NFL Week 12 Picks

It’s Thanksgiving week and I dare you to tell me a more fun week of regular season football. The whole week is fun — work isn’t really work on a three-day week, you’ve got the biggest drinking night of the year on Wednesday, we get to gorge ourselves on food all day on Thursday, and we get football from noon until bedtime. How can you beat that? (That’s not even taking into account Saturday’s big rivalry games in the college ranks or the full slate of Sunday NFL games that we still get.)

Unfortunately, it’s not all pretty, though. I was unable to shake my bad streak in week 11, going 6-5-2 against the spread and only managing 6-7 straight up. For the season, I’m 70-67-8 ATS and 97-47 straight up. Let’s do week 12. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Day Slate

Chicago at Detroit (+4)

Expect wackiness in this rivalry game. It’s early on a Thursday, it’s a holiday, the two just met 11 days ago — it’s got all the makings of a weird one. On paper, though, Chicago has all the advantages plus the Lions look to be without Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones. Bears, 22-20

Washington (+7.5) at Dallas

Neither of these teams blow anyone out so 7.5 points either way is a ton of points. I might be in the minority, but I’m not ruling out the Redskins to win this division despite the gruesome injury to Alex Smith. In fact, I think this might be a perfect spot for whoever Jay Gruden puts under center — short week, simplified gameplan, take few risks, run the ball, play defense against a Dallas offense that isn’t very dynamic. Plus it’s Thanksgiving — anything can happen. Redskins, 20-17

Atlanta (+13) at New Orleans

The Saints look primed for a Super Bowl run and the Falcons look dead. However, the Saints have failed to beat a divisional opponent by more than 10 points in their last 14 meetings. I’m assuming the Falcons offense scores some points and keeps it within 2 touchdowns. My expectations are not very high for the dirty birds. Saints, 34-24

Should Watch

Seattle at Carolina (-3.5)

This is a battle between two potential playoff teams. And it should be strength against strength — Seattle’s number rushing attack versus Carolina’s 9th ranked rush defense. Seattle is plenty to good enough to hold their own in this one, but Carolina is a different team at home — 5-0. In fact, the Panthers haven’t scored fewer than 31 points in any home game since their opening against Dallas. Panthers, 23-20

Cleveland (+3) at Cincinnati

Hue’s Revenge Game Part 1. Or is it the Browns Revenge Game? Cincinnati’s defense is playing so badly; they finally allowed fewer than 500 yards last weekend for the first time in a month. Baltimore collected 250 yards rushing against the Bengals in week 11 and Cleveland has shown a propensity for running the ball. Nick Chubb could be in store for a productive afternoon. Browns, 28-24

Pittsburgh (-3) at Denver

Could the Steelers slip up here? It feels like that kind of a game — in Mile High, coming off an ugly win against the lowly Jags, and Denver comes in off a win over the Chargers. The problems twofold: (1) the Steelers have a really good offensive line to combat Vonn Miller and the Denver pass rush and (2) Pittsburgh’s playmakers on offense will make life difficult for the Denver secondary. Steelers, 31-24

Green Bay (+3.5) at Minnesota

If ever Green Bay was going to put up a fight, it’s now. Both teams are in a kinda-sorta “must win” position coming off a couple tough road losses. A loss here doesn’t end either teams’ season, but it sure won’t help as both push for the playoffs. If the Aarons (Rodgers and Jones) have big games, the onus will be on Kirk Cousins to answer. Honestly, I’m not sure he can. Packers, 24-23

Corner TV at the Bar Status

Oakland (+11) at Baltimore

I don’t know if this is unprecedented or not — but I’m going to say it is — a rookie QB giving 11 points in his second career start after a game in which he threw for 150 yards and zero touchdowns and one interception is unprecedented. It will be interesting to see if Baltimore adjusts their offensive plan, knowing that Lamar Jackson rushing 27 times is not sustainable nor is it beneficial for his well-being. Gus Edwards ran for 115 yards last week so maybe that will give Marty Morningweg confidence to let Jackson use more of his arm and less of his legs. Ravens, 24-20

New England at Jets (+9.5)

History would have us assume that the Patriots don’t lose after a bye week and cover the spread. But look more closely and you’ll find that Bill Belichick and crew are only 3-5-1 since 2009 coming off the bye against the spread. Plus, the Jets always play hard at home against New England. Patriots, 27-19

Miami at Indianapolis (-9.5)

The Dolphins are a train-wreck — and yet they’re 5-5 and right in the thick of the wildcard race in the AFC. But the Colts are rolling on offense and defensively they should handle whatever kind of offense Miami throws out there. Colts, 31-17

Giants (+6) at Philadelphia

The Giants have won two straight, but their opponents were the 49ers and the Bucs. Conversely, the Eagles have lost back-to-back games to the Cowboys and the Saints. All this adds up to a game that I won’t watch and can’t see more than a few points separating them. In the end, the Eagles still have a pass rush and can make Eli uncomfortable with his flimsy offensive line. Eagles, 24-20

Tennessee (+6) at Houston

The Texans were lucky to escape D.C. with the win last Sunday. These two teams matchup nicely — good defenses, not consistent enough on offense. Divisional games in the AFC South usually end up being pretty tightly contested. Titans, 23-17

Can’t Do It

San Francisco at Tampa Bay (-3.5)

We talk about how good certain teams are coming off the bye week. The Niners are not one of them. San Fran is winless since 2012 off a bye and also has failed to cover the spread in each of those games. Even more telling, they’ve lost by double digits in each of those weeks going back 2014. Moreover, the 49ers don’t have a pass rush and their secondary shouldn’t give the Tampa Bay’s air attack any problems. Bucs, 30-24

Arizona (+12) at Chargers 

A little of the shine has come off of the Chargers after a couple of disappointing weeks. Yes, they beat the Raiders two weeks ago but it wasn’t dominant; and then last week, we were treated to an “Anthony Lynn-Phillip Rivers Special” when they blew the 4th quarter lead in Denver. This weekend is in Los Angeles, where the Chargers don’t really enjoy much of a home field advantage — 3-1 with a margin of victory of only +9.  Chargers, 27-19

Jacksonville at Buffalo (+3)

Remember when these two played in the playoffs last year? (You didn’t dream it — it really happened.) I could see a weird 15-9 final score with defensive touchdowns and field goals. This is the way the football gods keep things balanced after we watched the Rams and Chiefs put up 105 last Monday night. Jaguars, 17-16


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Listen to Ep. 102 (“Thanksgiving Edition Plus Don’t Count the Redskins Out Just Yet”) right here:

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Author: Brian Goodwin

An educator for 15 years. I have a passion for sports and a passion for writing about sports. I'm very excited to run this blog and have conversations with people about relevant topics, mostly pertaining to sports but also in all aspects of life.

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