It’s Thanksgiving week. In fact, you’re probably reading this on Thanksgiving day. So, before I get to my picks for the week, let me give a few thanks for this NFL season. I’m thankful for the Bills not being the absolute juggernaut of a team we all thought they would be. I’m thankful for Patrick Mahomes proving that he can, in fact, get better at the quarterback position. I’m thankful for Christian McCaffrey getting paired up with Kyle Shanahan. I’m thankful for Geno Smith outplaying Russell Wilson, and plenty of other quarterbacks. I’m thankful for bad teams like the Falcons, Panthers, and Lions that keep games close and interesting. I’m thankful for Justin Tucker just being the GOAT. And, last of all, I’m thankful for not getting all my picks wrong all the time. Now, I would really be thankful for a perfect week, which I am still searching for, so Thanksgiving gods (if those even exist, maybe it’s like an omnipotent turkey or something) and football gods (which definitely do exist), if you could make that happen for me with this weeks picks that would be awesome.
Buffalo Bills over Detroit Lions (+9.5)
It’s tempting to go with the Lions here. The Bills have struggled in recent weeks and the Lions are a fun, entertaining team that is capable of pulling off an upset. They are also a crucial part of everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving day tradition: waking up and going “oh yeah, the Lions are playing” and then turning on the game and seeing some guy named David Blough playing quarterback. No Blough this year (unfortunately), but Jared Goff plays like a Blough sometimes so it’s basically the same. I do think the Lions keep this game competitive because they owe that to football fans that have been watching them play unappealing football on this holiday for years. If the Bills were playing the way they were at the start of the season, I don’t think the Lions would stand a chance. But this version of the Bills, with the Josh Allen who throws interceptions in the red zone, I think it’s possible that the Lions keep this contest entertaining.
Dallas Cowboys over New York Giants (+10)
Another Thanksgiving tradition is for the whole country other than Dallas to root against ‘America’s Team’ right before they sit down for dinner. It may be a lot harder to do that this year with such likable Cowboy players such as Micah Parsons and CeeDee Lamb, but I think the general public can still figure out a way to hate them. They’ll have to root for the Giants this year, who are actually good for once. This game will probably be the moment when a lot of very casual football fans realize that the Giants are not terrible anymore. Of course, Daniel Jones could still play like Daniel Jones and change everyone’s minds. But Brian Daboll has turned this team around, with the help of Saquon Barkley, and there is no better way to solidify that than by beating the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. I don’t think that will happen, though, so keeping the game within 10 points will be a nice consolation prize for the Giants.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) over New England Patriots
Remember in college how some professors would let you drop your worst test grade at the end of the semester, well I’m doing that with the Vikings and forgetting all about their game last week. There is no way that team last week was the same team that was on a torrid stretch of wins to start the season. I refuse to believe it. The Vikings will have the best players in this game, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and even Kirk Cousins, so they should win. The Patriots are no stranger to winning games on big stages, though, and we know Bill Belichick, in all his Sith-like glory, would love nothing more than to piss off 95 percent of America by having the Cowboys and Patriots win on Thanksgiving. But sometimes you just have to go with the better team, and the Vikings have proven that they are the better team.
Baltimore Ravens (-4) over Jacksonville Jaguars
If we could just see one fully healthy season from the Ravens that would be great. They are certainly much more than four points better than the Jaguars, but when Lamar Jackson is throwing to DeMarcus Robinson as his number-one receiver, it’s hard to have much faith in them. The Baltimore defense has actually been stepping up lately and could have a decent day against Trevor Lawrence. But the Jags could give them some trouble with guys such as Travis Etienne and Christian Kirk. Maybe I should actually pick the Jaguars. No, as they say in that one episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia “Reason will prevail.” So, I’m going with the Ravens, please don’t make me look stupid Baltimore.
Carolina Panthers (+2.5) over Denver Broncos
Speaking of looking stupid, the Broncos. I gave Denver one last chance to earn my trust back when I picked them over the Raiders, and they burned me. So, I’m down with them, I’m out. I will officially pick against the Broncos in each game for the rest of the season (unless I decide not to). I don’t care that the Panthers have an interim coach and are starting Sam Darnold (who is my least favorite quarterback in the league) for the first time in over a year. The Broncos are bad and Russell Wilson is broken (for now), and I can’t in good conscience pick them at any point for any reason. So, go Panthers.
Washington Commanders (-4) over Atlanta Falcons
I want to formally apologize to the Commanders for doubting them, I never should have done that. I’m one of the biggest Taylor Heinicke fans out there, but I let other things like logic cloud my judgment when it came to the Commanders. I’m now jumping on the bandwagon and pronouncing Heinicke a good quarterback, one that is capable of winning games against teams like the Falcons. Atlanta is essentially the football version of a splinter that you can’t get rid of, it is always just there and you don’t really know why. The Falcons manage to play close games time and time again despite not really having an NFL-caliber defense or running a real offense. But instead of trying to understand how the Falcons work (which is an impossible task that will just end up breaking my brain), I’m just going to do the thing I should have done all along and blindly place my trust in Heinicke to get the job done.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Cleveland Browns (+3.5)
There are two things I don’t feel confident about in this game. The Buccaneers winning by more than three points and the Browns winning at all. So, therefore, I have arrived at playing the risky game of picking a team to cover and not win with a spread this low. But this game could end up being pretty low scoring, especially if the Browns just pound the rock with Nick Chubb. If this matchup ends up with a final score of 16-13 I would not be surprised. Maybe the Buccaneers finally figured things out with their win over the Seahawks in Germany, but I highly doubt they will have figured it out enough to look like the team from the last couple of years. Tampa Bay still has some major flaws, as does Cleveland, so if each team hones in on the other team’s flaws, we could be in for a tight game, hopefully, one that is decided by less than three points.
Tennessee Titans (+2.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
You know how sometimes you watch a magic trick and are genuinely clueless as to how it was performed, that is the Titans. But instead of performing a magic trick, they are winning football games. I don’t know how Mike Vrabel does it sometimes. They’ve played well with a rookie quarterback that seems far from NFL-ready and one of the worst collections of pass-catchers in the league. But we really shouldn’t be surprised that the coach that earned a number one overall seed with Ryan Tannehill as his quarterback has been able to pull off some more miracles. With that being said, I just can’t go against them this week. I know the Bengals are fun. They have Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon and probably some other player named Joe that I could name to satisfy the rule of threes. They also look like they will get Ja’Marr Chase back, who is one of the most exciting young players in the sport. But the Titans just win. They run the ball down your throat with Derrick Henry (who is still an unstoppable beast of a man) and they suffocate you on defense. Let’s not forget that the last time these two teams played, the Titans sacked Burrow nine times, although they ultimately lost. This game is so hard to pick that I would probably just go with whoever was getting points anyway, but the fact that Tennessee is the underdog gives me more confidence that I’m making the right pick.
Miami Dolphins (-13.5) over Houston Texans
I’m going to keep this short and sweet because there are a lot of games to get to. The Texans are bad. They are not good at football, and I really don’t want to pick them in any game (although I did last week and it did not go well). But they are playing the Dolphins this week, who are a very good team. I don’t care what the spread for this game is, I’m picking Miami. If the Dolphins don’t win this game by more than two touchdowns then they should be eliminated from the playoffs because that would be disgraceful.
Chicago Bears (+4.5) over New York Jets
You know what just seems like a bad idea, picking a team that is making a quarterback change, a very public one no less. I know that the move from Zach Wilson to Mike White could actually end up making the Jets a lot better, but also, it’s Mike White. The Bears have Justin Fields, who has turned into everyone’s favorite quarterback over the last month. Now, if Fields doesn’t play because of his current shoulder injury, or does play but is not at 100 percent, then that could be a problem. The Jets’ defense is really good and can definitely handle the Bears’ offense without the superstar version of Fields. In that case, they would only need average play on offense, maybe even just not-bad play on offense, to win this game. Are they going to get not-bad play from the offense with White under center? We will find out. But since the Bears are the underdogs and the possibility of Fields still being his usual self is in play, I’m going to roll with Chicago.
Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) over Las Vegas Raiders
Can someone please explain this line to me? Does beating the woeful Broncos in overtime really make you only three-and-a-half points worse than the Seahawks, who we can all agree are a pretty good team? The Raiders are still not that good. Yes, they have Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby and a handful of other good players, but this is still the same team that is 3-7. The Seahawks are coming off a bad loss, but that was two weeks ago now, and in Germany. One thing that can’t be taken for granted in this sport is consistency. Being a known commodity is valuable. The Seahawks are a known commodity. They are going to have an efficient offense led by Geno Smith and play pretty solid defense to complement it. The Raiders are about as far from a known commodity as it gets. Some weeks they look like the team that made the playoffs last year and improved in the offseason, and other weeks they get shut out by the Saints. It makes no sense for Seattle to be favored by this little, especially at home, so I’m definitely going to pick them and feel confident about it.
Los Angeles Chargers (-4) over Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray is most likely going to play for the Cardinals this week, and I don’t know how to feel about it. The Cardinals are just not trustworthy, you never know what you’re going to get from them. They’re like buying a used video game from GameStop (remember when that was a thing). Everything can go smoothly and the game can work and you will have gotten an incredible value, or you can insert the disc and it just doesn’t work, the Cardinals have plenty of weeks where they are the latter. The Chargers also haven’t lived up to expectations but at least they have shown more promise. They still have Justin Herbert playing well and have gotten Keenan Allen back into the offense as well. They really should beat the Cardinals, regardless of which version of them shows up. This game is probably the most unpredictable contest of the week because both teams have the capability of laying a complete egg this week, but I trust the Chargers to not do that more, so I’m going with them.
Kansas City Chiefs (-15.5) over Los Angeles Rams
Wow. This is just sad. The Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions but find themselves more than a two-touchdown underdog this week. This is supposed to be one of the most entertaining games of the year, not a blowout that makes you say “oh, this game is happening” when NFL Redzone finally cuts back to it to watch the Chiefs’ backups add onto the lead. The Rams have not been fun to watch this year, and I can’t imagine it will get any better with John Wolford throwing passes to Tutu Atwell. This team won the Super Bowl last year (sorry for repeating myself but I just had to actually remind myself of it because it’s hard to believe after typing that). The Chiefs will win this game for sure and will most likely do it by several touchdowns. Sometimes, picking games is easy.
San Francisco 49ers over New Orleans Saints (+9.5)
The Saints are the bad team that other teams hate to play because they still have a bunch of good players and can play well at any given moment. I have no actual proof that they are viewed like that around the league, but it does make sense. New Orleans is much better, and more talented, than it has demonstrated this season. Sure, having Andy Dalton at quarterback is not necessarily a recipe for winning games, but the Saints still have winning players such as Alvin Kamara, Cameron Jordan, and DeMario David. I think this game has all the makings of a backdoor cover in which the Saints keep it just close enough to keep you from completely tuning out. The 49ers are a very good team and have been playing well lately, but a bit of a letdown week would not surprise me. I don’t think they’re in danger of actually losing, but if they don’t come out completely crisp they could fail to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles over Green Bay Packers (+7)
I’m back in on the Packers. Maybe it’s the fact that Christian Watson is actually doing things for my fantasy team, but I’m starting to buy back into the Packers. I still don’t think they’re a Super Bowl team or anything (who would be stupid enough to pick them to make it to the Super Bowl? Oh yeah, me), but they may not be terrible anymore. Also, the Eagles have come back down to Earth after their undefeated start. I mean, it took a game-winning drive to beat the Colts last week, that doesn’t exactly scream 2007 Patriots. I don’t think the Eagles lose this game because they are still clearly the better team, but I can see them winning another close game. If there was ever a time for Aaron Rodgers to start playing good football again it would be now. A playoff berth is still possible for them, but they’ll need to at least have a decent showing in this game to convince anyone that their season is still salvageable.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5) over Indianapolis Colts
Shoutout to the NFL for putting this game on Monday Night Football so we can just move on to week 13 after Sunday because this game does not matter. Oops, did I just offend Steelers and Colts fans? Well, have a good football team and then maybe I won’t say offensive things about your team. I’m picking the Steelers in this game because they’re the underdog so it gives me the possibility to get the pick right even if they lose. Realistically, I probably won’t watch a single second of this game (and not just because I currently can’t stream ESPN in my new apartment). I like some of the players in this game but I just don’t really like the teams. If you are planning on watching this game, then good luck keeping your eyes open throughout the whole thing. Hopefully, you at least have some good Thanksgiving leftovers still lying around to eat so you have something enjoyable to do during the game.