care. I think the Bengals have more want and urgency. I think Pittsburgh is dinged up and the Chiefs really exposed a few flaws last week. I don't know how the Bengals will do it, but I'm going with them this week.
Texans over Falcons, 4 - Upset #3 - The Falcons won't have Michael Turner. The Texans still have a very good defense, particularly their pass rush, and still have Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Atlanta may think this is going to be a layup, but I like T.J. Yates now that he has had the week to prepare. It's easy: throw to Andre Johnson or Owen Daniels and hand off, hand off, hand off. See?
Panthers over Bucs, 5 - Upset #4 - Did you guys hear about Josh Freeman hurting his thumb while at the shooting range? Too bad he didn't hurt himself throwing extra balls to Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. I think Carolina is the better team. I think Carolina, with Cam Newton, Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart will be able to create more offense than any combination Tampa can put together.
Raiders over Dolphins, 6 - Upset #5 - How far has Miami come to be the favorite in this game? I like Oakland's ability to run, I like Carson Palmer's deep ball and I like the Raiders pass rush from their defensive line. I also like the Raiders cornerbacks. Yet Oakland makes the long road trip minus a few key contributors and Miami is playing very hot right now. I'm choosing Oakland because of their ability to run the ball and their edge in special teams.
Broncos over Vikings, 7 - Upset #6 - The Vikings are on a losing streak while the Broncos are on a winning streak (in case you haven't heard). Yet the Vikings are favored. It's about matchups and all logic says the Vikings should win, right? Well, I'll go with my heart because Denver has more heart.
Jets over Redskins, 8 - I really want to go with Washington in this game. I believe Rex Grossman can play well enough to win (better than Mark Sanchez), but I'm not confident in the 'Skins rushing attack. Though the Jets can't pass protect very well and Washington's defense can get pressure, I am giving the edge to the Jets because they have the better Rex and a dependable running back.
Bills over Titans,9 - Can anyone figure out Tennessee? With Buffalo, you can see injuries + no depth = the slump they're in. With Tennessee, who knows why one week they play very well and the next they lay an egg? Or why Chris Johnson can blow up for a week then do zilch the next two. I think CJ2K will finally have back to back good games, but I also believe that Ryan Fitzpatrick has finally adjusted to the injuries around him. While Buffalo's defense may not do a good job of stopping Johnson, their offense will put up enough points to limit his opportunities.
Ravens over Browns, 10 - No game in the AFC North is easy. While Peyton Hillis won't be a Brown next year, he's a healthy one this week. Cleveland has a very solid defense, but I question their passing attack; I'm simply not confident the Browns can move the ball in a hurry through the air if they have to. I think the Ravens can win out and finish with the top seed in the AFC, but they absolutely can not lay an egg against an inferior opponent. The good news is that this is a home game against a divisional opponent, one who they know well. Shame on the NFL for putting Cleveland and Baltimore in the same division.
Cowboys over Cardinals, 11 - I wish the Cowboys would have continued in self-destruct mode because I really enjoy watching them implode. But someone has to win the NFC East and they look to be the team whose playing the best right now. I don't know what to think about Arizona (specifically Kevin Kolb). Maybe he's back from his injury, maybe not. But I'll take DeMarco Murray over Beanie Wells, Tony Romo over whoever plays quarterback for the Cards, and Dallas' wide receiver group over Larry Fitzgerald. I think the defenses are very comparable, though I'd have to say the Cardinals have better special teams. As long as the Cowboys remember to run Murray, they'll win. But what I really mean is that Romo is more dependable and able to move the ball through the air than anyone in Arizona.
Chargers over Jaguars, 12 - Why did it take this long to fire Jack Del Rio? Because the owner is cheap and the potential new owner doesn't want to look like the bad guy. So when does Norv Turner lose his job? Hopefully at the same time A.J. Smith loses his. Anyway, Jacksonville has a very good defense and a great running back, but they've suffered critical injuries on defense and I just don't see how they can stop the Chargers enough for their horrible offense to keep pace.
49ers over Rams, 14 - For the sake of the No. 2 seed, I really hope St. Louis rises to the occasion and treats this game as if it were their Super Bowl. I think Baltimore gave some pointers on how to get pressure on Alex Smith, and I think Smith gave some pointers to his offensive line. I'm a Rams fan for a day, but I think San Fran wins by 10 in a close divisional match-up. St. Louis is just too banged up.
Packers over Giants, 15 - After what Drew Brees and the Saints did to the Giants, how can anyone believe the Giants will have more success against Aaron Rodgers and a Packers defense that has actual bonafide blitzers? I think I'll be taking Green Bay every week until they meet the Saints.
Patriots over Colts, 16 - I think this is the game that needs the least amount of explanation. The Colts are the worst team right now, and Tom Brady is still elite. I don't even give Indianapolis a slugger's chance. Even if Tom Brady goes down with injury getting out of his car on game day, I pick the Pats.