Thanksgiving is here, and we’ve all got things to do and people to see, so let’s not mess around with pleasantries and get straight into things.
Week 12 in the NFL is upon us, and NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Andre Khatchaturian and Ricky Doyle are ready to serve up their against-the-spread NFL picks.
First, here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 9-3 (80-75-3 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 5-7 (78-77-3)
Andre Khatchaturian: 6-6 (84-71-3)
Here are their Week 12 picks with lines courtesy of OddsShark.
THURSDAY, NOV. 22
(-3) Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET
Mike: Lions. A lot working against Chicago here, including the fact they played Sunday night. That means their two games are kicking off 88 hours apart. Seems bad for tackle football. They’ll almost certainly have Chase Daniel under center, while the Lions, believe it or not, are still sneaky in the playoff race.
Ricky: Lions. You smell that? No, it isn’t the turkey burning. It’s a letdown pie courtesy of the Bears, who’ve won four straight, including a 34-22 victory over these same Lions just 11 days ago. Detroit has covered in five of its last six Turkey Day games and will pull off a low-scored upset this week thanks to some understandable inconsistency from Chicago’s offense in the wake of Mitchell Trubisky’s injury.
Andre: Bears. Chicago leads the NFL in yards allowed per carry so this might be a high-volume game for Matt Stafford. The Lions are 0-4 when he throws the ball 40+ times this season.
Washington Redskins at (-7.5) Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. Love this from OddsShark: The Cowboys are 9-1 straight-up in their last 10 games favored by 7.5 or more but are just 1-9 against the spread. Also, three of Dallas’ wins this season came against bottom-10 run defenses, while Washington has the second-best road run defense in the league.
Ricky: Redskins. It really sucks the Redskins lost Alex Smith for the season, but let’s not act like he was picking apart defenses. The 34-year-old ranked 26th in yards per game (218) and 25th in passer rating (85.7) with just 10 touchdowns to five interceptions. I’m not saying Colt McCoy will spark Washington’s offense, but I also don’t think the drop-off will be that noticeable so long as the Redskins implement a conservative game plan and rely on their defense to keep this divisional clash close. Also, the Cowboys are 0-7 ATS in their last seven Thanksgiving games, for whatever it’s worth.
Andre: Cowboys. Washington has the third-worst yards per play differential in the NFL since Week 5, yet they’re 4-3 because of a plus-10 turnover differential during that span. Alex Smith’s biggest strength was not turning the ball over and now he’s gone. Washington has also allowed 100 or more rushing yards in the last three games.
Atlanta Falcons at (-13) New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. I know the Saints have won their last two games by an average of 39.5 points (!), but that still feels like too many points for a divisional game against a team with as many weapons as Atlanta possesses.
Ricky: Saints. The Falcons have allowed an NFL-worst 93 catches for 815 yards to opposing running backs this season. They rank 31st in tackling, according to Pro Football Focus. On the surface, this seems like way too many points, but I’m really not sure how Atlanta plans to slow New Orleans’ high-powered offense. Saints punter Thomas Morstead might as well stay home for turkey with his family.
Andre: Falcons. Atlanta allows the most yards per play in the NFL since Week 5. Something tells me that’s not a good recipe for success against Drew Brees. But the Saints pass defense isn’t particularly great and Matt Ryan is quietly putting on a great season with 22 touchdowns and three interceptions over his last nine games. He’ll be able to keep up in this shootout.
SUNDAY, NOV. 25
Cleveland Browns at (-3) Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. The Browns’ three wins have come when they force at least two turnovers. That might be difficult this week against a Cincinnati team that’s turned it over just five times in its last seven games. Getting A.J. Green back will help Cincy, too.
Ricky: Browns. This season has been a step in the right direction for the Browns, who’ve actually won a game — three games, in fact, plus a tie! — and been competitive in most contests. The one thing they haven’t done? Win on the road. (Cleveland has lost 25 consecutive away games dating back to Week 5 of the 2015 season.) That ends this Sunday when Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson slice and dice the Bengals’ porous, depleted defense.
Andre: Browns. Neither of these teams are particularly good at anything, but the Browns do have the second-best turnover differential in football. Andy Dalton has the highest interception rate from quarterbacks with at least 300 pass attempts.
(-3) Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. The Jags shouldn’t be laying points on the road against anyone, especially against a pretty decent Bills defense. Buffalo should be all kinds of jacked and pumped to show out with Josh Allen back at quarterback — you think the Bills have forgotten Jalen Ramsey’s comments?
Ricky: Jaguars. Remember when the Jaguars were full of swagger and minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl? Yeah, me neither. That said, I refuse to believe they’re this bad.
Andre: Bills. There were more touchdowns scored in Monday night’s game (14) than the Bills have scored all season (13). But Buffalo is at home, they’re getting points, they allow the second-fewest yards per play, Blake Bortles stinks on the road and his completion percentage dips the colder it gets.
New York Giants at (-6) Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Mike: Giants. Neither teams are great at scoring points, an essential piece to the football puzzle, so I’ll grab the points and hope for a 24-19 final.
Ricky: Eagles. Along the same lines as the Jaguars, remember when the Eagles actually won the Super Bowl? It’s been an awful season in the City of Brotherly Love, but I’ll still lay the points here because I’m not sure the Giants’ passing attack is good enough to expose the Eagles’ secondary on the road.
Andre: Eagles. The Eagles need to win this to keep their season alive and although the Giants have looked great the last two weeks, they’ve done it against really bad competition. Carson Wentz is having a strong season and he’ll have time to throw in this game as New York is last in sack rate.
(-9.5) New England Patriots at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. The Jets, inexplicably, remain a good bet at home, going 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games as underdogs. I’ll fade the 90 percent of you taking the Patriots here.
Ricky: Patriots. New England still doesn’t look right, and a road matchup with the Jets often proves daunting for the Patriots. But the Pats are 15-4 ATS after a loss over the last five years and 13-4 SU after a bye in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. They’re also expected to have tight end Rob Gronkowski and guard Shaq Mason back from injuries, suggesting New England’s offense should feast on the Jets, who just surrendered 41 points to Matt Barkley(!) and the Bills.
Andre: Patriots. Opposing quarterbacks complete just 60 percent of their passes against the Patriots and Sam Darnold is second-to-last in completion percentage.
Oakland Raiders at (-10.5) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. The Raiders’ eight losses have come by an average of 16 points. This is the best defense they’ve faced all season, so I think they will lose. Therefore, lay the points.
Ricky: Ravens. Still wrapping my head around Lamar Jackson running the ball 27(!) times last week, the most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era. But hey, it worked! And it might work again this week, although this pick mostly is based on Baltimore’s defense and how difficult it’ll be for Oakland to get anything going offensively.
Andre: Ravens. Baltimore allows the fewest yards per play in football and Oakland allows the most. Lamar Jackson said he wants to start throwing the ball more and the Raiders are the right team to do that against. They’re last in the league in sacks and allow nearly nine yards per pass attempt.
San Francisco 49ers at (-3.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. Another nugget I’m stealing from OddsShark. While the 49ers have lost five straight on the road, they’ve lost those games by an average of 5.4 points per game. They might lose, but they lose close, and while that 5.4 isn’t within this number, Tampa Bay doesn’t inspire much confidence regardless.
Ricky: Bucs. This might look more like a game of pong, with the ball bouncing back and forth between the two teams. That’s because Tampa Bay (minus-23) and San Francisco (minus-15) rank last and second-to-last, respectively, in turnover differential. Yuck. Give me the Bucs and some vodka.
Andre: Bucs. The Bucs eat up yards but always shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers. Maybe this is the week they play a clean game against the Niners, who are last in takeaways this year.
Seattle Seahawks at (-3.5) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. Carolina is just so much better at home, where it’s averaging 11 more points and allowing 53 fewer yards per game than at home. If they make Seattle one dimensional, they should roll.
Ricky: Seahawks. Cam Newton has struggled against Seattle in the past and has been knocked around a bit recently, with Carolina yielding eight sacks over its last two games after giving up 12 in its first eight. The Seahawks also don’t beat themselves, evident by their plus-seven turnover margin (5th in the NFL), and that’ll be huge against the Panthers. Opponents have turned the ball over 14 times in Carolina’s six wins but just once in the Panthers’ four losses.
Andre: Panthers. Both teams run the ball well, but Seattle allows nearly five yards per carry on the ground (including five yards per carry to quarterbacks) and Carolina is slightly better containing the running game. Both teams also pass the ball well, but Cam Newton has been getting much better protection.
Arizona Cardinals at (-12) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. The Chargers have failed to cover in three of their last four games when favored by 10 points or more, and while they’re obviously capable of winning this game by 50, they have too many issues to trust with that sort of spread.
Ricky: Chargers. Arizona has the NFL’s worst pass blocking, according to Pro Football Focus, meaning this could be the week Joey Bosa officially reintroduces himself to the league. Bolts roll.
Andre: Chargers. Los Angeles has the best yards per play differential in the league and Arizona is 31st. Arizona’s also a minus-10 turnover differential over their last four games. Their biggest strength is their pass rush, but the Chargers have been protecting Philip Rivers very well this season (16 sacks, t-4th fewest).
Miami Dolphins at (-8) Indianapolis Colts, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Colts. Mentioned this last week, but Andrew Luck has been out of this world since Oct. 4, the last time he was sacked. He’s been especially good in last four games, all wins, with a passer rating of 135.2. For some perspective, Drew Brees’ passer rating in the same time is 137.1.
Ricky: Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill is back for the Dolphins this week, which should provide just enough of a boost for Miami to cover a very large spread against an overachieving Colts team.
Andre: Colts. Indy is the most under-the-radar team in football right now. Andrew Luck is getting protection and in turn he has 13 touchdowns and one pick over the last four games. Miami’s pass rush is non-existent so expect more of the same from Luck. Indianapolis is also fifth in the league in takeaways.
(-3) Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Despite their win last week, the Broncos struggled mightily to stop the Chargers on third down, and it won’t get any easier against Pittsburgh, who ranks sixth in third-down efficiency. Big plays and long drives will get the job done for the Steelers.
Ricky: Steelers. Pittsburgh protects the quarterback well (No. 3 pass blocking, per Pro Football Focus), which should mitigate Denver’s biggest strength and allow Ben Roethlisberger to find success against the Broncos’ secondary, which might be without cornerback Bradley Roby (concussion). On the flip side, Pittsburgh’s defense will cause problems for Denver’s inconsistent offense based on its ability to stop the run and disrupt the QB in passing situations.
Andre: Steelers. Denver leads the league in yards per carry, but Pittsburgh allows the fifth-fewest yards per play. Their defense has held opponents to under 100 rushing yards in seven of their last eight games. Sine 2009, Ben Roethlisberger has 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions following three-pick games (six times)
Green Bay Packers at (-3.5) Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. Fully healthy, maybe the Packers have a chance. But with Mike Daniels out and Kenny Clark hobbled on the defensive line, Green Bay’s best chance of generating pressure is compromised. And is there anything that’s led you to believe the Packers can play a 60-minute game on offense against a steadily improving Vikings defense?
Ricky: Vikings. Sunday night’s loss to the Bears was a huge letdown for the Vikings, but their defense still played well, building on improvements it’s made over the last several weeks. The unit has been especially good in the red zone, and that bend, don’t break mentality will force the mistake-prone Packers to leave points on the board in a hostile environment.
Andre. Vikings. When Minnesota struggles to run the ball, Kirk Cousins is forced to throw the ball a lot and it hurts the team. When the Vikings run the ball for more than 85 yards, they are 4-0, and 1-4-1 when they don’t. Green Bay’s rush defense isn’t the strongest so this could be the game Dalvin Cook finally shows up. The Packers also are winless away from Lambeau.
MONDAY, NOV. 26
Tennessee Titans at (-5.5) Houston Texans, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Where do the points come from for Tennessee? They’ve scored 20 or fewer in six of nine games, and that Patriots game certainly looked like an outlier one week later at Indianapolis.
Ricky: Texans. The tryptophan will have kicked in long before we get to Monday’s game. But for the sake of these picks, give me the Texans, who’ve won five straight head-to-head matchups with the Titans in Houston (5-1 ATS).
Andre: Texans. You never know what you’re getting with Tennessee. They’ve dominated the Patriots, lost to the Bills, allowed 11 sacks in a game, then looked like Super Bowl contenders in primetime against Dallas and then had their doors blown open by Indy. I’ll go with the more consistent team, because I have no idea what the Titans are.