FOX Sports Exclusive
Who has the edge in Week 13?
Last week marked more than just another Tim Tebow comeback, another national overreaction to a touchdown dance, and another Sebastian Janikowski/Shane Lechler tag-team performance that would make The British Bulldogs blush. It also marked the best week we’ve ever had in four years of doing the Cheat Sheet. There was a ticker tape parade in my 600-square-foot apartment on Tuesday morning. You might have missed it.
I went 14-2 with my Week 12 picks, bumping up the season’s overall record to 124-52. On the year, the Cheat Sheet’s hit on just over 70 percent of the games. Tim Tebow’s wackadoodle unnecessary spin moves, Rex Grossman’s career day in Seattle and the hapless failure that is the Blaine Gabbert/Josh McCown two-headed monster in Jacksonville all played roles in my career-best week.
More to come in Week 13? Absolutely.
Let’s dig in.
Week 12 Record: 13-3
Overall 2011 Record: 124-52
WEEK 13 CHEAT SHEET TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson reached 700 career receptions in the Texans’ 20-13 win at Jacksonville on Sunday. Johnson recorded his 700th catch in his 120th career game, the second-fewest to reach the milestone in NFL history. Which NFL receiver got to the 700 catch milestone faster?
WEEK 12 IMPRESS YOUR COLLEAGUES WATER COOLER FACT OF THE WEEK:
Esteemed FOX play by play man Sam Rosen has called each and every one of Patrick Peterson’s four punt returns for touchdowns this season.
Now, let’s get to the picks.
Philadelphia at Seattle: The Seahawks, with little national media attention, were sneakily winners of two straight and a win Sunday over the Redskins away from being a real player in the NFC Wild Card hunt. Alas, they gave up 16 straight points in a 10-minute span and lost in their own building to a team on a putrid six-game losing streak, instead. So much for any talk of the playoffs in the Pacific Northwest. They’ll lose again in this one.
The Pick: Eagles 27, Seahawks 17
Kansas City at Chicago: Some Tyler Palko stats for you to digest from the last two weeks: Six interceptions, zero touchdown drives, 47-12 point differential. And two losses. "There is no loss of confidence here," Palko said after Sunday’s 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh. Well, that makes one person out there. The Kyle Orton era couldn’t start fast enough, but I fear Orton — like Carson Palmer in his first start with the Raiders — hasn’t been in town long enough to lead the Chiefs to victory in this one.
The Pick: Bears 24, Chiefs 20
Denver at Minnesota: All Tebow does is win, win, win. And with that, I present my favorite YouTube clip of the year. Watch that one 20 times. You'll laugh every time. And you'll have that song stuck in your head, too.
The Pick: Broncos 21, Vikings 20
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET games
Tennessee at Buffalo: Eleven years ago, Frank Wycheck took a handoff from Lorenzo Neal, lateraled the ball to Kevin Dyson, and The Music City Miracle knocked the Wade Phillips-coached '99 Bills out of the playoffs. Buffalo hasn’t been back to the playoffs since. Now, in the midst of a terrible four-game losing streak and owners of a sub-.500 record for the first time all year, it’s hard to see that 11-year drought ending in 2011. The “Bills are back” storyline was pretty fun while it lasted, though, right?
The Pick: Titans 31, Bills 20
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: The Steelers have two battles with division rivals in a five-day span up ahead, facing the Bengals on Sunday, then traveling to Cleveland for a slugfest on Thursday. With Pittsburgh banged up on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, I can see the young Bengals pulling off the upset in this one. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green came up huge in the clutch yet again last week vs. the Browns. Look for something special and a last-second Cincy win in Pittsburgh, here. Troy Polamalu has "concussion-like symptoms," which, I'm told by a doctor friend is something very similar to "having a concussion." Dalton will take advantage.
The Pick: Bengals 20, Steelers 17 (OT)
Indianapolis at New England: The Patriots are 21-point favorites over the Colts on Sunday. According to my guy R.J. Bell at Pregame.com, all nine teams that have been 20-point favorites in NFL history have won those games straight up. The biggest favorite to ever lose a game straight up? In 1995, the Cowboys were favored by 17.5 points over the Redskins in a Week 14 game and lost. That can’t and won’t happen, here. Dan Orlovsky simply won’t let it.
The Pick: Patriots 33, Colts 14
Carolina at Tampa Bay: Cam Newton needs just 647 yards passing over the next five games to break Peyton Manning's single-season passing mark for a rookie. He could pick up half of them against the Bucs in Tampa on Sunday. Newton, still my pick for NFL Rookie of the Year, got the first road win of his career last week in Indianapolis. He’ll scoop up his second against the deflated Bucs. Quick question, while we’re at it — which third-year quarterback’s taken a bigger step backward this season: Josh Freeman or Mark Sanchez? I might have to go with the former. Freeman's been terrible this year.
The Pick: Panthers 31, Buccaneers 23
Oakland at Miami: There was a great moment in the NFL Films’ footage from the Raiders locker room after Sunday’s 25-20 win over the Bears. Coach Hue Jackson brought Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler to the front of the locker room and as the only remaining members from the last time an Oakland squad was 7-4, asked them to say a few words. Lechler spoke, saying they still had a long road ahead and then looked to Janikowski. Sea-Bass sort of nodded, then shrugged off the opportunity to address the team with some long-winded speech, instead muttering, “I’m good.” Incredible. Love Lechler and Janikowski. They need a movie, They could be the best comedic duo since Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.
The Pick: Raiders 24, Dolphins 17
New York Jets at Washington: The Redskins may be headed for a top-10 pick in April, but they’re still playing hard, sound football. Washington should have beaten the Cowboys at home two weeks ago and they went up to Seattle and came back from a late deficit to win a tough one vs. the Seahawks on Sunday. This is the exact kind of team that tends to give the Jets trouble. New York managed zero takeaways against Buffalo on Sunday, Rex Grossman’s coming off a career day, and even the cynical New York media is taking this one for granted, unanimously picking the Jets. In other words, take the ‘Skins.
The Pick: Redskins 24, Jets 20
Atlanta at Houston: Although it’d be easy to write off the Texans with their messy quarterback situation and a schedule that includes matchups with the Falcons and Bengals in the next two weeks, I can’t. Why not? I never thought I’d say this with a Gary Kubiak-coached team, but their defense is simply too good. Wade Phillips’ unit is downright ferocious. Rookie Brooks Reed — a guy I ranted and raved about during draft time and before the season — is making his claim for the All-Rookie team with sacks in five straight games and second-year linebacker Conor Barwin recorded four sacks in last week’s win over Jacksonville. This defense and that home crowd are going to keep Houston in these next two games. Hell, I’m feeling good. Give me the T.J. Yates-led Texans over the Falcons in an upset on Sunday. When you're hot, you're hot. Houston's hot.
The Pick: Texans 21, Falcons 17
4 p.m. ET games
Baltimore at Cleveland: The Ravens have a tendency to lose games to mediocre teams after beating good ones. Beat the Steelers? Lose to the Titans. Beat the Jets? Lose to the Jaguars. Beat the Steelers? Lose to the Seahawks. With 10 days to rest and prepare for this road trip, they’ve got to beat the 4-7 Browns. They have to, right? Umm, right? I think they will, but it won’t be a cakewalk. With Baltimore, it rarely is.
The Pick: Ravens 24, Browns 20
Green Bay at New York Giants: You know that fat guy outside the window in the Aaron Rodgers State Farm commercial? I like that guy. He’s funny. What Aaron Rodgers is going to do to that Giants defense on Sunday? There will be nothing humorous about it. With just six days to prepare a defensive game plan, this could get really ugly, really fast. I know a Giants team worse than this ended the ’98 Broncos undefeated season in a situation awfully similar to this. That doesn’t mean anything. Packers win, and Packers win big.
The Pick: Packers 34, Giants 17
Dallas at Arizona: When the Cowboys lost to the Eagles on Oct. 30 and fell to 3-4 on the year, I said to look at the Cowboys’ upcoming schedule, check out Tony Romo’s career record in November, and let’s check back in on Dec. 5. Sure enough, Dallas has won four straight, has a one-game lead on the Giants in the NFC East standings, and no one’s mentioned that Sunday night loss in Philly since it happened. Anytime the Cowboys play at Arizona, I think of Rod Tidwell and “Jerry Maguire.” I don’t expect any Cuba Gooding, Jr. heroics, mentions of the word “Qwan,” or “Show Me the Money” moments here. Cowboys in a romp.
The Pick: Cowboys 34, Cardinals 16
St. Louis at San Francisco: Ten days to prepare, angry over getting manhandled in the Harbaugh Bowl on Thanksgiving and poised to wrap the division up by December, San Francisco should take care of business vs. the struggling Rams on Sunday. By the way, did you know Jim and John Harbaugh are brothers? Yeah, it’s true. Wait, did you know their dad coached football, too? I know! Crazy right? The media sure knows how to beat the hell out of a story, huh?
The Pick: 49ers 24, Rams 13
Detroit at New Orleans: The Saints are sizzling, the Lions will be without the services of Mr. Suh, and the Mercedez Benz Lexus December to Remember Prius iPad Superdome will be rocking. Stafford and Co. don’t stand a chance. Drew Brees will eat that awful Lions secondary alive. Like the Bills, the Lions’ playoff berth seemed all but certain just four weeks ago. Now? The guy they took such pleasure mocking — Mr. Tebow — might have a better shot at playing January football. The lesson, as always? Don’t ever mock Tim Tebow. Oh, and don’t viciously stomp on the leg of a defenseless opponent, either.
The Pick: Saints 37, Lions 23
San Diego at Jacksonville: The past two “Monday Night Football” games featured blowouts of 20-plus points. The next two feature the Chargers and Jaguars and the Seahawks and Rams. Maybe Hank Williams, Jr. knew what he was doing getting kicked off the Monday night broadcasts? The only reason to watch this one is to see if and how Jon Gruden can possibly do the breathless “This guy” routine about a player on one of these squads. There hasn’t been one “This guy”-worthy player on either Jacksonville or San Diego all season.
The Pick: Chargers 23, Jaguars 17
Reader Email of the Week
For the past three years, my buddies and I have gone to the same sports bar every Sunday, have had the same table and have ordered the same exact food every week. This year, one of our guys decided to bring his girlfriend of two months along. The next week, one of them brought his. Now, it’s this big co-ed event and it’s too late to tell the girls they can’t come. They don’t add or take anything away from the experience, but it’s just I don’t know — different? How do we — the remaining three bachelors — politely tell the guys to keep their ladies at home. It’s ruining tradition!
New York, New York
This sounds like some awful episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” If the girls aren’t “taking anything away” from your holy tradition of stuffing your face with Buffalo wings every Sunday, what’s the harm in having them there? I have no real advice, other than maybe shaving, putting on something other than sweatpants and asking them to bring some friends next time.
WEEK 13 CHEAT SHEET TRIVIA ANSWER
It took former Colts superstar Marvin Harrison just 114 games — six fewer than Johnson — to catch 700 balls. Harrison was inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor on Sunday.
More Stories From Peter Schrager