Happy Thanksgiving, football fans! Grab a plate of that delicious holiday turkey and settle in for another week of exciting NFL action. Week twelve offers up three scrumptious games on Thanksgiving day: the Pats face Detroit, New Orleans takes on Dallas, and the Bengals play the Jets. In a week full of intriguing matchups, we'll get to see which teams are truly hungry for a win. All three of our experts went 11-4 in week 11, and they'll look to continue their success on a full stomach of stuffing this week. Eli still leads the pack, but there's still plenty of football to be played – so don't count out Melissa and Blake. Gobble Gobble!
Thursday, November 25
New England Patriots (8-2) at Detroit Lions (2-8)
Always pick Detroit at home on Thanksgiving day.
The Pats are red-hot coming off a 31-28 win over Indianapolis. I'll go with New England over a Detroit team that fell to the Cowboys 35-19 in week 11.
The Patriots are the best team in the NFL and they will demolish the Lions come Thanksgiving day. Detroit has absolutely nothing to be thankful for, due to their tendency to lose close games that they shouldn't have.
New Orleans Saints (7-3) at Dallas Cowboys (3-7)
The Cowboys are looking to win three straight under new coach Jason Garret, but I think the streak ends here against a hot Saints team who is looking to keep pace with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Cowboys have won two straight since Wade Phillips was fired, but I've still got to go with New Orleans. It seems as if Drew Brees is back to championship form, throwing for 382 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-19 victory over Seattle last week. Saints have a feast on Thanksgiving day.
Dallas' two game win streak ends here. Saints quarterback Drew Brees will lead his team down field time and time again, as the Saints steamroll the Cowboys.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) at New York Jets (8-2)
As of late, the Jets have been pulling out close games in the final minutes. I'm looking for them to blow out the Bengals here.
Mark Sanchez is the man. He's hit Santonio Holmes for the game-winning touchdown two games in a row, and the Jets are tied with New England for the AFC East lead with a record of 8-2. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is 2-8 and just playing for pride right now. I'll go with New York and Sanchez, who threw for 315 and three scores against Houston last week.
The Jets and Pats are tied at 8-2 for control of the AFC East. New York has got to be the luckiest team in the AFC, with two overtime wins and a bunch of close games. But their defense has kept them in the race and should be able to stop Cincy from winning on Sunday.
Sunday, November 28
Green Bay Packers (7-3) at Atlanta Falcons (8-2)
In my opinion, these are the two top teams in the NFC. I will be looking for them to play again in the NFC championship. The Packers will get it done in a close one on the road.
This one's tough. Both of these teams are playing well. The Pack annihilated Minnesota 31-3 last week while Atlanta's on a four-game winning streak. The Falcons should move to 9-2 with a win over Green Bay thanks to big games from Matt Ryan and Roddy White.
Game of the week. Both of these teams have the potential to go to the Super Bowl this year. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is undeniably solid, but so is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I think this game will come down to which defense is able to keep the opposing offense in check. Green Bay's defense is just that much better than Atlanta's, and should be able to win this game for the Pack.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) at Buffalo Bills (2-8)
The Steelers might be the best team in the AFC, but I'm going to go with an upset picker here and go with the Bills at home.
The Bills have won two straight, but Pittsburgh is a much better team than both Detroit and Cincinnati. The Bills put up 49 last week, but will have trouble getting it going against a tough Steeler D come Sunday. It'll be all gravy for Pittsburgh in week twelve.
Buffalo has won two in a row, great for them. Unfortunately, they now have to deal with Pittsburgh's stifling defense. James Harrison should keep Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in check. The Bills lose their ninth game.
Carolina Panthers (1-9) at Cleveland Browns (3-7)
The Browns have been playing well all season and should blow out the 1-9 Panthers at home.
Let's be real – neither of these teams are exactly Super Bowl-bound. But as bad as Cleveland is, they're not nearly as brutal as Carolina, the worst team in football at 1-9. The Browns prevail in a slopfest.
Carolina is just terrible. I've lost count of how many quarterback changes head coach John Fox has made this season alone. Cleveland's offense, led by quarterback Colt McCoy and running back Peyton Hillis, should easily destroy Carolina.
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4) at New York Giants (6-4)
The Giants need a win to keep pace with the hot Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. After two tough losses in a row, I'm looking for the Giants to bounce back and defeat the Jaguars.
Both the Jags and the G-Men are playing solid football as of late and sit at 6-4. I'll take the Giants at home, and look for a big game out of Eli – after all, he does have a sweet name.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning seems to enjoy turning the ball over. Someone should probably knock some sense into him quick, because if his team wants to win, they need help from their quarterback. The Jags, on the other hand, are looking good right now. But every time the Jags look good, they tend to fall. This is a toss up-- the G-men have to win to prove they can battle the Eagles for the top spot in the NFC East. I can see either team winning this, but I'm looking at the Giants' defense to stop Jacksonville's offensive strike.
Minnesota Vikings (3-7) at Washington Redskins (5-5)
Although I did not pick the Redskins last week, I will not make that mistake again. With a win here, they could go above .500 and keep themselves in the playoff hunt.
Minnesota's had a lot on their plate this season – and I'm not talking turkey. From Favre struggling, to the whole Randy Moss situation, to players ragging on Brad Childress, and now his firing, it's been extremely hectic. After beating Tennessee last week, I've got to go with my ‘Skins. They face the 3-7, Childress-less Vikings, and they should pick up the win to move to 6-5 and improve their playoff hopes.
Brett Favre, please retire. Minnesota's offense is just mediocre and their defense is no better. The Redskins win in a sloppy, messy game-- as usual.
Tennessee Titans (5-5) at Houston Texans (4-6)
Two play-off hopefuls that are both in dire need of a victory go head to head. The loser of this game pretty much will end their play-off hopes. I think the Titans will get it done on the road.
Each of these teams are coming off nail-biter week eleven losses, and I think the Texans will be the ones to turn it around this Sunday. Houston lost in the final seconds when Mark Sanchez threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, while Tennessee fell on a game-winning field goal by Graham Gano in overtime. I like Houston this week, and expect another big game out of Arian Foster who rushed for 84 yards and two scores against New York.
The Texans can't catch a break, losing every single game by either a field goal or touchdown in the fourth quarter. But with Titans quarterback Vince Young sitting out, Tennessee has to depend on running back Chris Johnson to carry the load. If Houston's defense steps it up, they win.
Miami Dolphins (5-5) at Oakland Raiders (5-5)
Both teams enter this game at 5-5, but I think in this one you have to go with the home team, so I'm picking the Raiders at home.
Last week, Pittsburgh dogged Oakland 35-3 while the Dolphins laid an egg against the Bears on Thursday night. Tyler Thigpen is likely to start for Miami with Pennington out for the year and Henne sidelined with a knee injury. I'll go with the silver and black at home.
I think the Raiders have the edge here. Miami's been playing good under quarterback Tyler Thigpen but it looks like Chad Henne might return for the Dolphins this week, so who knows. Either way, this is a toss up, but I'll take the Raiders to pull it together and win.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) at Seattle Seahawks (5-5)
Although the Seahawks are always tough at home, I feel that the Chiefs are serious this season and they need a win to stay atop the AFC West. Look for the Chiefs to separate themselves here with a "W” against the Seahawks.
Kansas City beat up on the Cardinals in week 11 thanks to 109 yards and two touchdowns from Dwayne Bowe. They 6-4 Chiefs will continue their winning ways in week twelve with a win over the 5-5 Seahawks.
Someone cut Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel a break. No matter how many touchdowns or yards he accumulates, the Chiefs can never pull it together and win. They have a chance to redeem themselves this week. The problem here is that they will be facing Seattle at home... I just don't see them beating the ‘Hawks at home.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) at Chicago Bears (7-3)
Since both teams are coming into this one with a three-game winning streak, this should be a great game with two division leaders facing off. Philadelphia is playing better right now so although it is tough to win in Chicago, I'm taking the Eagles to win.
Although both teams boast the same 7-3 record, Philly is a much more polished team than Chicago. Vick wasn't spectacular in week eleven, but he led the Eagles to a 27-17 win over division rival Giants. LeSean McCoy rushed for 111 yards and a score on just 14 carries, and Jeremy Maclin caught nine balls for 120 yards. Philly rolls.
Everytime I see Bears quarterback Jay Cutler play, I laugh. Cutler's play is inconsistent, and he hardly gets any help from his teammates on the offensive line. After all, this is the same Cutler who got sacked nine times against the Giants... On the other hand, Philly quarterback Michael Vick has more than proven himself this season. He'll continue to lead his team and the Eagles will annihilate the Bears.
St. Louis Rams (4-6) at Denver Broncos (3-7)
The Rams will try to prove themselves this week. Given their dedication, I believe the Rams will win on the road against the 3-7 Broncos.
Denver was blown out 35-14 against San Diego last week, but Brandon Lloyd had another big game, and they got production out of runningback Knowshon Moreno. Look for the Broncos to bounce back against the 4-6 Rams.
As much as I don't want to pick Denver, because they are terrible, the Rams are just as terrible away from home. Broncos win, but only because losing to the Rams at home isn't an option.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) at Baltimore Ravens (7-3)
Although both teams are 7-3, I think the Ravens are still one of the toughest teams in the NFL. I'm looking for them to blowout the Bucs.
Baltimore is a perfect 4-0 at home, and they'll beat the Bucs at M&T Bank in week twelve. The Bucs are 7-3, but they'll be no match for Flacco who threw for over 300 yards last week. Ravens go ham at home.
I guess you can call this my "upset” pick. Tampa Bay and quarterback Josh Freeman are looking pretty good and seem to be solid contenders to make a playoff run. The problem here lies in the fact that the Bucs will face a tough Baltimore defense this week. Baltimore's offense hasn't been as productive as previously predicted, so it definitely comes down to defense. Even though Baltimore is a strong team, I think the Bucs will win this one and prove their strength in the NFC as a dark horse.
San Diego Chargers (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (6-4)
Although the Chargers got off to a slow start, I feel they are a play-off caliber team. It's always tough win in Indy, but look for an upset here.
This will be a fun one to watch -- Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers are two of the best quarterbacks the league has to offer. In week 11, Indy fell to New England while the Chargers blew Denver out of the water. However, the Colts are undefeated at home and they'll be victorious against San Diego on Sunday.
After a close loss to the Pats last week, in which Colts quarterback Peyton Manning led his team down field in the fourth quarter and threw two touchdowns to bring the score close but then threw an interception, the Colts are looking for blood. Don't get me wrong, you can never go wrong with Manning -- except when he's playing against Tom Brady and the Patriots. But anyways, the Chargers won Monday night against a struggling Denver team. San Diego is brilliant at home, but unfortunately, they're facing a hungry Indy team in Indianapolis. Colts win.
Monday, Oct. 11
San Francisco 49ers (3-7) at Arizona Cardinals (3-7)
These are two underachieving teams and while it may be important for to me pick a winner in the one, I'm going to go against the odds and pick a tie.
It's been a struggle all season long for each of these teams. The 49ers didn't score a point against Tampa Bay last week. I'll go with Arizona, who at least showed signs of life on the offensive end versus KC in week 11.
Neither of these teams are playing well and the 49ers have not lived up to their hype coming into the season. However, I think they can muster up enough points and confidence to beat the Cards on Monday night. (On a side note: who picked this for a Monday night game? You've got to be kidding me...)
Melissa Haniff. Melissa loves music, One Tree Hill, traveling and experiencing new cultures. She is also a diehard Patriots, Red Wings, Pistons and University of Michigan fan...Go Blue! More »
Eli Schwadron. Eli (@eschwad) is a chill guy who likes to play basketball, watch TV and eat. More »
Blake Morgan-Gamber. Blake Morgan-Gamber is a rare specimen with two last names; she woos women and men alike with her fanciful features writing and sumptuous sports editing. But do not be lulled by this siren, though BMG is a creature of beauty, there's many amazing talents inside ... More »