A pretty ugly Week 12 on hand, with only two games this Sunday (Atlanta-Green Bay and San Diego-Indy) that are actually worth watching without something riding on it. Home teams in CAPS.
Jacksonville (+7) over NY GIANTS
Maybe the Jaguars don't get enough credit, or maybe they enjoy relative obscurity. We'll find out at 1:00 at the New Meadowlands, where the Giants are now without their top two receivers (Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks) as well as possibly three starters on the offensive line. Jacksonville has won 3 in a row while the Giants' two-game losing streak has people mentioning last year's second half nose-dive. I think the home team finds a way to end the skid but the Jags' chances of keeping this close are pretty good.
ATLANTA (-2) over Green Bay
Let's please put the Packers love fest on hold until they play a team that isn't dead in the water, unlike either of their past two games. The critical matchup in this game is the Atlanta rushing attack vs. Green Bay's surging defense, as the Falcons would do well to pound it with Michael Turner and Chris Snelling to eat up clock and keep Greg Jennings and annoying new media darling Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines. Tony Gonzalez might have to have a big day when Atlanta does pass, if Charles Woodson sticks on Roddy White as expected. The Falcons are 5-0 at home this year and something like 18-1 at the Georgia Dome in games started by Matt Ryan.
Carolina (+9.5) over CLEVELAND
My new "just go against Carolina" rule was not instituted with Jake Delhomme in mind. With Delhomme getting the start for the Browns against his old team, 9.5 is just entirely too many points to give, even with the Browns having put together a few respectable weeks. The Panthers themselves have actually been more competitive over the past two games than the scores would suggest, and may be getting Jonathan Stewart back this week. I'll take a flier on the 9.5 points here.
OAKLAND (-2.5) over Miami
I'm going to the well with the Raiders one more time. Miami comes into the Black Hole down to their third quarterback and playing with about half of an offensive line. Considering that Oakland is 4-1 at home this year I'm a bit surprised that the line is just 2.5, but that may be in light of the 35-3 beating they took in Pittsburgh last week. I think Miami's best football is behind them this year unless they find a way to run the ball well again.
St. Louis (+3.5) over DENVER
The Broncos' defense looked miserable in San Diego last Monday night, and they won't have a ton of fun having to tackle Steven Jackson, who continues to run like a cannonball and must be breathing some really fresh air now that his team is a respectable 4-6. The Broncos have lost 5 out of 6 and padded their offensive stats immensely two weeks ago vs. the Chiefs. This has a chance to be a moment of arrival for Steve Spagnuolo's team, as it's been a while since the Rams have gone into a traditionally tough place to play like Denver and put up a great effort. Give me the 3.5 in what has a good chance to be a field goal game either way.
Last Week: 3-2-0