NFL Game Picks: Week 12
Bye weeks are finally in the past. From here on out, all 32 teams will be playing every week, meaning that there’s more football for fans to enjoy. The playoff picture is gradually beginning to take shape. No teams have clinched playoff spots or been eliminated from postseason contention yet, but Week 12 is likely to see the first of this.
Here’s a look at what fans can gobble up this Thanksgiving weekend:
Minnesota Vikings (8-2) @ Detroit Lions (6-4)
What a doozy of a game to start off the week. With heavy playoff implications looming large, both teams are looking to snag a win on Thanksgiving Day over their division rival. The last time these two met, the Lions eked out a seven-point victory in Minnesota. If anyone can cool down Case Keenum and the red-hot Vikings, it’s Detroit.
The pick: Detroit, 26-19.
Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
Obviously, the Cowboys were not ready for Philadelphia. With Ezekiel Elliott on suspension and a banged-up offensive line, this team is playing with scraps. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is riding high after a stomping of Buffalo. Dak Prescott is obviously a much more experienced quarterback than Nathan Peterman, but the Chargers will still bring the heat.
The pick: Los Angeles, 27-23.
New York Giants (2-8) @ Washington Redskins (4-6)
The Giants have another win under their belt, albeit a bizarre one. They shouldn’t be getting their hopes up though. Although they’re a bit behind, Washington is still in the playoff race. Close contests with NFC powerhouses like the Vikings and Saints prove they still have what it takes to win. The Redskins should come away with a victory here.
The pick: Washington, 33-14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) @ Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
A key victory for Atlanta took place last Monday night. Going into Seattle and coming out with a win is not an easy task, but they did just that, getting themselves back into the wild card conversation in the process. Tampa Bay is quietly riding a two-game win streak, but it’s probably too little, too late. The Falcons win here, but this game should still be entertaining.
The pick: Atlanta, 24-19.
Buffalo Bills (5-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
Freefalling team #1 vs. freefalling team #2. Both of these teams got off to incredibly hot starts, but both have cooled down to dangerous levels. The AFC West is no longer a closed deal, and Buffalo’s hopes of breaking their playoff-less streak are diminishing quickly. Both need a win here to get back on the right track, and only one can have it.
The pick: Kansas City, 20-17.
Chicago Bears (3-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
An up-and-down season for the Bears is officially trending down with two straight losses to division rivals. Philadelphia, on the other hand, shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, especially after their domination of the Cowboys in Dallas. There’s no reason to expect an upset here: Philadelphia is far and away the better team.
The pick: Philadelphia, 35-10.
Cleveland Browns (0-10) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)
It’s crazy to think that a struggling team like the Bengals still has decent odds at grabbing a playoff spot, but it’s the truth. Cleveland, on the other hand, is playing for nothing except a high draft pick. A winless season should roll on in Cincinnati, as the Bengals inch ever closer to that coveted sixth spot in the AFC playoff picture.
The pick: Cincinnati, 28-13.
Tennessee Titans (6-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-7)
Last week’s loss in Pittsburgh was bad. Marcus Mariota threw four interceptions and the Titans gave up the AFC South lead to Jacksonville. However, this shouldn’t keep Tennessee down. They can quickly bounce back with a win in Indianapolis, which would be sweet revenge. After nearly a decade of Colts dominance between these two, Tennessee finally gets the series sweep.
The pick: Tennessee, 29-19.
Miami Dolphins (4-6) @ New England Patriots (8-2)
Remember when the Dolphins were 4-2? Things can change quickly in the NFL. Four straight losses, three of which came in primetime games, have Miami sitting at the bottom of the AFC playoff race. Of course, New England is as hot as ever after torching the Raiders in Mexico City. The result of this game is unlikely to be a shocker to most football fans.
The pick: New England, 37-20.
Carolina Panthers (7-3) @ New York Jets (4-6)
Interesting seeing a game in which both teams are coming out of a bye week, meaning that rest is not going to be a big factor in this one. Both off these teams have been wildly inconsistent this season, so really, anything can happen here. Most people are probably expecting Carolina to win, but don’t count out the Jets, who are still, unbelievably, in the playoff hunt.
The pick: New York, 22-21.
Seattle Seahawks (6-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-9)
This is a must-win game for Seattle. It’s odd saying that, considering they’re playing the consistently terrible 49ers, but it’s true. The Seahawks cannot afford to fall behind in the NFC playoff race. When these teams met in Week 2, Seattle came out on top by a mere three points. Now that there’s an additional sense of urgency, don’t expect the result of this one to be as close.
The pick: Seattle, 26-9.
Denver Broncos (3-7) @ Oakland Raiders (4-6)
There’s no stopping the pain train in Denver. Neither Trevor Siemian nor Brock Osweiler have turned out to be the solution at quarterback, so now they turn to Paxton Lynch. Even if Lynch is the man, it won’t be enough at this point. All things considered, Derek Carr and the Raiders have the edge at home over the struggling Broncos.
The pick: Oakland, 17-12.
New Orleans Saints (8-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
It’s too bad that this game wasn’t flexed to Sunday night, because this could be the game of the week. Just a year ago, the statement “I wonder if the killer Saints defense can stop the incredible Rams offense” would have sounded ridiculous. Now, it’s the reality. And to answer that question, yes, the Saints defense probably can.
The pick: New Orleans, 33-28.
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
It’s smooth sailing ahead for Jacksonville. After a four-game win streak, the Jaguars now have the AFC South lead, and they’ll likely benefit from having a relatively easy schedule down the stretch. The remaining schedule starts with the Cardinals, who are starting third-string quarterback Blaine Gabbert again. Put this one down as a Jacksonville victory already.
The pick: Jacksonville, 39-16.
Green Bay Packers (5-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)
It just doesn’t seem like there’s enough fuel left in the tank for Green Bay to make a postseason run, especially with all the talent in the NFC. A 23-0 shutout loss at home strongly supports this argument. Now, they head to Heinz field to play the Steelers, who just dropped 40 on a fellow playoff contender. The result may be ugly.
The pick: Pittsburgh, 38-14.
Houston Texans (4-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
Even with all their struggles on offense, the Ravens are looking good to take that sixth slot in the AFC playoffs. But first, they have to earn it. If the defense can continue to play well, and the offense picks up the slack, they’ll be contenders for the postseason. The first test is a bruised Houston team. If Baltimore can’t win here, that doesn’t bode well for their playoff hopes.
The pick: Baltimore, 27-14.
DJ Bauer is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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