What a Motown mess

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Everyone is talking about Steve Mariucci being fired as the Detroit Lions' head coach, but team president Matt Millen should be mentioned in the same breath.

Millen hired Mariucci, who was Millen's second hire since taking over the franchise in 2001. He also drafted the talent, selecting a wide receiver with a first-round pick the last three years. So Millen has to shoulder some of the blame, too, for the Lions' disappointing 4-7 season.

I don't see Mariucci keeping his job after the season. But if he goes, Millen doesn't deserve to stay, either.

Here's a look at the key non-Thanksgiving Day matchups in Week 12.

THE PICK SIX

1. Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis ColtsMonday, 9 p.m. ET (ABC) Preview

Steelers

Steelers
1st, AFC North
Record: 7-3

at

Colts
1st, AFC South
Record: 10-0

Colts

Ben Roethlisberger returns after missing the last three games with a knee injury. The Steelers feel more confident with Roethlisberger at quarterback because they feel they can do more things offensively and make more plays. Also, all they do is win when he's in the lineup. That has been his M.O. since he's been in the league.

Prediction: Indianapolis. Pittsburgh has a great defense, but it isn't great in the secondary. The Colts will take advantage of that weakness because the Steelers' defensive backs can't cover Indianapolis' receivers. Also, the speed of Indy's defense on the fast track of the RCA Dome will be a factor.

2. New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) Preview

Giants

Giants
T-1st, NFC East
Record: 7-3

at

Seahawks
1st, NFC West
Record: 8-2

Seahawks

This matchup could be a preview of the NFC title game, and if the Seahawks want the competition to come through the Great Northwest to get to the Super Bowl, this is a great opportunity for them to deliver that message.

Seattle has played well against other top NFC teams at home, beating Dallas and Atlanta, and I look for nothing different. You can run the ball on the Giants, and that's what the Seahawks will try to do with Shaun Alexander. With a win, Seattle will clinch the NFC West and make it tough on anyone else vying for home-field advantage in the conference.

Prediction: Seattle. The Giants rely too much on the big play. In a game like this, you really need to be rock solid with your short passing game and running game. Sometimes, they get away from those things, and that will prove to be their downfall in Seattle.

3. Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay BuccaneersSunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX) Preview

Bears

Bears
1st, NFC North
Record: 7-3

at

Buccaneers
1st, NFC South
Record: 7-3

Buccaneers

Rex Grossman will be on the active roster, and even though fans are anxious to see Grossman play, the Bears should stick with Kyle Orton as their starting quarterback. Orton is performing well, having guided the offense during Chicago's six-game win streak. The Bears are definitely in a better situation than they were at the beginning of the season because they now have a proven backup quarterback in Grossman.

Prediction: Chicago. The Bears play on such a short field, and they force the opponent into so many mistakes. They will put a lot of pressure on Chris Simms because Chicago's defensive line is so much better than Tampa Bay's offensive line.

4. New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS) Preview

Patriots

Patriots
1st, AFC East
Record: 6-4

at

Chiefs
T-2nd, AFC West
Record: 6-4

Chiefs

Team president Carl Peterson still thinks the Chiefs can the win the AFC West. I don't agree. Kansas City hasn't showed any consistency on the field in order to make that claim. The Chiefs need to concentrate on just playing football. If they play well enough, they will get into the playoffs, where they would be a dangerous team.

Prediction: Kansas City. I like Larry Johnson running the ball against the Patriots. He's a phenomenal talent and he's really come of age since Priest Holmes' injury, averaging 150 yards rushing over the last three games. The return of tackle Willie Roaf has also helped Tony Gonzalez get back into the passing game.

5. San Diego Chargers at Washington Redskins Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS) Preview

Chargers

Chargers
T-2nd, AFC West
Record: 6-4

at

Redskins
3rd, NFC East
Record: 5-5

Redskins

For the second straight week, a former Redskins coach returns to FedEx Field. Last week, it was Norv Turner. This week, it's Marty Schottenheimer.

Daniel Snyder's biggest mistake in firing Schottenheimer (so he could hire Steve Spurrier) was his impatience with Schottenheimer. Snyder didn't give Schottenheimer enough time to show what he could do. Marty is a good coach. He's won everywhere he has been. Why wouldn't you be patient with a coach like him? He's a proven commodity.

As a result, Snyder has learned from that decision. I think he has settled in as the Redskins' owner, and you don't see do some of the irrational things he used to do earlier in his tenure.

Prediction: San Diego. The Redskins are giving up a lot more points than they were earlier in the season. In their 4-2 start, they gave up only 17.2 points a game. In losing three of their last four, they have surrendered 24.5 points a game.

The Chargers are so frightening offensively in that you have to worry about LaDainian Tomlinson and now Drew Brees, who has proved he's not only a starting quarterback but an elite quarterback in the NFL. At the level Brees is playing, this is not the time an inconsistent Washington defense wants to face the San Diego offense.

6. Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS) Preview

Browns

Browns
3rd, AFC North
Record: 4-6

at

Vikings
2nd, NFC North
Record: 5-5

Vikings

The Vikings have remarkably turned around their season by winning four of their last five to get back to .500. But I don't think they'll make the playoffs. They're behind too many teams in the NFC wild-card race.

With all of its offseason upgrades, Minnesota's defense was supposed to be better. That's why it's amazing to see how much the pass coverage has improved without Fred Smoot, the Vikings' big-money signing at cornerback.

Minnesota is doing a lot of things we thought it would do, not only defensively but on special teams, and the offensive line is building up continuity, allowing the Vikings to run the football. Finally, there is good news in Minnesota.

Prediction: Minnesota. Cleveland has been good defensively, but the Browns haven't proved they can play well in back-to-back games. So don't expect Cleveland to play the same way it played last week in shutting out Miami. We'll see more inconsistency from the Browns, and we'll see more instability at quarterback. Trent Dilfer will again be subbed in and out with Charlie Frye, and that situation is not a good thing for a veteran NFL quarterback.