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2022 NFL Game Picks: Week 12

Thanksgiving: 2-1

Last week: 10-4

Season: 100-66-1


DEN (3-7) @ CAR (3-8)

Sunday, November 27 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Broncos-Panthers should be a slugfest between two teams that have become accustomed to low-scoring games, and the main concern I’d have about Denver is them coming out flat after their slim playoff hopes were essentially crushed in Week 11. Also, Carolina going with Sam Darnold at quarterback might give the Panthers their best chance to win after the former No. 3 overall pick saw the game from a different perspective while watching from the sideline for three months, so it will be exciting to see if he’s able to put everything together. As for Russell Wilson’s continued struggles, the veteran routinely missed an open Greg Dulcich last week, and that’s an indictment on coaching as well as Wilson himself—how does no one on the staff realize a player is consistently getting open? If Jerry Jeudy (ankle) is back, the Broncos still have enough weapons to give them the edge this weekend.


Winner: Denver Broncos


TB (5-5) @ CLE (3-7)

Sunday, November 27 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The status of Vita Vea (foot) is extremely important for Tampa Bay’s resurgent defense, as the monster defensive lineman being out would make things a lot tougher on Devin White and Lavonte David if Cleveland’s blockers are able to consistently reach them to open holes for Nick Chubb on the second level this week. And that’s not to mention Vea—with a career-high 6.5 sacks—being unable to make Jacoby Brissett uncomfortable by creating pressure from the interior if he’s out or less than full strength. So, I’d say the foundation is there for a possible upset with rain in the forecast, but the Browns have been awful on defense over the past two weeks, and the Bucs having Julio Jones healthy as their No. 3 wideout could provide a similar impact to the one Antonio Brown had at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. Tampa Bay just can’t look ahead to matchups versus the Saints and 49ers to begin December.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


BAL (7-3) @ JAX (3-7)

Sunday, November 27 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Jacksonville also has the potential formula to pull off an upset this week with the Ravens coming to town, but Baltimore being challenged last week against Carolina might make that less likely. The Jags have the athletes on defense to bottle up Lamar Jackson like the Panthers did, though, and I think Baltimore not having DeSean Jackson (hamstring)—even though he’s only played one game for the team—hurts the entire offense because of the vertical element that’s been lacking. Plus, Tyson Campbell could be a bad matchup for Demarcus Robinson after the wideout caught all nine of his targets for 128 yards last week, and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) could have a slow return based on his injury history after going down last week. If that’s the case, Josh Allen and Travon Walker need to takeover for Jacksonville to get a win and hang onto the fringes of playoff contention with a somewhat favorable rest-of-season schedule.


Winner: Baltimore Ravens


HOU (1-8-1) MIA (7-3)

Sunday, November 27 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Kyle Allen drawing the start for Houston could be something that provides a jolt for the offense, and the former undrafted free agent has always played well when given the opportunity with a 7-10 record in 17 career starts. On the other hand, Davis Mills didn’t have a lot of help at times this season, but I’ve always thought he would settle in as a very good backup—which is a likely scenario in 2023 with Houston being in position to have their pick of quarterback in the draft. This week, Allen will have the difficult task of keeping pace with the high-powered Dolphins, and Tua Tagovailoa is primed for a huge day with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both recharged following the bye. This might need to be a pull-out-all-the-stops game if Houston is going to have a chance.


Winner: Miami Dolphins


CHI (3-8) @ NYJ (6-4)

Sunday, November 27 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Zach Wilson obviously didn’t handle his postgame comments well after Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, and that was probably was a bigger factor in him being benched than his on-field play was. The thing people have failed to mention—and something I pointed out very early in Wilson’s career—is New York basically handcuffing their young quarterback by not catering the offense to the playmaking skillset he displayed at BYU, and it’s resulted in him playing with a clear lack of confidence. That being said, it’s Mike White’s time to shine, and I believe he will do very well with the opportunity as a quarterback that can clearly play at a high level with a 400-yard game under his belt. I’m sure Justin Fields (shoulder) wants to play and show New York that they made the wrong decision in passing on him two years ago, but the Jets don’t have an easy defense to move the ball against.


Winner: New York Jets


CIN (6-4) @ TEN (7-3)

Sunday, November 27 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Bengals-Titans is a highly anticipated playoff rematch headlining this weekend’s action, and unlike the January battle where Derrick Henry made his return after missing most of the regular season, it sounds like Cincinnati will be the team getting star power back as Ja’Marr Chase (hip) returns to the lineup. That’s bad news for Tennessee with starting cornerback Kristian Fulton (hamstring) looking unlikely to play, but rookie Roger McCreary was outstanding in a matchup versus Joe Burrow and Chase in college (including an interception), so we’ll see if he’s up to the challenge on Sunday. The Titans will also be counting on a rookie on offense with Treylon Burks having a 100-yard night in last week’s win, and him fully emerging would take a lot of pressure off King Henry. Still, I’m going with the Bengals because of their weapons and the advantage they have at quarterback—although I don’t feel great about picking against Mike Vrabel’s squad again. [Update: with Chase out, my pick has been changed to the Titans.]


Winner: Tennessee Titans


ATL (5-6) @ WAS (6-5)

Sunday, November 27 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Last week was probably the worst start of the season for Taylor Heinicke, but didn’t turn the ball over and stayed ahead of the sticks by not taking any sacks—allowing the Washington defense to dominate the game. Now, the Commanders are expected to have Chase Young (knee) make his season debut, and “The Predator” will help track down Marcus Mariota when the mobile quarterback tries to escape the pocket, and Atlanta has fewer weapons to worry about with Kyle Pitts (knee) on injured reserve. I believe featuring Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver by letting him match up on linebackers out wide and in the slot should be the game plan to spark the passing attack, but that’s not something the Falcons have shown a willingness to do this year (just 11 targets for Patterson on the season). Look for Jahan Dotson to see increased involvement as Washington tries to win their sixth game in seven weeks.


Winner: Washington Commanders


LAC (5-5) @ ARI (4-7)

Sunday, November 27 | 4:05 PM ET | CBS


Based on the inside access viewers have gotten on Hard Knocks, I’ve been very impressed with Kliff Kingsbury—especially considering my preconceived notions about a coach that had a losing record at Texas Tech. In general, Kingsbury appears to handle the locker room well (no surprise being a former player himself), and he also seems to have a strong gameday feel for his side of the ball in particular. However, not having enough quality players on the roster is clearly an issue in Arizona (according to our NFL draft analysis, the Cardinals have been the worst-drafting team in the league since 2017), and the depth has been tested for them recently. Oddly enough, this matchup is between two teams that have been recently connected to Sean Payton, but I think the Chargers will have more fight this week in addition to the clear talent advantage.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


LV (3-7) @ SEA (6-4)

Sunday, November 27 | 4:05 PM ET | CBS


Perhaps the vote of confidence from Mark Davis regarding Josh McDaniels returning as head coach in 2023 was enough to get the Raiders on track—but the more likely scenario is them having had the benefit of facing the underperforming Broncos last week (Las Vegas is 1-7 against the rest of the NFL). The Seahawks will be a much more capable offense with Geno Smith continuing to play well and the rushing attack rested and ready to roll behind Ken Walker III, so the Raiders need to again feed their own running back (Josh Jacobs, who has 27 touches in each of the past two weeks) to keep the coverage softened for Davante Adams without Hunter Renfrow (oblique) or Darren Waller (hamstring) in the lineup. For the Seattle offensive line, I think rookies Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas will be ready for the challenge of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones, but Las Vegas winning on the edge is the key for them on the road.


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


LAR (3-7) @ KC (8-2)

Sunday, November 27 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


The defending champion Rams being two-touchdown underdogs this week shows how crazy the 2022 season has been, but the line is warranted because of how poorly Los Angeles has played and all the injuries they are now dealing with. Having a mobile quarterback (Bryce Perkins) could maybe be something that allows LA to stay in the game similar to the Titans earlier this month—though I wouldn’t count on it without a Derrick Henry or general tough-minded roster like Tennessee has. Instead, the Rams should try to unleash rookie Kyren Williams in an Austin Ekeler-type role versus a defense that’s allowed the second-most receptions and third-most receiving yards to opposing running backs, and Allen Robinson II needs more than the five targets he saw in the first game without Cooper Kupp (ankle). Even so, slowing down a red-hot Patrick Mahomes on the road seems like an impossibility for Los Angeles right now.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


NO (4-7) @ SF (6-4)

Sunday, November 27 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


The Saints finally got back to using Taysom Hill more last week in a split with Andy Dalton (there was even a graphic from FOX as if it was a two-quarterback college system), and it helped power them to a needed victory over the Rams. Overall, New Orleans is now 3-0 when Hill handles more than five carries and 4-0 when he rushes for more than 50 yards, so they must feature him on Sunday if they will have any chance of knocking off the 49ers. You might remember the high-scoring thriller between these teams in 2019 with Jimmy Garoppolo having one of the best games of his career (349 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in a 48-46 victory with a last-second field goal by Robbie Gould), but the Saints probably don’t have the weaponry to win a shootout based on how confident and efficient the San Francisco offense has operated in recent games. We’ll see if the possible return of star cornerback Marshon Lattimore (abdomen) makes a difference.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers


GB (4-7) @ PHI (9-1)

Sunday, November 27 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Aaron Rodgers has had some huge games versus the Eagles in recent matchups (342.8 yards per game and a 10:1 touchdown-interception ratio over the past four meetings), but this is a different Philadelphia defense and team—not to mention that the back-to-back NFL MVP is dealing with a broken thumb. The health of Rodgers makes it all the more confusing that Green Bay won’t commit to feeding Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon for multiple games in a row, and the defensive reinforcements for the Eagles (Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh) will result in fewer holes for them on Sunday night. For a primetime battle between two teams that have a top-five pass defense, Philly is more equipped to make things happen with Jalen Hurts (16 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown last week) and their pass rush (third in the NFL with 33 sacks).


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


PIT (3-7) @ IND (4-6-1)

Monday, November 28 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN


Steelers-Colts would have ideally featured each side being above .500 to close out November, but it should still be a very physical game as Pittsburgh and Indianapolis try to stay on the fringes of playoff contention. Jeff Saturday remaining committed to Jonathan Taylor last week (25 touches) is why they were able to nearly knock off the first-place Eagles, and the defense of the Colts has limited opponents to just 20.0 points per game—so we can probably expect a low-scoring matchup. The Steelers have also fed their star running back over the past two games with Najee Harris handling 20 carries in both of them, and he’s looked much healthier following an opportunity to heal up during the Week 9 bye. Plus, Kenny Pickett has cut down on the interceptions with none so far this month, and I’d anticipate him attacking the cornerbacks not named Stephon Gilmore on Monday night. Because of the advantage the Steelers should have with T.J. Watt and company facing a disappointing offensive line, I like Mike Tomlin to get a step closer towards .500.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers