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Football Meteorology For Week 13

By Jeff Risdon

It’s Thanksgiving, which is one of the marquee weeks on the football calendar. Three games on Thursday are followed by most of the best rivalry games on the college front on Friday and Saturday, capped off with a Sunday full of NFL matchups.

Last Week: 13-2, a nice rebound from the prior ugliness. 111-63-1 on the season. Booyah!

Gambling Update: A split decision on the week, but the loss was on a bigger bet than the win. Another $1000 lost, down to $8500 on the season after starting at $10K. 

Thursday Games

- Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-7): Detroit looks to snap a two-game losing streak that has dropped them out of first place in the NFC North. The Lions haven’t scored a touchdown in those two losses, smothered by strong defenses in Arizona and New England.

Chicago’s defense isn’t anywhere close to what Detroit has seen lately. The Bears rank 28th or worse in QB Rating allowed, yards per attempt and yards per play defensively. Their undermanned secondary is exactly what the doctor ordered for Matthew Stafford and his cadre of underperforming weapons.

The offensive line will have to play much better for that to happen. Undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas will man left tackle for the injured Riley Reiff, and he’s tasked with blocking Jared Allen. Expect lots of tight end help and quicker passes, forcing the linebackers and safeties to make quick decisions and open field tackles. Neither of those are strengths of Chris Conte & Co. Golden Tate could have a monster game working the intermediate level of the defense and breaking into the free with a forced missed tackle, something he does as well as anyone.

Lions 30, Bears 17

- Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3): Tony Romo doesn’t lose in November, not even to the Eagles. Put this game even one weekend later and I would strongly take Philadelphia, but at home on Turkey Day I’m going to take the Cowboys. Also helping sway the decision is the balance of the Cowboys offense, with playmakers in both the rushing and passing attacks. The Eagles tend to be good at stopping one or the other, but not both in the same game.

Cowboys 27, Eagles 24

- Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-1): Both these teams trail Arizona by two full games in the difficult NFC West. One of them is not likely to make the playoffs, so you can imagine the importance of this game. Factor in the long-simmering beef between the head coaches, and this one could be a dandy of a nightcap on turkey day.

Seattle’s win over Arizona showed me the Seahawks can handle a physical, aggressive defense. San Francisco struggled against a Washington defense that blitzed like they were trying to be at the front of the line at Wal-Mart for the Black Friday specials…which start before this game even kicks off. Seriously Wal-Mart, stop destroying the holiday by making your hard-working associates abandon their families on Thanksgiving, or dragging folks like my sister-in-law (hi Chanon!) out for hours and hours shopping for deals. But I digress…

Back to the game. The quarterback who makes the fewest mistakes is likely to win, and I trust Russell Wilson more than I do Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco’s rookie phenom Chris Borland could change that with a clutch pick or forced fumble, but I like that Seattle got their own dynamic linebacker back on the field in Bobby Wagner.

Seahawks 23, 49ers 20 

Sunday Games

- New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (-3): Nobody sums up situations quite like Bill Belichick. The good folks at ESPN documented his unique, peculiar hilarity:

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was at the tail end of his Wednesday morning news conference as there was a call for one last question. 

Turns out Belichick saved his best answer for last. When asked if he sees any similarities between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Belichick was quick with the response. 

"They both wear number 12," he deadpanned, before walking off. 

That is the ultimate mic drop. He who drops the mic rules the mic. I know Rodgers is playing at an unbelievable level at home, but New England’s secondary is far better in coverage than anyone the Packers have seen during this run. The Packers don’t really have an answer for Gronk, and if they do try to take him away they can’t cover the other receivers, or backs or tight ends.

Patriots 39, Packers 31

- San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5): Both teams enter at 7-4 in the very crowded AFC Wild Card race. The winner here picks up both a game in hand as well as a key AFC win.

The Chargers have been a streaky team over the last two seasons. After a five-game winning streak, they dropped 3 in a row before their bye week. Now they’re back on the upswing with a 2-game positive trend.

Unfortunately for San Diego, Baltimore is also playing good football right now. Coming off a big win in New Orleans, the Ravens are doing a great job controlling the game with rushing offense and rushing defense. The early East Coast start time is an extra advantage for the Ravens in a game rife with playoff implications. I believe Baltimore can make Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense one-dimensional. The problem is that the Ravens back-end coverage is shaky and vulnerable. This one could wind up being a shootout, and I’ll take Flacco and Smith over Rivers and Allen. Barely.

Ravens 33, Chargers 30

- Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-1.5): Every time you start to believe in the Cleveland Browns, they break your heart. That’s what my mother, a lifelong Browns fan old enough to remember when they were winning multiple NFL Championships, told me. I think the Bills will provide a triumphant return to Buffalo, a city that needs as much good fortune as it can get.

I’ll play along with WKNR’s “call your shot” segment, which mildly entertained me as I drove into Cleveland on Wednesday.

Josh Gordon gets 89 yards receiving. The Brown I would most like to invite to Thanksgiving dinner is Johnny Manziel, because who wouldn’t want to hang out with Johnny Football at a time when gluttony is acceptable?

Bills 20, Browns 17

- Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (+1): I know there are many more angles to this game, but I cannot get past the concept of Alex Smith trying to outgun Peyton Manning. No matter what other factors there are in KC’s advantage--the strong running of Jamaal Charles, the pass rush, the emotions of losing Eric Berry, playing at home with the division lead on the line--I just can’t escape the extreme advantage Manning & Co. have over Smith and the toothless Chiefs passing offense.

Broncos 28, Chiefs 24

- Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons (+2.5): The Cardinals are 9-2 and in first place. The Falcons are 4-7 and in first place. Therein ends the similarities between these two teams.

Atlanta does have a fighting chance here, thanks to Drew Stanton’s relative ineffectiveness as Arizona’s quarterback. The Cardinals have gone seven quarters without a touchdown. Part of the problem has been a decided lack of ability to run the ball; Arizona has just 138 rushing yards in the last three weeks. Even Atlanta’s anemic pass rush can operate effectively when the opponent can’t run the ball to ease pressure.

The problem for the Falcons is that Arizona’s defense is one of the best in the league at covering down the field. Even when the blitzkrieg isn’t sacking the QB, Antonio Cromarite, Jerraud Powers and the rest of the Arizona back end is very savvy and aggressive in coverage. And when the pass rush is getting home, nobody plays the ball better in the air than Arizona. A defensive TD will win the game for the visiting Cardinals. Fret not, Atlanta fans, because you will still be in first place in the NFC South when the weekend ends.

Cardinals 23, Falcons 21 

- Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings (-3): Minnesota’s defense is the difference in this one. The Vikings are able to generate pressure adeptly, while the back end does well against teams that don’t have outside speed. Perhaps no team is slower on the outside than Carolina. I’m not sure Minnesota will score much, but they’ll score more than Cam Newton and the sluggish Panthers.

Vikings 16, Panthers 10

- New Orleans Saints at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5): The Steelers are perfectly suited to exploit New Orleans’s issues in the secondary. Remember, the Saints have lost four safeties and the corners are not good. Kenny Vaccaro and Jamarca Sanford aren’t a bad duo, but there is so little depth. Pittsburgh’s passing attack is too diverse, too strong, too much to handle.

Steelers 34, Saints 27

- Washington at Indianapolis Colts (-10.5): Before you write off the visitors here, keep in mind they had a real chance to win against San Francisco last week. The Colts were flat in a middling win over the terrible Jaguars, too.

That was last week. Washington’s defense will find this game quite different, as Andrew Luck and the Colts offense operate quite differently than the 49ers. The precision passing game and the tight ends are going to be a big problem for Jim Haslett’s high-risk defense. Then there’s the Washington offense, which will look a little different…

Jay Gruden has opted to start Colt McCoy over the struggling Robert Griffin at quarterback. I agree that McCoy does give them a better chance to win this particular game, but for a 3-8 team to bench the designated franchise messiah sends the message that management is not seeing the forest for the trees. At least they’ll ascertain if McCoy is worthy of being the long-term backup, to whomever might wind up being the starter.

Colts 31 Ethnic Slurs 20

- Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-6): The Texans are forced to change Ryans at quarterback, going back to Fitzpatrick after Mallett suffered a torn pec. Fitzpatrick was Tennessee’s replacement killer last year, so the Titans know what to expect. Texans fans do too--sporadic pluckiness and scattershot effectiveness tied to catastrophic errors. That might still be better than Zach Mettenberger, who seems to be able to play one good quarter every game. Unfortunately for the Titans, NFL games last four quarters. J.J. Watt will get a couple of chances to take fake selfies over top the crumpled heap of a quarterback, and the Texans eke out a close win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Texans 20, Titans 17

- New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5): The Giants as road favorites scares the stuffing out of me. Then again, they’re pretty good when playing other sub-.500 teams. The Jaguars are the weakest overall squad in the league. They played arguably their best game of the season last week and still got smoked by 20 points in Indianapolis. New York has a pair of close losses to San Francisco and Dallas, and the reshuffled offensive line is paying dividends. Jacksonville’s 24 giveaways and New York’s 18 takeaways make me confident in the G-Men covering on the road.

Giants 30, Jaguars 21 

- Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5): The Bengals wrap up a three-game roadie by being favored in Tampa Bay. Getting Gio Bernard back to near-full strength will help hammer a Bucs defense playing without Lavonte David. Andy Dalton seems over his midseason slump, too. This one could get out of hand quickly if the Bucs don’t start strong.

Bengals 27, Buccaneers 17 

- Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams (-7.5): The Raiders picked up their first win last week. This is actually the game I circled on my hypothetic calendar for Oakland to break the win seal, but now that they’ve accomplished the feat I don’t feel the same way. Shaun Hill, aside from the game-losing interception, gave the Rams offense enough flow and potency to handle a hit-and-miss Raiders defense. Aaron Donald quietly continues his defensive rookie of the year campaign, and he gets a chance to pick up a couple of sacks of fellow rookie Derek Carr in this game. The Rams are just good enough to not be bad, if that makes sense. Oakland is just bad enough to not be good. Wow, that’s a terribly pedantic assessment. Sorry, I’m still trying to get over my recurring childhood nightmare of running through underwater caverns with Lamont from Sanford & Son while being chased by Godzilla. I wish I was making that up.

Rams 22, Raiders 16

Monday Night

- Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (+5.5): I’ll leave this commentary to my virtual friend Alen Dumonjic, one of the smartest football minds I know even though he hails from a country where football means something decidedly different:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Look, I&#39;m not saying Geno Smith is the answer. But you&#39;re kidding yourself if you think Michael Vick is a better option. He doesn&#39;t care.</p>&mdash; Alen Dumonjić (@Dumonjic_Alen) <a href="https://twitter.com/Dumonjic_Alen/status/537271243129376768">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Well said, my friend. Rex Ryan saw the light and is switching back to Geno Smith, but I’ll say it for Alen: he’s not the answer either, not this year anyway.

The Dolphins care very much, and a win here really helps bolster their playoff surge. This is the week’s biggest wager, putting $1500 on the Dolphins to cover.

Dolphins 32, Jets 13

Betting Recap

Miami -5.5 for $1500 

Bonus college picks

Ohio State 37, Michigan 16

Auburn 24, Alabama 20

Florida State 20, Florida 12

Arizona State 38, Arizona 29

Georgia Tech 27, Georgia 21

My son Layne is a huge TCU fan. He predicts his Frogs win over Texas 39-21.

Fantasy Football Week 13 Rankings

By Neema Hodjat

Stars of Week 12

QB: Drew Brees, NO: 35-45, 420 yards, 3 TDs

RB: Justin Forsett, BAL: 22 carries, 182 yards, 2 TD

WR: Odell Beckham Jr., NYG: 10 catches, 146 yards, 2 TDs     

TE: Delanie Walker, TEN: 5 catches, 155 yards, 0 TDs

Drew Brees makes his way on this list for the first time this year. He’s having a better statistical season than many realize, but his owners rightfully expected top-level QB numbers, and he has mildly disappointed on that front. Brees has been more “top 5” than “top 3”. As for someone who has not disappointed, look no further than Justin Forsett. Considered nearly all NFL folks to be too small to be a lead RB for a team, Forsett has made his case to prove his critics wrong. He’s been a solid RB2 this season for fantasy purposes. Delanie Walker has quietly had a solid season, posting consistently useful numbers during weeks when he’s been healthy. Now for Odell Beckham making what was possibly the best catch ever in NFL history (not in relation to the significance of the catch, but purely from a skill standpoint), one can only be in awe! We covered Beckham a few weeks back – he’s a WR2 and must start in all leagues, with an ascension to WR1 status looking like a reasonable possibility for next season. 

Week 12 Takeaways – A Closer Look 

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- CJ Anderson, RB – DEN: 27 carries, 167 yards, 1 TD

Analysis:         As mentioned here a few weeks back, with Ronnie Hillman out, CJ Anderson was the likely candidate to get the bulk of the carries. That’s exactly what has happened, as this week Anderson had 27 carries compared to Juwan Thompson’s 5 carries (no other RBs had any carries for Denver). This will certainly continue while Hillman remains out. It’s much harder to predict how things will shake out upon Hillman’s return, but the guess here is that Anderson will still retain the majority of the carries even when Hillman returns, albeit more along the lines of a 60/40 split. John Fox indicated a few weeks back that he intends to go with the hot hand, and if he is to be believed, then that should be Anderson even once Hillman returns. Continue to start Anderson until further notice. 

- Isaiah Crowell, RB – CLE: 12 carries, 88 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis:         What do we have here – clarity with the Cleveland RB picture? Perhaps the answer is finally yes. With Ben Tate surprisingly cut last week by the Browns, which left Crowell and Terrance West as the duo to carry the Browns’ running game (pun intended). Between these two, Crowell is the one you want for the remainder of the season. He has averaged five yards per carry for the season, and it looks like the coaching staff will finally give him the chance to consistently get touches. From the eye test, Crowell has more talent than West, and hopefully the coaches continue to pick up on this as well. You should view Crowell as an RB2 for the remainder of the season. If he’s available, make sure to grab him. 

- LeGarrette Blount, RB - NE: 12 carries, 78 yards, 2 TDs                      

Analysis:         So let’s get this straight – a backup NFL running back is insubordinate to his coaching staff in Pittsburgh, and his punishment.is to go start the next game for the Patriots and score two TDs? Only in America, as they say. Hopefully you remember the warning I gave you last week regarding Jonas Gray and how you can’t trust Bill Belichick! That’s what happens when you’re late to practice. The Patriots’ RB situation is a week-to-week proposition. Based on where things sit now, between Blount and Gray, I’d roll with Blount. Even if Gray gets back into the mix, Blount will also be involved and will likely get the goal line carries. Blount needs to be watched, but I’d lean towards a flex label for him moving forward.

- Daniel Herron, RB – IND: 12 carries, 65 yards, 0 TDs (5 catches, 31 yards, 0 TDs) 

Analysis:         With Ahmad Bradshaw out for the season, it means that Trent Richardson’s value spikes upward, right? Well, not quite. It appears that the Colts have finally given up hope that Richardson will be anything more than a mediocre RB, which is a smart move on their part. The beneficiary of Bradshaw’s injury is none other than Daniel Herron, as evidenced by Herron’s contribution in both the rushing and passing games. Look for Herron to continue to put up numbers similar to what he posted this past Sunday. He should be viewed as a low end RB2 / high-end flex play.

- Latavius Murray, RB – OAK: 4 carries, 112 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis:         Latavius Murray was one of the rapid fire pickups from last week, so hopefully you snagged him if you needed a running back. Only injury could stop him last week against the Chiefs. His performance was quite promising to say the least, and the Raiders have every incentive to play him for the remainder of the season. Murray also bumps up against low end RB2 / high-end flex territory, and should be owned in all leagues. 

- Jarvis Landry, WR – MIA: 7 catches, 50 yards, 2 TDs 

Analysis:         Jarvis Landry was also listed in the rapid fire pickups section last week, and he performed well for his fantasy owners this past Sunday. While Odell Beckham has been the premier rookie WR from LSU, his LSU teammate Landry has had a strong rookie season as well. With 11 targets this past Sunday against the Broncos, Landry is making his case as the best Dolphins’ WR to own. Landry has been targeted an average of 8 times over the last four games and has also found the end zone four times during that span. Landry should be viewed as a solid WR3, with upside to move a bit higher, for the remainder of the season.

Rapid Fire Pickups 

Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been referenced above, and 2) a player available in most leagues.

QB:                  Zach Mettenberger, TEN

RB:                  Carlos Hyde, SF

RB:                  Theo Riddick, DET                

WR:                 Charles Johnson, MIN

WR:                 Robert Woods, BUF

TE:                  Tim Wright, NE

Week 13 Rankings


1. Aaron Rodgers

2. Peyton Manning

3. Tom Brady

4. Andrew Luck

5. Drew Brees

6. Tony Romo

7. Ben Roethlisberger

8. Matthew Stafford

9. Ryan Tannehill

10. Mark Sanchez

11. Eli Manning

12. Russell Wilson

13. Philip Rivers

14. Josh McCown

15. Cam Newton

16. Colin Kaepernick

17. Matt Ryan

18. Joe Flacco

19. Andy Dalton

20. Jay Cutler

Running Backs

1. Le'Veon Bell

2. DeMarco Murray

3. Arian Foster

4. Jamaal Charles

5. Eddie Lacy

6. LeSean McCoy

7. C.J. Anderson

8. Justin Forsett

9. Matt Forte

10. Marshawn Lynch

11. Andre Ellington

12. Alfred Morris

13. Rashad Jennnings

14. Denard Robinson

15. Mark Ingram

16. Ryan Mathews

17. Jeremy Hill

18. Giovani Bernard

19. Lamar Miller

20. Joique Bell

21. Tre Mason

22. Fred Jackson

23. Isaiah Crowell

23. Frank Gore

24. Daniel Herron

25. Latavius Murray

26. Jerick McKinnon

27. LeGarrette Blount

28. Darren Sproles

29. Trent Richardson

30. Shane Vereen

31. Chris Ivory

32. Steven Jackson

33. Terrance West

34. Bishop Sankey

35. Reggie Bush

Wide Receivers

1. Demaryius Thomas

2. Antonio Brown

3. Dez Bryant

4. A.J. Green

5. T.Y. Hilton

6. Jordy Nelson

7. Emmanuel Sanders

8. Calvin Johnson

9. Odell Beckham Jr.

10. Josh Gordon

11. Julio Jones

12. Randall Cobbs

13. Mike Evans

14. Alshon Jeffery

15. Brandon Marshall

16. Jeremy Maclin

17. Kelvin Benjamin

18. Golden Tate

19. Mike Wallace

20. Roddy White

21. Alshon Jeffery

22. DeSean Jackson

23. DeAndrew Hopkins

24. Sammy Watkins

25. Julian Edelman

26. Keenan Allen

27. Jordan Matthews

28. Torrey Smith

29. Anquan Boldin

30. Steve Smith Sr.

31. Brandon LaFell

32. Jarvis Landry

33. Andre Johnson

34. Martavis Bryant

35. Marques Colston

Tight Ends

1. Rob Gronkowski

2. Jimmy Graham

3. Julius Thomas

4. Greg Olsen

5. Antonio Gates

6. Delanie Walker

7. Jason Witten

8. Larry Donnell

9. Martellus Bennett

10. Travis Kelce

11. Owen Daniels

12. Kyle Rudolph

13. Mychal Rivera

14. Coby Fleener

15. Zach Ertz

Neema Hodjat is the fantasy sports expert for RealGM.  He can be reached via email at nhodjat@gmail.com and followed on twitter at @NeemaHodjat.

NFL Team Rankings, Week 12

By Christopher Reina


Our NFL Team Rankings are based entirely on the The Trench Counter, which is an objective formula measuring average yards per pass and run on both offense and defense, along with first downs registered and given up, turnovers for and against, and total penalty yards. 

Over time, The Trench Counter rankings begin to closely resemble the standings but goes even further to determine which teams are truly the best when on the line of scrimmage. 

The chief aim of the Trench Counter is to take the subjective out of the equation and even the somewhat fluky nature of teams actually scoring points, which is of course the whole point on a game-by-game basis.

The Dolphins, Packers, Ravens and 49ers remained in the top-4 in that order, while the Broncos, Seahawks, Patriots and Browns moved up.

Week 12 Rankings

1. Miami Dolphins: 7.2
2. Green Bay Packers: 6.8
3. Baltimore Ravens: 5.1
4. San Francisco 49ers: 4.7
5. Denver Broncos: 4.4
6. Seattle Seahawks: 4.3
7. Arizona Cardinals: 4.0
8. New England Patriots: 2.9
9. Dallas Cowboys: 2.9
10. Cleveland Browns: 2.5
11. Indianapolis Colts: 2.4
12. New Orleans Saints: 2.4
13. Kansas City Chiefs: 2.2
14. Houston Texans: 1.1
15. Philadelphia Eagles: 1.0
16. Buffalo Bills: 0.7
17. Cincinnati Bengals: 0.4
18. San Diego Chargers: 0.4
19. Detroit Lions: 0.2
20. Washington: -0.4
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: -0.6
22. Chicago Bears: -1.0
23. Minnesota Vikings: -1.9
24. Atlanta Falcons: -2.9
25. Carolina Panthers: -3.9
26. New York Giants: -4.3
27. Jacksonville Jaguars: -5.0
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -5.6
29. Tennessee Titans: -5.8
30. New York Jets: -7.5
31. St. Louis Rams: -7.8
32. Oakland Raiders: -8.8

$10 After NFL Week 12

On the Patriots being the undisputed best team in the NFL through 12 weeks, Seattle's win over Arizona, Odell Beckham Jr., Oakland's first win, instant gratification of the NFLPA and more.

Football Meteorology For NFL Week 12

On the Cardinals and Dolphins being better underdogs at the Seahawks and Broncos than Vegas thinks and the rest of the Week 12 slate.

Draft Rules of Thumb, November Edition

On Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon, T.J. Clemmings, Quinten Rollins, Andrus Peat, Cameron Erving and Frank Clark.

Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings

While Aaron Rodgers, Jonas Gray, Mike Evans and Coby Fleener are heating up, this week also marks the return of Josh Gordon.

NFL Team Rankings, Week 11

The NFC has become extremely crowded with the Cardinals, Packers, Lions, 49ers, Eagles, Seahawks and Cowboys

$.10 After NFL Week 11

The Packers improve playoff positioning, Seahawks in trouble, Rams get an "Any Given Sunday" win over Denver, Detroit's loss, the NFC South, college playoff jockeying and more.