NFL Week 12 Picks: Game by Game Predictions & More
Gobble, gobble, NFL fans.
Week 12 means Thanksgiving, football and family, and we've got a full slate of games to cover.
Robert Griffin III will get a chance to replicate his masterful performance of a week ago in front of a national audience against the Dallas Cowboys—a team on the cusp of playoff contention after sinking into the depths of oblivion for a while earlier in the year.
The Houston Texans will try and keep their winning streak going against the up-and-down Detroit Lions at Ford Field in the early game on turkey day, and the New York Jets will host the New England Patriots in the final game on Thursday.
Those are just three of the 16 games on Week 12's schedule. Follow along as I hand out my predictions for every single one of them.
Texans at Lions
After watching Chad Henne shred the Houston Texans secondary to the tune of 354 yards and four touchdowns last week, it would be easy to assume that Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions would be able to do the same.
Don't count on it.
Matthew Stafford has put up underwhelming touchdown totals all year long, and he'll be under fire all game against J.J. Watt and the bruise crew the Texans feature on defense.
Arian Foster will bounce back from a sub-par performance against the Jaguars and help control the clock for the Texans, and fantasy owners will not be disappointed by his final tally.
Prediction: Texans win 31-24
Redskins at Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have won two straight games, but neither performance inspires much confidence in the team's ability to continue on the winning path.
The Cleveland Browns almost beat them in Dallas, for crying out loud.
Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins looked fresher than an English meadow after a spring rain last week against the Philadelphia Eagles after the team's bye week, and I'm expecting this team to continue playing well on Thursday.
Alfred Morris and RG3 will be able to run wild, and you can count on a few big plays downfield in the passing game.
Prediction: Redskins win 27-23
Patriots at Jets
The New England Patriots have put up 141 points in their last three games—an average of 47 points per game.
There's no way the New York Jets can keep up with that kind of scoring output, even at home.
Yes, the Jets took the Pats to the brink in Week 7, losing by a field goal in overtime, and yes, the Patriots won't have Rob Gronkowski, but there are simply too many weapons at Tom Brady's disposal for the Jets to account for.
Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen will have no trouble running through the Jets defense, as running backs have been doing all year long, and the Patriots will roll.
Prediction: Patriots win 38-24
Vikings at Bears
And while the Vikings certainly are not as good on defense as the San Francisco 49ers, they feature a certain someone who is just as dominant a pass-rusher as Aldon Smith. Jared Allen will be licking his chops regardless of whether it's Cutler or Jason Campbell behind center for the Bears.
Adrian Peterson will be as fresh as ever after the bye week, and he's liable to gash the Bears defense for more yardage than the 49ers put on them last Monday night.
If Christian Ponder can get Kyle Rudolph involved in the passing game, we may see another blowout with the Bears on the losing end.
Prediction: Vikings win 24-14
Raiders at Bengals
This game is a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions.
The Oakland Raiders have given up an average of 45 points per game in their last three contests, predictably losing all three.
The Cincinnati Bengals have won their last two games by a score of 59-19.
The Bengals defense will continue playing well and will force Carson Palmer into a couple of turnovers, and Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the rest of the Bengals offense will do the rest.
Prediction: Bengals win 37-20
Steelers at Browns
The Pittsburgh Steelers are hopelessly inept on offense without Ben Roethlisberger, who is out with his rib injury for the foreseeable future.
Byron Leftwich won't be playing in this game, either, after fracturing a couple of ribs against the Baltimore Ravens. That leaves 37-year-old journeyman Charlie Batch as the man operating the team's offense—a fact that should have the Browns defensive linemen salivating.
Trent Richardson is on a serious roll right now, having totaled 133, 136 and 144 yards the past three games through the air and on the ground, and he's the catalyst for the Browns on offense.
And given the way Brandon Weeden was dealing against the Dallas Cowboys last week, it won't surprise me to see him have another good game this week.
Prediction: Browns win 23-17
Bills at Colts
After getting humiliated by the New England Patriots in Week 11, the Indianapolis Colts will take their revenge on the Buffalo Bills this week.
The Bills are 2-5 in their last seven games, and their only road victories came against the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.
Andrew Luck turned the ball over four times against the Pats, but he'll settle down once he's back in the comfortable confines of his home field, where he's 4-1 on the season.
Prediction: Colts win 27-21
Broncos at Chiefs
Forget about Peyton Manning for a second.
But Manning will play, and the way he's been throwing the ball lately, the Broncos will win with ease.
Prediction: Broncos win 31-13
Seahawks at Dolphins
Food for thought: The Seattle Seahawks now have an offense that is just as dangerous as their brutally tough defense.
Russell Wilson has emerged as a Rookie of the Year candidate, as he's thrown for 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions the past five games—a deadly complement to Marshawn Lynch and the team's bruising rushing attack.
On the other side, Ryan Tannehill has gone into a full-blown slump, throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions in his past four games.
Combined with the fact that the Dolphins have suddenly forgotten how to run the ball on offense, this matchup doesn't look good for the home team.
Prediction: Seahawks win 24-13
Falcons at Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have risen from the ashes of mediocrity to become one of the hottest teams in the NFL of late, winning their last four games and five of their last six.
Josh Freeman has blossomed into one of the premier young quarterbacks this league has to offer, and he's been on an absolute tear during this stretch, throwing 16 touchdowns and three interceptions during the past six games.
Even more threatening to the Atlanta Falcons this week is rookie running back Doug Martin, who has rushed for 677 yards and caught 17 passes for 211 yards, totaling seven touchdowns the past five games.
And given the fact that Matt Ryan has struggled badly the past five games, throwing seven touchdowns and nine interceptions, it may not matter that the Buccaneers feature the worst secondary in the NFL in terms of yards allowed.
Prediction: Buccaneers win 31-28
Titans at Jaguars
After watching Chad Henne shred one of the NFL's best defenses last weekend, it's not hard to envision him destroying one of the league's worst in Week 12, which describes the defense of the Tennessee Titans.
Furthermore, given the way the Jacksonville Jaguars kept Arian Foster under wraps in Week 11, Chris Johnson is in for another sub-par performance on the road.
Prediction: Jaguars win 28-17
Ravens at Chargers
Let's just hope Philip Rivers can walk away from this game.
Terrell Suggs and the Baltimore Ravens pass-rushers will annihilate the San Diego Chargers' abysmal offensive line, and Rivers will turn the ball over at least twice.
On the other side, the Chargers don't have enough speed on the corners to keep up with Torrey Smith. That means Ray Rice will be able to exploit them on the ground once Joe Flacco stretches the field with the passing game.
Prediction: Ravens win 27-23
Rams at Cardinals
Ryan Lindley, meet your worst nightmare.
Chris Long and Robert Quinn are coming for you, young man, and there's nothing you can do to stop the onslaught.
The Arizona Cardinals gave up nine sacks to this same defense back in Week 5, and things haven't gotten any better up front on the offensive line.
Things won't be any easier for Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams, though, as Danny Amendola is once again dealing with an injury—this time a sore foot.
It'll be up to Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson to make headway on offense for the Rams.
Prediction: Rams win 13-12
49ers at Saints
Whether it's Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith behind center for the San Francisco 49ers, the key to the game will be making sure Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter get enough touches to control the pace of the game.
The New Orleans Saints feature the worst defense in the NFL, giving up an astounding 463 yards per game. The 49ers would be wise to pound the rock and do their utmost to keep Drew Brees and his offense off the field.
When Brees is on the field, the 49ers will need to play disciplined across the board, though this team certainly has the personnel and rapport to do so.
Prediction: 49ers win 27-23
Packers at Giants
There's no doubt in my mind that the New York Giants were simply running out of steam during the last couple of weeks leading up to their bye.
Eli Manning's performance took a sharp nose dive, as did the entire team.
Now, with an entire extra week to rest up and prepare for the Green Bay Packers, the Giants are ready to unleash their second-half surge to the playoffs with maximum force.
And given the way the Packers have failed to protect Aaron Rodgers of late, as well as the team's inability to generate a consistent running game, I'm expecting Jason Pierre-Paul and his mates on the front line to get pressure on Rodgers all game long.
Prediction: Giants win 31-27
Panthers at Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are like chicken soup for the soul of struggling NFL teams, and the Carolina Panthers will finally win their third game of the season on Monday Night Football.
Whether it's Michael Vick, Nick Foles or Johnny Unitas behind center, the Eagles can't protect the passer. And now that LeSean McCoy is likely out due to a concussion, things are even worse for this team on offense.
The Panthers are playing tough football these days but haven't found ways to win in the final phases of games. That's all going to change, though, on MNF, as this game won't ever be close.
Prediction: Panthers win 27-14