Week 12 in the NFL features a trio of games on Thanksgiving – as the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys highlight the holiday in a game that seemed destined to be a blowout a few short weeksa go.
Meanwhile, the weekend is headlined by two huge games (one in each conference), including the Packers taking on the Falcons and Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning duking it out at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday night.
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 12’s games in the NFL (spreads as they appear through CBSSports.com).
Pick Your Knows: NFL Week 12 Picks Against the Spread
New England Patriots at Detroit Lions (+6.5)
Only two teams have allowed fewer sacks than the Patriots, therefore expect Tom Brady to have plenty of time to move the ball against the Detroit defense. New England has allowed the second most passing yards per game, but has also managed 13 INT’s on the season. As long as the Pats don’t overlook this game for the Jets the following Monday night, New England covers.
KP’s Pick: New England
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (+3.5)
This game features two of the top passing offenses, in a matchup that will likely turn into a shootout that focuses little on the run game. New Orleans has a highly ranked pass defense, but people need to realize those stats are skewed with Carolina’s anemic offense on the schedule twice to date. The Cowboys – riding momentum under Jason Garrett and playing at home on Thanksgiving – keep this game within a field goal.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets (-9.5)
The biggest question for the Bengals is: Has the team mailed it in? The banged up Carson Palmer says he will play – and that should help the Bengals in the pass game. The Jets have been vulnerable against the pass, and have also played down to the competition regularly over the last few months. The Jets should win, but Cincy can keep this game at around a touchdown.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
In one of the games of the week, the red-hot Packers travel to Atlanta, where the Falcons are undefeated at home, and where QB Matt Ryan has only lost once in his career. The Packers’ pass attack (4th in the NFL in sacks) will not be as dominant, as the Falcons have allowed just 15 sacks on the season. Combine that with a top ten run game and the Falcons could eek out a close victory against Green Bay.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants (-7.5)
The Jaguars attempt to control the clock with Maurice Jones-Drew and the NFL’s 6th best rushing attack. Meanwhile, the Giants are dealing with numerous issues on offense, from the replacement of fumble prone Ahmad Bradshaw for bruiser Brandon Jacobs to the injuries to Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks in the passing game. For these reasons, take the Jags and the points.
KP’s Pick: Jacksonville
Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns (-10.5)
The Browns have played better with Colt McCoy running the offense – and the rookie will be out due to injury – making way for Jake Delhomme, who hasn’t started for months. Carolina will likely get back Jonathan Stewart and Jimmy Clausen, but have struggled on offense. The Browns will hope to get production from Peyton Hillis, while fending off a Panthers defense that has the 4th most sacks in the NFL. Delhomme makes enough errors to keep this game at 10 points or less.
KP’s Pick: Carolina
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins (-2.5)
This week marks change for the Vikings – and it’s a good bet that Minnesota – with Childress out the door – will respond to Leslie Frazier much like the Cowboys did with Jason Garrett in house. It also appears that Brett Favre will have more flexibility running the offense. Favre and Peterson get the new head coach a win on the road.
KP’s Pick: Minnesota
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (+6.5)
Break up the Bills, who have won two in a row. But Buffalo will face the NFL’s top rush defense, which should keep Fred Jackson at bay and force Ryan Fitzpatrick to win this one at home. The Steelers are 4-1 on the road – and should be able to handle a Bills pass defense that has allowed the 3rd most TD’s, coupled with just four INT’s. Steelers cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Pittsburgh
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-7.5)
This is a tricky game, as Houston (most pass TD’s allowed) face off against Tennessee (31st in passing yards). Expect a heavy dose of Chris Johnson – taking on a Texans rush defense that is decent. The Titans will start Rusty Smith and Randy Moss has been a non-factor – and that’s why the Texans will cover at home in a must-win situation.
KP’s Pick: Houston
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks (+1.5)
The Chiefs (1-4 on the road) struggle away from home and Seattle (3-1 at home) plays well in the Pacific Northwest. The Seahawks are much better against the run than the pass, and the Chiefs sport the NFL’s top rush attack. Seattle’s top receiver Mike Williams is a question mark due to a foot strain. With the thought that Williams either doesn’t play or is limited, plus KC’s ability to limit pressure in the pocket, the Chiefs pick up a crucial road win.
KP’s Pick: Kansas City
Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders (-3.5)
The Raiders (2nd in rush offense) should be able to move the ball at home against the Dolphins rush defense. Miami is banged up on both sides of the ball – most notably with Brandon Marshall and Chad Henne – who may not play on Sunday. It’s possible that Brian Hartline may have to be the top WR weapon against the NFL’s 4th best pass defense. Expect the Raiders to cover.
KP’s Pick: Oakland
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (+3.5)
The Eagles are in the NFL’s top 10 in total sacks and currently lead the NFL in interceptions with 19. The Bears have allowed the most sacks – and when under pressure – Jay Cutler can turn into an interception machine. With these facts in mind – combined with the way Michael Vick is playing – expect Philadelphia to cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Philadelphia
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)
All three of Tampa Bay’s losses have come to supreme competition, as the Bucs lost to Pittsburgh by 25, New Orleans by 25 and Atlanta by 6. It’s also no secret that the Bucs struggle against the run – and the key stat with the Baltimore run game is that it’s a steady dose (13th in NFL – but with only 4 runs of 20+ yards). No other team in the top 15 has numbers like that. The Ravens make it a two-score game in the 4th quarter – and win.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore
St. Louis Rams at Denver Broncos (-3.5)
The Broncos struggled against the Chargers, and part of the reason was due to the constant pressure and sacks against Kyle Orton. St. Louis also has a solid pass rush, but doesn’t have the same weapons on offense as San Diego. Combine that with Knowshon Moreno being healthier over the last few weeks, and the Broncos cover at home – but just barely.
KP’s Pick: Denver
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
The Colts are potent at home, but the Chargers are beginning to hit a second half surge – a common theme over the last few years in San Diego. Both Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning are putting up MVP-like numbers, especially with the number of injuries sustained on offense for each team. This week. Rivers gets Vincent Jackson back, who should provide a needed boost to the Chargers offense – and one that should take this game down to the wire.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (+1.5)
This week’s MNF game is fairly even in a lot of aspects. Both the Niners and Cards are awful on the road, which would give an advantage to Arizona, since they are at home. Vernon Davis is questionable and there’s a chance he may not play. But in a recent report, Davis says the injury isn’t serious – and combine adding him to the lineup plus the fact that the Cardinals have allowed the second most sacks and Frank Gore likely being able to run on Arizona, it all adds up to San Francisco ending its road woes.
KP’s Pick: San Francisco