By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN NFL Picks: Week 12
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — It only took 12 weeks for the NFL to send out the first possible playoff scenario memo. Surprisingly, it doesn’t involved the Indianapolis Colts, who lost their first game of the season last week at Texas.
The Chicago Bears can clinch the NFC North with a win at Foxboro along with a Green Bay loss or tie or a Minnesota loss or tie. A Chicago tie along with losses by the Packers and Vikings will give the Bears the crown as well.
Lovie Smith’s bunch can become the fourth team since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978 to clinch a division crown by its 11th game. The other three teams were the 2004 Eagles, the 1997 49ers, and the 1985 Bears.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK II Three rookie quarterbacks (Vince Young of Tennessee, Tampa Bay’s Bruce Gradkowski, and Arizona’s Matt Leinart) all won last week. They became the first rookie QB trio in a non-shortened season to win in the same week since Week 14 of 1983 when Tony Eason (Patriots) along with future Hall of Famers John Elway (Broncos) and Dan Marino (Dolphins) performed the feat.
SUNDAYBEARS at PATRIOTS A defensive struggle? With Chicago and New England sitting 1-2 in fewest points allowed, don’t be surprised. Both teams are coming off road shutouts that helped them solidify their postseason chances. We told you earlier about what the Bears can do with a win in this game. As for the Pats, look for them to use their running back combo of Corey Dillon (pictured) and rookie Laurence Maroney to try and wear down the Monsters of the Midway. This game will likely hinge on a turnover or late field goal. We’ve seen the Pats win games like this over the years, especially at home.
STEELERS at RAVENS While the Chargers and Colts have been getting all the headlines, the Ravens (who defeated San Diego earlier this year) have been quietly laying in the weeds atop the AFC North. They’ll try to maintain that lead as they face the defending Super Bowl champs. It goes without saying, but you know the Steelers would love to pull off the upset at Baltimore. It’s been a year since the Black and Gold allowed a 100-yard rusher (Edgerrin James), but with the way Jamal Lewis has been going, he and the Raven offense may be too much for Pittsburgh to handle this week.
SAINTS at FALCONS So according to Jim Mora Sr., Michael Vick has now become a “coach killer” in Atlanta. While No. 7 has had his ups and downs this season, the once vaunted Dirty Bird defense has been a “killer” as well this year. Injuries to Patrick Kerney and John Abraham haven’t helped either. This Sunday’s home game against the Saints is about as close to an elimination game for the Falcons as it can be. Will they have enough to upset New Orleans. Atlanta can play well against the good teams, but it will be their losses against the bad teams that will keep them home for the postseason. Unfortunately for them, Sunday’s game will be the first step in that.
EAGLES at COLTS Before the Donovan McNabb injury from last week, this contest had all the making of being a very entertaining game. No disrespect to Jeff Garcia, but you get the feeling that this could get ugly very early. Especially with Indy coming off their first loss and with some of the national media trying to infer that the Chargers are now the team to beat in the AFC. You get the feeling that the Horseshoes will want to make a statement against Philly. Andy Reid’s bunch will try to keep it close, but me thinks it will be a bit futile.
MONDAY PACKERS at SEAHAWKS The seemingly never ending Brett Favre consecutive games streak is just a subplot to this week’s Monday Night battle. On the other side, Favre’s former teammate, Matt Hasselbeck, will return to the Seattle lineup. He’ll find the Seahawks sitting just a game in front of the surging 49ers (when was the last time we said that??) in the NFC West. The Cheeseheads were pimped slapped at Lambeau Field last week by the Patriots. How bad was it? The Packers had only five first downs the entire game. They should get a few more than that Monday, but they probably still won’t win either.
OTHER GAMES Jaguars over Bills: As long as David Garrard keeps performing, the Byron Leftwich trade rumors will continue to get warmer.
Bengals over Browns: The Lewis gang still allows way too many yards to be a threat on defense, but they should be able to hold off a pesky Cleveland bunch.
Cardinals over Vikings: Coach Green gets to say hello and goodbye to Minneapolis in grand style Jets over Texans: This will be a good way to take away the sting of last week’s loss to Da Bears.
49ers over Rams: I’m not sure if Frisco is a serious playoff contender, but they’ll be a tough team to deal with for the next few weeks.
Panthers over Redskins: Now that they’ve caught the Saints, will they have enough to take the division as well??
Chargers over Raiders: LT will have at least touchdowns during the National Anthem.
Giants over Titans: Big Blue should win, but not without a serious scare from the talented Mr. Young.