Week 12 NFL Predictions

Aaron Rodgers has set a blistering pace for Green Bay in recent weeks

It’s Sunday, which can only mean one thing… NFL! With the season nearing the stretch run and the calendar about to flip to December every game counts, so to find out what Fred Stanley Sport thinks will unfold across the league this weekend keep it right here.

Cleveland @ Atlanta
Amazingly, with a 6-4 record the Browns sit last in the AFC North, while the Falcons lead the NFC South with a 4-6 record. Cleveland are still well in the play-off hunt, however, and with Josh Gordon returning from his 10 game suspension the Browns are well positioned to move to 7-4 and work their way back to the top of the division. Atlanta has plenty of holes on the roster and despite winning their past two games they could well struggle against an efficient Cleveland unit that should be able to put pressure on Falcons QB Matt Ryan all day. Browns 20, Falcons 10

Tampa Bay @ Chicago
The Bears ended their torrid losing streak last week with a hard-fought win over the Vikings at Soldier Field, in the process keeping their slim play-off chances alive. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, have been one of the worst teams in the NFL as they’ve compiled a 2-8 record. However, the Buccaneers are incredibly just two games out of first place, and they’ll fancy their chances of going to Chicago and earning their third win of the year. Unfortunately for Lovie Smith’s men I can’t see that unfolding, in large part because their cornerback’s stand little chance of being able to contain Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Expect Chicago to edge closer to .500.
Buccaneers 17, Bears 28

Cincinnati @ Houston
Texans QB Ryan Mallett was effective in his first NFL start last week, a win over the Browns in Cleveland, while Bengals passer Andy Dalton rebounded from his disastrous performance against the Browns in week 10 with a steady showing in New Orleans. With both teams coming off wins this game figures to be keenly contested, and both teams have the kind of ground games that can control the clock. I like Houston’s pass rush more, however, and with home-field advantage also on their side I expect the Texans to move to 6-5 and put pressure on the Colts in the AFC South.
Bengals 21, Texans 24

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis
Andrew Luck stayed true to form last week when he underperformed against an elite team, this time New England (against whom Luck is 0-3 in his young career), but his play against mediocre teams has never been in question, which bodes well for this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville have shown flashes of being capable this season but they are simply too inexperienced (they have the youngest average age of any team in the NFL) to pull up any trees against a skilled team like the Colts. The Jaguars haven’t laid down for anyone under head coach Gus Bradley, which is admirable. However, that’s unlikely to translate into a win this Sunday. Jaguars 23, Colts 33

Green Bay @ Minnesota
Green Bay were simply ruthless in dispatching Philadelphia this week, and while the Eagles were disappointing at Lambeau Field the Packers play on offense was simply breathtaking. With the Vikings unable to call on Adrian Peterson again this week expect a similar result in Minnesota, with Aaron Rodgers leading Green Bay towards the NFC North title and a play-off berth.
Packers 30, Vikings 16

Detroit @ New England
The Lions travel to New England in the second leg of a tough two game stretch, after they came up short in Arizona in week 11. Matthew Stafford struggled in a big way and the Lions offense was unable to move the ball with any regularity, something that Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be acutely aware of as he game-plans for this evening’s game. Tom Brady will face a tough test in the league leading Lions defense, but with a balanced attack and Rob Gronkowski in fine form Brady and Belichick should earn a crucial home win. Lions 17, Patriots 21

Tennessee @ Philadelphia
Philadelphia will welcome the Titans to Lincoln Financial Field as they get the perfect opportunity to erase the memory of last weeks hammering at the hands of the Packers. Mark Sanchez followed his excellent showing against Carolina in week 10 with a dud seven days ago, but he’s likely to revert to “Good Sanchez” this evening against the porous Titans defense. Philly may not be an elite team, but they should take care of business at home against one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Titans 17, Eagles 27

St. Louis @ San Diego
These two teams are heading in opposite directions, with the Chargers faltering after a fast start while the Rams have beaten San Francisco, Seattle and Denver in recent weeks. San Diego QB Phillip Rivers is carrying a significant rib injury and that doesn’t bode well as he readies to face the tenacious Rams pass rush, which leads me to predict a road win for the St. Louis, who may be the best team below .500 in football. The Chargers, meanwhile, have seen their season fall apart at the seams.
Rams 20, Chargers 16

Arizona @ Seattle
For Seattle this game truly is a must win, as defeat would see them slip four games behind the Cardinals in the NFC West with just five games left to play. Their home-field advantage is well documented, but they’re carrying injuries and lack play-makers on offense besides the evergreen Marshawn Lynch. One thing in their favour, however, is the Cardinals loss of Carson Palmer to a season ending knee injury, and with the Seahawks in desperation mode I think that significant loss will be just enough to prevent Arizona from pulling further ahead of the reigning champs.
Cardinals 13, Seahawks 16

Miami @ Denver
The Dolphins are coming off a mini-bye after they defeated Buffalo two Thursday’s ago, and they’ll be encouraged by Denver’s loss in St. Louis last Sunday. Peyton Manning will be spewing, however, over that defeat and Miami doesn’t generate as much pressure as the Rams even with Cameron Wake rushing the passer. The Broncos clearly aren’t the same team without Julius Thomas in the line-up, so the tight end’s injury status should be closely monitored as kick off approaches. Yet with or without Thomas, I think the Broncos will have just about enough to overcome the upstart Dolphins on their own turf. Dolphins 22, Broncos 30

Washington @ San Francisco
Reports today suggest that if Robert Griffin III again struggles Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has the authority to bench him for back-up Colt McCoy, and with Washington coming up against the vaunted 49ers defense you don’t have to delve too deep into your envision to that scenario unfolding. For San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick has been far from convincing, but with a solid running game led by Frank Gore and some veteran receivers Kaepernick has been able to keep the niners in the play-off hunt, and at home against a dysfunctional Redskins team San Francisco should earn another crucial W. Redskins 15, 49ers 24

Dallas @ New York Giants
Even though Eli Manning threw five (!!!) interceptions against San Francisco last week the Giants were nearly able to upset the 49ers, which was a testament to their defensive play and spirit despite New York’s season having spiralled out of control many weeks ago. At 3-7 their play-off hopes are all but over, however in the NFC East anything can happen and with the Cowboys suffering through injury and Manning unlikely to be as bad again this week this one should be close. When the calendar flips to December Dallas tends to fold; fortunately for them it’s still November, and they’ll earn win number eight this evening. Cowboys 20, Giants 17

New York Jets @ Buffalo (in Detroit)
After a torrential blizzard hit Buffalo last week this game was moved to Monday night in Detroit, which probably favours the Jets more than the Bills as they are afforded the opportunity to play on a neutral field. Their win over Pittsburgh two weeks ago shook football, and with Michael Vick under centre their chances of winning have increased massively. Buffalo led briefly against Miami last time out but after they were defeated in that game their play-off hopes took a terminal hit, resulting in this game being relegated to a battle for pride and nothing else. Jets 24, Bills 21

Baltimore @ New Orleans
The Saints shocking defeat at home to the Bengals dropped them to 4-6, although they still remain tied for the NFC South lead. Baltimore meanwhile are half a game behind both the Bengals and Steelers in the AFC North, after some poor performances in recent weeks. After a fast start to the season Steve Smith has slowed down, although Justin Forsett has emerged as a workhorse in the backfield in the wake of Ray Rice’s suspension. The Saints defense has been a mess this year after it improved in 2013, and that could be enough to see Joe Flacco earn the victory at the scene of Baltimore’s Superbowl triumph nearly two years ago. Ravens 28, Saints 21

What do you think will happen in week 12 of the NFL season? Have your say in the comments or tweet @fredjstanley





Week 11 NFL Predictions


Brian Hoyer has led the Browns to a surprising 6-3 record and top spot in the AFC North

The time has come again for Fred Stanley Sport to offer our insight into this weeks slate of NFL games, and with a selection of exciting contests on the horizon this Sunday promises to be one of the most explosive of an already high-powered season. To find out who will triumph in these key encounters keep it right here.

Atlanta @ Carolina
Amazingly, the 3-6 Falcons are still well in the race to win the mediocre NFC South, as are the 3-6-1 Panthers. Neither team possesses healthy offensive lines, and neither boasts even an average defense. The Falcons, however, have a healthy quarterback and Steven Jackson has shown signs of life as the teams ball carrier. Those factors are just about enough to qualify them as favourites in a game that could catapult them back into relevance following a 2-6 start. Falcons 23, Panthers 17

Minnesota @ Chicago
Adrian Peterson isn’t yet back for the Vikings, although they may not need him against a Bears outfit that has imploded in recent weeks, culminating in the Sunday Night Football humiliation against Green Bay seven days ago. Teddy Bridgewater has shown enough to offer Vikings fans hope for the future, and their defense has been pretty good for a lot of the campaign. With Chicago in self-destruct mode, particularly on defense, it’s difficult to predict anything other than a road win. Vikings 27, Bears 20

Houston @ Cleveland
For the first time in 20 years the Browns top their division this late into the season, and at home against a Texans team sans Arian Foster they’re favourites to retain that title into week 12. Ryan Mallett has been installed as Houston’s starting QB after he was acquired during the off-season from New England, which makes the Texans offense a complete mystery in this one with Mallett and rookie running back Alfred Blue in the backfield. That uncertainty, combined with the Browns consistency this season, makes Cleveland the pick to improve to 7-3.
Texans 14, Browns 17

Seattle @ Kansas City
In the pick of the early games, the struggling Seahawks travel to Arrowhead Stadium to do battle with the rejuvenated Chiefs. Both teams rely on a stout defense and controlling the clock using the ground game, and both have “game-manager” type quarterbacks. Russell Wilson is more likely than Alex Smith to beat you in a game, but with Kansas City healthier, at home and on a roll it’s difficult to pick against them, even against the reigning champs. Seahawks 16, Chiefs 19

Cincinnati @ New Orleans
Will Andy Dalton improve upon his 2.0 passer rating from last week against Cleveland? Probably. Will the Bengals go into New Orleans and beat the Saints in the imposing Superdome? Probably not. Even though the 49ers did just that last week they have a much better defense and quarterback than the Bengals, who after starting the season on fire have been in free-fall. Dalton may have A.J Green back in the fold but that didn’t exactly help him last week, and the Saints are sure to respond to last weeks overtime defeat with an improved performance. Bengals 20, Saints 30

San Francisco @ New York Giants
Tom Coughlin’s job is now well and truly on the line with the Giants languishing at 3-6 and looking all but certain to miss the play-offs for the fifth time in six seasons, while the 49ers are just about in with a shout at making it to January with a 5-4 record. I’m not sure they’ll accomplish that, but they’ll be on their way after a comfortable win tonight on the back of their defense, which could have a field day against the erratic Giants offensive attack. 49ers 26, Giants 17

Denver @ St. Louis
The Rams looked set to upset a third NFC West rival of the season last week against Arizona but they ultimately came up short, and with the elite Broncos on tap things don’t get any easier for Jeff Fisher’s men. They’ve gone back to Shaun Hill at quarterback but that won’t ultimately matter as Peyton Manning will find a way to get the ball out before the Rams vaunted pass rush gets home, putting up enough points in the process to keep Denver well clear of St. Louis. Broncos 31, Rams 13

Tampa Bay @ Washington
This game isn’t very relevant to the play-off picture, but hey, someone might have some fantasy options involved. Robert Griffin III will be eager to continue his return to full fitness and could be primed for a fairly big game against the passive Buccaneers defense, which has been awful for most of 2014. The Redskins are no powerhouse, yet it’s still difficult to imagine anything other than a home win occurring here with the woeful Bucs in town. Buccaneers 20, Redskins 28

Oakland @ San Diego
When the Chargers played the Raiders in Oakland they struggled on their way to a close victory, and while they should win again today there’s no guarantee they won’t stumble with Phillip Rivers and co currently riding a three game losing streak. The Raiders have played hard for interim coach Tony Sparano, yet ultimately their lack of talent has counted against them as they find themselves win-less late into the year. Rookie QB Derek Carr, on the plus side, looks like a keeper under centre.
Raiders 17, Chargers 24

Detroit @ Arizona
The 7-2 Lions face the toughest tests of their season to date with a visit to the desert to play the 8-1 Cardinals, although Arizona is without Carson Palmer for the rest of the year after he tore knee ligaments last week. Detroit has won many a nail-biter on their way to the top of the NFC North, thanks mainly to their league leading defense as they’ve had to deal without star receiver Calvin Johnson for large portions of the season. Johnson’s back this week, however, and it’s not hard to envision the Lions scary defensive front feasting on Drew Stanton in a statement win for the Lions.
Lions 23, Cardinals 20

Philadelphia @ Green Bay
In another crucial NFC match-up, the Packers almost certainly have to win at home if they’re to keep pace with the Lions in the NFC North. Otherwise, it’s the wild-card way or no way at all for Mike McCarthy’s charges. Philly looked good with Mark Sanchez under centre last week against Carolina but it’s the defense, which forced five turnovers, who have improved plenty as the season has wore on for the Eagles. They won’t be able to completely contain elite QB Aaron Rodgers but if they can force the Packers into becoming one dimensional by stopping running back Eddie Lacy then they may have done just enough to win this daunting road game. Eagles 27, Packers 24

New England @ Indianapolis
Tom Brady is 2-0 when facing Andrew Luck in the Colts quarterback’s young career, and with the Patriots currently on an imposing roll it’s difficult to see that becoming anything other than 3-0 tonight. Even though the Patriots are on the road they possess a better defense than Indy’s, and Luck has a history, so far, of coughing it up in the big games. Fact: Luck has as many interceptions (9) through nine games this season as he did during the duration of the 2013 campaign.
Patriots 34, Colts 24

Pittsburgh @ Tennessee
Lets cut to the chase; the Titans aren’t beating any half competent team this late in the season. Pittsburgh were terrible last week against the Jets and lost, but New York played an inspired game led by veteran quarterback Michael Vick. Tennessee doesn’t have the talent the mercurial Jets do, and the Steelers, who may have been guilty of complacency seven days ago, won’t make the same mistake twice. Steelers 33, Titans 17

What do you think will triumph in the NFL this weekend? Tweet @fredjstanley or leave a comment


Thursday Night Football Preview: Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins already has 5 touchdown receptions on the season

This weeks edition of Thursday Night Football pits the AFC East rival Bills against the Dolphins in a crucial mid-season match-up, with both teams currently well off the pace in the division but right in the thick of the wild card race. With identical 5-4 records a defeat for either would be near-fatal to their post-season hopes, while the victor would remain in the thick of the play-off hunt. Keep reading to find out what to watch for on both sides of the ball.

When Buffalo has the ball…
After E.J Manuel was replaced at quarterback by Kyle Orton the Bills offense improved dramatically, with Orton’s emphasis on ball security and more accurate arm helping to bring the best out of rookie receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins has 617 yards receiving on the season and five touchdowns, a good haul from a first year player performing within an unstable offensive environment. Even though C.J Spiller went down early in the season the Buffalo running game has been solid if not spectacular, with Fred Jackson picking up much of the load. Jackson is unlikely to play tonight, however, with Bryce Brown expected to pick up much of the slack for the Bills. Defensively Miami have been up and down in 2014, with their shutout of San Diego two weeks ago undoubtedly the high point. Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes are one of the better cornerback pairings in the NFL for Miami, while Cameron Wake is an outstanding pass rusher who already has 8.5 sacks on the season.
Edge: Miami

When Miami has the ball…
After putting up 37 points against the Chargers Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense came crashing back to earth against Detroit’s elite defense, registering just 16 points. Tannehill has shown great improvement this season after some inconsistent play in previous years, however rumoured tensions between offensive co-ordinator Bill Lazor and several senior offensive players don’t bode well as the season reaches a critical stage. Knowshon Moreno was lost for the season early on, meaning the rushing load has fallen on Lamar Miller’s shoulders. Miller was hobbled for the game in Detroit, however, which limited both his and the Dolphins overall offensive production. The Buffalo defense has quietly emerged as one of the best in the league, with a pass rush led by all-pro defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and former number one overall pick Mario Williams, plus a secondary boasting ball-hawk Leodis McKelvin.
Edge: Bills

Special Teams
Bills kicker Dan Carpenter is reliable and one of the best legs in the league, while the Buffalo return game was hurt when star kick returner Spiller went down for the year. Caleb Sturgis has been accurate when kicking from within 40 yards for Miami, but his accuracy has dipped from longer distance as he’s made just 5 of 8 attempts. Dolphins return man Jarvis Landry has given Miami good field position on a consistent basis.
Edge: Even

Injury Report
Running back Fred Jackson is questionable for the Bills, while rookie wideout Sammy Watkins is probable to play. For Miami, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Lamar Miller are both probable, while talented tight end Charles Clay is questionable with a knee injury.

Bills 19, Dolphins 18

Who do you think will win tonight’s TNF match-up? Tweet @fredjstanley with your opinion or leave a comment

Week 10 NFL Predictions

Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 12 touchdown passes over his past two games

The tenth Sunday of the NFL season is upon us, which means it’s time for American Football Focus to make our predictions for the upcoming action over the next two days. Play-off races are in full swing, making each game as crucial as ever as teams gear up for the stretch run as they jockey for position heading into December. To find out what we think will transpire this weekend keep it right here.

Tennessee @ Baltimore
The two-win Titans travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, who have slipped recently in recent weeks as they’ve been overtaken in the AFC North by the surging Steelers. However they should be able to achieve victory against Tennessee, who appear to be in rebuilding mode for what feels like the tenth season in a row. Expect Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett and Steve Smith to put more than enough points on the board as the Ravens move to 6-4 and keep their play-off hopes alive.
Titans 14, Ravens 28

Kansas City @ Buffalo
The Chiefs travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills in a match-up between two surprisingly competitive teams. Kansas City have rebounded from a disastrous start to the season to the point where they may be one of the best six teams in the AFC, while Buffalo’s decision to move from E.J Manuel to Kyle Orton at quarterback may have saved their season from nose diving. However without Fred Jackson and Sammy Watkins the Bills will find it difficult to score points on offense, especially with the KC defensive front wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines. Road win. Chiefs 21, Bills 13

Miami @ Detroit
The Lions are fresh off their bye following an unconvincing win in London over the Falcons, while Miami comes in hot after destroying San Diego 37-0. The Dolphins are probably better than most people realise, particularly on offense where offensive co-ordinator Bill Lazor has helped Ryan Tannehill develop into a reliable and potentially game-changing double threat quarterback. Detroit, on the other hand, are perhaps slightly overrated and could have, or even should have, lost to Atlanta two weeks ago. However they welcome Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush back into the fold this evening, and their defensive front matches up well with the Dolphins offensive line, so I’m plumping for a home win. Dolphins 21, Lions 27

Dallas @ Jacksonville
The Cowboys travel to London for the third Wembley game of the season, and fortunately for the ‘boys they should welcome star quarterback Tony Romo back to the starting lineup. The Jaguars have been occasionally competitive this season and perhaps the trip across the pond will inspire them to cause an unlikely upset – although it’s far more likely that DeMarco Murray and Romo will lead Dallas to a bounce-back victory after they were defeated in big D by Arizona last week.
Cowboys 30, Jaguars 14

San Francisco @ New Orleans
The 49ers are 4-4 halfway through their schedule, and unfortunately for niners fans their record is justified as they’ve produced a string of mediocre performances. Good defensive co-ordinators have game planned for Colin Kaepernick effectively, keeping San Frans #7 in the pocket and forcing him to throw the ball. Whether or not Rob Ryan and the Saints D have that kind of performance in them remains to be seen, but they’re near enough unbeatable in the Superdome as they showed last week against Green Bay, and the 49ers defense will have its work cut out to stop Drew Brees, Mark Ingram and the Saints high octane offense. 49ers 24, Saints 33

Pittsburgh @ New York Jets
Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 12 touchdown passes in the past two weeks, and he’ll fancy adding significantly to that total this evening versus the Jets porous secondary. The change at QB made by Rex Ryan made little impact to the Jets fortunes last week, and while Michael Vick is a better bet than Geno Smith he can’t play defense. New York are 1-8 for a reason; equally Pittsburgh are top of the tough AFC North for a reason. It could get ugly in MetLife Stadium as Big Ben hammers another nail in Ryan’s coffin. Steelers 31, Jets 16

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay
The last time these two teams met Atlanta dropped 56 points on Love Smith’s defense, and while the Falcons haven’t won since then they’ll still fancy their chances against the one win Buccaneers. Smith has turned back to Josh McCown at QB at the expense of Mike Glennon, but the lack of a serviceable running game has hurt Tampa Bay all season as they home in on a top five pick in next April’s draft.
Falcons 24, Buccaneers 13

Denver @ Oakland
This might be the biggest mismatch of the NFL season, with Peyton Manning and the Broncos taking on the lowly Raiders in Oakland. The Raiders have little going for them on either side of the ball and they’re yet to win this season, although they have fought valiantly since Tony Sparano took over as the teams temporary head coach. It’s unlikely to matter how hard they fight this week, however, as Manning looks to extend his all-time touchdown passing record.
Broncos 35, Raiders 14

St. Louis @ Arizona
Having already beaten Seattle and San Francisco, the Rams seek the NFC West trifecta in the desert as they take on the 7-1 Cardinals. At 3-5 St. Louis’s season is as good as over, although they still have pride to play for and are well within touching distance of the 49ers and Seahawks in the division. The upstart Cardinals should have too much for St. Louis in this encounter,  however, particularly with Carson Palmer excelling in their vertical offense. Rams 17, Cardinals 24

New York Giants @ Seattle
The Giants visit Seattle in a game that could go a long way towards determining head coach Tom Coughlin’s future. Win and his team maintains a chance of making the play-offs; lose and their season is as good as over and the G-men will have missed the post-season for the fifth time in six years. Seattle don’t have the weapons on offense to unduly trouble the Giants defense, although Marshawn Lynch looked back to his best last week versus Oakland. It promises to be a low scoring tussle in the north west, and with Seattle banged up and New York on their last chance I smell an upset in the offering. Giants 17, Seahawks 16

Chicago @ Green Bay
Chicago have been one of the more disappointing teams in the NFL this season, with rumours of infighting plaguing them on their way to a mediocre 3-5 record. Things don’t get any easier for them this week as they attempt to beat their great rival Packers in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers looks to have overcome the hamstring strain he sustained last week in New Orleans, which is ominous for the talent-challenged Bears D. Bears 21, Packers 34

Carolina @ Philadelphia
Cam Newton leads the Panthers into Philadelphia for Monday Night Football, with the Eagles now turning to Mark Sanchez under centre after Nick Foles broke his collarbone in Houston last week. The drop off from Foles to Sanchez was minimal last week and if the same is true tomorrow night the Eagles should come out on top in this NFC battle. More notably, the Panthers run defense has been one of the NFL’s worst this season and LeSean McCoy has looked better and better as the season has worn on, which doesn’t bode well for Ron Rivera’s men. Panthers 24, Eagles 28

What do you think will happen in week 10 of the NFL season? Leave a comment or tweet @fredjstanley to have your say.