Thanksgiving is here and there are a lot of pundits out there that would argue that this is the point in the year where the NFL campaign actually begins. We are all done with BYE weeks and are ready to hit the final stretch of the regular season. Which teams will pick up crucial wins this week? Here are my picks!
Last Week: 7-7
Thursday, November 23rd, 12:30 e.t.
Minnesota Vikings (8-2) @ Detroit Lions (6-4)
One of the best games on the Week 12 slate takes place in the early Thanksgiving window as the Lions try to complete the season sweep of Minnesota. I really think they have a shot here but their rush defense has been atrocious over the last two weeks and that will play right into the Vikings hands. That said, I like Matthew Stafford to bring his team back with the game on the line and pull off the upset at home.
Detroit 23, Minnesota 21
Thursday, November 23rd, 4:30 e.t.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
Here is a hard game to pick. These two teams have been going in opposite directions lately, but Dallas is home for this match-up and that could help. However, if Tyron Smith isn’t in for this tilt then the Cowboys are really in trouble because the Chargers come at you with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Good luck to Dak who has gotten no help since Ezekiel Elliot was suspended.
Los Angeles 26, Dallas 19
Thursday, November 23rd, 8:30 e.t.
New York Giants (2-8) @ Washington Redskins (4-6)
The Redskins are the hard luck team of the league this season. They have played some very good teams tight and Kirk Cousins has been on fire. Sure, the Giants were able to upset the Chiefs last week but I don’t think they stand a chance here on the road. The defense is still prone to miscommunications and I see Washington torching them.
Washington 35, New York 14
Sunday, November 26th, 1:00 e.t.
Cleveland Browns (0-10) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)
The battle of Ohio sees its first installment of the season here. The Browns have been playing competitive football lately against good teams but have fallen just short. On the road in the division I can see them upsetting the Bengals but I don’t have the cajones to actually pick them. The Cincy offense is due for a breakout game and this might be it for them.
Cincinnati 30, Cleveland 10
Buffalo Bills (5-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
If this game had taken place three or four weeks ago it would have been the premier matchup of the week, but as it is it is another lame-duck contest with both teams flailing at the moment. The Bills will go with Tyrod Taylor again after the disastrous start from Nate Peterman, but I don’t see him getting his team the “W”. The Chiefs are limping into this game and will be looking to get off the mat. This is still a good team and it will show on Sunday.
Kansas City 29, Buffalo 17
Carolina Panthers (7-3) @ New York Jets (4-6)
It is weird how nobody talks about the Carolina Panthers as one of the better teams in the league. Their defense has been great and the offense is getting there as well. The Jets have fallen off a bit after their surprising start and I don’t like their chances going against the Carolina “D” this week. I don’t expect a blowout here, but with the Panthers getting their ground game going, I can’t see them dropping this one.
Carolina 25, New York 19
Chicago Bears (3-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
The Eagles were sleepwalking through the first half on offense in Dallas a week ago but really got it going after the break. Their defense was strong throughout. Meanwhile the Bears were busy blowing a chance to bring the Lions to overtime in Chicago. Both “D’s” are solid but the Bears offense is not in the same class as is the Eagles. That is going to make the difference in Philly.
Philadelphia 30, Chicago 16
Tennessee Titans (6-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-7)
So you wanna be a playoff team Tennessee? Go win this game. On the road against a division rival, this is a game that the Titans have to have if they want to remain relevant in the AFC. Marcus Mariota had a tough outing against the Steelers’ defense a week back but this is the Colts’ defense this time around. He should have a nice bounce-back game against that much weaker unit.
Tennessee 31, Indianapolis 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) @ Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
The Falcons put together one of their best efforts of the season in Seattle and look like they are about to go on a bit of a run. The Buccaneers have won back-to-back games, but not against good opponents. On the road in Atlanta, I do not like their odds at stopping the Falcon attack given that their defense is still a mess.
Atlanta 37, Tampa Bay 17
Miami Dolphins (4-6) @ New England Patriots (8-2)
The Patriots are headed for a 14-2 or 13-3 season in all likelihood and the Dolphins will prove to be nothing more than a speed bump for them. The Miami offense his non-existent at times while New England’s is probably the best in the league. That mismatch is something that I cannot get over.
New England 41, Miami 13
Sunday, November 26th, 4:05 e.t.
Seattle Seahawks (6-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-9)
This might be the week we get to see Jimmy Garappolo under center for the first time as a Niner off of their BYE. On a short week the Seahawks will have to go on the road to deal with San Fran. That said, I like them to pick up the “W” because their offense has been pretty good lately and I do not like the 49ers to slow Russell Wilson down.
Seattle 33, San Francisco 21
Sunday, November 26th, 4:25 e.t.
New Orleans Saints (8-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
The game of the week takes place in L.A. and the Saints will ride their eight game winning streak into town to take on a Ram team fresh off of an embarrassing loss in Minnesota. I like the Saints on the road because of their running game. I can see them controlling the clock with it and keeping the explosive Rams offense on the sidelines, shortening the game.
New Orleans 30, Los Angeles 28
Denver Broncos (3-7) @ Oakland Raiders (4-6)
The Broncos season has taken a total nose-dive after they lost to the Giants and the defense has been gassed. The Raiders have not been much better but they still have all of their players and are capable of making a run at that #6 seed. If they are to do that, it will have to start here and I think it will. This is a good chance for the Oakland offense to get right.
Oakland 27, Denver 13 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
We can call this the Blaine Gabbert Bowl since Blaine Gabbert will be taking on his former team. The Jaguars have been hot and ride into town on a four game winning streak. The Cardinals have not been good this year but I really like their chances at an upset here. They are going to do it with their defense because I don’t necessarily like their offense to stand up to be league’s best “D”.
Arizona 14, Jacksonville 13 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***
Sunday, November 26th, 8:30 e.t.
Green Bay Packers (5-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)
The Steelers offense finally looked like the one we all thought they were last week versus Tennessee and now they will draw the Brett Hundley led Packers in prime time. With the Pittsburgh defense balling the way it is now I can see them really spanking Green Bay here.
Pittsburgh 34, Green Bay 13
Monday, November 27th, 8:30 e.t.
Houston Texans (4-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
The Ravens recorded their third shutout of the season on the road in Green Bay last week and will get to face Tom Savage’s Texans on Monday night. Sure, Tom Savage played the game of his life against Arizona last week, but overall he is not a good quarterback and the Ravens have demolished most teams they’ve played without a good one. That should happen again here.
Baltimore 24, Houston 10