jimmythegreek Posts:10364 Followers:375
On 11/24/2013 02:19 AM in NFL

NFL GREEK INSIDER WEEK 12

San Francisco -4.5 over Washington (Monday night):
As the weeks get shorter and expectations grow higher for the San Francisco 49ers (6-4), it's going to take a strong finish for last season's Super Bowl runner-ups to earn an NFC Wildcard spot. Trailing by 3.5 games behind idle Seattle in the NFC West, it will be no easy task for Colin Kaepernick and company as the Niners travel to Fed Ex Field to take on the woeful Washington Redskins (3-7) who once again have underachieved battling injuries and issues on both sides of the ball.

Kaepernick (141/251 1802 11 TD 7 INT) was once thought to be the kind of multi-skilled athletes that was redefining the position with the help of the read-option offense, which seemed to perfectly maximize his talents. Kaepernick's weaknesses were evident in a 23-20 loss at New Orleans last Sunday. He was limited to 127 yards passing on a day when San Francisco was held to a season-low 81 rushing yards. Under suspicion and scrutiny that some around the franchise believe his confidence has taken a major blow, most might suggest that the 49ers should utilize their dangerous running game. SF is 5th in the league averaging 141 yards per game rushing the ball. Frank Gore (175-748 4.3 3 TD) is playing through an ankle injury while Kaepernick toughs out a bad back dealing with efficiency problems. While dangerous with his feet, Kaepernick (56-335 6.0 3 TD) has one of the best in the business downfield in Anquan Boldin (47-630 3 TD) and playmaker Vernon Davis (34-553 8 TD) despite the latter suffering a mild concussion several weeks back. Washington's front seven could be in for a long afternoon as their defense is allowing 31 points per contest, third worst in the league behind Minnesota and Jacksonville.

Evident that Washington is once again playing for pride in the unpredictable NFC East basement, Robert Griffin III (222/372 2714 14 TD 10 INT) is facing criticism for his up-and-down play. Now Griffin is preparing for a 49ers defense that gives up about 18 points per game and is 7th in the league overall. It's not like Griffin doesn't have his share of options in the receiving core led by Pierre Garcon (67-871 3 TD). However, the Skins could be dealt a crushing blow since TE Jordan Reed (45-499 3 TD) will be out after suffering a concussion in week 11. This coming after learning that Leonard Hankerson will require a 9 month recovery process suffering from a torn ACL in his left knee. Like Kaepernick, Griffin is extremely capable of putting up big numbers with his feet (66-345 5.2 3 TD), however Alfred Morris (181-918 5.1 5 TD) hasn't scored in the last 2 games.

The Redskins are still technically alive in the NFC East but their recent play has them looking more like a pretender rather than a contender. Griffin has been a big disappointment and the defense will once again have trouble stopping the run happy Niners. Chalk it up to a sense off postseason urgency that gives the 49ers the decisive edge on MNF.

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jimmythegreek Posts:10364 Followers:375
11/24/2013 02:55 AM

Carolina -4.5 over Miami:
Coming off a disputable but huge win over the New England Patriots in a game that came down to the final play, the Carolina Panthers (7-3) eye a 7th consecutive win taking on the Miami Dolphins (5-5) at Sun Life Stadium. Cam Newton (189/299 2179 16 TD 8 INT) engineered the go-ahead 13-play, 83-yard drive with a 25-yard TD pass to Ted Ginn Jr. with 59 seconds remaining. Newton wound up throwing for 209 yards and 3 TD while the Panthers survived a scare at the end after a flag for defensive pass interference was picked up on the game's final play with the Patriots in the red zone.

While Ginn (24-411 3 TD) has been instrumental in Carolina's success in the receiving core, the experience however starts with Steve Smith (46-512 3 TD). Smith is playing through a chest injury suffered last week, so Newton could adjust his passing game plan by going more to Greg Olson (40-492 4 TD) in the flat and Brandon LaFell (38-459 4 TD) who have both been rolling as of late. When Carolina is ahead late they like to mince opposing defenses by slowing the pace down in the ground game. DeAngelo Williams (141-579 4.1 2 TD) is the featured back but Newton (70-328 4.7 4 TD) makes things interesting when being chased out of the pocket making big plays.

Miami started out winning its first 3 games but then went on a 4 game losing streak rebounding to mediocrity despite still in the middle of the AFC Wildcard chase. Ryan Tannehill (224/366 2474 14 TD 11 INT) has shown signs of brilliance while at the same time falling short of showing the aggression necessary to finish games. However last week's win over San Diego kept hopes alive despite off the field issues with Richie Incognito. Brian Hartline (48-599 2 TD) remains the team's most dependable option in the passing game. Mike Wallace (44-534 1 TD) is expected to play despite a hamstring injury, and Charles Clay (42-474 4 TD) is coming off his best game against the Chargers catching passes for 90 yards and a score. The fish may not totally abandon the run, however they are just 23rd in the league in that category evident by Lamar Miller (104-467 4.5 2 TD) gaining just 19 yards over the last 2 games. Carolina stifles the opposition in the ground game yielding just 85 yards per game, good for 3rd in the league.

While Newton has dominated the headlines, Carolina's defensive efforts have proven just as impressive. Led by defensive end Charles Johnson and linebacker Luke Kuechly, the Panthers rank first in the NFL in scoring defense with 13.5 points allowed per game. Johnson, who is tied for ninth in the league with 8 1/2 sacks, won't be available, though, after spraining his knee against the Patriots. With Newton a lot more mobile and bettering Tannehill in efficiency, Carolina's tough line up front will help set up play action and provide quick opportunities to strike. The Dolphins inefficiency in the running game could very well be the difference here.

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jimmythegreek Posts:10364 Followers:375
11/24/2013 09:41 AM

Houston -10 over Jacksonville:
Losers of their last 8 games, Houston (2-8) will look to avoid sharing the AFC South basement as they host Jacksonville (1-9) from Reliant Stadium. Experts pitted the Texans as one of the favorites to contend for the division crown, but since losing at Baltimore 30-9 in week 3 to say things have taken a complete turn for the worst is merely an understatement. While trying to overcome the loss of stars Brian Cushing and Arian Foster to season-ending injuries, the Texans emotionally dealt with the mini-stroke suffered by coach Gary Kubiak earlier this month.

Matt Schaub (158/262 1707 8 TD 9 INT) started the first 6 games until Kubiak gave Case Keenum (70/126 992 8 TD 1 INT) the nod. Oakland edged Houston 28-23 in week 11, and Keenum was benched in the 4th quarter for Schaub with the Texans trailing by 11. Randy Bullock kicked 2 of his three field goals in the final frame but it wasn't enough. Keenum will likely be back under center for a fifth straight start. Schaub and receiver Andre Johnson (72-966 5 TD) argued on the sideline after a late failed fourth-down pass attempt and running back Ben Tate (122-543 4.5 1 TD) called out some fans on a radio show for booing during the game.

At least for a week the terrible Texans get to play a team who is in equal disarray and behind them in the standings even if it is just one game. After Johnson, Keenum has plenty of weapons in the receiving core, an area Jacksonville is extremely weak on defense. Look for DeAndre Hopkins (38-546 2 TD) and Garret Graham (33-404 2 TD) to see more opportunities especially with the latter setting a franchise record with 136 receiving yards in week 11. It's not like Houston has played opponents tough all season as 5 of their losses have been by 6 points or less. However the inability to finish respectable efforts has most wondering if Kubiak returning next season in addition to his health problems.

Meanwhile the Jaguars are last in the league averaging 12.9 points, 278.0 total yards and 61.7 rushing yards per contest. Jacksonville continues to go with Chad Henne (173/283 1885 4 TD 9 INT) who threw 2 crucial picks in the 4th quarter in a 27-14 loss to Arizona. One of the few bright spots has been WR Cecil Shorts (50-629 1 TD) though he's complained recently about a lack of opportunities over the past several weeks. His lone score in week 11 suggest his frustration in addition to a lack of balance around the offense. It has been a nightmarish season for Maurice Jones Drew (157-455 2.9 3 TD) who managed just 23 yards against the Cardinals. Jordan Todman is the lone second option who is seldom used, however Henne is coming off a 355 yard performance he will certainly look to build on.

It's rare you'll see me go with a team favored by double digits who is a game better than its predecessor. However Houston has played well enough to unleash its frustration and punishment on a league foe, much less within the division. There is a lot of tension in Houston, which was evident when seeing Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub yelling at one another after Houston's final offensive play. Jacksonville is jut too inept on both sides of the ball and may need to rely on breaks on defense or special teams, something only Houston can cause by victimizing themselves.

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jimmythegreek Posts:10364 Followers:375
11/24/2013 10:48 AM

Minnesota/Green Bay over 44:
Things have not gone the Packers way since Aaron Rogers fractured his non throwing collarbone in a 27-20 MNF home loss to Chicago several weeks back. However the Pack are right in the middle of the wildcard chase as well as the NFC North thanks to Pittsburgh's come from behind win over Detroit in week 11. Scott Tolzien (48/73 619 1 TD 5 INT) is expected to get the start this afternoon when Green Bay hosts Minnesota (2-8) at the frozen tundra known as Lambeau Field.

Tolzien is gearing up for his second career start Week 12 vs. Minnesota, looking for better results after his first career start didn't go so well. Tolzien tossed three interceptions in a 27-13 loss Week 11 at N.Y. Giants, despite completing 70.6 percent of his passes (24 of 34) for 339 yards.Top target Jordy Nelson 57-889 7 TD) hasn't scored a TD since week 8 but has performed well throughout his career against the Vikings, who boast one of the league's more vulnerable secondaries. Jarret Boykin (29-453 1 TD) has also stepped up since Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley have gone down with season ending injuries. Rogers all season had good protection in the ground game with rookie Eddie Lacy (172-696 4.0 5 TD) who has found the end zone 4 of the last 5 games.

Christian Ponder (128/201 1375 6 TD 9 INT) is dealing with a left shoulder injury and was pulled in a 41-20 loss to Seattle in week 11. He does have balance in the receiving core led by Jerome Simpson (34-492) who was benched for the opening play of the game after being formally charged with two counts of DWI last week. Greg Jennings (34-410 2 TD) makes his return to Green Bay but may not see much action dealing with an achilles injury. TE Kyle Rudolph (30-313 3 TD) is out with a foot issue, so the Vikings are left thin for Ponder. Adrian Peterson (194-851 4.4 9 TD) didn't practice this week due to a groin injury, but has been upgraded to probable. Peterson managed only 65 yards on 21 carries (3.1) in the loss at the Seahawks and depending on his health and efficiency could determine his touches.

This total seems a bit low due to the absence of Rogers, but you have to believe at some point the Packers need to turn things up against a defense that has given up 32 points per contest. The Vikings offense is averaging 24 points and 317.7 yards per game. Defensively Green Bay is allowing 23.9 points and 350.9 yards per game. While I don't think the teams will combine for as many as the 75 a couple of weeks back, the game should fly over the total with no problem.

Best of luck to all in week 12
YTD 27-17 .614


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