Thanksgiving weekend in the NFL, otherwise known as week 12 is underway. Marked by the traditional Thursday football games which have become as much a part of Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and pumpkin pie. This year turkey day is no different as we have a triple header of NFL action; the most compelling of the games has to be the Washington vs. Dallas, as Dallas is still in the hunt for a division title at 5-5 on the year.
Week 11 saw the Denver Broncos dispatch their division rival San Diego in what was the last hurdle on their way to an AFC West title. Looking ahead the Broncos could conceivable run the table the rest of the season and finish at 13-3. A week 15 matchup in Baltimore is the only real stumbling block to this and even with a loss a 12-4 record would exceed regular season expectations in the Mile High City.
An interesting development in the San Francisco as the 49ers thumped the Chicago Bears on Monday night and Colin Kaepernick had himself a coming out party. So there is now a good old quarterback controversy brewing in the Bay Area as Alex Smith has never been the favorite son of 49er fans. Is a one game sampling good enough for Coach Harbaugh to anoint Kaepernick the full-time starter or will Smith be back under center once medically cleared.
Last week my record was a respectable 12-2. My upset pick of the week in Miami did not perform and they lost to Buffalo, my lock pick of the week was New Orleans and they destroyed the Raiders. Overall record on the year is 105-54.
Alright, let’s get into it; Weeks 12 NFL picks.
Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
Turkey day gets started with this appetizing matchup in Detroit. The 9-1 Texans are rolling into this matchup with a top ranked offense and defense. The Lions are a disappointing 4-6 and now must host the league’s best on National television. The Lions depleted secondary is going to be in for a long day as Matt Schaub will be looking to extend the field and go vertical to his receiving corps. There just isn’t enough Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson Thanksgiving magic to make this upset come true. PICK: TEXANS
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
The team that wins this Thanksgiving main course game remains relevant in the NFC East. A win for the Redskins and they move to 5-6, while a loss for the Cowboys would drop them to 5-6. The Cowboys almost slipped up against Cleveland and it nearly cost them the game, while the Redskins hosted the Philadelphia Eagles and proceeded to give them a sound beating. The Redskins have a legitimate shot at winning this road game. In the end I think the Cowboys defense will do just enough to contain Robert Griffin III and that Tony Romo will pick apart the ‘Skins secondary with short little passes. PICK: COWBOYS
New England Patriots at New York Jets
The NFL version of Thanksgiving dessert is this tasty little treat. In a week 7 rematch where the Pats hosted the Jets, this time the Patriots must travel into hostile territory. There is a long history of the Patriots beating the Jets and Bill Belichick beating Rex Ryan. The Patriots still boast the league’s top ranked offense and seem to be only getting better as the season rolls on. The Jets meanwhile have more questions than answers on both sides of the ball. The Patriots are just too talented to let this game get away from them. PICK: PATRIOTS
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Jake Locker is leading the Titans into Jacksonville in search of consecutive victories. Key for Tennessee is getting Chris Johnson going; who seems to have rounded into shape as the season is progressing. The porous Jaguars offensive line is going to have a hard day’s work ahead as the Titans will be looking to pound the ball on the ground. For the Jaguars last week Chad Henne had himself a game; throwing for four touchdowns and 354 yards. Justin Blackmon got himself free against the Houston Texans secondary and went off to the tune of 236 yards and a touchdown. Where has this offensive output been all year? I just don’t see it replicating itself in back to back weeks. PICK: TITANS
Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts
The Buffalo Bills played a good game last week in beating the Miami Dolphins. The much heralded Bills defense stood up and actually pressured a quarterback, while Ryan Fitzpatrick had a descent game. This week they must travel into Indianapolis to play the Colts, who took a beating on the road at the hands of the New England Patriots. The score would have been a lot closer if not for Andrew Luck’s three interceptions. I see the Colts record as outperforming what their on-field talent would dictate. The Colts are in the bottom third in the league offensively and defensively yet they are two games above .500 on the season. If this game were in Buffalo I’d be going with the home team; turns out I’m still going with the home team. PICK: COLTS
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
The news out of Pittsburgh is not all together good as the quarterback situation has officially reached desperate. The Steelers are down to their third string quarterback as Charlie Batch is getting the start this week against Cleveland. If the Steelers running game isn’t established early and often here then the Steelers will be putting too much pressure on Batch to throw the ball. The Cleveland Browns played a good game against Dallas last week before losing in overtime; however they showed some promise as a team in putting up a very good fight. With the Dawg Pound going crazy in Cleveland, I’m taking the upset here and going with the home team. PICK: BROWNS.
Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
The Oakland Raiders took another step backwards last week in losing to New Orleans. There is just too much inconsistency on third down conversions as the Raiders fail to move the chains and keep the offense on the field. The Cincinnati Bengals are holding onto hope for a potential wildcard and are sensing an opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback injuries. Andy Dalton has been playing well, the offense can look explosive at times and the defense can hold teams when it needs to. I like the Bengals to get it done at home. PICK: BENGALS
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
The Broncos dispatched the San Diego Chargers last week at home with relative ease and now embark on a quest to finish the season without a further loss. Peyton Manning has the offense rolling along; unfortunately Willis McGahee is out indefinitely with a torn MCL. This is a blow as McGahee is the team’s leading rusher; however, in typical Bronco fashion they will plug a new back in and keep on rollin’. Kansas City is a terrible team fighting for the first overall draft pick, enough said. PICK: BRONCOS
Seattle Seahawks at Miami Dolphins
The Seahawks have a problem when it comes to playing on the road. They have played five road games so far and have managed to lose four of them. It hasn’t been the defense that has let them down in road games it has been the offense. If the Seahawks want to convince anyone that they are a playoff caliber team then they must win on the road. The Dolphins also have a problem; they can’t beat a descent team. In what will amount to a boring low-scoring affair, I like the Seahawks to get it done. PICK: SEAHAWKS
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Falcons bounced back from a week 10 loss to beat the Arizona Cardinals in week 11. The Falcons look to be rolling again and now must take their act into Tampa Bay to play a tough Buccaneers squad. The Bucs won their fourth straight game, albeit against some lesser competition; whereas now their schedule gets a lot tougher. After this week Tampa Bay plays Denver, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Atlanta again to round out the season. If Atlanta’s defense can bottle up Doug Martin then it will severely hamper Tampa’s ability to move the ball. We have seen Atlanta’s defense come up big before and it will be needed again this week. PICK: FALCONS
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
This game really comes down to who the Chicago Bears will have as their signal caller come Sunday. Early indications are that Jay Cutler is not ready to go, meaning Jason Campbell will get another start. Should Cutler be cleared to go one can bet he will be on the field. Due to the uncertainty of the situation Vegas has removed all odds on the game. What we do know is that Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are a go for the Vikings and they will both have to play well for the Vikings to get the win. Without knowing Cutler’s status for the game I’m going with the Vikings to get the win. PICK: VIKINGS
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers
The Ravens hung in for a win in Pittsburgh against Byron Leftwich and the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Joe Flacco did not have a good game and neither did Ray Rice. This week they travel to the warmer climate of San Diego to face off against the Chargers who are looking to snap a two game winless slide. Baltimore is a superior team here, both offensively and defensively; home field isn’t going to be much of a factor as Baltimore will welcome the nicer climate. PICK: RAVENS
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are a mess, Coach Ken Whisenhunt has no confidence in any of his quarterbacks, young players are not giving it their all-out effort and All-Pro, All-World Larry Fitzgerald is wasting another season stuck in the desert. For the St. Louis Rams they are looking to end a five game winless streak. They are currently turning the ball over with regularity and have failed to generate a turnover in each of the last five games. The Rams need to protect the ball and force whichever Cardinal quarterback into some turnovers. PICK: RAMS
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints
I’m not sure what created a bigger news story, the fact that the 49ers won their game against Chicago or the quarterback controversy that spawned out of that win. There is no such controversy in New Orleans as Drew Brees will be under center calling the shots. Brees will be under pressure all afternoon as his defensive line is weak while the 49ers defense is amazing. Whichever 49er quarterback who gets the nod as the starter has shown their ability to win and lead this team. In what should amount to a close game, PICK: 49ers
Green Bay Packers at New York Giants
The New York Giants are favored to win this game as they are currently laying 3 points to the Green Bay Packers. It must be the bye week and home field advantage that is creating this as the Packers are a superior team. The Packers can play in cold weather, they can play in hostile crowds and they have a quarterback as adept as Eli Manning in leading furious comebacks. For all these reasons I’m taking the underdog. PICK: PACKERS
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles
One has got to figure that the NFL schedule makers were thinking this game was going to showcase Cam Newton and Michael Vick going head to head in a game with some playoff implications. Instead the Panthers are limping in as the irrelevant and people are only watching the Eagles in the same way people slow down to see a car accident. About the only one with something to play for is Nick Foles who would like to make a case for being the starting quarterback next year. Should the Eagles drop this home game the fans just might storm the field in protest over a disastrous season. The Panthers are really quiet bad, the Eagles are only marginally better. PICK: EAGLES
UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK: CLEVELAND BROWNS to get it done at home against the banged up Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve actually got three underdog teams picked to win this week, aside from Cleveland I like Philadelphia and Green Bay both to win their games.
LOCK PICK OF THE WEEK: DENVER BRONCOS beat Kansas City on the road in convincing fashion.