NFL Picks: Week 13

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NFL Picks: Week 13

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

When history calls, Ill always answer.

Unless a Seinfeld re-run is on, in which case I just have my secretary take a message.

But with LeBron returning to Cleveland on Thursday, I couldnt resist, and made my own Decision to hop a flight to Ohio and watch the madness unravel with some real Cavs fans. Ill be writing about it for Friday, so in turn, my NFL picks got bumped.

OK, not bumped. Just down-sized. Here we go for Week 13.

Good luck.

The Game: Houston at Philadelphia (-7)

The Eagles are the leagues second-highest scoring offense, while the Texans are the galaxys worst defenseas long as Rusty Smith isnt playing QB. Thankfully for Philly, their quarterback is slight better.

The Pick: Eagles (-9)

The Game: Buffalo at Minnesota (-5.5)

After this one, cue a barrage of sappy, suck-up stories about hownow that the playoffs are out of reachBrett Favre is just out there slinging it, and having the time of his life. Hes never had so much fun playing football! theyll write, as you violently slam your head against the wall like Gus Frerotte.

The Pick: Vikings (-5.5)

The Game: Cleveland at Miami (-4.5)

Brandon Marshalls likely playing, which should help the Dolphins cause. On the other side, Jake Delhommes likely playing, which should REALLY help the Dolphins cause.

The Pick: Dolphins (-4.5)

The Game: Denver at Kansas City (-9)
So let me get this straight, the Broncos dropped 49 points on the Chiefs three weeks ago, and now theyre nine point DOGS in Kansas City? Yeah, I guess it makes sense. Specifically, the dogs part. Also, dear Josh McDaniels, I know I said this last week, but what are you trying to prove by not playing Tim Tebow right now? Do you have Brandon Lloyd on your fantasy team or something?

The Pick: Chiefs (-9)

The Game: Washington at the NY Giants (-7)

Heavy favorites always scare me in the NFC East. Especially when that heavy favorite is so banged up at receiver that they brought Phil McConkey and Stephen Baker the Touchdown Maker in for workouts this week.

The Pick: Redskins (7)

The Game: Chicago (-3.5) at Detroit

With last weeks impressive win over Philly, and the Patriots on tap for next Sunday, this just wreaks of a trap game for the Bears. Cant you smell it? Its awful!

No, wait. Thats just the scent of Jahvid Bests fantasy season.

The Pick: Lions (3.5)

The Game: Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3)

I was looking forward to seeing Cortland Finnegan go head to head with Jacksonvilles No. 1 receiver until I remembered they dont have one. I know thats a unnecessary jab on a first place team, but with Kerry Collins back behind center, I think the Titans will right the ship a little this week. At least enough to take down the Jags at home.

The Pick: Titans (-3)

The Game: San Francisco at Green Bay (-9)

My dream scenario is for it to be so cold at Lambeua that the foam around Mike Singletarys mouth freezes into some sort of ice goatee. That would make my Sunday. Also, speaking of Singeltary, if hes smart hell just list Brian Westbrook as a Game-Time Decision. Just so he feels at home.

The Pick: Packers (-9)

The Game: New Orleans (-7) at Cincinnati

Despite the unraveling of Cincys season, Cedric Benson isnt ready to quit: I want to end with a bang! he told reporters this week. Hmm, maybe hes hinting at the Bengals making a run at Plaxico Burres? I cant think of a better destination. Except for maybe Philly.

The Pick: Saints (-7)

The Game: Atlanta (-3) at Tampa Bay

The biggest test yet for the Best Worst Team in Football theory. I cant turn my back on it now. Although, I will admit to being slightly worried about the Roddy WhiteAqib Talib. If Talib can keep Roddy under wraps, the Falcons offense might crumble. Also, how many struggling rappers out there are kicking themselves for not thinking of the name Aqib Talib before it became famous. The name alone would be worth a verse on the next Young Money mix tape.

The Pick: Falcons (-3)

The Game: Oakland at San Diego (-13)

This is a serious spread for a team whose top four receivers will either be playing hurt or not playing at all. Not to mention the fact that Mike Tolbert, San Diegos most consistentgoal line back is injured, too. Anyway, werent we just talking about this was the year the Raiders started to turn things around? That was like three weeks ago, right?

The Pick: Raiders (13)

The Game: Carolina at Seattle (-6)

Matt Hasslebeck did a pretty decent Jake Delhomme impression last week against the Chiefs, but hes not really that bad. However, Jimmy Clausen is, and when thrown into the madness that is Qwest Field, hell be wise to bring a change of Underoos to the stadium.
The Pick: Seahawks (-6)

The Game: Dallas at Indy (-5.5)

This is the toughest game of the week for me. I mean, the Cowboys were one easily-avoidable fumble from beating a very good Saints team, and more importantly, remaining undefeated in the post-Wade Phillips Era. On the other hand, Indy just looked so bad last week, and at home, too. Thats not supposed to happen. Anyway, in the end, I have to go with Indy. Mostly, because I dont see Peyton throwing up two clunkers in a row, but also because the Roy Williams fumble was more than just one easily avoidable mistake. It was just another example of a team that doesnt know how, or doesnt have the fortitude to consistently win games. Regardless of the coach.

The Pick: Colts (-5.5)

The Game: St. Louis (-3.5) at Arizona

The funniest thing that pot-stirring reporter could have said when asked about his altercation with Derek Anderson was:

Oh, I couldnt even hear him. A beat writer from San Francisco intercepted the words before they got to me.

Or something like that. Theres room for some improv.

One more thing: I have no problem with how Anderson handled his press conference. Its cool if the reporter wanted to ask the question once, but after that it was time to let it go. Just because someones laughing on the sideline doesnt mean he doesnt care. I see people smiling at funerals all the time. That doesnt mean theyre not grieving. Just that theyre human.
The Pick: Cardinals (3.5)

The Game: Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-3)

Vegas doesnt know whats going on here. And really, Im not sure either, but I do have a hunch, for whatever its worth. Both of these teams are dealing with injuries, and to important players along the offensive line. The Steelers have been hit a little harder, and have struggledwith the loss to the Pats and near, should-have-been, how-the-hell-wasnt-that-a-loss to Buffalobut at the same time, because theyve been dealing for a longer time, theyre more adjusted. The reserves are starting to feel a little more comfortable.

Meanwhile, the injury to Michael Oher is huge for the Ravens. The wound is fresh. And Im not sure theyll be ready for the biggest game of their season (so far)

The Pick: Pittsburgh (3)

The Game: NY Jets at New England (-3.5)

This just feels like a field goal game, doesnt it? Or maybe a one-pointer? Like couldnt you just see 17-16 or 24-23? But all that being said, the Pats are in a groove. They made an important statement on Thanksgiving. They proved that they could flec their muscles and blow a team out. It was the first time in sometimeeven with their big wins over the Steelers and Coltsthat you were actually in awe of their offense. And I think that carries over. Maybe not into a blowout, but at least enough to give them a four-to-seven point win.
The Pick: Patriots (-3.5)

Record:
Last Week: 5-11
Overall: 87-82-4

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Quotes, notes and stars: Price says season has been "terrible"

Quotes, notes and stars: Price says season has been "terrible"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES

* “It’s been terrible . . . Just awful.” Price on how his season has gone.

* “Tough night from the mound -- obviously.” John Farrell on Red Sox pitching in the loss.

* “Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those. It’s me going out there and making pitches. It’s what I’ve done for a long time now -- and I haven’t done this year. That’s why this year’s been the way it has been.” Price said when he was asked if he felt his problems boiled down to physical or mental issues.

* “Given that [we] had to stay away from [Matt] Barnes and [Junichi] Tazawa today, [Clay Buchholz] was a guy that was going to be needed to hopefully multiple inning to bridge us to where were able to match up a little bit more in the eighth inning to get to Ziegler. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.” Farrell said on why he turned to Buchholz -- not Barnes – despite having the lead.

* “It was crazy. When the fly ball [went] into the sky it turned into like a twister of some sort and you didn’t know where the ball was going to fall. I’ve never seen anything like that before.” Michael Martinez on dealing with the howling wind in right field.

* “It wasn’t much wind. I went and looked at it, definitely should have made the play. Just running at it full speed -- it was one of those things I didn’t know how close I was getting to the wall so I went into a slide. And it was an early slide, so it kind of threw me off a little bit . . . Just thought I was closer to the wall than I really was.” Brock Holt on the fly ball he misplayed.

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked in two runs, becoming the fourth Red Sox hitter to reach the 60 RBI mark this season -- the most in the MLB. Bradley also had a double, marking is 46th extra-base hit of the season -- with 99 hits overall.

* Dustin Pedroia reached base for the 26th consecutive game with his double in the second inning. He has a .402 OBP during this stretch and a .311 average.

* The Red Sox have lost consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month (6/26-27). Both losses were comeback victories for Minnesota. Boston’s record drops to 3-3 against the 37-60 Twins this season.

STARS

1) Eddie Rosario

Rosario finished 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored, bumping his average from .244 to .262.

2) David Ortiz

Ortiz finished 3-for-3 with a walk, double, two RBI and two runs scored -- giving Boston just about as much offense as anyone can hope for.

3) Miguel Sano

The burly Twins third baseman finished 3-for-5 with a long ball, two runs scored, a walk and an RBI in Minnesota’s win.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

First impressions of the Red Sox' 11-9 loss to the Twins

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First impressions of the Red Sox' 11-9 loss to the Twins

BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

David Price was once again disappointing.

Minnesota is a team opposing pitchers should long to face.

Their No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters all have averages below .250 with average to below average home run totals.

The only hitter who poses and all-around legitimate threat is Eduardo Nunez, who would probably bat seventh in Boston’s lineup.

While there were other factors at play, Price once again left the ball up in the zone too much. That’s a big problem when nature’s playing a factor in the game.

Either way, with the Twins in town, Price has to be better.

Saturday marked the second time of the season where Sandy Leon registered back-to-back hitless performances.

The previous pair came back on June 29th and July 2nd with a layoff between the two contests.

In his last five contests, Leon is 3-for-17. His power numbers are also down in that stretch, with only two extra-base hits that came on the same night.

It could be a small rough patch given Leon was 7-for-19 with a home run and a double (in separate contests) in the five games preceding this dry spell.

Either ay it’s something to watch as Leon plays more and more.

The wind played a factor in the high-run total.

The second hit of the ball game seemed like a medium-depth fly to right, and nearly carried out of the ballpark.

Michael Martinez was twisting and turning on fly balls changing direction all night -- and there’s evidence it wasn’t just him.

David Ortiz reached on a pop up that Nunez went after, which never left the infield.

Trash and dust were flying everywhere in the first inning. While that intensity didn’t maintain all night, it was definitely an issue players had to consider throughout the game.

The bullpen mop-up crew couldn’t get the job done.

While some of the hits in the five-run seventh were luck, Clay Buchholz and Tommy Layne flat out couldn’t get the job done against a rough lineup.

Neither is a terribly great option -- so the Red Sox might want to reconsider using either one in those situations.

Even Heath Hembree couldn’t put together a decent night. Someone has to stop the bleeding when things get out of control.

The Red Sox pitchers can’t keep throwing away nine-run performances.

With Friday night serving as evidence, the offense will not always have great nights.

So when they do, the pitch has to be decent -- but they couldn’t even do that Saturday.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

Je-Vaughn Watson scores late, Revs beat Fire 1-0

Je-Vaughn Watson scores late, Revs beat Fire 1-0

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Je-Vaughn Watson scored on a header in the 85th minute and the New England Revolution beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 on Saturday night.

The Revolution (6-7-8) had a flurry of attempts leading up to the goal and Fire (4-10-5) goalkeeper Sean Johnson made three saves in the 2 minutes prior.

But Johnson came off his line to defend Chris Tierney's corner and failed to clear it with his outstretched hand while Watson connected and sent the header into the empty net.

Bobby Shuttleworth earned his fifth shutout of the season for New England.