NFL Week 12 Picks: Plenty of Close Games to Start the Holiday Season

After two surprising outcomes on Thanksgiving Day, there are a lot of exciting games remaining that could truly go either way. My hometown Patriots host QB Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. The Titans have a rematch with the Colts. The Vikings take on a strong Carolina offense. The Niners and Rams have an important NFC West rematch. The Ravens and Steelers (barring any more COVID cases) will have a rematch to top off the week on Tuesday. The week is highlighted by a potential Super Bowl preview, Buccaneers vs. Chiefs. Last week I went 10-4 in pick’em, bringing my overall record to 99-61-1 (99-63-1 including the Thanksgiving games). Keep reading for my picks for this week.

Lock of the Week

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt might very well be the best RB duo in the league. I think they’ll both dominate here in an easy Browns victory over Jacksonville. Jaguars RB James Robinson has been successful despite the Jags playing from behind most of the season. It won’t be enough to allow for a Jaguars comeback or even make it close.

Upset of the Week

This will be a very exciting game. The G.O.A.T. takes on the best young QB in this league. It could even be a Super Bowl preview. Right now, Patrick Mahomes is the better QB of the two. However, Tom Brady has the best surroundings he’s had in a long time. These surroundings are even better than what Mahomes has in WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. This hasn’t won him every game. I think it’ll make a difference here with Brady motivated to show that he’s still a good QB in this league and defend his G.O.A.T. status.

The Other Games

Posted to Twitter Thursday
Both offenses are missing pieces here, so this will probably be an ugly game. I think Detroit will win in their traditional Turkey Day matchup, but that win will not come easy. The Lions will probably struggle to limit QB Deshaun Watson and his receivers. I think QB Matthew Stafford will lead this Lions offense to keep up though.
Posted to Twitter Thursday
With QB Andy Dalton back, I have the Cowboys turning things around after losing in Washington. Dalton is surrounded by a strong offense. He got concussed by an illegal hit to the head in the last game against this squad, so he’ll be hungry for revenge. QB Alex Smith has had success under center for Washington and this will be close, but Dalton will be motivated to finish this one off strong and avoid the season sweep.
The Chargers will be without top corner Casey Hayward, which should be the recipe for a big day out of QB Josh Allen and star WR Stefon Diggs. Expect this duo to lead the Bills to victory. RB Austin Ekeler is back though, so the Chargers should be able to keep up with Buffalo for a good portion of the game.
I think this will be a run heavy game in a battle of two mobile QBs and two talented backfields. The Cardinals should see good production out of Kyler Murray and his RB duo of Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds. I think Cam Newton and the Pats will slightly outperform by relying on their own RB duo of Damien Harris and James White.
Even with Tua Tagovailoa doubtful, the Dolphins should win this with ease since Ryan Fitzpatrick is also a solid starting QB. With QB Sam Darnold back, I’m expecting a slight improvement from the Jets offense. It still probably won’t be enough to make this competitive as New York’s chances at Trevor Lawrence increase.
With QB Joe Burrow done for the year, it’s a whole new story in Cincinnati. This offense will be without its newfound firepower. This will allow for a Giants victory that believe it or not, will make them tied with Washington for the NFC East lead. The Giants don’t have an amazing offense either, but QB Daniel Jones should be able to outperform Brandon Allen, who will be under center for Cincy.
The Titans suffered an embarrassing loss to Indy a couple weeks back. They will be hungry for revenge. I think the Colts will double team WR A.J. Brown, but that will take attention away from WR Corey Davis and TE Jonnu Smith. I’m also expecting a respectable game out of RB Derrick Henry despite the difficult matchup. Without RB Jonathan Taylor, the Colts will be forced to rely on QB Philip Rivers’ arm, and his accuracy has been a serious concern over the last two seasons.
RB Josh Jacobs and WR Calvin Ridley have both stood out within their offenses so far this year. I’m expecting the same in this game. Jacobs will be too much for the Falcons run defense to handle. Even with WR Julio Jones out, the Raiders don’t have enough good DBs to keep Ridley in check. This will be a close offensive shootout, but the Falcons are not finishers, and without Jones I don’t like their chances here.
If you think you’ve seen RB Dalvin Cook dominate, just wait until you watch this game. I’m expecting one of his best performances to date in this one, as he’ll need to step it up with WR Adam Thielen out. I also expect WR Justin Jefferson to step up in Thielen’s absence. Carolina has had offensive success all year and has the firepower to keep up with a shorthanded Minnesota offense. However, I think Cook leads the way to a Vikings win here.
The Broncos will have to start former Wake Forest QB and current WR Kendall Hinton under center. It’s not like the Saints have an orthodox QB either; they’ll be starting Taysom Hill. Both these QBs lack experience as passers but know how to succeed outside the pocket. I’m expecting creative offensive schemes by both sides and I think this will be closer than most people expect. However, the Saints should still win in the end with RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas making it easier for Hill to succeed.
This will be an important game in a close NFC West. The Niners are in need of a division victory, but I don’t see it happening here. The offense will look better with RB Raheem Mostert and WR Deebo Samuel back in the mix. It still won’t be enough to keep up with QB Jared Goff and his WR duo of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. I have the Rams taking this in a close one.
I think this will be a close one in which QB Mitch Trubisky will prove he is better than Nick Foles. Nick Foles has proven that he is a system QB. Trubisky isn’t great, but he’s the better option of the two. The Bears D should limit QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers more than usual. It still won’t be enough for a Bears upset.

The Seahawks have not blown out an opponent yet this year. You might think they’d pull it off against a struggling NFC East opponent, but I don’t see it being so easy. Philly’s receivers and TE Dallas Goedert should have some success against an ailing Seahawks secondary. QB Russell Wilson should lead Seattle to victory in the end though, relying on a balance of returning RB Chris Carson and his receivers.
Baltimore is without QB Lamar Jackson, their top two RBs and TE Mark Andrews due to COVID. I think the Steelers win in the end, but this won’t be a cake walk. The Ravens secondary should still be able to limit QB Ben Roethlisberger’s receivers and make this close. A strong defensive performance by Pittsburgh will make for one of the lowest scoring NFL games this season.

That’s all for my picks this week. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage soon.

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