Perhaps the best thing about Thanksgiving in 2017 is we no longer pretend it’s a holiday centered around family and, you know, giving thanks. For a lot of us, it’s about football and food.
Football fans will have plenty to feast on this Turkey Day with three games, two of which might actually be good. As for the rest of Week 12, every team has seen its bye week come and go, which means it’s a full slate the rest of the way.
That means there ‘s still plenty of games for NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian to sink their teeth into as they make their weekly against-the-spread picks.
Here’s how they fared in their Week 11 picks.
Mike Cole: 10-3-1 (76-75-5 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 10-3-1 (73-78-5)
Andre Khatchaturian: 7-6-1 (76-75-5)
And here are their Week 12 picks, with lines courtesy of OddsShark.
THURSDAY, NOV. 23
(-3) Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. Defense travels, they say, and the Vikings might have the best unit. Matt Stafford will try to throw the ball downfield, which has been borderline impossible against Minnesota this season.
Ricky: Vikings. The Lions have won four straight games on Thanksgiving, but the Vikings are rolling behind their defense, which is strong against both the run and the pass. Detroit’s defense, meanwhile, has had trouble stopping opposing ground attacks of late, so expect Minnesota’s running back tandem of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon to feast on Turkey Day.
Andre: Vikings. The Lions’ three-game winning streak has come against the Brett Hundley-led Packers, the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears. Woopty doo! Detroit has a negative turnover differential since Week 5 and Minnesota is the only team in the NFL that ranks in the top seven in yards per play and yards allowed per play.
(-1) Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. With no Sean Lee, the Cowboys will struggle to stop the run. Ask Buffalo how that went against the Chargers last week. And if Tyron Smith is out, the Chargers’ pass rush will make Dak Prescott’s life miserable.
Ricky: Cowboys. I’d obviously feel much better about this pick if Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t watching from the sideline, but the Chargers have been awful against the run this season. Alfred Morris should find some success on the ground while filling in for Zeke, and Prescott undoubtedly will fare much better than Nathan Peterman did last week against the Bolts regardless of who’s around him.
Andre: Chargers. The Cowboys are 5-1 when Sean Lee is healthy and 0-4 when he gets hurt or misses a game. Sure, Morris is averaging more than six yards per carry and the Chargers’ run defense is weak. But that might not mean anything if Dallas is trailing and Prescott is forced to throw on almost every down against an elite pass rush.
New York Giants at (-7.5) Washington Redskins, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Redskins.The Giants got a good matchup last week against a Chiefs team that couldn’t move the ball, but it won’t be as easy against a Washington team averaging 425 yards per game the last two weeks against good defenses (Minnesota, New Orleans).
Ricky: Giants. There are a few trends working against the Redskins: Washington is 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games as home favorites and 4-13 ATS in its last 17 games in primetime. The favorite also is 3-10 ATS the last 13 times these two teams have met.
Andre: Redskins. I can’t imagine the Giants winning two games in one week. As far as the spread goes, New York has the second worst yards per play differential and you can’t ignore Washington’s tough schedule as of late. Their losses this year have come against the Eagles (twice), Chiefs, Cowboys (with a healthy Zeke), Vikings and Saints. They finally catch a break against one of the league’s worst teams.
SUNDAY, NOV. 26
Buffalo Bills at (-10) Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. Last week, I told you how Andy Reid-coached teams are 2-7 ATS when favored by 10 or more since 2009. Those teams are now 2-8.
Ricky: Bills. Expect the Bills to rally around quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has been given back the keys to Buffalo’s offense. The Chiefs have been gashed on the ground, so LeSean McCoy should be licking his chops. Take the points, and don’t rule out an outright upset.
Andre: Chiefs. Kansas City has more weapons and they’re at home where they thrive and haven’t played in almost a month. Buffalo averages nearly a yard fewer per play on the road than at home. Finally, 20 of Taylor’s 29 sacks have come on the road.
(-5) Carolina Panthers at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. Week 10 was the first time since Week 1 the Panthers looked truly dominant, and it won’t be as easy this week given how Todd Bowles has had the Jets playing competitive football this season.
Ricky: Jets. This just feels like it could be an ugly game decided by a field goal. The Panthers are coming off their best offensive performance of the season, but it’s been a roller-coaster ride for Cam Newton and the Panthers are 1-7-1 ATS in their last nine games as road favorites.
Andre: Jets. The Jets play well at home. They’re 3-2 and their two losses came in close games against the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. Carolina also is 27th in turnover differential and the Jets’ defense is eighth in takeaways. New York will be going up against Newton, who has thrown 11 picks this season.
Chicago Bears at (-13.5) Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Only two of the Bears’ seven losses have been by at eight points or more, and they haven’t since a Week 4 Thursday night loss at Green Bay — who still had Aaron Rodgers.
Ricky: Bears. Picked Chicago as my Upset of the Week on this week’s edition of “The Spread” — see the video above — and it really just boils down to the Bears being a pain in the neck to play against. The Bears typically keep games close, their defense is respectable (especially if Danny Trevathan returns) and their rushing attack is among the best in football. Not to mention, the high-flying Eagles are due for a letdown at some point, right?
Andre: Bears. Trap game. For the Eagles, this game is sandwiched between last week’s road win against Dallas and two upcoming away tilts against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. Philly should win, but as my colleagues mentioned above, the Bears are pesky and they’ll keep it close.
Cleveland Browns at (-8) Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. They’re not the Browns.
Ricky: Bengals. Picking against the Browns, who are 2-8 ATS, has been the surest bet in the league this season. If they cover here, so be it.
Andre: Bengals. The Bengals stink, but their defense is solid. They have allowed the second-fewest yards per play this season. That’s not good news for the turnover-prone DeShone Kizer.
Miami Dolphins at (-17) New England Patriots, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Still looks like 70 percent of the bets are coming in on the Patriots, so this line might move even more. That being said, the Dolphins have some talented receivers, meaning a big play late is possible for a backdoor cover. Also: so many points!
Ricky: Patriots. When I first saw the spread, I thought to myself there was no way I could bank on the Patriots covering. But then I remembered we’re talking about the Dolphins, who have lost five games this season by 10 points or more. They’re no strangers to getting blown out, and those lopsided defeats came against teams far less dangerous than New England.
Andre: Patriots. Enough of this Carson Wentz for MVP talk. Tom Brady has a higher completion percentage, lower interception rate, higher passer rating and has the league’s highest yards per attempt while having the most pass attempts. I blindly will take Brady against any spread until he gives me a reason not to.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (-10) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. The Falcons have to be feeling good after hanging 34 on the Seahawks in Seattle, and the Bucs’ defense has had issues all season. What’s more, the Falcons’ defense is No. 10 in yards per play and is even better at home.
Ricky: Falcons. The Bucs are coming off back-to-back wins with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, but it’s important to note those victories came against the Jets and Dolphins. The Falcons are playing much better of late, thanks in large to their offense, which should keep rolling against the Bucs’ shaky defense, especially at home.
Andre: Bucs. A few weeks ago we were talking about how the Falcons were frauds after losing four of five and now we’re expecting them to cover a double-digit spread? The Falcons should win, but the Bucs will keep this divisional tilt tight.
(-3.5) Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. No one blitzes more than the Titans, and that should help them wreak havoc against a bad offensive line and an inexperienced quarterback. The Titans also ran wild (168 yards) on the Colts last month.
Ricky: Colts. The Titans have struggled in divisional games (7-27-2 ATS in last 36), particularly against the Colts (2-16 SU vs. Indianapolis in last 18 matchups and 0-9 SU all-time at Lucas Oil Stadium).
Andre: Colts. The Colts’ offensive line has allowed the most sacks in the league, but the Titans have the fourth-worst sack rate in the NFL. Jacoby Brissett will have time to throw and he has shown signs of competence lately, throwing seven touchdowns and two picks over the last five games. Finally, Indy has a better turnover differential than Tennessee.
(-7) Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. The Niners lost both games to Seattle last year, but those losses were by a combined five points, and now they get a banged-up Seahawks team at home. Give me the points.
Ricky: Seahawks. Seattle has won eight straight games against San Francisco and has gone 11-2 ATS in the teams’ last 13 head-to-head matchups. The Seahawks have been decimated by injuries, but it shouldn’t matter much here against a vastly inferior opponent.
Andre: 49ers. Seattle’s struggles defensively without the Legion of Boom have been well-documented. Also, seven of the last nine divisional games for the Seahawks have been decided by a score or less.
Denver Broncos at (-5) Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. There has to be a slight jolt to the Denver offense after a change at coordinator and quarterback.
Ricky: Broncos. Is Paxton Lynch any good? I don’t know. But I’m still convinced the Broncos have too much talent, especially on defense, to be as bad as they’ve been in recent weeks.
Andre: Raiders. Oakland’s defense hasn’t recorded an interception all year. They’re due and Paxton Lynch is the perfect victim.
(-4.5) Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. Assuming Jalen Ramsey can slow down Larry Fitzgerald, Blaine Gabbert will be running for his life looking for God knows who. Not a great recipe for success.
Ricky: Jaguars. The Cardinals have a minus-five turnover differential, while the Jaguars have an NFL-best plus-11 mark. Gabbert will start for Arizona against his former team, and he likely will get his ass handed to him.
Andre: Jaguars. The only reason I can think of why this line is so low is because of the Jaguars’ apparent weak rush defense going up against Adrian Peterson. However, Jacksonville has fixed that problem and hasn’t allowed 100 yards on the ground during their four-game winning streak.
New Orleans Saints at (-2.5) Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Saints. New Orleans isn’t afraid of going on the road anymore, going 4-1 away from The Big Easy, averaging 29 points per game. The Saints also are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 as road underdogs.
Ricky: Saints. The Vikings seemingly provided a template on how to beat the Rams: Protect the quarterback, rely on your running backs and control the clock. The Saints are capable of doing all those things offensively.
Andre: Saints. The Saints average a league-best 4.8 yards per carry on the ground and the Rams allow the fifth-most rushing yards per game. L.A.’s pass rush is decent, but the Saints’ offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks this year. New Orleans also is the only team in the top five in both yards per play and yards allowed per play since Week 3.
Green Bay Packers at (-14) Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. So, Hundley isn’t very good, and I could just leave it at that. But I also shudder to think what Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown can do against Dom Capers and Green Bay’s defense. They might score 70.
Ricky: Steelers. This is a lot of points … unless the Packers match their point total from last week (0), which seems entirely possible here.
Andre: Steelers. The Packers’ defense has allowed the second-highest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks this season. This should be a field day for the Steelers’ offense. On the other side of the ball, Hundley goes up against a lethal pass rush that has the second-highest sack rate in football.
MONDAY, NOV. 27
Houston Texans at (-7) Baltimore Ravens, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Texans. I’m still not sure why I took the Texans, but I did so on “The Spread” despite my better judgment, so I’m sticking with it. The Ravens offense stinks, though, so that’s something, I guess.
Ricky: Texans. I’m in the same boat as Mike. Kinda hate the pick. But I’m committed. Plus, I really do think the Ravens will struggle to score points given how well the Texans have defended the run.
Andre: Ravens. The Ravens are fifth in sack rate, have the most interceptions and are tied for first in takeaways. They’ve beat up on bad quarterbacks this year like Andy Dalton, Kizer, Matt Moore and Hundley. Average margin of victory in those four wins? 24 points (three shutouts.)
Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images
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