By Dan Durkin–
(CBS) There are plenty of games with playoff implications on the NFL’s Week 12 docket, highlighted by a primetime matchup Sunday night in Denver as the Patriots (10-0) square off against the Broncos (8-2).READ MORE: Man Shoots Himself In The Leg At Millennium Park
Here’s my take on how Sunday’s action plays out.
(Home team in all CAPS)
TEXANS 27, Saints 23 — noon
After getting demolished by the Miami Dolphins a month ago, the Texans defense has given up just two touchdowns over its last 14 quarters. The Saints defense, on the other hand, will be playing their first game under new coordinator Dennis Allen, but the results will likely be the same. DeAndre Hopkins will get deep early and often against the league’s worst pass defense.
Vikings 24, FALCONS 21 — noon
The Vikings failed to take control of their own destiny last week and were overwhelmed by the Packers. But they can be thankful for the Bears beating the Packers this past Thursday, vaulting the Vikings back to first place in the NFC North. The Falcons are an unpredictable team without much chemistry on offense. Add in no Devonta Freeman, and the Vikings should take care of business in Atlanta behind their running game and stout defense.
BENGALS 24, Rams 16 — noon
Cincinnati is in the middle of a two-game skid but hasn’t lost three straight games since 2012. The Rams are in an all-out free fall. Injuries along its defensive front and completely inept quarterback play have brought St. Louis back to the muddle of mediocrity. The Bengals will get back on the winning track at home.
Bucs 23, COLTS 20 — noon
The league’s youngest quarterback, Jameis Winston, faces the league’s oldest starting quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck. The Colts’ offensive line has struggled this season and will be playing without its best player against the Bucs, left tackle Anthony Castonzo. I like a fast Bucs defensive front and their running game on turf to make the difference as they pick up a big road win.
Giants 30, REDSKINS 24 — noon
With an extra week of rest, the Giants should be rested and ready to take advantage of a vulnerable Redskins secondary that gave up five passing touchdowns last week against the Panthers. The Redskins have won four straight at home, but they’ve lost five straight against the Giants, and Kirk Cousins is 0-3 against the G-men. Make it six straight and 0-4 after this Sunday.
TITANS 23, Raiders 20 — noon
The Raiders looked promising early but have dropped three consecutive games, showing a lack of consistency on both sides of the football during their skid. The Titans haven’t won at home since Week 6 of 2014, but I like their chances to get their ground game going against a generous Raiders defense as they grind out a close win.READ MORE: Noel Swerdlow, University Of Chicago Professor For More Than 30 Years And Top Expert On History Of Science, Dies At 79
CHIEFS 24, Bills 17 — noon
After starting out the season 1-5, the Chiefs have reeled off four straight wins to get back to .500 and currently own the final AFC wild-card spot. The Bills find themselves two spots behind the Chiefs and need a win to stay alive. The Chiefs are playing sound, error-free football on both sides of the ball and will notch their sixth consecutive win against a limited Bills offense that struggles to protect the quarterback.
JETS 20, Dolphins 17 — noon
The Jets are dealing with injuries to key players on both sides of the ball — cornerback Darrelle Revis (out with a concussion) and center Nick Mangold (probable with a hand injury) — and overall ineffective play from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins aren’t in much better shape, either, dropping three of their last four. The Jets defense should control the line of scrimmage, and their offense will grind out a win at home.
JAGUARS 27, Chargers 23 — noon
Two teams heading in completely opposite directions clash in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have won two in a row, while the Chargers are mired in a league-worst six-game skid. The Chargers barely resemble the team they were at the start of the season, as they’ve been ravaged by injury. On average, opposing quarterbacks are posting a 103 passer-efficiency rating against San Diego, which bodes well for Blake Bortles at home.
Cardinals 37, 49ERS 13 — 3:05 p.m.
This should be the most lopsided game of the weekend. You know exactly what the San Francisco 49ers’ 2015 season has become when Blaine Gabbert can be described as an improvement at quarterback. Carson Palmer will carve up the 49ers secondary as the Cardinals pick up their first win in San Francisco since 2008.
Steelers 24, SEAHAWKS 23 — 3:25 p.m.
Pittsburgh deserves a lot of credit for being able to withstand injuries to key offensive players like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Le’Veon Bell. This game has huge playoff implications for both teams. The matchup between Antonio Brown and Richard Sherman will be a delight to watch. The Seahawks’ pass defense is vulnerable deep, which favors the Steelers.
Patriots 24, BRONCOS 20 — 7:30 p.m.
The game of the week is in Denver. The Patriots have been decimated at receiver this season, yet they keep finding a way. This weekend’s matchup against Denver will be different. The Broncos defense is the best in the league and will present challenges that Tom Brady hasn’t faced yet this season. Brady will be under duress throughout the game, but he’ll prevail against a green and unproven Brock Osweiler.
BROWNS 27, Ravens 20 — 7:30 p.m. Monday
Watch this game at your own risk, particularly when the Ravens have the football. Matt Schaub will be the Ravens’ trigger man, handing off to Buck Allen and throwing to Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens. I’m sorry you had to read that sentence. You’ll likely be sorry if you watch this game for any reason other than fantasy football purposes.
Season record through Week 11: 96-65 (Last week: 9-5)MORE NEWS: COPA Releases Video Of Fatal Shooting Of Klevontaye White By CPD Officers, Federal Marshal
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @djdurkin.