Tuesday, December 1, 2015

NFL 2015-16 Week 13 Preview & MNF Review of Browns-Ravens

It is not often that you get the kind of ending to a game that we got last night on Monday Night Football between the Ravens and the Browns.

There were the Browns, seemingly about to win a tied game on the final play, which was an admittedly long field goal attempt.

No big deal, though, right? What's the worst that could possibly happen? They miss the field goal and it goes into overtime, surely.

Nope. The Browns have found new and innovative ways of losing in recent years, and they were at it again last night. We found out that, in fact, the worst thing that could possibly happen on a potentially game winning field goal attempt in the game's final play is to get that attempt blocked, then have a defender catch it and run it all the way back for a game winning touchdown.

Only in Cleveland.

This one is going to be remembered. Such a strange ending.

Let's look at the upcoming match-ups for this coming weekend:

(TNF) Green Bay at Detroit - Two teams heading in opposite directions. No, the Lions cannot realistically hope to make a playoff push, being so far behind. However, they can achieve a surprising season sweep of the Packers with a win here, although the Packers seem to have a tendency to play their best when their backs are against the wall. A very hard game to pick, but I will say Green Bay triumphs in the end.

NY Jets at NY Giants - Battle of the New York teams. Both of these teams have been hovering around 500 all season long. The Jets got a big win against Miami, while the Giants suffered a tough loss at Washington. Technically, this is a Giants home game, although if there ever was a rivalry where that truly does not matter, this would be the one. The Giants are more desperate right now, absolutely needing a win to keep up with Washington, which gives them advantage. In a tough match-up that is almost too close to call, that might just be enough. So my prediction is for Big Blue to prevail.

Cincinnati at Cleveland - The Browns are going to be motivated to win, following their humiliating defeat on MNF. But Cincy's not the team that they will do it against, most likely. The Browns are fighting for their pride, but the Bengals are fighting for the division and playoff positioning. Cincy wins it with a steady performance.

Seattle at Minnesota - The Vikings are not as solid as Seattle, although they do have home field advantage. The Seahawks are still one of the best teams in the league, despite a record that indicates otherwise. They have not exactly blown away the competition this year, yet they are hanging in just enough to remain in playoff position, and they can be dangerous once they get there. They will prove that again this weekend with a road win against the Vikings.

Houston at Buffalo - Yet another game with pretty big playoff ramifications. The Bills are tough at home, although Houston is red hot. This is going to be a very close call, and weather may play a factor. It could go either way, although right now I am leaning more towards Houston pulling off a big road win. Then again, the Bills are a solid team, and are tough at home. Too close to call, really, but I'll still call it for the Texans on the road.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay - Despite Tamps Bay's disappointing loss last week at Indy, they are looking solid. In the meantime, the Falcons appear to be on the downward trajectory. It is hard to believe that they were 6-1 only four or so weeks ago. I suspect the Bucs will tie the Falcons for second place in the division following this contest.

San Francisco at Chicago - The Bears are still fighting, grasping for the playoff spot, however slim the chances may seem. They have home field advantage, and appear to be the better team in this match up. I will take the Bears in Chicago to beat the 49ers, who remain winless away from home.

Baltimore at Miami - The Ravens have finally won more than one game in a row this season, and have to be riding high after the big win in Cleveland. The Dolphins are probably at a low, after a sobering loss at the Jets. I suspect these teams are heading in opposite directions, and the Ravens should take it.

Arizona at St. Louis - The Cardinals suffered a key injury last week, although that will not stop them from beating the Rams, who seem to have simply given up on this season following a promising beginning. Road team or not, this game is Arizona's to lose.

Jacksonville at Tennessee - This is one of those games that can be easily overlooked. The Jaguars were fighting for something, bu the loss last weekend effectively ended their already slim playoff hopes. I figure the Titans are now overdue for a win.

Carolina at New Orleans - The Saints improved last weekend on defense, although they are not playing nearly well enough to challenge the Panthers. New Orleans failed to score a touchdown last weekend for the first time in a very long time, while Carolina is red hot. Look for the Panthers to move to 12-0, although the Saints will fight them in this one.

Philadelphia at New England - The Eagles are really reeling, while the Patriots barely lost their first (and so far only) game last week in the snow at Denver. New England is still a very tough place to play, so I figure the Eagles are ripe for a blowout loss here.

Kansas City at Oakland - This should be a good one. Both teams fighting for their playoff lives, as well as for second place within this division. The Raiders won a tough game on the road at Tennessee, yet the Chiefs are playing lights out right now. So, I will take Kansas City in this one.

Denver at San Diego - San Diego finally won a game, although the Broncos should prove much, much tougher in San Diego than the Jaguars were in Jacksonville. The Broncos defense will hold Rivers and Company in check, while the Broncos offense is strong enough to get the job done and inch this team closer to the inevitable AFC West title.

(SNF) Indianapolis at Pittsburgh - The Colts are fighting for their lives to stay with red-hot Houston. The Steelers, in the meantime, are doing everything possible to keep in the playoff race. This should be a good game. My suspicions are that the Steelers will benefit from home field advantage, yet something tells me that the Colts are going to produce something surprising here. I'll go wiht my gut and take the Colts in a game that could go either way.

(MNF) Dallas at Washington - The Cowboys are 0-7 without Romo as the starting quarterback. You have to wonder how much they have left in the tank in a season that has gone disastrously for them. In the meantime, Washington is hot, battling for first place, and enjoys home field advantage. That adds up to a relatively easy win for Washington.

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