2017 NFL Picks Week 12: A Turkey Day Trifecta and Picking Against Tom Savage
Another week in the books, another small step towards even on the season. We'd be in even better shape if DeShone Kizer was capable of holding on to the football or throwing the ball away, but I guess that's what I get for counting on the Browns, even against Blake Bortles.
Kizer's two fumbles in the last two minutes of the game turned what looked like an easy cover into a loss, but this week is already off to a better start. All three favorites (Washington, Los Angeles, and Minnesota) covered on Thanksgiving Day, and we had all three picked. With a little luck and a little consistency from the Browns, we'll be over .500 after this week. To keep things moving, I'll just highlight the three biggest reasons for the other eight Week 12 picks.
Minnesota Vikings -3 at Detroit Lions
The Vikings are a considerably better team on both offense and defense, Case Keenum continues to defy the odds by refusing to turn into a pumpkin, and the Lions can't run the ball (29th in DVOA) or stop the run (22nd in DVOA).
Los Angeles Chargers -1 at Dallas Cowboys
The Chargers and Cowboys came into this game 16th and 15th in DVOA, respectively, but headed in opposite directions. With Tyron Smith and Sean Lee out the past two games, the Cowboys have been slipping, while the Chargers benefited from Buffalo's bizarre decision to start Nathan Peterman. When a team like Dallas can't stop the run (30th in DVOA), games slip away quickly.
Washington Redskins -7.5 vs. New York Giants
The Giants' victory over the Chiefs last week was more about Kansas City's swoon than any return to form for New York. Washington continues to play competent football with the occasional disastrous play, but the Giants aren't able to take advantage of those mistakes. Washington came in ranked 13th in total DVOA to New York's 28th, and the game played out accordingly.
Baltimore Ravens -7 vs. Houston Texans
Tom Savage is on the road against the NFL's #1 defense by DVOA. The Texans' 16th-ranked defense should cause problems for Baltimore's woeful 29th-ranked offense, but the Ravens should be able to add some points through defense or their top-ranked special teams unit. I'd be concerned about this line if the game was in Houston, but not in Baltimore.
Seattle Seahawks -6.5 at San Francisco 49ers
The Seahawks are in bad shape, but even with their laundry list of injuries they still boast more talent than San Francisco. Even if the 49ers turn to Jimmy G (who I'm not as obsessed with as many people in the league seem to be), Seattle should pull out a victory on the road. San Francisco's 24th-ranked pass rush won't cause many problems for the Seahawks, and this is the time of year when Russell Wilson starts heating up.
Atlanta Falcons -10 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I think Atlanta still has a ways to go before they've put things back together, but the Buccaneers are a trainwreck. Tampa Bay is worse on offense (19th to Atlanta's 7th), defense (27th to Atlanta's 22nd) and special teams (25th to Atlanta's 20th) and the game is being played in Atlanta. If you give Matt Ryan all day to throw the ball, which the Bucs' 30th-ranked pass rush will, he'll put up enough points to cover here.
Philadelphia Eagles -14 vs. Chicago Bears
The NFL's best team by DVOA at home against the team ranked 22nd. Mitchell Trubisky will continue to struggle, Carson Wentz will make enough plays to frustrate Chicago's 2nd-ranked pass rush, and the Eagles will continue streaking towards the postseason. I'd expect this one to get ugly quickly.
Cincinnati Bengals -8 vs. Cleveland Browns
The Bengals (20th in total DVOA) aren’t exactly a juggernaut, but you don’t have to be in order to beat the Browns at home. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten Cleveland by fewer than 10 points in over three years, and they play each other twice every year. Every streak comes to an end, but I’m not afraid of DeShone Kizer and this Browns squad being the ones to do it.
Carolina Panthers -4.5 at New York Jets
Did I miss something suggesting this Jets team was good? The Panthers, with a healthy Luke Kuechly, are a legitimate playoff contender and they’re as well-rested as any team with their late bye week. Unless the offense coughs up two TDs like they did in Chicago, Carolina should cover a touchdown easily.
Pittsburgh Steelers -14 vs. Green Bay Packers
I can’t ever seem to pick the Steelers correctly, but they’re playing like the Ravens with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Brett Hundley hasn’t gotten any better since last week, and the Pittsburgh offense plays far better at home than they do on the road. Bask in the glow of the Packers’ Rodgersless failures, fellow NFC North fans; this vacation will be over soon.
New Orleans Saints +2.5 at Los Angeles Rams
This pick is more about the Saints than it is the Rams. Los Angeles hung tight with Minnesota for much of their game last week, so I’m still pretty confident they’re a good team. Unfortunately, they’re playing the most well-rounded Saints team since the 2009 Super Bowl squad. Drew Brees reminded everyone of what he can do in a pinch against Washington last week, and I love picking him and this New Orleans team as underdogs.
That's all for this week! Kick back, grab a drink, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.