Kickoff: Examiner's NFL Preview

Examiner's game of the week is Bills (5-5) at Jaguars (7-3). The New England Patriots reminded the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night that they are not yet an elite team. They aren’t a bad team, however, and still have an outside shot at making the playoffs. They can make the lives of the Jaguars more difficult this week in Jacksonville. The Jaguars could go from AFC South contenders to back into the playoff-hopeful group with Buffalo. This is a game for still-developing Jaguars quarterback David Garrard to show his leadership skills.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Cleveland Browns return specialist Josh Cribbs had more than 300 return yards against the Baltimore Ravens last week. He has two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season and has helped put the Browns in excellent field position in almost every game. He has extraordinary breakaway speed and vision and looks more like a new version of Dante Hall every week.

WEEK 12 STORY LINES

1 Kansas City’s Priest Holmes, one of the greatest running backs of this generation, has retired. Holmes valiantly tried to come back to the league after two years away from the game after suffering a litany of injuries. His return this season showed how much he loved the game. The NFL’s fans will miss him as much he will miss the game. His career accomplishments include being named a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2001-03), winning a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Baltimore Ravens and being the Chiefs’ all-time leading rusher with 6,070 yards. You can guarantee he will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection.

2 Looking at the schedule in the preseason, you would have circled this week as one with some juicy matchups. Funny thing: Six teams who began with big expectations are squaring off this week either scrambling or barely surviving. The games — Denver-Chicago, Baltimore-San Diego and New Orleans-Carolina — feature teams at .500 or below. Despite their subpar records, the Broncos, led by Jay Cutler, and Chargers are actually tied for first place.

3 Players such as Chiefs running back Larry Johnson and Baltimore Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle have used privacy laws to not disclose injuries this season, adding an air of secrecy to the league.Johnson doesn’t want anyone to know the extent of his foot injury and Rolle has had an undisclosed injury all season.

WEEK 12 PICKS

TEXANS AT BROWNS The Browns make their move for the AFC North this week with the win. Browns 28, Texans 24

BILLS AT JAGUARS Buffalo is on the fringe of the playoff hunt, but Jacksonville is quietly on Indianapolis’ heels in AFC South. Jaguars 17, Bills 13

RAIDERS AT CHIEFS The right elements have come together for the Raiders to finally end their AFC West losing skid. Raiders 20, Chiefs 16

VIKINGS AT GIANTS Adrian Peterson is a long shot to play, thus making the Vikings an even longer shot to win. Giants 31, Vikings 20

SEAHAWKS AT RAMS If ever there was a “gimme game” for the Seahawks, this is it. Seahawks 23, Rams 9

REDSKINS AT BUCCANEERS Two mediocre NFC playoff hopefuls get together for one awful game. Redskins 16, Buccaneers 15

SAINTS AT PANTHERS The Panthers need a win. The Saints need this win. Reggie Bush and Co. will get it. Saints 34, Panthers 13

TITANS AT BENGALS No need to play this one. The Bengals have already given up and the Titans need to bounce back. Titans 20, Bengals 17

CARDINALS AT 49ERS When the Cardinals — the Cardinals! — are in playoff contention, the terrorists win. Cardinals 24, 49ers 12

RAVENS AT CHARGERS Two beleaguered coaches get together, with just one talented team between them. Chargers 27, Ravens 13

BRONCOS AT BEARS While the Bears are eyeing a top-10 pick in the NFL draft, the Broncos are still clinging to playoff dreams. Broncos 23, Bears 9

EAGLES AT PATRIOTS The only question here is: Can the Patriots get to 50 points again? They’ll certainly try. Patriots 49, Eagles 21

DOLPHINS AT STEELERS The Steelers aren’t top tier, but are good enough to kill a horrendous team like the Dolphins. Steelers 34, Dolphins 10

NFLOakland Raiders & NFLsports

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