NFL Week 12 Picks: Super Bowl Contenders To Emerge On Thanksgiving Week?

Hopefully this is the year we give thanks for winning picks

by and

It’s Thanksgiving week in the NFL, and if you’re looking for the perfect side dish to complement your Turkey Day feast, well, you’ve come to the right place.

We have a heaping helping of tasty pigskin picks, which you’re free to devour at your leisure ahead of the Week 12 NFL slate. All we ask is that you take it easy on your crazy aunts and uncles at the dinner table this year. Everyone’s been through a lot.

Before we start scooping the good stuff onto your plates, let us first thank you for stopping by and consuming our content. Hopefully, we satisfy your appetite enough for you to come back each and every week. We’ll be here — same place, aprons on, utensils in hand.

It’s been an up-and-down 2021 season for NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle, but they’re feeling festive these days. And they’re hoping that positive juju leads to success in their against-the-spread NFL picks for Week 12, which begins Thursday with three matchups.

For some wholesome holiday chatter (and of course fearless gridiron advice), be sure to listen to this week’s episode of The Spread, NESN’s football picks podcast, below.

Here’s how Mike and Ricky fared last week.

Now, here are their Week 12 ATS picks, with lines from DraftKings Sportsbook.

THURSDAY, NOV. 25

(-3.5) Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET
Mike: Lions.
It’s Detroit’s Super Bowl, right? The Lions are really, really bad, but it does seem like Dan Campbell has his team playing tough, while Matt Nagy’s likely nearing the end of his tenure in Chicago, and his team is playing like it knows that.
Ricky: Bears. The Lions’ offensive line is banged up. They haven’t really had any receivers this season. And there’s a big question mark at quarterback, with either Jared Goff or Tim Boyle drawing the start based on the former’s ability (or lack thereof) to return from an oblique injury. The Bears, for all of their flaws, still can handle poor competition, of which the Lions qualify.

Las Vegas Raiders at (-7) Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. All of a sudden, the Cowboys are very shorthanded, with Amari Cooper on the COVID list and CeeDee Lamb hurt. The Cowboys also hope key tackle Tyron Smith can play, but if he can’t, the Raiders’ pass rush becomes even more dangerous. Vegas should have enough to keep it within the number.
Ricky: Cowboys. Don’t let Dallas’ offensive injuries scare you away from the table. The Raiders — averaging 14.3 points per game amid their three-game losing streak — are having their own problems scoring, which could set up the Cowboys’ (underrated?) defense for a strong showing.

(-4.5) Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Bills. Buffalo is officially added to the growing list of teams I can’t figure out. That said, I’m pretty sure the Saints are bad and getting worse, as evidenced by their blowout loss in Philly. Gotta think Josh Allen can do what Jalen Hurts did (69 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns) and also throw the ball better.
Ricky: Bills. Too many injury concerns to feel comfortable taking the Saints. Just can’t see where the offense comes from against a Bills team that’ll be on its toes defensively after being embarrassed in Week 11 by Jonathan Taylor and the Colts.

SUNDAY, NOV. 28

Tennessee Titans at (-5.5) New England Patriots, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. This was a 3-point line less than a week ago, before Tennessee lost to Houston while losing A.J. Brown to injury. The Titans lost to the Jets when Brown missed Week 4, and the idea of facing a rested Patriots defense without Brown or Derrick Henry is bad news for Tennessee.
Ricky: Titans. Tennessee’s offense, predictably, might be broken without Henry — only Detroit, Seattle and Houston have gained fewer yards per play over the last three weeks — but this is a decent chunk of points to be laying against a Mike Vrabel-coached team that has found a way against Bill Belichick before.

New York Jets at (-2.5) Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. Tempting to grab the points, but Houston’s pass defense has been sneaky-good, ranking 18th in DVOA this season. Tyrod Taylor didn’t completely change the Texans’ offense (which was aided by five Titans turnovers), but he does bring a baseline of competency that should help Houston here.
Ricky: Jets. The Titans have forced 10 turnovers over the past two weeks, a trend that probably isn’t sustainable, even against a Zach Wilson-led Jets offense.

(-3.5) Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Mike: Giants. Everyone is on the Eagles, while the Giants feel like a disaster, so I’m really just trying to zig while everyone else zags. I do believe, though, letting Freddie Kitchens — who was a good coordinator in Cleveland — call the offense will improve the G-Men.
Ricky: Eagles. Wouldn’t normally advise laying more than a field goal with the road team in a divisional game, especially with Philadelphia hitting some bumps earlier this season. But is the Giants’ offense really going to be better with Freddie Kitchens calling the plays?

(-2.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. Look, we got the Bills-Colts game quite wrong last week. What I didn’t consider was the quality of competition, as halfway-decent offenses, like Indy, gave Buffalo fits. The Bucs, on the other hand, have been stout all year, especially against the run even while facing stiff competition. Oh, also: Tom Brady is going to pick apart an injury-depleted Indy secondary missing a pair of safeties.
Ricky: Bucs. Trusting that Tampa Bay will do what Buffalo couldn’t last week: Slow down Indianapolis’ ground game, at least to the point where Carson Wentz needs to make a few timely throws. The Bucs’ defense ranks first in rushing yards allowed per game (78.4), second in rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.8) and fourth in rush DVOA.

(-1) Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. This is the only time all week I’ll give this game any sort of care or attention.
Ricky: Jaguars. What an ugly, ugly game. Who the heck knows?

(-1.5) Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. I’ve said it before this season, but the Panthers do one thing really well, and that’s rush the passer, ranking second in QB pressure rate this season. That’s bad news for Tua Tagovailoa, who is markedly worse than even the average NFL quarterback when he’s pressured.
Ricky: Dolphins. Miami’s defense is playing better. So is Tua Tagovailoa, who’s another week removed from the finger injury that sidelined him. Carolina’s offensive potential, meanwhile, is capped with Cam Newton under center, despite how cool of a storyline his return might be.

Pittsburgh Steelers at (-4.5) Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Pittsburgh is getting healthier, and the Steelers should feel a little better about their offense which showed signs of life Sunday night in LA. This could be a big groud-and-pound, low-scoring, AFC North kind of game for the Steelers that keeps it within the number.
Ricky: Steelers. Pittsburgh anticipates having T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden back this week, which could result in a splash play defensively that keeps this crucial divisional game within the number. Joe Burrow has been a little loose with the ball at times this season.

(-3) Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. The Chargers might just not be good? Their defense is a complete joke, that much is true, especially against the run where they’re dead last in DVOA by a considerable margin. This should be a huge Javonte Williams game, with him wearing down that defense with 5-, 6-yard runs that take their toll — especially in the thin air of Denver.
Ricky: Broncos. Denver is coming off a bye and getting points at home, while Los Angeles just played a wild game on Sunday night that it almost let slip away. Five of the Chargers’ six wins this season have been the result of fourth-quarter comebacks, which is a dangerous way to live in the Mile High City.

Minnesota Vikings at (-3) San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. Over the last four weeks, Jimmy Garoppolo has a passer rating of 113.2 with six touchdowns and just one interception. He’s protecting the ball, and unsurprisingly, San Fran is winning (3-1 in that stretch). Kyle Shanahan will go to school on what Green Bay was able to do to Minnesota’s defense last week when the Packers put up 31 points on 467 yards of offense.
Ricky: 49ers. San Francisco seems to be regaining its identity as a team that can control the line of scrimmage offensively. And that could be a problem this week for the Vikings, whose defense ranks 31st in rush EPA.

Los Angeles Rams at (-1) Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Rams.
This is a very similar situation the Packers faced last week against Minnesota, though they are home. That said, one of the more under-the-radar injuries in the NFL this year was the Packers losing Elgton Jenkins — a tremendous, versatile offensive lineman — for the season. Already down David Bakhtiari, keeping Aaron Donald away from an already-hobbled Aaron Rodgers is gonna be extremely tough for an almost comically beat-up Packers team.
Ricky: Rams. The Packers, quite literally, are limping toward their bye, whereas the Rams are coming off their bye after back-to-back losses in which they were beset by some sloppy play. This represents a good chance for Sean McVay’s squad to get back on track, with Los Angeles’ offense taking advantage of some of the same shortcomings Minnesota exposed in Week 11.

Cleveland Browns at (-4) Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. Lamar Jackson is back and supposedly feeling good. The Ravens should turn him loose against this Cleveland defense that got exposed two weeks ago by the Patriots and ranks 20th in explosive pass plays allowed, which is one of Baltimore’s specialties.
Ricky: Ravens. Baltimore ranks third in blitz rate and fourth in pressure rate. That feels like a bad recipe for Baker Mayfield, who is all dinged up and ranks 29th (among 32 QBs with at least 70 pressured dropbacks) against pressure this season, per Pro Football Focus’ grades.

MONDAY, NOV. 12

Seattle Seahawks at (-1) Washington Football Team, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Football Team. I’m really just trying to convince myself what I’ve seen from Seattle since Russell Wilson returned is what we’ll see for at least the rest of the season, which is to say the Seahawks just aren’t very good. Surely I’ll be proved wrong, I’m sure.
Ricky: Seahawks. There’s been a big swing in this line, with Seattle now the underdog after being a 3.5-point favorite on the lookahead. That, of course, sticks out. But so, too, does Washington’s soft pass defense (30th in DVOA), which offers Russell Wilson a chance to finally get right.

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