Frank is back with Week 12’s Hail Mary NFL picks.
It’s been a tale of two season for NFC South Division rivals the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.
New Orleans opened the year as a +110 favorite to win the division with Sean Payton coming back in the fold after Bountygate and for the most part, everything is rolling right along.
Not so much for the Falcons. First they dropped a tough decision at New Orleans in Week 1 and since then it’s been all downhill. Steven Jackson, who was supposed to give them a stable running game, went down with a hamstring injury in Week 2. He didn’t come back until Week 8 and by that time superstar wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White were on the shelf with injuries of their own.
Now, it’s Week 12 and the Falcons sit at the bottom of the division with a 2-8 record, while the Saints are cruising at 8-2.
So what’s this all about? Depth. The Falcons looked great on paper to start the year and everybody bought into them as a NFC contender. Then, a few injuries later and they’re unwatchable.
Of course, superstar injuries can spell the end of the year for many NFL clubs – but not all of them. Those are teams you need to focus on this time of year. Seeing the Falcons as 10-point dogs at home against a division rival is very tempting, but not tempting enough for me to jump at it.
Here’s a list of some of the Chicago Bears who suffered serious injuries this season: Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Henry Melton, and D.J. Williams. Most teams would crumble with those injuries, but the Bears are tied for first place in the NFC North and are coming off a gutty overtime victory in a messy storm day against Baltimore last week. The Bears should thank the Colts for imploding in Week 10’s loss to the Rams. St. Louis won that game 38-8 even though Kellen Clemens completed just nine of 15 passes. He’ll have to do a lot better than that here to beat the Bears.
Pick: Chicago Bears +1
You know what’s a really bad sign? When your all-world wideout Calvin Johnson puts up 179 receiving yards and two touchdowns and your offence churns out more than 450 yards of total offence and you still lose. That’s what happened to the Detroit Lions last week in Pittsburgh. The Bucs are another team drilled by the by injuries, but even without Doug Martin and Mike Williams, they’re finally moving the chains. Plus, now that Darrelle Revis is getting back to his own self and being played in man coverage, Megatron has his work cut out for him this week.
Pick: Tampa Buccaneers +9.5
The San Francisco 49ers are starting to get backed into a corner. They’ve dropped consecutive games and now sit tied with Arizona for second place in the AFC West behind the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks. However, despite those two losses, the 49ers allowed just 30 combined points against impressive attacks from New Orleans and Carolina. This should be a battle between two strong running games and decided by the turnover battle.
Last week’s record: 1-1-1