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Week 12 NFL Game Picks (Thanksgiving)

Last week: 7-6

Overall: 92-67-2


CHI (7-3) @ DET (4-6) | THU 12:30 PM ET | CBS

Despite tossing seven interceptions in his first two starts on Thanksgiving, Matthew Stafford has settled into the holiday with 330 yards per game and a 15:3 touchdown interception ratio over the past six years (4-2 record), and the Lions are averaging 31.5 points per game over that span. Fortunately for football fans hoping for three servings of meaningful games on Thursday, Detroit was able to climb right back into the playoff race after a surprising win over Carolina last week, but at less than full strength, do they have the firepower to keep up with the Bears? Star rookie runner Kerryon Johnson (knee) and top receiver Marvin Jones (knee) won’t play, so Kenny Golladay and Theo Riddick will operate as the main weapons for Stafford against arguably the best defense in the league; and even with Johnson (20 touches for 89 yards and two touchdowns) and Jones (receptions for 55 yards) healthy in Week 10, the Lions were basically shutdown until the fourth quarter of a 34-22 loss in Chicago. If Detroit wins, it will probably be a defensive battle with Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) replaced by Chase Daniel, but the veteran obviously has the playmakers and experience to take advantage of this opportunity. I think we should see a close game (remember, Matt Nagy’s squad gets the shortest turnaround imaginable after playing on Sunday night, which is part of the reason for Trubisky being out), but the Bears have more talent on both sides of the ball.

Winner: Chicago Bears


WAS (6-4) @ DAL (5-5) | THU 4:30 PM ET | FOX

Perennially the most underrated quarterback in the league, Alex Smith was once again leading a first place team around Thanksgiving, but the gruesome leg injury suffered against the Texans was a heartbreaking way to end the former No. 1 overall pick’s age-34 season. Washington will now rely on Colt McCoy to win them the NFC East, and upsetting the confident Cowboys in Dallas would be a huge first step. The formula will be the same as it was with Smith under center last month in the first meeting between these two division rivals (a 20-17 Redskins win), but injuries have really hit Jay Gruden’s offense, which will be without left tackle Trent Williams (thumb), left guard Shawn Lauvao (knee, season), and right guard Brandon Scherff (knee, season) this time around. Plus, the Cowboys have looked like a different team over the past two weeks, beating Philadelphia and Atlanta on the road as Dak Prescott continues to come up big in clutch situations. Things will be a lot tougher on Prescott if the Redskins can contain Ezekiel Elliott on the ground, though, and no team has had more success doing so this year, as Washington held Zeke to 15 carries for 33 yards in Week 7. I think McCoy will play well—and it would certainly be a fun storyline to see a couple backup quarterbacks lead their respective first-place teams to a victory—, but Dallas has the momentum on a short week.

Winner: Dallas Cowboys


ATL (4-6) @ NO (9-1) | THU 8:20 PM ET | NBC

Atlanta and New Orleans faced off in a thrilling overtime shootout back in Week 3, and the Saints came out on top, 43-37, after an 80-yard drive was capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by Drew Brees, which probably gave the Falcons flashbacks to Super Bowl LI since they never even got the ball in OT. Since then, New Orleans has only become more dominant, and they’ve really hit their stride this month with 48.0 points per game in wins against the Rams, Bengals, and Eagles; on the other hand, Atlanta has dropped their past two games, as the offensive regressed—in my opinion—due to Tevin Coleman’s lack of touches. The explosive runner has averaged 5.6 yards per attempt since Devonta Freeman (foot/groin) was placed on injured reserve, and there was absolutely no excuse for him to see just eight carries for 58 yards in Sunday’s loss to the banged-up Cowboys. There is nothing to suggest that Coleman will be featured like he should be down the stretch, but even if he isn’t, Matt Ryan still has the weapons to put up a fight in New Orleans. Had Deion Jones (foot) been able to return, I would have liked Atlanta’s chances more, but Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will be tough to contain in the Superdome with Brees putting the ball wherever he wants through the air. A loss would knock the Falcons to 4-7, but don’t be surprised if they rattle off five-straight wins (v BAL, @ GB, v ARI, @ CAR, @ TB) starting next week to sneak back into the postseason as a very dangerous opponent for the rest of the NFC.

Winner: New Orleans Saints


Against-The-Spread Picks


Last week: 8-5 /// Overall: 79-82

Recommended picks last week: 2-3 /// Overall: 34-22


Bears (-3) @ Lions

Redskins (+7.5) @ Cowboys

Falcons (+13) @ Saints


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