I’m going to keep the introduction to this week short because I have some Thanksgiving festivities to partake in. I am in charge of some supplementary cooking this year, so the pressure is on to perform for the family.
Some NFL franchises probably have a similar mindset. Knowing that there are only six weeks of the regular season left, it’s about that time for the middling teams to make their final playoff push.
Regardless, this time of the year is a great time to give thanks. This year, I have determined that the NFL is the best professional league that the world has to offer. Being able to watch world-class athletes perform every week has been something I’ve taken for granted, and I will appreciate it more moving forward.
Frankly, nothing is more American than diving into turkey, fix-ins, and watching the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play on Thanksgiving.
With that being said, roll up those sleeves, chow down, and sit back and enjoy the action-packed Thanksgiving (and the rest of Week 12).
TEAMS ON WEEK 12 BYE: Arizona, Kansas City
Last Week’s (Week 11) Pick Record: 9-6
My Overall 2021-22 Pick Record: 103-62
Note: All betting information comes from BetMGM (https://sports.in.betmgm.com/en/sports/football-11)
Thursday, November 25, 2021 (Thanksgiving)
Chicago Bears (3-7) vs. Detroit Lions (0-9-1)
Spread: Chicago (-3)
In my mind, the Thanksgiving games this year are in order from least to most entertaining. With Detroit having zero victories in 2021 and Chicago ruling out QB Justin Fields for the contest, this game has the potential to be sloppy. I think the battle of running backs (RB David Montgomery and RB D’Andre Swift) forces a slower pace to the game. Even though Chicago is down Fields, QB Andy Dalton has served his time as an NFL starter, and he knows how to win games like these.
My Pick: Chicago defeats Detroit, 20-13
Las Vegas Raiders (5-5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
Spread: Dallas (-7.5)
Makes total sense, right? After putting up over forty points in Week 10, America’s Team failed to score double-digits against a vulnerable Kansas City defense last week. I don’t know what reason explains the Cowboys’ offensive inconsistencies since QB Dak Prescott’s return, but the defense has certainly held up their end of the stick. With DE Micah Parsons and CB Trevon Diggs establishing themselves as weekly difference-makers, it sets Dallas up to harass QB Derek Carr and the visiting Raiders all afternoon.
My Pick: Dallas defeats Las Vegas, 34-24
Buffalo Bills (6-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-5)
Spread: Buffalo (-6.5)
The Thanksgiving nightcap is perhaps the best game of the day. While Buffalo may have provided New Orleans a nice blueprint on how to attack them from their Week 11 performance, the Saints will be without star RB Alvin Kamara for a third straight game. Without their best player on the field, it’s tough to envision the Saints’ offense, led by QB Trevor Siemian, outdueling QB Josh Allen and the typically potent Bills in the holiday finale.
My Pick: Buffalo defeats New Orleans, 27-24
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
Spread: Tampa Bay (-3)
This week, we get to see a test against fraudulent activity. While the Colts have certainly received my vote of approval, the recent talk about how they are Super Bowl contenders needs to stop. RB Jonathan Taylor is unequivocally going to carry this team to more wins, but it simply isn’t enough to hang with the best the league has to offer yet. The defending champs, led by QB Tom Brady and their suffocating run defense, will prove that on Sunday and end the Indianapolis recency bias.
My Pick: Tampa Bay defeats Indianapolis, 31-17
New York Jets (2-8) vs. Houston Texans (2-8)
Spread: Houston (-2.5)
Yay! I simply can’t wait to tune into this incredible game. The Jets have been bad, and so have the Texans. However, the Texans just defeated the Tennessee Titans in Week 10, and are looking to establish their most impressive winning streak since the trade of DeAndre Hopkins (only two lol). While it’s at home for Houston, the rising New York receiving corps (rookie Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Jamison Crowder) will test the thin Houston defense, leading to a Jets upset.
My Pick: New York defeats Houston, 24-20
Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) vs. New York Giants (3-7)
Spread: Philadelphia (-3.5)
The Giants are the fourth-worst NFL team to me (Texans, Jets, Lions), and it’s not specifically close. With the Philly defense finally coming around, I have a tough time imagining QB Daniel Jones outlasting emerging QB Jalen Hurts and winning this emotional divisional matchup.
My Pick: Philadelphia defeats New York, 21-17
Carolina Panthers (5-6) vs. Miami Dolphins (4-7)
Spread: Carolina (-1.5)
“Lock of the Week.” While I do believe Miami has been picking up their pace as of recently, I feel as though Carolina now has all the pieces needed to win. Last week’s loss to Washington can be attributed to a limited number of practices for newly signed QB Cam Newton. Now that he’s back to game speed and has all of his healthy weapons with him (RB Christian McCaffrey, WR D.J Moore, and WR Robby Anderson), Miami is going to have its work cut out for them.
My Pick: Carolina defeats Miami, 24-13
Tennessee Titans (8-3) vs. New England Patriots (7-4)
Spread: New England (-6.5)
What is the NFL this season? The Tennessee Titans (current AFC leader) lose their workhorse, go on an impressive winning streak highlighted by two major victories, and then top it off by losing to the second-worst team in the conference. If that isn’t confusing, I don’t know what is. I do think Tennessee responds after the Houston loss, but they ultimately lose their position to New England as the leading team in the AFC. QB Mac Jones and that suffocating defense are playing way too well for me to pick against them right now.
My Pick: New England defeats Tennessee, 26-23
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
Spread: Cincinnati (-3.5)
Coming off the bye, I did expect Cincinnati to come out slightly different. I thought QB Joe Burrow was going to fully climb into MVP territory. However, it was sidekick RB Joe Mixon that stole the show in Week 11. His rushing performance against the Raiders was top-notch, allowing him to remain in the top-5 for the position on annual rushing yardage output. While the offense is beaming with talent, their defense has, expectedly, regressed. While Pittsburgh isn’t necessarily explosive, they have stars available (RB Najee Harris and WR Diontae Johnson). These men could play a vital role in keeping the Steelers within striking distance on Sunday. Away games are tough, but I think the well-coached Steelers, through emotions and discipline, will beat Burrow and the exciting Bengals at Cincinnati.
My Pick: Pittsburgh defeats Cincinnati, 21-17
Atlanta Falcons (4-6) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8)
Spread: Atlanta (-2.5)
Upset Alert! While Atlanta may be favored, I have no idea why. QB Matt Ryan has looked disappointing since the loss of WR Calvin Ridley, and the entire Falcons offense has struggled because of it. RB Cordarrelle Patterson may be able to find some room against a relatively soft Jaguars front, but going on the road is no easy task. I believe after having a tough time against a good San Francisco front in Week 11, QB Trevor Lawrence will have his strongest performance of the year and defeat the favored Falcons.
My Pick: Jacksonville defeats Atlanta, 27-21
Los Angeles Chargers (6-4) vs. Denver Broncos (5-5)
Spread: Los Angeles (-3)
AFC West battles are always so tough for me to select. For me, it is the most balanced and dangerous division in football. While Denver has struggled with offensive efficiency all year, the defense (3rd in the NFL in points allowed) has been able to keep them in most contests. While it has been helpful against middling teams, the Chargers are a different test. With QB Justin Herbert having RB Austin Ekeler and WR Keenan Allen at his disposal, Los Angeles can put pressure on anyone they face. In what seems to be a lower-scoring game, the Chargers’ slight edge in talent will allow them to escape with a big divisional win.
My Pick: Los Angeles defeats Denver, 24-20
Los Angeles Rams (7-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (8-3)
Spread: Los Angeles (-1)
“Game of the Year.” To me, this is my pick for the NFC Championship game. While I do think the Rams are slowing down, they certainly still pack a dangerous punch. QB Matthew Stafford, who has had two weeks to stew in his embarrassing performance against San Francisco in Week 10, will be looking to respond coming off the bye. I feel as though he will, but unfortunately, #12 on the other side (QB Aaron Rodgers) knows how to win in Lambeau when it matters most.
My Pick: Green Bay defeats Los Angeles, 35-31
Minnesota Vikings (5-5) vs. San Francisco 49ers (5-5)
Spread: San Francisco (-3)
Two ascending franchises are finally seeing some luck go their way. The Vikings, fresh off an upset over NFC North-rival Green Bay, are looking to extend their winning ways against the 49ers, who have established a two-game winning streak of their own. While both of these teams are balanced and effective, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan has a little more creativity than Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer. I feel as though Shanahan will effectively incorporate RB Elijah Mitchell back into the game plan in his return from a concussion, leading to a Niners win in an NFC battle.
My Pick: San Francisco defeats Minnesota, 28-24
Cleveland Browns (6-5) vs. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)
Spread: Baltimore (-3.5)
The only division this year that truly rivals the aforementioned AFC West in my mind is the AFC North. In Week 12, its best two teams face off for the first time in the 2021 campaign. While Cleveland has been disappointing, the return of RB Kareem Hunt should allow the Browns to regain the offensive form it has been lacking over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, Baltimore expects the return of QB Lamar Jackson, who had given Cleveland many headaches during his time as a starting quarterback in the NFL. I expect him to do it again here as Baltimore will extend its division lead in front of its hometown fans.
My Pick: Baltimore defeats Cleveland, 31-21
Monday, November 29, 2021
Seattle Seahawks (3-7) vs. Washington Football Team (4-6)
Spread: WFT (-1.5)
Call me crazy, but I don’t think QB Russell Wilson has enough in his tank to lead this version of Seattle into the playoffs. Their defense has been atrocious (401.8 YPG allowed – 31st in the NFL), and Wilson has looked ‘shaky’ since his return from finger surgery. All of that combined with going on the road facing a Washington team that has won its last two games using balance. Not a recipe for winning. Give me WFT.
My Pick: WFT defeats Seattle, 23-21