That the Atlanta Falcons hung in with the New Orleans Saints actually speaks volumes for them, though the Saints haven't been particularly good on the road—which makes Week 13 at Seattle very interesting.
You can read my overall thoughts on the game at AndrewGarda.com, but I had a secondary thought very late in the evening, post-game.
Why do teams who are running well decide to stop and spread out wide on New Orleans?
This is something I'm going to try and look at the next two days but why did Atlanta run the ball 16 times overall—seven in the second half—when they were able to move the ball and were only down by four points for the entire fourth quarter.
Yes, Drew Brees eats the clock up, but that's something you want to do as well.
The Jets beat the Saints by pounding the ball relentlessly. It factored heavily in the New England victory too.
Why is this not being done more? And will Seattle be the next team to clue into this?
As we leave the Thursday night game, I leave you with a pair of images which should remind us all that Jimmy Graham is probably not human.
Nick Foles Gets Support from a Surprising Source
According to Kevin Patra of NFL.com's Around the League, Nick Foles has plenty of support in the lockerroom—including from fellow quarterback Mike Vick.
The reaction to this has been mixed.
Is Mike Vick real? He's OK with Foles starting? I wouldn't be.
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) November 22, 2013
No one's talking about Michael Vick being ok with Nick Foles as the starter? It would've gone viral if he acted otherwise... #Eagles
— OJ Philly (@OJPhilly) November 22, 2013
I understand both points and I understand Vick's. Prisco is right, in his own way, that you don't expect any quarterback—especially a guy who was starting recently—to be Ok with being benched.
It's not in their nature, is it? That's what drives the, what makes them good in many ways.
The "if you're not first, you're last" mentality.
On the other hand, the second Tweet is dead on. There is no way Mike Vick says anything else and doesn't get crushed for it as a "lockerroom cancer" or "bad teammate."
Now, Prisco goes on to say that Vick didn't have to say anything and sure, that's a way to go and a smart one.
However, Vick has to know he's closer to the end than the beginning and maybe—just maybe—he's trying to be a supportive mentor to Foles.
Maybe he can see which way the wind is going and has learned how to be a teammate.
I think it's an interesting discussion. You want a guy who wants to be starting but you don't want a guy who will torch the lockerroom.
Vick is trying to straddle that line I think and I respect him for his choice which can't have been an easy one.
I went 9-6 last week, let down by the Jets and Lions in particular and burned on the Cleveland pick (I should have known better on two of the three). That still has me at 95-64 which is pretty good and suddenly I wish I had money on it.
Then again I am awful against the spread.
So let's table that for the CHTV Vegas trip (there is one, right?) and move onto this week's picks.
As always we start with the ones I am most confident about and go from there.
San Francisco over Washington
This seems like a no-brainer, but the Niners have struggled way more than they should be. However the Washington secondary is a mess and this should be a game where San Fran and Colin Kaepernick can move the ball and the chains through the air.
Baltimore over New York Jets
Fool me once shame on you.....well when it comes to the Jets shame on me regardless. The Jets' tendency to alternate wins and losses is annoying and should result in win for them this week but the secondary is terrible, the offensive line is a mess and the wide receivers are terrible. Which usually brings bad things to the table with Geno Smith.
Denver over New England
This should be a fantastic game and will probably also be a high scoring game which could go either way. That said, I've felt Denver has looked much better this season and while Brady has all his weapons back, the Broncos have more.
Kansas City over San Diego
Expect a bounce-back weekend from Kansas City, though it will be interesting to see if the Chargers throw a lot early to try and get ahead. As we saw last week, the Chiefs struggle to come back from a deficit. At the end of the day though, the KC defense will win the day.
Green Bay over Minnesota
I actually really like Scott Tolzien and feel he will get better as the season goes on, until Aaron Rodgers comes back. The run game will be key for the Packers—both stopping the Vikings and getting their own going—but the secondary of the Vikings is worse that what the Packers have and Christian Ponder gets pressure too easily and makes mistakes.
Cleveland over Pittsburgh
Apparently while I learned my lesson with the Jets, the same cannot be said for Cleveland. I do think that Pittsburgh is playing much better ball right now, but Cleveland's defense will control the Steelers' offense while the Browns' offense should move the chains more effectively this week. It's going to be close, but I nod towards the Browns in Cleveland.
Detroit over Tampa Bay
There's just too much firepower on the Lions' side of the ball both offensively and defensively. You can throw on Detroit, but Matt Stafford can throw on anyone and while Darrelle Revis vs Calvin Johnson should be a spectacle, the Lions will find a way to get Megatron the ball and hurt Tampa with Reggis Bush and possible, Nate Burleson.
St. Louis over Chicago
Another tough game to call, but the Rams' defense has been playing well and Chicago's has been struggling. Zac Stacy will lead the charge for the Rams' offense and while Josh McCown has been good since Jay Cutler went down, it's not going to be enough this week.
Houston over Jacksonville
The Texans just have too many weapons and as long as head coach Gary Kubiak doesn't yank Case Keenum out of the game like he did last week, Houston should win this handily. The Jaguars show up at odd times though and the Texans can play worse than you think, so this may be closer than expected.
Indianapolis over Arizona
While the Cardinals have a solid defense and are coming off a game where Carson Palmer threw for over 400 yards, that's what we in the media and analytics business call "an outlier." The Colts will step their defensive game up and Andrew Luck should be able to find a receiver or two open even against a tough Cards defense.
Carolina over Miami
Maybe Miami will surprise us again, or maybe the Panthers will have a let down after a big win over the Patriots. More than likely the Carolina defense will continue to strangle offenses and Miami—with an utter lack of quarterback protection—will allow Ryan Tannehill to get killed behind the offensive line—a term which really should be in quotes.
Oakland over Tennessee
An upset pick that. Clearly, I don't feel really confident about. That said, I liked what I saw from quarterback Matt McGloin last week and I feel the Raiders can get the job done at home.
New York Giants over Dallas
This is a coinflip, so I'll go with the hot hand at home. The Giants have ripped off four straight after losing six straight. That's a tremendous momentum shift folks and they come into the game featuring a sold passing defense and a stifling run defense. THe Giants should continue to make things murky over in the NFC East.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.
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