Gridiron guide: NFL Week 12 picks

Eli Manning throws a pass during a game

Eli Manning throws a pass during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. (Nov. 4, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

PACKERS (7-3) at GIANTS (6-4), 8:20 p.m.

Giants by 21/2; O/U: 501/2

TV: Ch. 4 Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9).

This game is the crown jewel of Week 12, and could go a long way in helping both clubs in the NFC playoff picture. I ask myself one question: Who would I want as my quarterback right now? Eli Manning's overall track record can't be touched. But Manning is 54 of 99 for 532 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions in his last three starts. He's thrown one TD pass in the last month. Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in QB rating (107.3), is second in TDs (27), and fifth in completion percentage (67.2). Here's some more bad numbers for the G-Men: They are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games, 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 games off a bye week, and 17-40-2 ATS in their last 59 games in November.

THE PICK: Packers

 

BRONCOS (7-3)

at CHIEFS (1-9)

Broncos by 101/2; O/U: 44

TV: Ch. 2

KC leads the NFL with 31 giveaways and a minus-21 turnover margin. Brady Quinn is back at QB for the Chiefs, and gets a shot at his former coach, John Fox. The Broncos "dropped" a back-door cover last week (though I'm not sure the Chargers' Danario Alexander didn't "drop" a late 21-yard TD pass). I'm not a big fan of taking double-digit favorites in divisional games, but the Chiefs are a tough bet these days. The road team has covered six of last seven series meetings, and the Broncos -- without RB Willis McGahee -- are 4-1 ATS in last five games in KC. Tread softly.

THE PICK: Broncos

 

 

FALCONS (9-1) at BUCS (6-4)

Falcons by 1; O/U: 50

The Falcons overcame a five-pick performance by Matt Ryan in last week's win vs. Arizona. The Bucs have been one of the surprise teams this season, and a bettor's dream recently (four straight covers) and this season (8-2 ATS). The Falcons have struggled vs. Tampa (3-7 ATS in last 10 meetings), but should bounce back here.

THE PICK: FALCONS

 

VIKINGS (6-4) at BEARS (7-3)

Off; O/U: Off

Chicago QB Jay Cutler questionable

TV: Ch. 5

I know many people will wait until Sunday to see if Cutler is cleared to start at QB. That's a smart play. Minnesota (off a bye) has dropped five straight covers to the Bears, and is 0-4 ATS in their last four in Chi-Town. However, the Bears' O-line is in shambles, and the Vikings running game (see: Adrian Peterson and his NFL-best 1,128 yards) should help Minnesota keep this one close enough.

THE PICK: Vikings

 

 

STEELERS (6-4)

at BROWNS (2-8)

Pick 'em; O/U: 341/2

What is it with Steelers QBs and their ribs? (Wouldn't KC be more appropriate with the ribs?) First, it was Ben Roethlisberger, and last week it was Byron Leftwich. Pittsburgh looks to third-stringer Charlie Batch, who is 5-2 in seven career starts for the Steelers. The Black & Gold recently signed backup QB Brian Hoyer and former Jets (and Steelers) WR Plaxico Burress, who should be a boost in the red zone. I know the Brownies are a tough out (5-4-1 ATS in '12), but Pittsburgh needs to keep pace in the AFC playoff race.

THE PICK: Steelers

 

RAIDERS (3-7)

at BENGALS (5-5)

Bengals by 8; O/U: 49

The Raiders are 16-40 overall in East Coast games dating to 2005. However, the line is just a bit too much for me here. Visiting underdogs are 61-39-3 (61 percent) ATS this season. Worth a shot.

THE PICK: Raiders

 

SEAHAWKS (6-4)

at DOLPHINS (4-6)

Seahawks by 3; O/U: 371/2

Two of the biggest trends in the NFL clash in this one: Seattle is 9-21-1 ATS in their last 31 road games. Miami is 22-52-1 ATS in their last 75 home games. I'm breaking my rule on Seattle (7-3 ATS in '12): I'm taking them on the road vs. inconsistent Dolphins.

THE PICK: Seahawks

 

BILLS (4-6) at COLTS (6-4)

Colts by 3; O/U: 511/2

The Bills have been playing some good ball of late. The Colts look to rebound after allowing 59 points vs. the Pats, which snapped Indy's four-game win (and cover) streak. I am surprised that Indy is playing as well as they are despite a minus-13 turnover margin. Sooner or later, that number will catch up with Indy. But not here.

THE PICK: Colts

 

TITANS (4-6) at JAGUARS (1-9)

Titans by 3; O/U: 44

Jags QB Blaine Gabbert was put on injured reserve this week, which gives backup Chad Henne a shot. Henne started four games for the Dolphins last season. The Titans have some bad trends, but they had a bye last week, and they're the better team. Plus, Jags are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games.

THE PICK: Titans

 

49ers (7-2-1)

at SAINTS (5-5), 4:25 p.m.

49ers by 1; O/U: 481/2

TV: Ch. 5

We've seen coaches "fumble" how they handle their quarterbacks, but I'm shocked how poorly 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has dealt with his QB situation (and Harbaugh is a former NFL QB). I know how well Colin Kaepernick played Monday night vs. the Bears, but it was only one game. What about former starter Alex Smith? Before his concussion, he was first in the NFL in completion percentage (70 percent) and third in QB rating (104.1). Of course, if Kaepernick continues winning, I'll look foolish. But I'll take the best QB who could play here -- the Saints' Drew Brees -- at home.

THE PICK: Saints

 

RAVENS (8-2) at CHARGERS (4-6), 4:05 p.m.

Ravens by 1; O/U: 47

Parents, don't let children grow up to be NFL linebackers, cornerbacks or safeties. Look what happened to the Ravens' Ed Reed this week. First, he was handed a one-game suspension that would have cost him a game check of, gulp, $423,529. Instead, Reed was fined $50K. Still kind of steep, but not as bad. I sure could help Reed find a way to spend the difference ($373,529). The difference here is that the Ravens, fresh off a big win vs. AFC North rival Pittsburgh, are the better team.

THE PICK: Ravens

 

RAMS (3-6-1) at CARDINALS (4-6), 4:25 p.m.

Cardinals by 2; O/U: 37

How bad has it gotten for the Cardinals, who have six straight losses, and are 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games? Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt has decided to go with a third option at QB: rookie Ryan Lindley. Good luck, son. The Rams aren't much better: they have not won on the road this season (0-3-1) and are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings in Arizona, and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 meetings overall. Something has to give here.

THE PICK: Cardinals

 

PANTHERS (2-8) at EAGLES (3-7), 8:30 p.m.

Panthers by 21/2; O/U: 41

TV: ESPN. Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9) joined in progress.

A few months ago, this probably seemed like a good game. Now? Oy-vey! Philly, on a six-game losing streak, is an NFL-worst 1-8-1 ATS this season. They won't have QB Michael Vick (concussion, doubtful)

THE PICK: Panthers