NFL Week 12 picks: What are the best bets for the Thanksgiving games?

Frank Schwab
·6 min read

It’s not the best slate we’ve seen for Thanksgiving.

The four teams to play all have losing records. The Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game was a good matchup with some interesting storylines, but the Ravens’ COVID-19 tests forced it to be pushed back to Sunday. The NFL announced that switch Wednesday. That leaves us with three 3-7 teams and a 4-6 Detroit Lions team playing on the holiday.

Still, we’ll watch. The NFL on Thanksgiving is part of Americana. After the year we’ve all had, that will be nice no matter who is playing.

Let’s first take a look at the Thanksgiving games before the rest of the Week 12 slate, with the lines from BetMGM.

Texans (-3) over Lions

It’s hard to even think about backing the Lions after what we saw Sunday in a shutout loss at the Carolina Panthers. With their injuries on offense, they were inept. Matthew Stafford is banged up. Wideout Kenny Golladay is a huge part of the offense and it seems he’ll miss another game. If running back D’Andre Swift can return that helps, but this is still a Lions team that is fading fast. Perhaps being on Thanksgiving gives them one more inspired performance, but I don’t trust it. I do trust Deshaun Watson.

Washington (+3) over Cowboys

It’s possible that Dallas figured some things out in a win over the Vikings, and Andy Dalton can stabilize the offense. I need to see it again. The Cowboys have many issues that haven’t been resolved. Their defense wasn’t good against the Vikings. Kirk Cousins had a fantastic game and Dalvin Cook rushed for more than 100 yards. Dallas’ offensive line is still an issue, and that won’t be good against a strong Washington front four. WFT has its issues too, but I’m not ready to believe the Cowboys are back on track.

Washington Football Team safety Deshazor Everett (22) stops Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) from making a catch. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Football Team safety Deshazor Everett (22) stops Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) from making a catch. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Here are the rest of the picks for Week 12 in the NFL season:

Ravens (+4.5) over Steelers

The Ravens have their backs against the wall in a few ways. At 6-4, suddenly they’re no playoff lock. A few key players went on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Steelers were upset the game was moved to Sunday. I think all the adversity will make the Ravens a dangerous team. The Ravens are a well-coached, proud team, and they’ll use all the issues of the past few days as motivation. When the Ravens and Steelers played the first time, Baltimore had more than twice as many yards as Pittsburgh. Turnovers were the problem. If Lamar Jackson can be a little safer with the ball the Ravens will be in this game. It wouldn’t shock me to see a straight-up Ravens win.

Raiders (-3) over Falcons

There will be plenty of points scored, we know that. I think the Raiders are a good team. They’ve shown that repeatedly this season. The Falcons looked bad last week in a loss to the Saints, and maybe that’s the sign that the spark they had when Raheem Morris took over as interim coach is fading.

Cardinals (-2.5) over Patriots

There are some lines that make no sense. I’m not sure why the Cardinals are giving less than a field goal against a Patriots team that, aside from a win over the Ravens in the rain, has not played well in months. Maybe the oddsmakers know something we don’t.

Giants (-5.5) over Bengals

It sounds like the Bengals are going with Brandon Allen over Ryan Finley at quarterback. It doesn’t matter. The Bengals are in for a rough few weeks without quarterback Joe Burrow. The Giants have been good against the spread, know that the NFC East is there for the taking and they have an opponent they should beat.

Browns (-6.5) over Jaguars

The Jaguars tried Jake Luton at quarterback with Gardner Minshew II out, and that didn’t work. Mike Glennon will start Sunday. The Browns are a good team and I’m not sure Jacksonville can keep up no matter who is playing quarterback.

Panthers (+4.5) over Vikings

The Panthers have been a competitive team most of the season. Teddy Bridgewater will presumably be back at quarterback, and they can keep it close against a Vikings team that had a truly deflating loss to Dallas last week.

Colts (-3) over Titans

Two weeks ago, the Colts completely outplayed the Titans. I’m not sure what has really changed. The Colts are getting better, and they can take a huge step toward a division title with a win on Sunday.

Chargers (+5.5) over Bills

The Chargers are much better than their record. Everyone knows that by now. They find ways to blow games, but they can still keep this one close.

Dolphins (-7) over Jets

It’s still “whoever is playing the Jets or nothing” season. I can’t back the Jets. The Dolphins will want to get right after a loss at Denver, and I think Tua Tagovailoa bounces back strong.

Broncos (+6) over Saints

Taysom Hill was much better throwing the ball than I assumed he’d be. This isn’t a pick against the Saints, but a recognition that this line seems just a little too high. As long as the Broncos can run the ball like they did last week, they can keep it close.

Rams (-6.5) over 49ers

There’s a fear of the Rams letting down a bit after a big Monday night win at Tampa Bay. However, the 49ers are a rival and the Rams might want to bury them. San Francisco is still far from full strength and it’s hard for them to be competitive without so many important players.

Chiefs (-3.5) over Buccaneers

The Bucs are a weird team. Some weeks they look very good, then others it just disappears. We know what we’re getting with the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes will play great and Kansas City will put up points. Maybe we get the dominant Bucs, but it’s hard to count on it.

Bears (+8.5) over Packers

I don’t love taking the Bears, but I’ll just hope their defense can keep this within a touchdown. It will just be harrowing hoping the offense can score enough to cover the spread.

Seahawks (-5) over Eagles

Good luck taking the Eagles and hoping this is the week they start to play well. We haven’t seen it all season. The Seahawks have their issues, especially on defense, but at least they’re a capable team.

Last week: 7-7
Season to date: 79-78-3

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