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Giving Thanks. Week 12 NFL Picks

Thanksgiving has come and gone. I’m thankful that Sunday will provide us with some watchable football (fingers crossed). While competitive games are never guaranteed, anytime you can eliminate the Lions and Raiders before Sunday and then match up the Seahawks and Rams, you’ve got to like your chances.

Last Week:  11 – 5 – 0
Season:       99 – 61 – 0

Thursday

Packers at Lions (Early Afternoon)
Everyone loves to complain about the Thanksgiving matchups. I understand the protest. And yes, even I don’t think the Lions are very exciting to watch. However, it is Thanksgiving, not a Sunday afternoon. How many of us really have the time to fully invest our attention in a three hour football game? Not many. Thanksgiving Day football functions like summertime baseball. Sure, I’ll turn on the Phillies’ game every night but I won’t actually sit and watch it. The game’s on for background news as I hang out with friends or sit outside by the pool. Thanksgiving football serves the same purpose. Everyone’s hanging out, enjoying the festivities, and there’s a football game on the tube just in case the conversation turns to politics or why TLC was forced to cancel Jon and Kate Plus Hate. With that said, I’ll watch every single game. I even purchased the NFL Network for my dad so I don’t miss the nightcap. PACKERS

Raiders at Cowboys (Late Afternoon)
Now this I don’t understand. The Cowboys’ schedule is full of intriguing matchups. Why does the NFL stick us with the Oakland Raiders when there is no other game to watch? Give us the Chargers or an NFC East rival would you? Obviously, I’ll be rooting for the Raiders here. Maybe we’ll get lucky and one of Dallas’ players will channel his inner Leon Lett and do something so mind boggling that it will ultimately cost the Cowboys the game. Chances are slim, but hey, it’s a holiday. Crazy things can happen. For the sixth year in a row, I petitioned both my family and my in-laws to bag the traditional Turkey dinner for something more exciting like Salmon or Pizza. For the sixth year in a row, there were no takers. I’m in the minority here. I hate Thanksgiving food. While I’m very thankful to have such food available, I’m not a fan. Stuffing? No Thanks. Turkey? Only on a hoagie. Mashed potatoes? French Fries please. Casseroles? Dear God no. Pie? Ice cream is all I need. I really appreciate all the Indians and Pilgrims did hundreds of years ago. I just wish they ate something else. COWBOYS

Giants at Broncos (Evening)
What’s this? A potentially competitive Thanksgiving football game with playoff implications? Fantastic! The Giants saved their season last Sunday (barely). Traveling across the country on a short week to play another desperate team won’t be easy. Even at 6-0, I was never big on the Broncos. There’s a significant difference between winning games and not losing them. At the beginning of the season, Denver played solid football and made few mistakes. They’d hang around long enough to make one or two plays to steal a victory. Now, the Broncos are making costly mistakes on both sides of the ball and can’t make the big plays when opportunities arise. Players and coaches are frustrated, the quarterback is who we thought he was, and the defense is fatigued. Needless to say, the playoff outlook is not bright in Denver. The Giants’ outlook isn’t very promising either. Their highly touted running game of a year ago is long gone. The defense has allowed opposing offenses to march up and down the field in both victories and defeats. Everything that has made the Giants the Giants is non-existent. Luckily for New York, the NFC is mediocre for the 473rd
consecutive year, so they’ll be in the playoff mix even with a loss. At this point, I think the Broncos are the poorer poor team. GIANTS

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Buccaneers at Falcons
Of the NFC Wildcard contenders, Atlanta has the easiest path to the playoffs. Their six remaining games include only two opponents with winning records. I’m not convinced they’ll get in, but they certainly have the inside track. I have nothing else to add in regards to this game. Therefore, I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully everyone found time to relax and appreciate life’s blessings. Remember to thank those that sacrifice their time with family and loved ones by serving in the military. They deserve it. FALCONS

Dolphins at Bills
I really want to pick the Bills here. Unfortunately, the only two reasons I can justify this pick are: it’s going to be cold in Buffalo, and the Bills’ interim head coach moves up and down the sideline with the intensity of a college basketball coach (which involves a lot of moving and a lot of intensity). I’m still bumming over the Ronnie Brown injury. I was excited to see how far Miami could go with their overachieving roster. They essentially line up and challenge teams to stop them at the line of scrimmage as they have zero receiving threats. Although, it’s nice to see Ricky Williams rebound from that stretch where he was kicked out of football. Not a lot else to watch here. Oh well. I’ll tune in to see how many times Ted Ginn Jr. mistakes the football for a flying grenade. He literally drops anything they throw in his direction, Gatorades, power bars, money. He’ll drop it all. DOLPHINS

Browns at Bengals
I’ll give you 100:1 odds if you think the Bengals will drop a second consecutive game to a miserable opponent. I still believe Cincinnati wins that game if they don’t sign Larry Johnson. Some call it karma; I call it punishment for, “signing an arrogant, undeserving player that offers your team nothing.” Either way, it bit the Bengals in the rear last Sunday. BENGALS

Seahawks at Rams
Big Ten…I mean NFC West football at its best. (I apologize to all football fans for the confusion there. Of course the NFC West is more entertaining than Big Ten Football. It’s really not even close.) SEAHAWKS

Panthers at Jets
Two very good pass defenses. Two very good rush offenses. Hey! I think we’re going to see a running battle. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is analysis at its best. Don’t be fooled, I don’t work for ESPN or SI or the NFL. No sir. I just take my blogging role very, very seriously. PANTHERS

Redskins at Eagles
While perusing the local paper this past week, I noticed that beat reporters and columnists failed to mention the horrible play of the Philadelphia corners. I can’t allow this. Something must be done. I took charge and decided to give them an unflattering motto, “We leave our laundry on the field.” I lose sleep over the double move. Honestly, an offensive coordinator could run a double move twice every series and have success against our corners. It’s embarrassing. How many times will Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel lean in for the kiss before they learn the girl bites? Again, it’s embarrassing. Both Brown and Samuel have chased more fly balls from behind than Shane Victorino did over a 162 game season. I imagine if you went up to either player and stuttered when asking a question, they’d rush forward and answer immediately. It’s a double move fellas!! Some patience, please!?!?! If this continues, the defense may be required to play with a punt returner at all times. At least, we’ll limit the damage to field goals as opposed to touchdowns. Can you tell I’m aggravated? EAGLES

Colts at Texans
Indianapolis won’t go 16-0. We all know this. That’s easy. The difficult part is selecting where they’re going to get tripped up. I am tempted to circle this game as the first blemish on the Colts 2009 resume. However, the Texans were so unimpressive last Monday night that I just don’t think they have it in them. Matt Schaub has a noodle for an arm and the running game can’t challenge a defense. Normally, I would take the always dangerous desperation factor into consideration, but I don’t think Houston has the desperation mentality. Monday night’s game should have induced their most emotional performance and the Texans got physically manhandled by a team that was 3-6. Gary Kubiak won’t survive the winter if Houston isn’t in the playoffs. Without this win, the playoffs won’t include the Texans. A+B = bye bye Gary Kubiak. COLTS

Game I’ll Watch: Redskins at Eagles
Game I’ll DVR: Colts at Texans

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chiefs at Chargers
I’m still not sold on the Chargers. Explain to me how a team without a running game and only a so-so defense is supposed to challenge for the AFC crown? (Answer from audience)… “Uh, how about the New England Patriots, you dope face.” Oh, Ok, fair enough. Although, Philip Rivers is not Tom Brady and Norv Turner is certainly not Bill Belichick. Still, I’m letting the San Diego bandwagon go on past me. Price is too steep, for now. CHARGERS

Jaguars at 49ers
If Jacksonville hopes to maintain their spot in the AFC playoffs, they’ll need to win games like these. While the 49ers are not a very good team, the Jaguars need to prove that they can beat average football teams. Thus far in 2009, they’ve feasted on the NFL’s scraps. Their schedule gets a little dicey as we head into December. As for San Francisco, they have six weeks to figure Alex Smith out. Here are questions they’ll want answers to: Can he lead and develop an offense with a plethora of young talent? Can he remain healthy for an entire season? Has he eliminated the petty, stupid mistakes that cripple young quarterbacks from becoming solid starters? Will he break down in tears if Mike Singletary gets in his face? I’ll keep you posted. 49ERS

Bears at Vikings
If Adrian Peterson doesn’t play this Sunday I think the Bears will have a shot. The Vikings are ripe for an upset. They’re bored, unchallenged, coming off a holiday, and still can’t believe the Timberwolves ended up without Ricky Rubio AND Brandon Jennings. Trust me; the Bears are going to win one of their matchups with the Vikings over the next month. I think it’ll be this one. Remember, I’m coming off swine flu. If the Vikings crush Chicago, please return to this paragraph and replace “have a” in the first sentence with, “need to be,” and then just stop reading. Alright, thanks. BEARS

Cardinals at Titans
My selection for sneaky game of the week (probably due to the uninspiring slate of afternoon games). An NFC North battle between the resurgent Brett Favre and the decaying Jay Cutler may have sounded exciting in September but is must sleep TV in November. The other two contests aren’t any better. This will be the game to watch if you aren’t sleeping or begging someone to make you dinner. The Cardinals have grown into one of the better teams in the NFC. Since they clocked the Giants in New York a couple months ago, they’ve continued to collect wins and improve their playoff chances by facilitating a running game. The Cardinals are legit. Tennessee is no slouch either. The most feared running back and a grueling defense make for a long day for unsuspecting opponents. The Titans will certainly look to get as many shots in as possible on Kurt Warner. If I’m Andy Reid, I make Asante Samuel study film on Cortland Finnegan all week long. That man can tackle. At some point, the Titans’ running game will flounder and Vince Young will need to win with his arm. I don’t see that happening. Thankfully, it won’t be this week. TITANS

Game I’ll Watch: Cardinals at Titans
Game I’ll DVR:
Bears at Vikings

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Steelers at Ravens *Game of the Week
Will Ben Roethlisberger play with a concussion or won’t he? I don’t think it will matter all too much. The Ravens will be tough to beat because they’re at home, it’s a night game, and they’re totally desperate for a win. Also, Baltimore will probably break out the all-black uniforms for their annual appearance. Hands down, these are the most intimidating uniform in the NFL. Downright scary. With or without the jerseys, the Ravens are the most perplexing team in the NFL. Are they good, or are they just mediocre? Obviously, their record indicates mediocre. However, look at their losses; New England, Cincinnati (twice), Minnesota, and Indianapolis. All five losses by a total of 23 points. Combined record of those teams? 40-10. So yeah, the Ravens have five losses, but that’s one heck-of-a-way to lose five games. Some better quarterbacking and more inspired play will push the Ravens over the edge. They’re due for a big win. RAVENS

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Patriots at Saints
I’m rarely a fan of inter-conference battles, especially in primetime. This is an exception. Ron Jaworski got so excited for this matchup that he had his doctor put him into a medically induced coma until Sunday evening. Seriously, Jaws will be so enamored with the two starting quarterbacks on Monday that he’ll do one of two things. 1. He’ll get so excited that he’ll talk endlessly until producers forcibly remove him from the booth, which will lead Jaws to run down to the 50 yard line, lie down on his stomach, and plop his chin into his hands as he excitedly kicks his legs back and forth like a five year-old watching Saturday morning cartoons. OOORRRR 2. You won’t hear a word from him the entire game. He’ll sit in the MNF booth, mouth open wide and smile from ear to ear as Mike Tirico informs us that, “Jaws won’t be calling tonight’s contest due to a man-crush. We wish Ron all the best and a quick recovery.” By the way, I’ve already purchased an 18 hour temporary New England rooting license for Monday. The Saints are all but assured a first round bye, so the game has little significance to my Iggles. However, I want someone to knock off the Saints. I can’t take Sean Payton’s smirk any longer. It’s got to go. PATRIOTS

If I were Charles Barkley…

Weekly Reminder: I pick every game so I don’t look like a pansy and only pick the easy ones. I’m back above .500 but barely. Maybe the Thanksgiving holiday will restore my abilities. If not, you’ll see my wife making these selections for the 2010 season. My goal is to be around 60% at season’s end (unlikely). As is the weekly custom, there is one over/under as well (because they’re too much fun not to have at least one).

Picks
Green Bay Packers (-9.5)
at Detroit Lions (According to ESPN.com)
Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys (-14)
New York Giants (-7)
at Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (+3.5)
Cincinnati Bengals (-14) at Cleveland Browns
Washington Redskins (+9.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Miami Dolphins (+3.5) at Buffalo Bills
Seattle Seahawks (-3) at St. Louis Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-13)
Carolina Panthers (+3) at New York Jets

Jacksonville Jaguars at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (-14)
Chicago Bears (+11) at Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (+3) at Tennessee Titans

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (Pick) (According to ESPN.com)

New England Patriots (+3) at New Orleans Saints

Last Week: 9 – 6 – 1
Season: 72 – 70 – 3

Over/Under
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Over 46

Last Week: 0 – 1 – 0
Season: 6 – 5 – 0

(Lines as of 11/25, 4:52PM ET, from bodog)

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