“Go Ugly Early” is the official slogan of Harry’s Chocolate Shop, Purdue’s #1 alumni bar, but it might as well be the new slogan for Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network. It may be getting a little old to bag on these Thursday night games, but I just can’t stop. Including last night’s game and excluding Thanksgiving, when teams are always motivated, there have been only 16 passing touchdowns in the 10 games. This is supposed to be a passing league these days. The Falcons and Saints was supposed to be the Thursday night game we’d all been waiting for. It involved two high-scoring division rivals with great aerial attacks. We were in for one hell of a contest…
And then the game actually happened. Atlanta plowed through New Orleans on their first two drives and then their offense went silent. Matt Ryan completed only 55 percent of his passes and threw for only 165 yards against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Despite all that, he still played better than Drew Brees. Brees decided to find his inner Mark Sanchez as he auditioned to be the next quarterback of the New York Jets. He liked the Jets’ performance last week against the Patriots so much that he decided to look just as bad as Mark Sanchez.
Brees threw five interceptions (most of which were just truly awful decisions you’d only expect to see out of a young quarterback, not a former NFL MVP), had a sixth interception taken back by a penalty, and completely mismanaged the timing of a two-minute drill with his team facing first-and-goal. This is now the second week in a row Brees has cost his team a game. It’s fair to say that he’s not in the same class of quarterback as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and doesn’t deserve to be considered better than someone like Eli or Peyton Manning. He just has too many bad games.
Cody Henry put up a huge week 12 in the BroBible Pickem Challenge as he correctly picked 12 of 16 games. Big weeks from Justin Taylor, Maxwell Bosse, and Zachary Viskovich enabled the three to bounce up to a three-way tie for first place overall. We only have five weeks left and there are full slates every week now that the bye weeks are over.
Locks of the Week:
N.Y. JETS -4.5 over Arizona
Locking up the Jets after what we saw from them last week? I must be crazy. Last week sure was a comedy of errors, but I don’t expect that to carry over to this week. They had a real Murphy’s law scenario going. Arizona allows them a chance to get back to the basics of running game and defense. I don’t expect Arizona to score more than 10 points in this game and the Jets will operate a very cautious gameplan similar to how they beat up St. Louis two weeks ago.
Jacksonville +6.5 over BUFFALO
Don’t look now, but the Jags are frisky. They’re actually 5-0 against the spread in road games this year. They’ve done a good job in their last three games against the run, which is important when facing a Buffalo team that has both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. And they finally have an offense with Chad Henne that can put up points.
DENVER -7.5 over Tampa Bay
I like the Buccaneers, but I don’t like their league-worst passing defense. Peyton Manning will be able to cut up Tampa Bay’s defense at ease. Bucs’ playmaker Vincent Jackson is also a well-known commodity for the Denver defense, who will shut him down.
Trap Game of the Week:
GREEN BAY -9.5 over Minnesota
The Packers are only 1-4 this year in games in which they’ve been favored by six points or more. Minnesota also has the advantage on both sides of the line, so they should be able to dominate the trenches and keep this game close, right? It’s pretty much a given that Percy Harvin will miss the game, so Minnesota will have trouble keeping up with the usually high-scoring Packers. Expect an extremely strong effort from Green Bay after they were thoroughly embarrassed last week.
Rest of the Picks:
CHICAGO -4.5 over Seattle
I would lock this game up if I had any faith in Jay Cutler, but you never know when one of his bad games can show up. Still the Seahawks are 1-5 on the road this year and just seem to find ways to lose.
KANSAS CITY +3.5 over Carolina
I must be crazy to pick the Chiefs to win this game because everyone seems to be on Carolina. The Panthers, however, are giving up 126.2 rushing yards a game and were thoroughly dominated by Bryce Brown last week. If he didn’t fumble twice, the Eagles probably would’ve come out on top. Look for a big game from Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs to keep things close or even win.
Indianapolis +4.5 over DETROIT
I hadn’t watched a full Lions’ game this year until I saw them play Houston on Thanksgiving. It was frustrating to see how many times Matt Stafford throws with bad mechanics. The coaching staff obviously isn’t being disciplined with him given the fact that Jim Schwartz cost his team the game when he didn’t know the rules. Outside of the game against New England, the Colts have been giving up an average of only 13.8 points in their last six games. Andrew Luck should also see plenty of success against the much-maligned Detroit secondary
New England -7.5 over MIAMI
The Patriots are finding their usual late-season form as they’re starting to brutalize opponents. They’ve scored an average of 47.5 points a game over their last four. Miami’s passing defense is ranked 26th in the league, so that should make things pretty easy for Tom Brady.
ST. LOUIS +7.5 over San Francisco
The Rams are underdogs here despite tying the 49ers in San Francisco. Two things have changed since that game: San Francisco has moved to Colin Kaepernick behind center and it looks like Danny Amendola will miss the game for St. Louis. Those are two large moves, but I don’t think they’re large enough for the Rams to not keep the game close. St. Louis’ defensive front should be able to cause some issues for young Kaepernick. He got lucky last week in a hostile environment when Drew Brees gifted his defense two touchdowns.
Houston -5.5 over Tennessee
After their last two games went to overtime, the Texans were happy to have some extra time off after a win on Thanksgiving. Expect them to be a bit more focused and not interest to let the game be competitive for too long. Tennessee has lost three of four and seems destined to fall apart the rest of the season.
Cincinnati -1.5 over SAN DIEGO
Last week’s blown 10-point lead was sooooo Chargers. But hey, that’s Norv Turner and Phil Rivers for you. Look for Cincinnati’s front four to abuse San Diego’s offensive line, leaving Phil Rivers running for his life and ready to turn the ball over more.
BALTIMORE -7.5 over Pittsburgh
After what I saw from Charlie Batch last week, I want no part of the Steelers. Plus the Ravens always perform better at home.
Cleveland +1.5 over OAKLAND
The schedule says the season has 16 games, but Oakland thought the season ended after seven. They’ve given up an average of 42.5 points in their last four games and seem to have decided to mail in the rest of the year.
DALLAS -7.5 over Philadelphia
If any team could lose this game, it’s Dallas. I just have a hunch they’ll be ready for this one since it’s a division rival and they were thoroughly embarrassed last week.
N.Y. Giants-2.5 over WASHINGTON
We saw all the Giants can deliver in last week’s game against Green Bay, but do they have the mindset to bring it again this week? The message in the Giants’ locker room will be that a loss in this game brings the Redskins within only one game for the division lead, but a win would bury the Redskins. With the schedule the Giants have upcoming, they can’t afford to take any games off mentally. Hopefully they remember to “build the bridge” or “finish” or whatever they’re using for their slogan these days.
Last Week: 0-1
Last Week: 6-10