Besides the fact that is it featuring Peyton Manning in primetime for a second consecutive Sunday, week 12 in the NFL is notable for one other reason: this is the last week we’ll see teams off. No more bye weeks for the rest of the season! That means 16 games a week from here on out, folks. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. We’ve got plenty of action to look at in this edition of The Opening Drive!
(4-6) Pittsburgh Steelers at
(4-6) Cleveland Browns
Hey, look. An AFC North game between two under-.500 teams. This will be SO exciting.
I’m just saying. This game will be low-scoring with pedestrian offensive showings. The defenses will play tough as always, so if the teams combine to score more than 26 points I’ll be shocked.
(2-8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at
(6-4) Detroit Lions
Tampa’s flying high baby! WOO!!! Yeah, okay. The Bucs have won two games in a row and suddenly Greg Schiano is getting locked up a 15-year contract extension and Mike Glennon is the next Dan Marino. I get it. The NFL media overreacts to success as well as losing. Tampa may not be a complete mess right now, but that doesn’t mean they can go into Detroit and beat a Lions team that is angry as hizell after losing a close one to the Steelers last weekend. Although this Darelle Revis versus Calvin Johnson match-up is overly enticing. I’ll have my eye on it for sure.
(2-8) Minnesota Vikings at
(5-5) Green Bay Packers
Four weeks ago this game would have been a cake-walk for the Packers. And that’s because they did, in fact, play each other four weeks ago and it was, in fact, easy as pie. (Why all the dessert references?) Now? Green Bay is starting Scott Tolzien once again and Minnesota is still riding the Christian Ponder train to nowhere. I… don’t have words for how crappy these passing games could look on Sunday. Luckily, I’ve got Rashida with me.
(4-6) San Diego Chargers at
(9-1) Kansas City Chiefs
And the Chiefs are finally in the loss column. Welcome to the club, boys. Now, let’s talk about your game against the Chargers, shall we? That offense of theirs looked the part early in the season, but now Philip Rivers is playing ball all on his own, leaving your second-ranked scoring defense to tear him apart with your pass rush. Kansas City’s offense won’t explode on the scoreboard, but I don’t think they’ll have to.
(7-3) Carolina Panthers at
(5-5) Miami Dolphins
After two fantastic wins on their record against the Niners and Patriots, this is exactly the sort of game in which the Panthers would have a let-down. But, Miami’s battered/absent offensive line will slide the advantage to Carolina’s front seven, even without defensive end Charles Johnson. And Cam Newton should make plenty of plays to escape the Miami pass rush.
(5-5) New York Jets at
(4-6) Baltimore Ravens
So… the Jets are 1-4 on the road this season… but they’ve alternated wins and losses all year. Since they lost big last week to Buffalo, are they supposed to win this game now? I just don’t see them getting the best of the Ravens on the road, but Baltimore’s offense is the equivalent of a shot of sugar right to the bloodstream. It can provide huge spurts of energy (downfield passes to Torrey Smith) but is due for a huge crash later on. (Interceptions. Duh.) If the Ravens lose, just count them out of the playoffs, okay?
(1-9) Jacksonville Jaguars at
(2-8) Houston Texans
I can’t with this game. I just can’t. If Houston loses… I can only guess at how their fans will feel.
(4-6) Tennessee Titans at
(4-6) Oakland Raiders
WOULD YOU KNOCK IT OFF WITH ALL THE MEANINGLESS GAMES ALREADY? GOD. Ryan Fitzpatrick versus Matt McGloin. Take your pick, then walk to the bathroom and regurgitate whatever football-demon is living in your intestines and is forcing you to watch this crap.
(7-3) Indianapolis Colts at
(6-4) Arizona Cardinals
This is what I’m talking about. Possible playoff teams! The Colts are being written off without Reggie Wayne, and for good reason: their offense has stunk without him for the most part. Now they’re headed to Arizona, where the Cardinal defense has all the pieces necessary to shut them down. Patrick Peterson will be all over T.Y. Hilton. And those pass rushers can get in Andrew Luck’s grill. Last week, Carson Palmer played his best game in five years. If Arizona can keep feeding Andre Ellington the ball and convert third downs, they can definitely win this game.
(5-5) Dallas Cowboys at
(4-6) New York Giants
Wow. I’m really surprised NBC didn’t decided to flex this game into primetime. It’s right up their NFC East-loving alley. The Giants have won four in a row and seem to be peaking at the right time for a “nobody believes in us” run to the NFC East title. The Cowboys are in their way with a defense that gives up a ton of yards but ranks fifth in turnovers created. If Eli can keep his interceptions in check, the Giants might keep pace with Tony Romo and company. Might.
(9-1) Denver Broncos at
(7-3) New England Patriots
Peyton Manning. Tom Brady.
And that’s not even mentioning Wes Welker’s return to New England to face the “Coach that Never Loved Him,” Bill Belichick! That’s if Welker is cleared for action after his latest concussion, however. As far as the actual game goes, the Patriots might have a leg-up at Gillette Stadium. The weather will suck (and will then affect both quarterbacks), so the New England running game will take center stage. The Broncos might find success on the ground because of the Patriot’s weakness up the middle of their defense, but it won’t be overpowering. If the Patriot corners are relatively healthy (who knows), their team can pull out a win and make this race for the number one seed in the AFC very interesting.
(6-4) San Francisco 49ers at
(3-7) Washington Offensive Names
Monday night’s contest sees two talented quarterbacks that have fallen down to Earth during the 2013 season. RG3 is embroiled in more controversy about his “me first” attitude and Colin Kaepernick can’t ignite the Niners’ terrible passing game all on his own. Washington is just a bad team this season, and there’s not a lot more I can say. They don’t finish games, their offensive line is inconsistent, and their defense can’t stop anyone. I like the Niners on the road here.
Boom. The Opening Drive is complete! Now get out of here you little scamps. Daddy’s got video games to play.