Brady versus Manning. That?s all you need to know. Although the Week 12 NFL schedule features 14 other games, the annual Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady showdown is going to highlight this week?s festivities. The key seems to be the Patriots ability to get to Manning. They?re 7-2 against him (since 2000) when they sack him twice or more but just 3-4 otherwise.
Here?s our rundown for Week 12:
Top 3 Must-See Games of the Week:
1. Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
The best game of Week 12 features the two best quarterbacks of this era. Peyton Manning of Denver and Tom Brady of New England renew their storied rivalry with plenty on the line. New England needs to win this game to re-establish itself as the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture. The Patriots would take a big step toward a first-round bye in the playoffs. If they lose, they could fall behind the Indianapolis Colts in the pursuit of that very important benefit. The Broncos are wrapped up in a classic race with the Kansas City Chiefs for the top seed in the AFC, which is likely to go to the AFC West champion. The Broncos just beat the Chiefs and will play the Chiefs next week. Denver has to remain focused on the task at hand. It?s hard to recall a time that New England was a home underdog but that?s exactly the case this week as Bovada lists the Broncos as a 2 1/2-point road favorite.
2. Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals
While the Indianapolis Colts have received a lot more attention this season, the Arizona Cardinals are now very much in the NFC playoff chase. The Cardinals sit at 6-4 and have a chance this week to move ahead of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West, which is remarkable to even contemplate. Arizona isn?t making many mistakes on offense, which is allowing the defense to win games. The Colts have been struggling over the past month and need to play one of their better games of the season in order to win here.
3. Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins
This is a very important inter-conference game. Either Carolina wins to stay very much in the NFC South race, thereby putting pressure on the New Orleans Saints in the month of December, or Miami will knock off the Panthers and help itself immensely in the AFC?s wild card race. NFL observers will be anxious to see if Carolina can avoid a letdown after the natural emotional high of beating the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. The Panthers are in a letdown situation here: they?re on the road, with a short week of rest and preparation, and they?re playing a mediocre opponent. This game will test the Panthers? level of maturity. Carolina has a 4 1/2-point advantage.
The Biggest Underdog with a Reasonable Chance to Win is the: New England Patriots
The Patriots are a 2 1/2-point underdog on the NFL odds against the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Playing at home and coming off a wrenching loss, the Patriots should play one of their better games of the 2013 season. This is a great spot for them ? no, not the fact that they?re coming off a loss, but the fact that they are in a good position to win this game. Peyton Manning rarely comes out of Foxborough, Mass., with a win.
The Best Suicide Pool Pick of the Week is the: Detroit Lions
Although they are a respectable 6-4 on the season, we?ve yet to use them with our picks.
The Lions host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week and while the Bucs have won two straight, going to Detroit is a different story. The Lions need this win to stay atop the NFC North. Don?t expect them to mess around here.