Happy Thanksgiving! And here are my picks for Week 12.
Patriots (-7) over LIONS
This one has the chance to be a pretty high-scoring game, with the 22nd (Lions) and 23rd (Patriots) ranked defenses in terms of points allowed. But even though it's Thanksgiving and weird things can happen in games on this day, I'll side with Tom Brady and the Patriots to take care of business.
COWBOYS (+4.5) over Saints
The Saints have been laying low recently, and they quietly haven't lost since their Week 7 defeat against the Browns. This will be their first real test in a few weeks now that the Cowboys seem to be interested in actually showing up and playing harder. I understand that the Cowboys only have three wins, but they're going to do everything in their power not to get blown out and embarrassed at home. (Did you know that the Saints defense only allows 17.0 points per game? That's No. 4 in the NFL. Gregg Williams continues to do a fantastic job in New Orleans.)
JETS (-9) over Bengals
I guess it's obvious at this point that it's not really the Jets' style to blow out their opponents. But I can't side with a team that gave up 35 unanswered points to the Bills and seemed to quit in front of their home crowd like that. That was ridiculous, and it was probably the game that will get Marvin Lewis fired.
Vikings (+1) over REDSKINS
I really want to side with the Skins after that gutsy win over the Titans last week, but at some point, they're going to be missing too many players. They may be able to survive another week without LaRon Landry and another defender or two, but I'm much more worried about the injury issues on the offensive line. The line performed admirably last week as guys filled in and got the job done, but I just don't know that most of those fill-ins are talented enough to perform in consecutive weeks. The Vikings have been a disaster this year, but if the Redskins and their makeshift line don't block well enough, they won't win.
Steelers (-6.5) over BILLS
I give the Bills a lot of credit. They refused to give up on the season a few weeks ago and have actually pulled out two wins in a row. Unfortunately, they're on the tracks this week as the Steelers train comes rolling into town. Pittsburgh needs a little more fine-tuning before their huge Week 13 battle with the Ravens in Baltimore, and the Bills just aren't as good as they looked last week in that huge (and hilarious) comeback victory over the Bengals. Prediction for this game? Pain.
Titans (+6.5) over TEXANS
Rusty Smith will get the start at quarterback for Tennessee, so that's not a good thing for them at all. But that does mean the Texans will see a heavy dose of Chris Johnson. That also means Jeff Fisher can get back to what his teams usually do best: run the ball and stop opposing teams from scoring. Let's see if he can coach his team up to get the job done this week with all that's going on around him.
Jaguars (+7.5) over GIANTS
The Giants have lost two big games in a row to NFC East foes, and they appear to be folding. Oh, and they also lost Hakeem Nicks for a few weeks. But I still can't believe that the Jaguars are 6-4, especially since they've been outscored by 50 points on the season. I think the Giants will win this week and avoid losing three games in a row, but they may also be missing too many pieces to win handily over Jacksonville. I think the Giants will win, but it'll be close.
BROWNS (-10) over Panthers
That's a lot of points for a 3-7 team to be laying, but the Panthers (1-9) really are that bad. I'll side with the Browns and the Mangenius this week.
Packers (+2) over FALCONS
Huge game between arguably the two best teams in the NFC. I like the Falcons a little more as a team because of their ability to run the ball, but I think the Packers defense makes the difference this week and forces a few turnovers.
RAIDERS (PK) over Dolphins
That Bears-Dolphins game on Thursday night last week was one of the worst football games I've ever seen. Adding in the horrible NFL Network broadcast booth, it may have been the worst football game I've watched. Considering all that, I'm going to penalize the Dolphins and possibly not pick them for the rest of the season. Way to go, guys.
OK, time for the speed round.
Chiefs (-2) over SEAHAWKS
RAVENS (-7.5) over Buccaneers
Eagles (-3) over BEARS
Rams (+4) over BRONCOS
COLTS (-3) over Chargers
49ers (-1) over CARDINALS
Last week: 7-9