NFL Game Picks: Week 12
In terms of delivering excitement, week 11 didn’t disappoint. We saw a wild fourth quarter comeback in Jacksonville, numerous game-winning field goal misses and makes and one of the highest scoring NFL games of all time in Los Angeles. With only six weeks to go in the regular season, there’s still plenty of exciting football left to see. Let’s see what the NFL has on the table for Thanksgiving weekend.
Chicago Bears (7-3) @ Detroit Lions (4-6)
Thanksgiving Day football kicks off in Detroit with playoff implications in the NFC North on the line. Chicago is coming off an important home win against Minnesota, but the Lions have found themselves getting back on track with last week’s victory over Carolina. It’s always hard to tell who wins these tight divisional games, so let’s go with the home team.
The pick: Detroit 24, Chicago 22
Washington Redskins (6-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
In terms of figuring out the NFC playoff picture, perhaps no game is bigger than this one. Washington is clinging onto a one-game lead in the NFC East, and with Alex Smith out for the season, it’s going to be difficult to play title defense. The Colt McCoy-led 'Skins will get their first test with a trip to Arlington, as the Cowboys look to reclaim the NFC East lead as well.
The pick: Washington 20, Dallas 17
Atlanta Falcons (4-6) @ New Orleans Saints (9-1)
The Thanksgiving triple-header ends with what is likely to be one of the highest scoring games of the week. It’s desperate times for the Falcons, who, at 4-6, are needing a massive late-season turnaround to get back into the playoff hunt. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll get it here, as the Saints have looked absolutely untouchable recently. Still, expect the points to be flying.
The pick: New Orleans 47, Atlanta 33
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) @ Buffalo Bills (3-7)
The end of the season can’t come soon enough for either of these teams. It’s been especially brutal for the Jaguars, who started the season 3-1, but have since lost their last six straight. The Bills will be their easiest test so far, but even then, nothing is guaranteed considering how the Bills dismantled the Jets just two weeks ago.
The pick: Jacksonville 26, Buffalo 17
Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)
The Bengals have found themselves on a bit of a slide, as they’ve lost four of their last five after starting the season 4-1. Part of that is due to a difficult schedule, in which they’ve lost to New Orleans, Kansas City and Pittsburgh, but the defense needs to step up too. This is a chance to get back on the right path against a division rival. Expect Cincinnati to capitalize.
The pick: Cincinnati 32, Cleveland 20
Oakland Raiders (2-8) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
The slide finally ends for both of these teams, as fourth quarter field goals brought both a victory in week 11. But the slide will begin again for one of them in week 12, and it’s easy to point to the Raiders as the more likely team to do so. After all, Oakland is dangerously close to elimination, and Baltimore is still fighting for a wild card spot. The Ravens win this one.
The pick: Baltimore 27, Oakland 13
New England Patriots (7-3) @ New York Jets (3-7)
This one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The Patriots have won 12 of the last 14 meetings between these teams, and that should extend to 13 of the last 15 by the time this one is over. Perhaps the most interesting thing to note is that the starting QB battle might involve a 41-year-old Tom Brady and a 21-year-old Sam Darnold, which is the largest age gap of this kind in NFL history.
The pick: New England 39, NY Jets 14
New York Giants (3-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
A bad season becomes worse for one of these teams on Sunday. There has certainly been more upside in New York recently, as the Giants have rebounded to win their last two, though a road trip to Philly is certainly a spike in difficulty. As for the Eagles, last week’s trouncing in New Orleans needs to be completely forgotten if they want to keep their heads in this one.
The pick: Philadelphia 22, NY Giants 19
San Francisco 49ers (2-8) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7)
If it weren’t for the Titans, the Buccaneers would be the strangest team in the NFL. Just weeks after Ryan Fitzpatrick played in place of Jameis Winston because the latter was playing so terribly, the opposite happened last week in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Bucs are a mess, and it’s a great opportunity for the refreshed 49ers to come into Tampa Bay and snag a win.
The pick: San Francisco 30, Tampa Bay 26
Seattle Seahawks (5-5) @ Carolina Panthers (6-4)
There’s a bit more than pride on the line in this one. Seattle is in a dogfight for a wild card spot in the NFC, and with the way New Orleans has been playing, the same is looking to be true for Carolina. Obviously, a win here puts the victor at an advantage in the playoff race. Whoever wins, this should make for one of the most entertaining games in week 12.
The pick: Seattle 30, Carolina 27
Arizona Cardinals (2-8) @ Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)
Last week’s home loss to Denver is a blemish that the Chargers would like to forget, and they can easily do that with a blowout of the visiting Cardinals. Arizona has retaken the title as the NFL’s worst team with the loss to Oakland last week, and Los Angeles is still looking good for an AFC wild card spot. The Chargers are the favorites, and they should be victorious.
The pick: LA Chargers 36, Arizona 13
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) @ Denver Broncos (4-6)
It wasn’t pretty, but the Steelers got it done in Jacksonville last week. Of course, they won’t be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat every week if they expect to be Super Bowl contenders. More of the last five minutes against the Jaguars and less of the first 55 minutes should do. Unless Denver can confuse Pittsburgh like Jacksonville did, this should be another Steelers win.
The pick: Pittsburgh 33, Denver 22
Miami Dolphins (5-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Both teams may be 5-5, but they look lightyears apart. After a rough start, the Colts are winners of four straight, and with Andrew Luck playing some of the best football of his career, it’s hard to imagine this train coming to a crashing halt any time soon. Miami will at least have Ryan Tannehill back for this one, but it shouldn’t matter. Colts all the way.
The pick: Indianapolis 32, Miami 18
Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)
The Vikings are so difficult to figure out. One week, they look like they could contend for a Super Bowl title, and the next, they fall flat on their face. The Packers are similar, though it’s clear that Aaron Rodgers can’t hide the cracks of this franchise by his lonesome. The Vikings will get a second chance to come up big on Sunday night, and this time, they’ll do it.
The pick: Minnesota 27, Green Bay 20
Tennessee Titans (5-5) @ Houston Texans (7-3)
This may not be the most glamorous Monday night matchup, but it’s an interesting one nonetheless. The Titans continue to be the weirdest team by being blown out in Indianapolis a week after dismantling the Patriots, and the Texans continue to be the hottest team by winning their last seven in a row. Can randomness end the streak? It very well could.
The pick: Houston 26, Tennessee 16
Byes: Kansas City Chiefs (9-2), Los Angeles Rams (10-1)
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.