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Week 12 NFL Picks

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Happy Thanksgiving to all.  And to all…I offer picks at a 61% (90-57) rate.

Thanksgiving Day Picks

Green Bay at Detroit With Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson unlikely to play, this one could get ugly fast.  The Lions have earned some good-will with that last second win over Cleveland, which should save them from the Boo Birds for at least ten more days.  In this one, I’ve got the Packers winning big.

Oakland at Dallas The Cowboys, despite largely mediocre play this season, can go to a hard-to-believe 8-3 with a win here.  Tony Romo is playing what I’d describe as “skittish” right now, but unlike Washington, Oakland will break if you commit to the run long enough.  That’s the only reason I don’t think the Cowboys are in for much of a battle.  It will be close for a half.

New York Giants at Denver With four consecutive losses, Denver is squarely on the ropes at home this week, and I like the Giants with a chance here to deliver the knockout blow.  I worry about that defense with Antonio Pierce out, but so far, the Knowshon Moreno pick in the middle of the first round looks like a big-time reach.  The Broncos offense simply can’t exploit the weaknesses on the Giants D, and their secondary isn’t going to suddenly get better against a diverse passing attack like New York’s.

Sunday’s Slate

Tampa Bay at Atlanta Atlanta is a close win over Washington away from being oh-for in the middle third of the season, but Tampa is exactly the team that the Falcons can get healthy against in a hurry.  Even with Josh Freeman providing ability from the quarterback position, Tampa still fell by 31 points to New Orleans.  Atlanta isn’t as good as New Orleans, but the margin of victory here should be in the double-digits.

Miami at Buffalo If Buffalo is going to continue to start Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, voluntarily, then they will keep falling to superior opponents such as the Dolphins, or anyone else, really.

Washington at Philadelphia Philly beat down the Redskins so badly in Washington back in week seven that it’s hard to see this game, now in Philadelphia, being any better.  But the Redskins are a much different team than the one that lost to the Eagles in October.  This time, while the Eagles should win, the Redskins will be better prepared, particularly on defense.

Seattle at St. Louis Marc Bulger is out of this one, and his Rams career might be over.  The Seahawks have really not played that terrible this year, but it’s beginning to look a lot like last season for them.  Matt Hasselbeck is in the lineup, so they’ll get the nod, but this pick is more of an aversion of trying to pin down the specific conditions of the game than anything.

Carolina at New York Jets The Panthers’ dominant rushing attack has returned to form, and it still hasn’t helped Jake Delhomme out any.  With no semblance of a passing game to speak of, and a defense that simply isn’t as good as last year, the rushing attack gets marginalized.  On the Jets end, they’ll find themselves in a weird situation when they are actually the most talented team on the field.  Hard to predict how they will react to that, hopefully, they won’t stink up the joint.

Cleveland at Cincinnati This is the upset pick of the week.  Cincinnati lost at Oakland because they let the Raiders hang around, and hang around until the Raiders only needed one score in the final two minutes to tie the game.  Best case scenario, they were going to be taken to overtime by the Raiders, in a game which they led 14-0.  I don’t think they will ever have a lead in this one the way the offense is playing, and I’m going to take the Browns to get their second win.  Say what you want about Cleveland, but they are better than Oakland.

Indianapolis at Houston The Texans need to win 5 out of their final 6 games to make the post-season for the first time in franchise history, and while this game is by far the hardest remaining on the schedule (this assumes the Pats have nothing to play for in Week 17), I’d be much more optimistic about the Texans chances if they actually win the first game in this stretch.  The last time to win five consecutive games in order to make a wild card was the 2005 Redskins.  The 2008 Eagles had it just as difficult, but they slipped up in Washington in Week 16, and needed a whole lot of help to overcome that.  For the Colts, this is just another game on the way to 16-0.  For the Texans, this might be their season.  I don’t really feel like this is much of an upset, but I’m going with Houston, with their backs against the wall.

Kansas City at San Diego The Chargers are the top five team no one ever talks about.  Don’t look now, but their record is just as good as the Pats’ record (7-3), and the Bengals’ record (7-3), and they haven’t lost in over a month.  If the Colts, Saints, Vikings, and Pats are the four best teams in the NFL, are the Chargers not the next-best team?

Jacksonville at San Francisco These teams aren’t valued very differently right now among the pundits and fans alike, but the 49ers have proven to be the better of the two through 10 games.  Their record doesn’t show it right now, but that is why they play the games.  And on the field, the 49ers will win at home by at least a TD.

Chicago at Minnesota Earlier this week, I pointed out that the Vikings never really seem to play a quality opponent.  Consider:  they still have the Bears on the schedule this year.  Twice.  Only match-ups with the Cardinals and Bengals remain between the Vikings and a 15 and 1 record.  The Saints, undefeated, might be playing for the first overall seed this week against the Pats.

Arizona at Tennessee It’s very difficult to value these two opponents, with what the Titans starting 0-6 and looking the part, followed by a post-bye 4-0, and also looking the part.  If we accept the later stretch as the true value of the team, then the Titans are an easy pick.  But those six games still happened, and well, we’ve seen the Cardinals tear apart stronger secondaries than this one.  I just don’t really have a good sense of this one.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore It appears Ben Roethlisberger is slated to play in this one, but Troy Polamalu is not, and the Steelers are a completely different defense when #43 isn’t in the mix.  His absence makes the Ravens the better team on the field, and since it’s their field, it makes them a fairly safe pick.

Monday’s Throwdown

New England at New Orleans If you don’t think that New Orleans is going to take any personal pride in taking the Patriots to the woodshed to this week, I’d like to turn your attention to a game that happened in 2007 when Gregg Williams was coaching the Redskins defense.  52-7, with 14 points added in the non-competitive fourth quarter.  The Saints will be winning in the fourth quarter, and on behalf of all non-Belichick NFL coaches, we hope the safety blitzes don’t cease.  Sean Payton may call off the dogs, but the Saints’ defense is going all out for 60 minutes, regardless of the score.

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