Week Twelve Picks
This week’s theme: What everyone will or should be thankful for around the NFL. Also, as always, what not to expect. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Houston (-3) at Detroit
The Texans, no doubt, are thankful that their letdown game on Sunday didn’t result in a (completely absurd) divisional loss. Now if they can beat a pair of 4-6 teams, Detroit and Tennessee, they may go into their week 14 Monday nighter at New England with a chance to secure both the AFC South title and a first-round bye. The Lions, I suspect, will be thankful when this game is over. Houston by 17.
Washington (+3) at Dallas
I think we’re all (or at least those of us who aren’t Cowboys fans) thankful for the ongoing comedy routine that is Tony Romo‘s professional football career. The Native Americans should be thankful that they’re traveling on a short week to face a team that barely (and only with the help of at least one horrifically bad call) squeaked by the Cleveland Browns in week 11. I don’t care how bad the Washington defense is, I’m going with the visitors. Native Americans by a field goal.
New England (-6.5) at NY Jets
The loss of Rob Gronkowski for the balance of the regular season is going to be a problem for the Patriots. When they play actual football teams, that is. Against the Jets, maybe not so terribly. The Jets are sputtering and very much in need of a team to put them out of their misery. And the Patriots will be more than happy to do it. By the time the evening is over, New England likely will be very thankful to have drafted and developed Stevan Ridley. Because New Jersey comes into this game with a run defense that is close to the worst in the league (allowing 142 yards and a touchdown per game, 4.4 yards a carry) and that hasn’t shown any signs that it’s capable of getting better. Ridley turns in a career game and the Patriots win by three touchdowns.
Oakland (+8) at Cincinnati
The Bengals, I suppose, must be thankful that they get to keep their pretend post-season hopes alive for another week by beating up on the thoroughly dreadful Raiders. Football fans outside of Cincinnati and Oakland should be thankful that the most we’ll ever see of this game are the lowlights. Bengals by 10.
Pittsburgh (-1) at Cleveland
I’m sure Browns fans are beside themselves with thankfulness at the fact that their only getting a point from a visiting division rival that’s going through a quarterback a week. Hooray! The Browns have arrived! Steelers fans, one might imagine, are less thankful for the fact that their team is picking up wide receivers and quarterbacks off the street in week 12. I’m not sure what to make of this game, but I imagine that no matter who starts at what key position for the Steelers, the Browns, true to form, will figure out a way to lose. Pittsburgh by a field goal.
Buffalo (+3) at Indianapolis
The Bills must be thankful that they’re traveling to face the Colts the week after Indy was humiliated (and possibly demoralized) in New England. The Colts must be thankful that they’re going home to face a team with a defense that’s even worse than their own. Buffalo keeps it close through most of the game, but the Colts pull it out by seven in the end.
Denver (-10.5) at Kansas City
Peyton Manning should be thankful for this opportunity to pad his stats. Manning moved ahead of Dan Marino to take sole possession of second place all-time in passing touchdowns last weekend, with 423. He’ll probably close about half the 85-TD gap between him and Brett Favre in this game. Or, you know, throw another three anyhow. Denver by 20.
Tennessee (-3) at Jacksonville
The Titans might very well be thankful that the Jaguars played their good game last week and have commenced shutting it down for the season. Or maybe they don’t care. I know I don’t. I’m not taking either of these teams to win anything by three. Titans by a point.
Atlanta (-1) at Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers and their fans should be thankful that this game is being played in Tampa. It’s the reason the Bucs come out ahead. (Well, that and a second straight rough outing for Matt Ryan.) Buccaneers by three.
Baltimore (-1) at San Diego
The Ravens defense, which goes in with a pretty good 11 interceptions on the season, will come out with an even better 14 and will be thankful to Philip Rivers, who has thrown more picks than any other QB in the league. Baltimore by six.
San Francisco (-2.5) at New Orleans
The Niners may be thankful for Colin Kaepernick now (and well they should be), but I suspect they’ll be feeling rather more ambivalent come Monday morning. Because it appears Alex Smith is going to get the start. And the 49ers are losing this game. And that’s how you get yourself a quarterback controversy at exactly the wrong time. Saints by a field goal.
St. Louis (+2.5) at Arizona
No one’s as thankful as I am that I don’t have to spend any real time thinking about this game. St. Louis is edging toward being the better team at this point, but they won’t get there until they learn how to hold onto the ball. That’s not happening all at once in Arizona, so I’m taking the Cardinals. They probably win by a field goal.
Green Bay (+2.5) at NY Giants
Giants fans are thankful that November is very nearly over. They should be thankful for the fact that the Packers still haven’t figured out a way to keep Aaron Rodgers off his back. Rodgers took yet another three sacks, losing 17 yards, in Detroit last weekend. That gets his league-high season total to 32, which is better than three a game. The Packers overall are a better team than the Giants, maybe significantly so, but I don’t think you can go on the road and beat a team like New Jersey when you leave your QB exposed like that. So I’m taking the Giants. Let’s say by four.
Carolina (+2.5) at Philadelphia
Ugh. I’m, um, thankful for the fact that there are actual good prime time games coming up over the next few weeks. That might make enduring this battle of the dregs slightly less painful. I’m just going with the home team by a field goal. Because why not?