Week 12 NFL Picks

Rams fans need a hug, Giants need more Saquon Barkley, finding a way for the Raiders, Taylor Heinicke still sucks and Zach Wilson is… funny?

Last Week:    5 – 8 – 1
Season:        79 – 75 – 8

Thanksgiving Day (12:30, 4:30, 8:20PM ET)

Bills at Lions
Disclaimer: I do not have D’Andre Swift on my fantasy team. (I traded him.) With that said, I do not understand what the Lions are doing. Assuming Swift is now healthy, and isn’t some kind of locker room cancer, why in the world are the Lions benching him? Jamaal Williams is a fine back, but look at his numbers and tell me why he’s getting the lion’s share (pun intended) of Detroit’s carries. Williams is averaging a measly 4.2 yards per carry on the season. He’s been held under 4 yards per carry in five games this season. He’s never finished a season with more than a 4.2 average. Swift is an explosive player. He’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield as well. I get Dan Campbell is a big toughness guy, but the Lions need playmakers too. Get Swift the football. LIONS +9.5

Giants at Cowboys
Don’t sleep on the Cowboys in the race for the NFC’s top seed. I’m not saying it’s likely, but aside from a weird 4th quarter collapse, they’ve been the most complete NFC team over the last few weeks. The Eagles are a little lost and the Vikings looked terrible last week and have been squeaking out wins for months. The schedule is also more favorable for Dallas. On the other end, I’m not so sure the Giants are making the playoffs. They have four straight against the NFC East on deck followed by the Vikings. This is a massive game for the Giants and their playoff hopes. Their running game was stifled last week by one of the worst rushing defenses in the game, which means everyone knows they want and need to run the football to be successful. That will be imperative Thursday both in moving the offense down the field but to also slow Dallas’ pass rushers. The Giants lost another receiver this week so at some point they have to find ways to get Saquon Barkley more involved in the passing game. He’s a phenomenal pass blocker but they need big plays and the offense is about out of playmakers other than Barkley. I hope the Giants make it interesting but unless Barkley has a 100/100 type of day I don’t see how the Giants survive Thursday. COWBOYS -10

Patriots at Vikings
It was probably because it was on my 3rd TV, but I thoroughly enjoyed that Jets/Patriots slop last week. After getting blown out in the playoffs last year, I’m not sure the postseason would go much differently for the Patriots if they were to get in this year, but I want to see it play out. That defense is great and continues to get better. On the other hand, New England hasn’t faced a legitimate offense since getting trounced by the Bears, so maybe I should see how they perform against an angry Vikings offense before I declare their greatness. VIKINGS -2.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Buccaneers at Browns
The World Cup is here and that means the dumbest chant in all of sports is back. “I believe that we will win!” Huh? What a stupid thing to say. It lacks confidence. It’s corny. If you believe you’re team is going to win, just say it. Don’t soften it. I also hate grown up soccer. It’s too boring. Kids soccer is awesome because they know the game and how to play it but they’re kids so there’s also a ton of chaos mixed in. I apologize for those I’ve offended. The U.S. soccer team won’t win. (See what I did there? I just said it. No “I believe” or nothing. Just said it.) BUCCANEERS -3.5

Bengals at Titans
Mike Vrabel is on the Andy Reid coaching trajectory. He’s an awesome coach that gets the most out of a limited roster. He won’t win a Super Bowl this year or anywhere in the near future, but his players love him and play hard week in and week out. When that Tennessee roster finally finds a franchise quarterback, Vrabel will find himself a Super Bowl title. I just hope the Titans brain trust has enough patience. TITANS +2

Texans at Dolphins
Every single Texans fans should be thanking Davis Mills. Going into the season with a young quarterback on a team with no expectations is a dangerous cocktail. If he plays well you lose a high pick and the clarity of whether or not an upgrade at the position is necessary. The preferred and least likely option from a fan’s perspective is Mills becomes Tom Brady and the Texans are great. That obviously isn’t the case. Now the 2nd best option is playing out: Mills stinks, the Texans stink and the high draft pick is on its way with a clear need for a quarterback upgrade. Well done, Davis. Thanks for not muddying the waters. DOLPHINS -13.5

Bears at Jets
I love Zach Wilson. But not in a “he’s a great player” or “I love his attitude” kind of way. No, I love Zach Wilson because people with no self-awareness make me laugh. When Wilson said he didn’t feel he let his defense down despite a 9/22, 77 yards performance, my eyes lit up. This guy has no idea. To lack accountability is a no-no in a locker room. To lack accountability AND suck is a death sentence. Aaron Rodgers has gotten away this kind of behavior for most of his career because he’s an all-time quarterback. He’s also accepted some blame when he’s responsible (though he still deflects blame way too much). Wilson is 1/100th the quarterback Rodgers is and lacks the winning resume. How did he think this was going to go for him? Look at Justin Fields… now that’s the kind of a quarterback a locker room loves to love. He played hurt, he took the blame for the loss, AND he apologized to his defense for losing the game. APOLOGIZED! Self-awareness, accountability and humility in a quarterback? Sign me up. (No line yet) Updated 11/27, 2:47AM ET: JETS -7

Falcons at Commanders
Taylor Heinicke is a poor man’s Jeff Garcia. Actually, that’s not fair to Jeff Garcia. He could actually throw the football. Heinicke is gritty, I’ll give him that, but he’s not an NFL quarterback. He’s getting all the credit for Washington’s resurgence when it’s the defense that has actually stepped up. They’ve allowed an average of 17.6 points per game since Heinicke replaced the injured Carson Wentz. Before that, the defense surrendered 22.5 points per game. But turnovers, you say? Not really, Wentz has two more interceptions than Heinicke, but in one more start, so the difference there is minimal. Am I still bitter that Heinicke obnoxiously celebrated a game clinching, cowardly flop against my beloved Eagles? 100%. FALCONS +4.5

Broncos at Panthers
I’m not sure why Carolina is going to Sam Darnold at this point of the season. Why risk the confusion? Just as I praised Davis Mills for making Houston’s future clear, Baker Mayfield and PJ Walker have done the same for Carolina. Now they’re going to risk that clarity with Sam Darnold? Is Darnold a game changer who will put the team on his back and carry them into the postseason? No, but why risk it? Hashtag ProtectThePick, Carolina. You have the defense. You have some weapons on the offense. Go get your quarterback in April. PANTHERS +2

Ravens at Jaguars
If he had an agent, Lamar Jackson’s agent would be so angry at Lamar Jackson right now. I have no idea what’s happening in Baltimore and I don’t think I’m going to get too many answers because their schedule is so weak. The Ravens won’t play anyone with a winning record until Week 18. Remember this when betting the Wildcard round of the playoffs. Or better yet, please remind me. Thanks. JAGUARS +4

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Chargers at Cardinals
I’m shocked Kliff Kingsbury still has a job. That 2nd half Monday night was a team that had given up. Given up on their coach, their season and each other. There are teams with worse playoff chances that play twice as hard as the Cardinals did Monday. The Panthers, Steelers, Browns, Bears and Raiders all come to mind. CHARGERS -4.5

Raiders at Seahawks
Okay, since I foolishly advised jumping on the juicy “Raiders to make the playoffs” odds a few weeks back, let’s see if I can actually come up with a way for Las Vegas to make the postseason that doesn’t include an “act of God.” The Raiders are currently three games back of the final spot with losses to the Colts and Chargers being the most detrimental to their Wildcard chances (Chiefs and Titans will likely be division winners). Look, it’s not impossible. Las Vegas will play New England and the Chargers again, and the Bengals have a brutal schedule, but there’s almost no room for error. The Raiders must finish no worse than 6-1 to even have a shot. That means they have to win four out of five against the Seahawks, Chargers, Patriots, 49ers and Chiefs. So yeh, an act of God is the only way. RAIDERS +3.5

Rams at Chiefs
The Rams have to be leading the most depressing situation going forward rankings. They don’t own their 1st round pick in 2023, which could very well be a top five pick, their best player and coach publicly considered retiring before the season, and the roster lacks young talent to even be excited about in the future. This is what happens when you haven’t made a first round pick in six years. SIX YEARS. Rams fans would say it was worth it for a title, but all 83 of them must be depressed about the future. Also, I would like to public declare Isiah Pacheco as Andy Reid’s next Brian Westbrook/Jamaal Charles. CHIEFS -14.5

Saints at 49ers
I want nothing to do with the 49ers in the postseason. Jimmy Garoppolo may not be an ideal franchise quarterback, but when your offense has all those weapons, he doesn’t have to be. He only has to be a distributor. Garoppolo is good enough to be that. Pair that offense with a top defense and the 49ers are set up nicely for a playoff run. With that said, I’d like to see how the 49er defense does against Miami next week. Despite the numbers, it’s hard to really believe that defense is one of the NFL’s best after the Chiefs drubbed them a few weeks back. 49ERS -9.5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Packers at Eagles
If I had to rank the NFC right now, I think I’d have the Eagles 3rd behind the 49ers and Cowboys. The defensive lapses last Monday hid the stink of the offense but that stink was unfiltered Sunday in Indianapolis. Nick Sirianni appears unhinged at the moment, going for it on 4th and 10 in “reasonable” field goal range, not running the football, and yelling at poor Colts fans as if they had anything to do with Frank Reich being fired. Who knows if the Packers have quit on the season, but if they haven’t, the Eagles revamped rush defense will again have to prove itself for the Eagles to walk away victorious. PACKERS +7

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Steelers at Colts
The Colts certainly have a toughness about them under Jeff Saturday that was lacking throughout much of the season. Despite a rough start and a new coach, Indianapolis is still hanging around the playoff race. The schedule (@DAL, @ MINN, LAC, NYG) is unkind, however, so it will take a mammoth effort to reach the postseason. I know the Eagles run defense tightened up after the 1st quarter, but I was still surprised the Colts didn’t keep the ball on the ground for most of that 2nd half. Like Saquon Barkley and the Giants, Jonathan Taylor is the Colts best offense. Eventually, he’s going to break through and get your offense where it needs to go. Maybe that’s a little strong, but he’ll at least give you a better shot than Matt Ryan. COLTS -2.5

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