NFL Week 12: Bucs @ Ravens

Not since 2002, when head coach Jon Gruden was able to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship against his old team in the Oakland Raiders, have Bucs really been relevant in the NFC conference.

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Back to the beginning of the decade, the Bucs had arguably one of the best defenses in the league and were without a doubt a force to be reckoned with in the NFC Conference every single season, but it seems with every passing season this team has just continued to fall apart with one of the worst offenses in the league and a defense that has been mediocre at best.

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This season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the year without much hope for the future as they had seemingly the same team only won three games throughout all of last season. Even though no one expected much from this young Bucs squad, they have totally exceeded expectations at this point as they will have a 7-3 record coming into their Week 12 matchup with the Super Bowl title contending Baltimore Ravens.

Despite having an impressive 7-3 record coming into Week 12, Josh Freeman and company are sitting in third place in the NFC South division and will need to get as many wins as possible from here on out in order to contend with the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints (8-3, 2nd place) and the Atlanta Falcons (8-2, 1st place).

So with all the pressure of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face coming into this matchup and then facing off against the first-place Atlanta Falcons next week, the Bucs have their work cut out for them as they will be taking on two of the best teams in the league in consecutive weeks.

As for the Baltimore Ravens, they are looking to maintain their lead in the AFC North division with a win of their own over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even though they are arguably the best teams in the AFC Conference and in the AFC North division, they will have a tough road ahead of them to finish the season as the Pittsburgh Steelers are also sitting at 7-3 and the Baltimore Ravens will have to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and the New Orleans Saints over the next four weeks.

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Despite the Tampa Bay Bucs obviously being a much better team and maybe even playoff bound this season, the Baltimore Ravens are heavily favored in this matchup with a -7.5 point spread in their favor.

Personally, I can’t see Joe Flacco and company losing this football game as they are without a doubt the better team on both sides of the football, but taking them to cover the -7.5 point spread is risky to say the least in my opinion as the Bucs are being underestimated here and could make this a very close game.

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NFL Week 12: Dolphins @ Raiders

Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders Sun. Nov. 28th 2010 4:05pm EST

The Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders will go head-to-head in Week 12 in what could be a very close match between two very good defenses. Both of these teams have shown some signs of promise during this NFL regular season, but if they expect to contend for a playoff spot at season’s end they will need to get back on track in this week.

Even though the Oakland Raiders are coming off their worst loss of the season to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-3, they will have a great opportunity here to turn things around and continue contending for the AFC West division title.

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Much like the Oakland Raiders, the Miami Dolphins are coming off their worst loss of the season as they were shut out by the Chicago Bears 16-0 in Week 11. Not only was the shutout disappointing to say the least, but it Dolphins have some serious problems at the quarterback position right now as they have lost both Chad Pennington (shoulder, out for the season) and Chad Henne (knee) to injuries.

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With both Pennington out for the season and Henne’s status for this game uncertain, the Miami Dolphins will most likely turn to Tyler Thigpen once again who had a miserable game last week against the Chicago Bears in which he threw for 187 yards and an interception.

If Tyler Thigpen does get the start for this game and in all likelihood he probably will, the Oakland Raiders will without a doubt be the favorites in this matchup as they have played very well on the defensive side of the football this season as they are one of the best teams in the league against the pass (3rd in the NFL) by only giving up 193.2 passing yards per game.

With the Oakland Raiders defense swarming the third string quarterback all day long, the Miami Dolphins offense will strictly be going to the ground game in which they have only averaged about 97.9 rushing yards per game (21st in the NFL) with running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have a bit of a rough season.

The spread for this game is yet to be released as the playing status of Chad Henne has still not been determined, but even if the Miami Dolphins best gunslinger gets the start this weekend at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, I believe the Oakland Raiders should just cruised to victory in this one as they are the better team in my opinion on both sides of the football.

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The one thing to look for in this matchup though will be the quarterback position for the Oakland Raiders as it has been rumored that Jason Campbell could be sitting in favor of Bruce Gradkowski.

Personally, I don’t think it will matter which quarterback gets the start as the Oakland Raiders are one of the best running teams in the league with Darren McFadden leading the way.

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New England Patriots pull out another close win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts

Every single season when the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts go head-to-head it always has the potential to be a game of the year as these two teams always go at each other with a never say die attitude as their rivalry has only gotten stronger over the years.

Not only does this game showcase two of the best quarterbacks of all-time in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but both the Colts and Patriots are competing for a Super Bowl title this season as both teams played well coming into this AFC Conference heavyweight showdown.

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Needless to say, a win for either team in Week 11 would be huge, especially for the Indianapolis Colts who need to prove to the rest the league that they can beat the best of the best like they did last season.

Unfortunately for the Colts, the Patriots were able to come out on top in this one as they basically dominated from start to finish, but in classic Colts/Patriots fashion, this matchup came down to the wire where it was anybody’s game.

Even though the Indianapolis Colts are still one of the best teams in the league and always will be with four-time NFL MVP quarterback Peyton Manning under center, Jim Caldwell’s squad has had to deal with some costly injuries to big name players like wide receiver Austin Collie end perennial Pro bowl tight end Dallas Clark.

Without his favorite target in the offense in Clark and the fact that the defense really can’t stop anybody, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts haven’t been that dominant team that everyone expected coming into this NFL regular season. Despite no longer being considered amongst the elite in the NFL this season, the Colts are still a very tough team to beat and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick knew that his team would be in for a long day.

Even though the New England Patriots have been flashy team this season were gotten much attention besides trading away superstar wide receiver Randy Moss, they have been able to get the job done consistently and they did just that by beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-28.

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The score may seem close with only three points separating the two teams, but if it weren’t for Peyton Manning’s two touchdown passes in the last eight minutes of the game, the New England Patriots would’ve cruised to victory.

At one point it actually look like the four-time NFL MVP might actually be able to lead his team to victory, but a costly interception was the difference between winning and losing.

Once the New England Patriots got the football back and 31 seconds left on the clock, Tom Brady took one kneel down and improved his team’s record to an impressive 8-2.

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Thursday Night Football Recap

The Bears defense comes up big against the Dolphins.

The Chicago Bears have been extremely streaky team this season has at times they’ve shown signs of promise both on offense and defense, but just like in the past, it has been superstar linebacker Brian Urlacher that have continued to bail this team out every single week.

There is no question that Jay Cutler as a Pro bowl caliber quarterback that could ultimately go down as one of the best Bears’ quarterbacks of all-time, but the young QB has a terrible tendency for turn the football over when his offense is on the verge of just dominating their opponent.

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Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears
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Much like future Hall of fame quarterback Brett Favre throughout his career, Jay Cutler is a quarterback that can throw for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns, but also a lot of interceptions which might ultimately be his downfall.

With that being said, the Chicago Bears been the team that can put up a lot of points this season, but also a team that tends to lean on the defense a little too much as you never know what kind of offense to show up and how many turnovers could ultimately hurt this team.

Coming into Thursday night’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins, the Chicago Bears were favored to come out on top, but not by much as the Dolphins have proved they are a force to be reckoned with this season. Even though the Dolphins were banged up at quarterback with both Chad Pennington (shoulder) and Chad Henne (left knee) going down last week, they had faith in third stringer Tyler Thigpen to step up and lead this team to victory for the second straight week.

Unfortunately, Thigpen was made a non-factor in this game is the Chicago Bears defense just dominated all night long start to finish. Not only did the Bears defense force Thigpen to throw an interception and get sacked three times, but they were able to completely shut out this offense as the Dolphins failed to score all night long while getting the 16-0 win.

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Even though the Chicago Bears offense didn’t do much better as they were forced to use kicker Robbie Gould to kick three field goals and limit quarterback Jay Cutler to just 156 yards passing and an interception while throwing no touchdowns, this win was huge for the Bears as they maintain first place in the NFC North division.

Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears warming up bef...
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Obviously, the Green Bay Packers are right on the tail and could gain even more ground this weekend as they can beat Brown-Forman Minnesota Vikings for the second straight time, but the Chicago Bears still have a victory over the Green Bay Packers which means their next meeting could ultimately decide the winner of the NFC North division.

So one thing is for sure, Chicago Bears offense needs step it up and get back on track if they expect to win this division, but their defense of the most best in the league right now and just might be enough to lead them into the playoffs.

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Heading into meaningful games: NFL Rankings

1. New England Patriots

The Patriots grabbed a great win over the Steelers after letting one go in Cleveland.

2. New York Jets

Great play down the stretch by Santonio Holmes. It would’ve been more impressive if it wasn’t against the Browns.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

All this Michael Vick for MVP talk should be credited to Donovan McNabb. He was responsible for bringing Vick to Philadelphia.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Not that high on Atlanta. Their only significant win came against the Saints in New Orleans when the champs were struggling.

5. Baltimore Ravens

If not for the magic of Matt Ryan, the Ravens would be in the top 3.

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6. New Orleans Saints

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It took a while but the champs are finally sober. Except for the misstep against Cleveland, New Orleans looks like it’s ready to make a run to back-to-back titles.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

Troy Polamalu is healthy, but not the playmaking force he was two years ago.

8. Indianapolis Colts

Their defense stepped up at the perfect time to help Payton Manning and his depleted offensive weapons.

9. Green Bay Packers

Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley was right. If Green Bay beats the Vikings you can stick a fork in them because Minnesota’s season will be done.

10. New York Giants

The Giants faded badly late in the season last year. With a loss to Dallas they could be heading for a repeat performance.

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11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A little too high for Tampa Bay but who can hate on QB Josh Freeman and his quick development?

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12. San Diego Chargers

Chargers have no running game and a terrible special teams, but they are the best 4 – 5 team in the NFL.

13. Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler has been on the menu of opposing defenses for the past six weeks.

14. Tennessee Titans

The Titans have not been able to take advantage of an easy schedule.

15. Oakland Raiders

Oakland has a tough match-up ahead against the Steelers. A win will make the

AFC West a little more complicated. Not to mention exciting.

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16. Miami Dolphins

Three takeaways from the Titans. Imagine what they’ll do to turnover prone Jay Cutler.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville held Houston to 81 yards rushing. With Patrick Hillis and the Browns coming to town it’s doubtful that they’ll stop the bruising Hillis.

18. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs went back to basics during practice. That’ll help against the collapsing Cardinals

19. Washington Redskins

Dear Daniel Snyder, Donovan McNabb was over the hill two seasons ago. Thanks for trading for him. Sincerely, Andy Reid

20. Houston Texans

Matt Schaub might miss this week’s game. Bad sign for the already struggling Texans.

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21. Minnesota Vikings

This season has been a disaster for Minnesota. It’s time for Brett Favre to walk away…for good.

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22. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks sit atop the NFC West. They’ll lose that position with their visit to New Orleans.

23. Cleveland Browns

They’ve had some close losses this season. Cleveland easily could’ve had at least three more wins.

24. St. Louis Rams

Sam Bradford is the real deal and their pass rush ain’t that bad either.

25. San Francisco 49ers

Good call to start playing Troy Smith. Alex Smith and David Carr simply can’t win games.

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26. Cincinnati Bengals

It’s great that Terrell Owens and Mr. 85 have a reality show. It takes your mind off how bad Cincinnati is this season.

27. Arizona Cardinals

It’s amazing how a great receiver like Larry Fitzgerald can be so underappreciated by a team that lacks offensive firepower.

28. Denver Broncos

Is it wrong to hope for a combined 800-yard passing night from the Broncos and Chargers this week?

29. Detroit Lions

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Can Matthew Stafford ever stay healthy long enough to impact the Lions season? He’s taking a page out of Greg Oden’s book.

30. Dallas Cowboys

So much for the Cowboys playing the Super Bowl at home. I wonder if Manny Pacquiao plays any quarterback.

31. Carolina Panthers

Mike Goodson got his first 100-yard rushing game last week. Expect him to also get his first hard hit from the Ravens defense this week.

32. Buffalo Bills

1 – 8? Stop draft positioning Buffalo!

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