Daily Blog • December 16th
GREEN BAY AT CHICAGO
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
GREEN BAY 99
161
21
+7
#12
CHICAGO 148
230
22
+13
#1

The Packers are 8-2 (incl playoffs) in the series winning the previous meeting 23-10. GB dominated every facet of the game with a 321-168 yd edge, pulled in 7 sks, forced 4 int (10 pts) and scored a td on a fake FG. Rodgers has fared very well vs the Bears avg 244 ypg (70%) with a 16-6 ratio and he gets a big break with Urlacher (hamstring) out. GB has avg’d +56 ypg/26 ppg vs top 10 defenses this year and their 3-2 mark is due to the fact they were force feeding the ground game to start the season. Chicago finished with a 438-248 but Culter threw an int that was ret’d to the C5 and threw a pick 6. GB has won 7 straight NFC North games with a 32-18 avg score and I’ll go with the visitor in Dec vs a depleted Bears team.

PHIL'S FORECAST: GREEN BAY 27 CHICAGO 23
NY GIANTS AT ATLANTA
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
NY GIANTS 134
217
26
+16
#20
ATLANTA 91
298
20
+6
#31

The defending SB Champs take on this year’s #1 seed in the NFC. The Giants have the #9 and #20 units (+6 TO’s) vs a tougher sked this year while ATL has the #8 and #20 units (+6 TO’s) vs arguably the easiest schedule in the league. This is the 1st team ATL has faced with a winning record since DEN back in week 2 and only the 3rd team with a pass rush (DEN/ARZ) in the top 14 all year (NYG #13). Last week Atlanta was outgained 270-35 in the 1H in the 30-20 loss to the Panthers!! The Falcons gave up only 2 sacks last week and despite only allowing 7 sacks in the L/5 games Ryan has a 7-8 ratio. He may face his toughest pass rush all season as NY has already totaled 4+ sacks 4 times this year. How good is this 11-2 Falcons team that has played the WEAKEST schedule and has only outgained its opponents by 12 ypg?

PHIL'S FORECAST: NY GIANTS 20 ATLANTA 17
TAMPA BAY AT NEW ORLEANS
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
TAMPA BAY 125
219
28
+12
#25
NEW ORLEANS 82
194
32
-4
#7

The last time these two met they combined for 971 yards. On the final drive TB drove down to the NO9 but the receiver was pushed out of bounds before catching the ball and the td was nullified on a penalty. This is a favorable matchup for Brees who has avg’d 285 ypg (68%) with a 20-11 ratio vs the #32 pass defense. The Bucs came out of their bye week winning 5 of 6 and they were the talk of the NFL and with the players excited Schiano’s strict rules were easier to take. Now after a loss at Denver and 2 home losses by a combined 3 points the season may start to wear on this very young team. Brees has shown the last 2 weeks that he will play out this season regardless of their record and what better way to show an up and coming challenger in your division that they are not at your level yet by sweeping them.

PHIL'S FORECAST: NEW ORLEANS 30 TAMPA BAY 27
MINNESOTA AT ST LOUIS
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
MINNESOTA 143
138
14
-5
#23
ST LOUIS 138
300
20
-1
#30

With both teams being longshots for the playoffs the Rams are playing for improvement for 2013 but the Vikings are trying to get Peterson to 2,000 yds rushing. In 6 games vs teams with a quality run game (WAS, CHI, SEA, SF, BUF) the Rams have allowed 142 ypg rushing (4.6) and the turf here plays to Peterson’s strength. Ponder who (91 yds last week at home) hasn’t impressed on the road this year avg 175 ypg (61%) with a 6-6 ratio and his 5.2 ypa is less than Peterson’s ypc this year (6.0). Both teams have been hampered by their lack of depth at the WR spots this year but Bradford has avg’d 224 ypg (57%) with a 7-3 ratio the last 5 weeks despite playing 4 games vs top 10 defenses as his OL has stabilized. I like how the Rams are gaining momentum for 2013 and while Peterson is likely to get his yards here, SLT has the better overall defense along with coaching and home field edges in a lower scoring game.

PHIL'S FORECAST: ST LOUIS 20 MINNESOTA 14
WASHINGTON AT CLEVELAND
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
WASHINGTON 163
196
21
+12
#21
CLEVELAND 123
278
22
+8
#27

Not many people before the season would have pegged this game in late December as a game with playoff implications for both teams but after 3 straight wins, the Browns mathematically have not been eliminated yet. This is a slight letdown spot for WAS as they are off 3 straight division games, a local rival and close out with back-to-back NFC East matchups. Over the last 4 weeks these teams are pretty evenly matched with WAS having the #7 and #20 units (+5 TO’s) and CLE having the #16 and #11 units (+7 TO’s). The return of NT Taylor has shored up the DL as the Browns are only allowing 94 ypg (4.5) rushing the last 4 weeks and with Griffin out, the WAS run gm will be limited. CLE RB Richardson has averaged 27 touches a game since SD and also leads the team in rec’s. While I appreciate Cousin's effort last week in capping off the comeback win over the Ravens, the Browns are an improving team that is making positive steps.

PHIL'S FORECAST: CLEVELAND 21 WASHINGTON 17
JACKSONVILLE AT MIAMI
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
JACKSONVILLE 57
202
12
0
#32
MIAMI 148
197
27
-11
#11

Chad Henne returns to MIA. The Dolphins take a big step down after facing SEA’s #3 defense, NE’s #1 offense and SF’s #2 defense as they now get the Jags #31 and #31 units (+0 TO’s) who also have my #32 spec teams. JAX has been outgained by 100 ypg (#32) in NDIV games this year. Already talent poor they have been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball with starters missing 16% of starts (#4) prior to last week when they were down to their #4 RB and their top WR was Shorts (43 rec, 19.2). Def’s caught up to Tannehill in mid-Nov and in his last 5 games he’s avg’d 189 ypg (55%) with a 3-6 ratio but this is a good matchup for him here as JAX’s #24 pass defense has a 17-10 ratio with just 14 sks so far this year (1 every 32 att). Last week’s results reinforce the fact that the Dolphins have average talent and the Jags keep it close.

PHIL'S FORECAST: MIAMI 20 JACKSONVILLE 17
DENVER AT BALTIMORE
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
DENVER 99
242
24
-2
#17
BALTIMORE 116
197
22
+12
#9

The key to the Ravens defensive strength for so long is that the system has stayed the same making it easy to carry forward despite player/coach turnover. It is also a weakness when a QB like Peyton who has a 7-0 record vs them shows up. Manning has avg’d 248 ypg (64%) with a 13-5 ratio in that span and he now faces the #23 pass defense that isn’t what is used to be. Denver has huge stat edges with the #4 and #4 edges (-2 TO’s) vs Baltimore’s #18 and #24 units (+12 TO’s). While Peyton may not be quite as electric as he used to be but he’s also got the best supporting defensive unit he’s ever had. This is the time of year that BAL gets RB Rice rolling but Denver has held 6 of the L/7 foes to an avg of 67 ypg (3.1) rush and the Ravens WR’s aren’t lighting it up this year. Added rest and an easy Thursday win negates the travel and I’ll call for the Broncos here.

PHIL'S FORECAST: DENVER 31 BALTIMORE 24
INDIANAPOLIS AT HOUSTON
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
INDIANAPOLIS 69
282
17
-16
#29
HOUSTON 138
313
30
+14
#24

The Texans are home after 3 straight road games capped off by a MNF loss to the Patriots. Indy was in a favorable spot last week at home vs a Tennessee team with a young QB behind a depleted OL and new play caller. While Luck deserves credit for rallying vs DET keep in mind that while he’s avg’d 306 ypg on the road this year he also has completed just 55% with an 8-13 ratio as well. HOU has solid stat edges with the #5 and #6 units (+14 TO’s) vs the Colts #7 and #22 units (-16 TO’s). Injuries are starting to crack the Colts defense as they’ve given up 121 (4.8) ypg rush the last 4 weeks and have a 12-4 ratio on the road with just 9 sks. Prior to last week’s games Foster had more yds rushing (1102) than the Colts top 3 rushers (Ballard, Brown, Luck) combined (1101). Look for Phillips to turn the “Bulls on Parade” defense loose on Luck to set the tone for who rules the AFC South right now.

PHIL'S FORECAST: HOUSTON 30 INDIANAPOLIS 17
CAROLINA AT SAN DIEGO
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
CAROLINA 125
215
22
+1
#26
SAN DIEGO 102
266
27
0
#13

Rivera was the Chargers DC for Turner from 2008-10 improving the unit from 25th to 16th to #1 which helped him win CAR HC job. Rivers and his beleaguered OL (which had 3 diff starters last week) get a much needed break after facing 3 def in the top 10 the last 4 weeks with Baltimore thrown in for good measure. However, SD is 0-6 vs the NFC with a 34-20 avg score. One win will not change my mind on the Chargers who were outgained 340-294 last week but scored a defensive td and 2 short td drives (48 & 17 yds). The Chargers have been outgained at home this season and have not topped 300 yards in any of their last 4 games. The Panthers have been road warriors outgaining foe by 56 ypg while averaging 25 ppg the last 5.

PHIL'S FORECAST: CAROLINA 27 SAN DIEGO 23
SEATTLE VS BUFFALO (TORONTO)
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
SEATTLE 171
196
29
+8
#15
BUFFALO 149
156
14
-7
#3

This would usually be a situational issue with Seattle coming cross country vs an AFC foe. BUF is 1-3 in the Toronto series but SEA is dealing with susp’s to their elite CB’s but that was of no concern against the inept Arizona offense. The Seahawks clearly gained revenge for their season opening loss and a put double exclamation marks on it with a 58-0 shutout. The Bills had a 174-71 yd edge at HT but only led 6-3 allowing a 84/14pl drive with a 13 yd GW td pass with :48 left. It’ll be tough for Seattle to be 100% focused as the 49ers play on Sunday Night and a loss at NE would mean next week’s game would be for the NFC West lead. Last year in Toronto the Bills won 24-0 vs Washington but they were off a bye while Washington was away for a 2nd straight. Seattle wins but has no reason to pour it on here.

PHIL'S FORECAST: SEATTLE 23 BUFFALO 17
DETROIT AT ARIZONA
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
DETROIT 154
210
27
+6
#28
ARIZONA 99
179
16
0
#14

Both tms limp in as after a 4-0 start, the Cardinals have dropped 9 str while the Lions have dropped 5 str and were all but eliminated from playoff contention. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the league’s #32 off which managed just 5 FD’s and 137 yds vs NYJ 2 weeks ago, last week the Cards managed just 10 FD’s and 154 yds and failed to reach 20 pts yet again (avg just 10.5 ppg in the losing streak). After the Lindley experiment went south, they unsuccessfully went back to Skelton who had 4 int’s and playing behind a depleted young OL that has helped top 4.0 ypc rush in only 3 games. The Lions, despite a similar record, are clearly the superior tm with the #2 and #19 units outgaining their foes by 63 ypg vs the #12 sked while ARZ is being outgained by 68 ypg against the #6 sked. It should be noted that teams are 1-7 in Dec off a shutout loss as DET will be the team that stops their bleeding here.

PHIL'S FORECAST: DETROIT 27 ARIZONA 20
PITTSBURGH AT DALLAS
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
PITTSBURGH 89
245
24
-13
#18
DALLAS 64
258
28
-10
#19

One of the better rivalries in NFL history with classic Super Bowl matchups, these two have met only twice s/’98 w/the Steelers taking both. Last week in a similar situation to what KC faced the wk prior, DAL played with a ton of emotion for their fallen teammate and rallied from a 9 pt deficit to beat CIN 20-19. The return of Murray gave the Cowboys’ offense some balance as in the 3 gms he’s rushed 18+ times they have won. Like last year, Romo continued his late ssn success as after starting the yr with a 9-13 ratio, he’s rebounded with an 11-3 ratio since the start of Nov while leading the Cowboys to wins in 4 of their last 5 gms. PIT also saw the return of a key offensive player last week but QB Roethlisberger had a much different result. The Chargers got off to a fast start not allowing him to get comfortable as he threw 1 int and had a botched screen pass that turned into a SD td. However, I expect him to shake off the rust this week against a Cowboys tm that is all’g 36 ppg and 430 ypg in its last 2 home games. In a gm with huge playoff implications for both tms, I’ll take the much more reliable Steelers vs a DAL that will have to deal with an emotional letdown similar to what the Chiefs faced last week.

PHIL'S FORECAST: PITTSBURGH 23 DALLAS 16
KANSAS CITY AT OAKLAND
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
KANSAS CITY 194
206
20
-22
#16
OAKLAND 126
261
21
-7
#10

Earlier this year OAK won 26-16 as KC QB Quinn was knocked out. Last week KC’s letdown was to be expected after an emotional week. After RB Charles broke a 80 yd td on the gm’s 1st play, the Chiefs were shutout the rest of the way as Quinn was constantly harassed (5 sks) and excluding a 2-0 ratio in the CAR win, he has an 0-5 ratio this year. The #22 offense continues to have no problem moving the ball but putting pts on the scoreboard has been a different story as they have failed to reach 17 points in 8 of their L/9 gms and their 22.4 off ypp is dead last. Last week the Raiders lost their 6th str gm overall as they were rolled by DEN 26-13. With the game still in the balance, Palmer’s TO’s woes continued as his 1 int thwarted a possible scoring drive and a lost fmbl set up an easy DEN td that sealed the win. Both tms rush D’s are among the league’s worst but naturally the difference here could be the KC #5 run gm that has been their lone bright spot.

PHIL'S FORECAST: KANSAS CITY 21 OAKLAND 20
SAN FRANCISCO AT NEW ENGLAND
Rushing
Passing
Points
TO’s
ST
SAN FRANCISCO 135
220
24
+6
#2
NEW ENGLAND 108
274
33
+24
#5

What a couple of weeks as NE hosted AFC leader Houston on MN and now gets one of the NFC's best in the 49ers. By now Belichick should have a good read on SF QB Kaepernick who has both dazzled and disappointed in his few starts since taking over the QB spot. Naturally NE still has a shot at the AFC's #1 seed thanks to their huge win over HOU which would gives them the tiebreaker edge. On the other side, while it is a big game for the 49ers, they actually have a bigger game on deck vs a SEA team that is breathing down their neck in the division. Usually in games involving a team with a great offense vs a great defense, I lean with the defensive team but I can't go against the Pats here especially with the huge QB edge.

PHIL'S FORECAST: NEW ENGLAND 24 SAN FRANCISCO 19