NFL Picks Week 12: Thanksgiving Day Winners to Start Your Weekend off Right

Josh Greller@ToyotaFanZoneContributor IIINovember 23, 2011

NFL Picks Week 12: Thanksgiving Day Winners to Start Your Weekend off Right

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    For years, I have asked myself if maintaining tradition with a Detroit Lions game every Thanksgiving Day was a necessary decision by the NFL.

    At our house, the three hours during the annual Lions game is usually family bonding time with the TV off.

    The Lions have won a single Thanksgiving game since 2001, which came in 2003 against the Green Bay Packers.

    But this a new season for Detroit, who are finally playing a meaningful late-season game.

    Keep reading to see how they'll fare against the unbeaten Packers of 2011. The other two games of the day feature Miami at Dallas and San Francisco at Baltimore.

Green Bay Packers (10-0) at Detroit Lions (7-3)

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    The first game of the day comes from Detroit, and I guess our dinner table will be intermittently barren this year.

    I live in a football family which will gladly forgo the building of precious memories in favor of a good gridiron battle.

    And this should be a good start to the Thanksgiving festivities.

    The key matchup of the game will pit Green Bay's passing game against Detroit's defense. The Packers are third in the NFL in passing (304.9), while the Lions are fifth in pass defense (192.8).

    Putting up nearly 305 passing yards per game, Rodgers has made it look easy. The Packers score points like it's just a hobby.

    The St. Louis Rams own the honorable distinction of having allowed the fewest points to Green Bay this season during a 24-3 boredom clinic.

    But it will all come crashing down for the Packers Thursday.

    While they have scored at will, they've also given up considerable point totals to several teams. All it takes is one good defense to stop them and take the lead.

    The Packers are near the bottom in pass defense and are in the bottom six in rush defense.

    If the Lions can stave off Green Bay's aerial threat, they can win this game and expose holes in the cheese.

    The Packers have a legitimate shot at 16-0 with a win, but I think the Lions will bring them down.

    Prediction: Detroit Lions win, 37-30

Miami Dolphins (3-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

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    In all fairness, this is not the same Dolphins team that started 0-7.

    They've railed off three straight wins and only allowed 20 points total across those games.

    Two of those teams, the Chiefs and Bills, had winning records when Miami defeated them.

    Also noteworthy is the fact five of their losses came by a combined 27 points, a point differential of less than a touchdown.

    Matt Moore has six touchdowns and one interception in their three wins, and Reggie Bush has added four rushing touchdowns in the same span.

    The team should play better against the Cowboys than their 3-7 record would have us suggest.

    Still, the Cowboys are "America's Team," and Thanksgiving is as American as it gets.

    They, too, have won three straight after a sporadic 3-4 start to 2011. They are quite efficient on offense, with a top 10 team in both rushing and passing yardage.

    During the three-game win streak, Tony Romo has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He has elite capabilities, and enough teams have been burned by his arm to know that.

    Though Miami will put on a good show, the Cowboys should have enough on defense to contain Moore, Bush and Brandon Marshall.

    Likewise, the Dolphins' sometimes-porous defense won't be able to handle Romo's current momentum.

    Prediction: Dallas Cowboys win, 27-17

San Francisco 49ers (9-1) at Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

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    Though this game may look like a slosh through the trenches of American manliness, devoid of sensational tactics or flamboyance, it will be a beautiful thing.

    Harbaugh Bowl marks the first time two brothers have squared off as head coaches in NFL history. It's Jim for the 49ers against John for the Ravens.

    That storyline alone should be enticing enough, but the fact these teams are in the playoff hunt only makes it that much more intriguing.

    While the 49ers have a comfortable lead in the NFC West, don't expect them to roll over for Baltimore. Their unblemished 4-0 road record is up against Baltimore's equally impressive 5-0 home record.

    Something has to give. Sorry, Ravens. That something is you.

    I realize Baltimore's home campaign is impressive, but their losses tell me they can lose focus. Midseason losses at Jacksonville and Seattle do not reek of greatness.

    I will concede the fact their defense looks good, but Alex Smith just keeps managing games and getting wins. If Ray Lewis can't play for Baltimore, the 49ers will be sure to utilize the middle of the field.

    On the flip side, the 49ers have the best scoring defense in the NFL. The Ravens can forget about the rush game and will have to do all their damage through the air if they are to win.

    Edgar Allan Poe was a great American writer. I love the Ravens' allusions to him.

    But Poe would take heed of the darkness currently on the horizon and the westerly chill creeping in for the night. It's the San Francisco fog, and the 49ers want to eat Rice for dinner.

    Prediction: San Francisco 49ers win, 24-10