Week 11 featured a number of crazy finishes, miraculous covers, and a couple of dominating beat downs. Week 12 features three of the things that many Americans love the most: (1) Eating excessive amounts of food; (2) watching nonstop football for an entire day; and (3) sleeping. With three (!!!) games on Thanksgiving – starting at 9:30am Pacific (12:30 ET) – and another full slate of games on Sunday, we can live the eating/watching/sleeping dream twice in a three-day span!
Whatever your Thanksgiving Day traditions may be, take some time to be thankful for having a day where you can chill with your family/friends and eat as much as your body will allow. I know I am! Happy Thanksgiving to all!
With that, here are the Week 12 picks:
(*Home team in CAPS; game lines per Sportsbook.com as of 12:45PM on Wednesday, November 21st)
DETROIT (+3.5) over Houston
The Lions lost a close game to a hot Packers team that may be finding its stride. Houston should have lost to a Jaguars team led by new-look Chad Henne (354 yards, 4TDs) and is traveling up to Detroit on short rest. I like the Lions to rebound in a game they absolutely have to have.
DALLAS (-3) over Washington
This game is a must-win for the Cowboys playoff hopes, as well as a must-win in the career of Tony Romo, isn’t it? As the leader of the ‘QBs who can’t win big games’ club, Tony Romo can only do this so many more times before he finds a new team, right? If Tony Romo can’t get it done at home, on Thanksgiving, versus a rookie QB leading a road team on short rest, then I give up on Tony Romo. And it’s only a matter of time before Cowboys fans will too.
For what it’s worth, I will not be the least bit surprised when RGIII crushes the dreams of Cowboy fans on his way to claiming the ‘Galloping Gobbler‘.
New England (-7) over NEW YORK JETS
I think any time you have Tom Brady going up against Mark Sanchez giving 7 points or less, you give the points. If you consider the fact that the Jets’ defense is decimated and aging, you definitely give the points. I’m giving the points.
CINCINNATI (-8) over Oakland
A.J. Green has scored at least a touchdown in nine (9) straight games. Dude is a STUD! Oakland is -56 scoring in its last two games, and is expected to be without running back Darren McFadden once again.
CLEVELAND (+3) over Pittsburgh
If, at the beginning of this season, I gave you the option of starting Brandon Weeden versus, say, Charlie Batch, in a one-game winner-take-all scenario, what would you have said? No, seriously, that’s not a rhetorical question!
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but Cleveland may be the most underrated or unlucky (or, I guess, non-opportunistic) 2-8 team in the history of my lifetime. Every week, I find myself feeling like Cleveland can cover any spread! I know it’s crazy, but they’ve played close games all season and are truly the anti-Atlanta Falcons.
Going on the road without its top two QBs, it’s hard to take the Steelers here. Although, while searching for Charlie Batch’s last NFL start (which was last Christmas Eve), I learned is full name is Charles D’Donte Batch. Umm, WHAT?!? I’m not sure if I give Cleveland more points or take more for the Steelers. Whatever, I’m sticking with my pick. If CDDB wants to prove me wrong, good for him.
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over Buffalo
After last week’s blowout loss to the Patriots, Andrew Luck and Co. will be happy to be playing at home. The Bills rush defense is still amongst the absolute worst in the league (31st of 32 teams), which will make it easy for the Colts to run the ball, open up the play-action passing game for Mr. Luck, and end the Bills’ playoff hopes.
(Full disclosure: For fantasy football purposes, I hope C.J. Spiller goes nuts.)
KANSAS CITY (+10.5) over Denver
I just really like double-digit underdogs at home, even if it’s the worst team in the NFL vs. Mr.-Former-Noodle-Arm-Turned-Front-Runner-MVP-Candidate. Too much home energy + back-door cover potential.
JACKSONVILLE (+3) over Tennessee
Reincarnated Chad Henne + breakout Justin Blackmon + the 30th-ranked defense in the NFL + whatever home field advantage playing in Jacksonville can give you = team winless at home with QB ready to prove something against bad defense, means they must be due. Right? Right??
Minnesota (+6) over CHICAGO
It’s Wednesday and there’s a chance that Jay Cutler may not play. The 49ers blasted the Chicago defense for 123 rushing yards led by a 2nd year QB who posted a 133.1 rating in his first NFL start. In addition, in relief of Cutler, Jason Campbell spent 60 minutes as the Smith Brothers’ punching bag. Meanwhile, 2012 Adrian Peterson looks eerily similar to 2009 Adrian Peterson, which is not good news for the entire NFL.
If Cutler misses this game, his absence will evoke chilling flashbacks to last season when the Bears started 7-3, were quickly dubbed the ‘dark horse Super Bowl team that nobody wants to play’, and missed the playoffs while riding Caleb Hanie to the finish line.
TAMPA BAY (+1.5) over Atlanta
I’ve picked against Atlanta almost every week, and each time they fail to cover but still end up winning the game. I guess that means Atlanta will win this one by a point.
Seattle (-3) over MIAMI
Sometimes I have this theory that sports teams will do well based on what their representative city needs at the moment. The most obvious example of this would be the Giants winning after 9/11, or the Saints/LSU winning after Hurricane Katrina.
On a much more superficial level, it’s almost winter and the Pacific Northwest is getting littered with rain. Meanwhile, Miami has one of the greatest climates on Earth and has just proved via Major League Baseball that it doesn’t care about professional sports.
Maybe I’m bitter, or maybe I think Seattle needs it more, but I feel like the Seahawks get one here.
Baltimore (-1) over SAN DIEGO
I’m still note sure I believe in the Ravens, but if you’re giving me Phil Rivers and the Chargers getting only one point, then I’m sorry. I’ll go with the 8-2 team instead of the team with the head coach that is about to get fired.
NEW ORLEANS (+2) over San Francisco
I think the 49ers actually look great right now, but I’m worried about how this game is going to play out. Picture this:
Alex Smith gets cleared to play, only Jim Harbaugh rolls the dice with the ‘hot hand’ and starts Colin Kaepernick. Although he torched a Bears defense at home in prime time at The Stick (possibly the best nickname for any stadium in the NFL), he struggles against an opportunistic Saints defense in the Superdome (maybe one of the corniest names for a stadium in the NFL). Drew Brees goes for his typical 300(ish) yards and 3(ish) TDs and the Saints keep their once-impossible playoff hopes alive.
St. Louis (+2.5) over ARIZONA
My flip-flop pick of the week. I was 100% ready to pick Arizona, until I read that the Cardinals are starting their third-string QB against a Rams team that I actually thought held their own against the 49ers in Week 10 (hooray for ties!!!). Winner of this game stays alive in the NFC West. Loser is done.
Green Bay (+3) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Check out the following stats:
Player 1: 2,641 yards, 61.3% completions, 12 TDs, 11 INTs, 81.8 QB rating
Player 2: 2,952 yards, 62.0% completions, 18 TDs, 9 INTs, 94.7 QB rating
Player 3: 2,619 yards, 67.2% completions, 27TDs, 6 INTs, 107.2 QB rating
Player 4: 2,601 yards, 64.1%completions, 19 TDs, 9 INTs, 95.7 QB rating
Alright, so Player 1 is 2012 Eli Manning (through 10 games), while Player 2 is 2011 Eli Manning through 10 games (right before the Giants got hot and made run to the Super Bowl crown). Player 3 is 2012 Aaron Rodgers (through 10 games), while Player 4 is 2010 Aaron Rodgers through 10 games (right before the Packers got hot and made a run to become Super Bowl champions).
In both cases of the ‘Hot Team Making a Run at the Super Bowl’, the stats are almost identical (Player 2 vs. Player 4). However, the current year stats tell a different story. The Packers sit at 7-3 (which is really 8-2 sans a blown call or possibly 9-1 sans a crazy comeback by a rookie QB and a team playing for a coach diagnosed with leukemia) and have the greatest QB in the league leading a hot team that has won five in a row. Aaron Rodgers is clearly outperforming Eli Manning (see Player 3 vs. Player 1 above), and is on the short list of MVP candidates.
(Side note: Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning GIFs have become equally fun for me.)
Carolina (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA
No Vick. No McCoy. No protection for Nick Foles. No love for Andy Reid. That’s essentially the atmosphere in Philadelphia right now. I can’t take this team seriously the way they are playing right now. They have the looks of a team that has completely mailed it in for the season. On the other hand, the Panthers have found a way to lose almost every single close game they’ve played this season.
What if this game ends in a tie? Neither coach can get fired in that case, right?
Last Week: 9-5-0