NFL Picks Week 12: Thanksgiving Edition
NFL Picks Week 12: Thanksgiving Edition
Several teams have begun to fall by the wayside as far as playoff contenders are concerned as the NFL enters week 12 with Thanksgiving fast approaching. The league’s tradition of mixing pigskin with turkey has been a time-tested one that nearly all of us can remember dating back into our childhoods.
That is why this week’s slate of game has an extra special feel if you are a lifelong football fan as the Thanksgiving institution of bringing the gridiron to the dinner table is a wonderful concept. Just the idea of football making those awkward family gatherings any more tolerable is a comforting one if you have a passion for the game.
What we have seen on the field in recent weeks is a real Jekyll and Hyde type of situation for several teams considered to be elite. Defensive forces have given up inordinate amounts of points while offensive juggernauts have failed to light up the scoreboard at all in some cases. This has only further reinforced the idea that the NFL is a week-to-week league and anything can happen when two professional football teams clash.
Expect that theme to continue its reign over the league in week 12 as many teams face off with familiar rivals. In typical NFL fashion, the idea of tradition and traditional division rivalries mesh well together in this slate of games.
So how can you predict the unpredictable you may be asking? That question has been troubling mankind for centuries and will likely only continue to do so for future generations. With something as inconsequential as the NFL however, just be thankful this week that you have your friends and family around you to celebrate the holiday as you sit back and enjoy another spectacular week of pigskin drama.
Houston Texans vs. Detroit Lions
For years, the campaign to get the Lions off of Thanksgiving was loud and strong, but now that they have become watchable again, the idea of them leaving this tried and true tradition is unthinkable. After watching the Texans defense get into a track meet last week with the Jaguars, one has to wonder if this will be an offensive explosion game. If so, the Johnsons (Andre and Calvin) on either side of the field are sure to factor in.
Texans 30 – Lions 27
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
The other Turkey Day staple resides in Dallas where the Cowboys host Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. This will be the ‘Boys first experience with the exceptional rookie signal caller and could be a long day for a defense that struggled with the Browns a week ago. Washington should be able to run right through the cast of depleted Dallas defenders.
Redskins 31 – Cowboys 24
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
For dessert, the finale of the trio on Thanksgiving takes place in New York (New Jersey actually) where the Patriots meet the Jets in a classic divisional battle. Rex Ryan has publicly admitted that Bill Belichick is a superior coach to him and this game will show that Ryan also has inferior players. Look for Tom Brady to have a field day in this one.
Patriots 35 – Jets 16
Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Signs of life were shown by the Jaguars last week and the Titans had an impressive showing in their last action as well. Fresh off of the bye, Tennessee should be healthy and have quarterback Jake Locker ready to work his magic against a lackluster Jags defense. Chad Henne could have some success against this Titans’ secondary too, but look for Tennessee’s balance to win out in the end.
Titans 34 – Jaguars 28
Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts
Amazingly, the Colts are fourth in the NFL in total offense this season and with Buffalo ranked 27th in total defense, this game reeks of a mismatch. On paper, Andrew Luck and the Colts should have their way, but they must remain balanced and dedicate themselves to the running game early and often. Look for Indy to get a much needed win to keep their playoff hopes very much alive.
Colts 27 – Bills 20
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh still boasts the top defense in the league and given Cleveland’s low ranking in total offense (27th in the league), this game looks awfully one-sided. Rivalry games often times take unexpected turns however so don’t discount the Browns too easily. Even with Charlie Batch at quarterback, it would be difficult to see the Browns doing anything more than worrying the Steelers in this one.
Steelers 21 – Browns 13
Oakland Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals
There isn’t a whole lot to get excited about in this one with the Raiders having little outside of Marcel Reece look even remotely positive. For Cincy, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green remain the main connection for the team and that duo has gotten it done on several occasions already this season. This will be another one.
Bengals 31 – Raiders 21
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
What is most overlooked with the Peyton Manning led Broncos is their much improved defense which ranks sixth in the league this season. Given the Chiefs sheer ineptitude against even the least formidable of defenses, look for this one to be over early. Denver is looking to improve their playoff seeding at this point.
Broncos 28 – Chiefs 10
Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins
Seattle doesn’t offer much offensively outside of Marshawn Lynch, but their defense is quite a force ranked third in the league. The Dolphins 28th ranked offense has been highly volatile throughout the course of the season and this game sets up to be one of their down weeks. Look for a defensive struggle, but the Seahawks do just enough to win.
Seahawks 17 – Dolphins 13
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don’t look now, but the league’s last standing undefeated team now appears to be stumbling. Atlanta still has just one loss, but a close-call in a five interception outing from quarterback Matt Ryan last week was a real cause for concern. The Bucs have been moving in the right direction and a win would put them back within striking distance in the division race.
Buccaneers 34 – Falcons 27
Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears
Fresh off of an embarrassment against the 49ers, the Bears look to rebound against a familiar foe in the Vikings. Minnesota had a week off and hopes to have MVP candidate Percy Harvin back in the lineup for this one. If Jay Cutler is again forced to sit on the sidelines, the Bears could see themselves quickly fall into third in the NFC North.
Vikings 24 – Bears 17
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers
Baltimore looked to be finished with all of the injuries they have sustained defensively, but a stellar effort against the Steelers last week breathed new life into this team. Their opponents in the Chargers have really no hope left for the 2012 season and this could be the beginning of the referendum on Norv Turner’s job.
Ravens 27 – Chargers 24
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals
Six straight losses have slid the Cardinals down near the bottom of the NFC West just above their opponents in the Rams. St. Louis actually began the downfall of the Cards with their win in week five in what was a sack-fest for the Rams D. Look for Arizona’s revolving door at quarterback to continue as the Rams pad their sack stats again in this one.
Rams 20 – Cardinals 10
San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints
This is a classic strength versus weakness match-up as the 49ers number two ranked defense battles the Saints fifth ranked offense. What may be more telling in this one is the Saints defense which ranks dead last in the league by a large margin. Look for Frank Gore to gouge the New Orleans defense for large chunks of yards en route to a win.
49ers 31 – Saints 21
Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants
Both of these teams are very hard to figure out at times as Green Bay seems to try to lose every week while the Giants are just totally unpredictable. If New York decides to show up for this one, Eli Manning could have a good day against the Packers secondary, but if not, Aaron Rodgers will shred the G-Men and their enigmatic defense. Expect a shootout, but lean toward the Pack.
Packers 38 – Giants 31
Carolina Panthers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This is the biggest dud of the week and it just happens to be on Monday night. Carolina at least has a glimmer of hope whereas the Eagles just seem to be waiting for Andy Reid to get fired. Cam Newton should be able to pile up the yards against this lost Philly defense. Don’t look for things to get much better for rookie quarterback Nick Foles if he continues to be under siege.
Panthers 27 – Eagles 13