It’s Thanksgiving Week and we all know what that means around here: Instead of football picks, I’m going to share all my favorite Thanksgiving recipes with you!
Actually, that’s a lie. I have no recipes. I’ve never cooked a turkey in my life, I’ve never been within five feet of a green bean casserole and I’m not even sure how mashed potatoes are made. I think you just get potatoes and mash them, but I can’t say that with 100% certainty.
My favorite Thanksgiving recipe is any recipe that involves wine, because I can just pour it in a glass and consume it without actually cooking anything. Speaking of drinking wine, I feel like I should donate a bottle to every Jets fans alive to help them get over what happened on Sunday. After a demoralizing loss like that, I’m not sure I can ever pick them to win again.
I don’t want to make Jets fans sadder than they already are, so let’s just get to the picks.
Actually, before we get to the Week 12 picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. Also, as you may or may not know, I’m in charge of the NFL newsletter here at CBSSports.com, which I’m only telling you about because it makes the perfect holiday gift and it also brings people together. For instance, if you can’t be with your family for Thanksgiving, then just sign them up for the newsletter and then you can read it together every day and it will feel like you’re in the same room as them, except not really. To subscribe, all you have to do is click here and enter an email address.
On top of the newsletter, I also do a podcast three days per week with Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson, AKA two guys who have never invited me over for Thanksgiving. Thanks guys. I thought we were friends. Although the lack of a Thanksgiving invite definitely makes things awkward when we’re around each other, I still join them every Monday, Tuesday and Friday on the Pick Six podcast, which is our daily NFL podcast here at CBSSports.com. Brinson and I actually came up with some early best bets for Week 12 and you can listen to those below (Our early best bets for Week 11 went 4-0 and since we’ll obviously get every game right again, you should probably listen).
Alright, let’s get to the Turkey Day edition of the picks.
NFL Week 12 Picks
Buffalo (7-3) at Detroit (4-6)
Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
Featured Game | Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills
I’ve seen the movie “Stepbrothers” enough times to know when two people are becoming best friends and it definitely seems like the Bills and Lions are becoming best friends. I mean, for one, the Lions were kind enough to let the Bills borrow their house over the weekend. The Lions could have just put their place up on AirBNB, but instead, they let the Bills have it for free and it ended up working out well for everyone involved.
And let me just say, I’m glad to see that the Lions set some ground rules. Always set ground rules.
These teams likely won’t be best friends after this game and that’s because I’m expecting things to get kind of crazy. On paper, this feels like a game that the Lions have zero chance to win, but if I’ve learned one thing in my life about picking NFL games, it’s that teams always seem to win when you think they have zero chance to win, especially when they’re coached by a guy who’s most famous quote involves biting kneecaps off. I have no idea what Dan Campbell eats at his house on Thanksgiving Day, but there’s a 50% chance it’s kneecaps.
The big problem in this game for the Lions is that they have one of the worst defenses in the NFL this year and they’ll be playing a Bills offense that has been one of the best. The Lions have given up the most yards per game and the most points per game and that’s definitely not a good combination when the team you’re playing ranks second in both points scored and yards per game.
If this game had been played four weeks ago, I’d probably have picked the Bills by 30, but the Lions are suddenly one of the hottest teams in football. If you combine that with the fact that the Bills have been in a slight offensive rut, that’s the recipe for a game that could go down to the wire. I told you we’d talk about recipes.
The pick: Bills 30-27 over Lions
N.Y. Giants (7-3) at Dallas (7-3)
Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Featured Game | Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
I don’t think the Giants are going to forfeit on Thursday, but honestly, they might want to at least consider that option because I’m not completely sure that they’re going to have enough players to field a team. The Giants were already banged up on the season and then things got even worse in Week 11 with five players being ruled out during their loss to the Lions.
Thanks to those injuries, their injury report is now longer than a CVS receipt.
After reading the names on that tweet, I have to say, it might have just been easier to list the players who are not injured. If I’m the Giants, I’m calling up the NFL and asking them to postpone the game until March. Would that throw the entire NFL season off? Yes, but I feel like waiting four months is the only way the Giants will be able to get healthy enough to win this game.
When these two teams met back in Week 3, the Cowboys won 23-16 and that was with Cooper Rush. In that game, the Cowboys sacked Daniel Jones five times and picked him off once and I think we’re going to see more of the same on Thursday. The Cowboys have won 10 of the past 11 games in this series and I don’t see that domination ending this week.
This is the first time these two teams have played on Thanksgiving since 1992. Thirty years ago, the Cowboys destroyed the Giants 30-3 and then went on to win the Super Bowl two months later. I’m not saying that’s going to happen this year, but I’m not not saying that.
The pick: Cowboys 31-17 over Giants
New England (6-4) at Minnesota (8-2)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Featured Game | Minnesota Vikings vs. New England Patriots
The oddsmakers in Vegas must’ve started taking some Thanksgiving tequila shots before they made this point spread because that’s the only way to explain why the Vikings have opened as a THREE-POINT favorite in this game. I’m not sure if they’ve looked at the schedule for Thanksgiving, but this game is being played in prime time and if there’s one quarterback in the NFL who you can’t trust in prime time, it’s definitely Kirk Cousins. I would trust my two-year-old daughter to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner using a broken Easy-Bake oven before I’d trust Cousins to win a prime-time game.
Cousins’ nickname should be the “early window wonder” because when he plays in the early 1 p.m. window, he never loses. However, if you force him to play in a game that kicks off past his bedtime — I’m assuming he goes to bed at 8 p.m. every night — it almost always ends in a disaster for his team. In his past eight prime-time games, Cousins has gone 3-5, but two of those wins have come against the Bears, so I’m not even sure they count.
I know what you’re thinking, football is a team game so I shouldn’t blame Cousins for those losses, but I’m going to because he’s thrown 10 interceptions in those eight games. In his only prime-time appearance this season, he threw three interceptions in a 24-7 loss to the Eagles back in Week 2.
Also, he’ll be going up against the Patriots and the only thing uglier than his prime-time record is his record against Bill Belichick. Cousins is 0-2 all-time against the Patriots, he’s thrown a total of three interceptions in those games and his team has never scored more than 10 points.
Oh, and did I mention that fact that the Vikings won’t have their starting left tackle on Thursday night, because they won’t have their starting left tackle on Thursday night.
To rehash, the Vikings are missing a key offensive lineman, Cousins is horrible in prime time and Bill Belichick isn’t going to need to eat any turkey for Thanksgiving because I have a feeling his defense is going to eat Cousins alive.
If you’re wondering how well the Patriots defense has been playing lately, just consider this: They haven’t surrendered a touchdown this ENTIRE MONTH. It’s officially no touchdown November for New England’s defense and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the NFL, it’s that it’s hard to beat a team that’s not giving up touchdowns.
The last time the Patriots played on Thanksgiving came in 2012 when the football Gods gave us the butt-fumble, and with Kirk Cousins playing in prime time against a tough defense, I won’t be surprised if we see something equally absurd on Thursday night. By the way, happy 10-year anniversary to the butt-fumble.
The pick: Patriots 23-16 over Vikings
Cincinnati (6-4) at Tennessee (7-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
Featured Game | Tennessee Titans vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Of all the games being played in Week 12, this is definitely the one I’m most excited about. As a matter of fact, when the NFL schedule came out in May, this was the first game I circled on my calendar, but only because my family made me. First, they bought me a calendar and then they circled the game. I’m guessing they did this because my entire family is made up of Bengals fans and since I live in Nashville, this is the one week per year where they get to use me for a free place to stay.
This game is exciting because we have two of the hottest teams in the NFL playing each other. Both teams started 0-2 and since then, they’ve both been on fire with the Titans going 7-1 and the Bengals going 6-2 over the past eight weeks.
This game is also exciting because it’s a playoff rematch between teams that couldn’t be more different. The Bengals are more than happy to turn each game they play into a shootout, because they know most teams can’t keep up, but the Titans want to turn each game to be a back-alley brawl where they hit you over the head with a steel chair before punching you in the face.
The Titans only know one style of football: They will shut you down with their defense, give the ball to Derrick Henry on offense and then pray that Ryan Tannehill doesn’t mess anything up, which is what he did for Tennessee when these two teams met in the playoffs last season (He threw three interceptions).
As for the Bengals, if Joe Burrow gets protection, he’s going to dice you up. The only problem is that there’s no way to know if he’s going to get any protection against a Titans defense that SACKED HIM NINE TIMES in last year’s playoff game. Now, last year doesn’t necessarily matter, but it kind of does here, because the Titans defense is on pace to have MORE sacks in 2022 than they did in 2021. The Titans defensive front against the Bengals offensive line is the unstoppable force against the immovable object, except the opposite. It’s more like the unstoppable force against a cat.
The biggest thing working in the Bengals’ favor is that their offense has become more unpredictable without Ja’Marr Chase. Although they fell flat on their face in their first game without Chase, the offense has adapted to not having him. In their past nine quarters without Chase, the Bengals have scored 92 points, which is an average of 10.2 points per quarter, which equates out to 40.9 points over an entire game. With Chase out, defenses haven’t been able to figure out who’s going to get the ball and Burrow has done a good job of keeping his opponents guessing.
If Chase doesn’t play, the Bengals should be fine. On the other hand, if he is on the field then Burrow should thrive. The problem for the Titans is that if they have one weakness, it’s stopping the pass. They’re surrendering 245.2 yards per game through the air, which is the eighth-most in the NFL and that’s not a weakness you want to have when you’re playing the Bengals.
This is a revenge game for the Titans, but it’s also a game the Bengals can’t afford to lose. The prediction here is that this game ends just like last year’s playoff game: With an Evan McPherson field goal on the final play.
The pick: Bengals 23-20 over Titans
Green Bay (4-7) at Philadelphia (9-1)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Featured Game | Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers
The Packers‘ 2022 season hasn’t completely imploded yet, but if they lose to the Eagles on Sunday, we will have hit full implosion because there’s no way they’re making the playoffs if they drop to 4-8. Aaron Rodgers knows this. Matt LaFleur knows this. Everyone in Green Bay knows this. This game is the point of no return for the Packers’ season.
If the Packers lose here, a dark cloud will hang over the organization for the rest of the year with everyone in Green Bay wondering whether Aaron Rodgers will actually return in 2023. If the Packers lose here, you could make the case that it might be time to start Jordan Love. You know what, the Packers should just go ahead and tell Rodgers that because the last time he felt threatened by Love’s presence, he responded by winning two straight MVP awards. If the Packers do fall to 4-8 though, starting Love at some point down the stretch would make some sense, just because it would allow the Packers to see what they have in him before they have to make a decision on his fifth-year option, which they have to do this offseason.
The only positive thing for the Packers going into this game is that the Eagles suddenly don’t look so invincible. After starting 8-0, they’ve gone 1-1 in their past two games and they very easily could have gone 0-2. One reason the Eagles have been struggling is because the offense is in a rut. Over the past two weeks, Philly is totaling just 289 yards per game, which is a far cry from the 391 yards per game they averaged through the first eight weeks.
The Eagles faced the Colts and Commanders over the past two weeks, and like those two teams, the Packers rank in the top-10 in fewest points allowed. I think what I’m trying to say here is that the Packers defense might actually be able to slow down the Eagles.
Also, the Packers offense might actually find some success against the Eagles. One problem Philly’s defense has had this year is stopping the run, which means if the Packers are smart, they’ll let A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones both carry the ball 40 times each, and to be honest, that might not be a bad idea considering the Packers are 3-1 this season when they rush for 120 yards or more as a team (They’re 1-6 when they don’t).
There are a lot of reasons to like the Eagles in this spot, but Rodgers is 13-2 in his past 15 prime-time games and with the Packers season on the line — and possibly his career — I’m going to roll with Green Bay. If the Packers lose here, it could be the unofficial end of an era in Green Bay and I don’t think Rodgers is ready to think about that just yet.
The pick: Packers 27-24 over Eagles
NFL Week 12 picks: All the rest
Buccaneers 24-17 over Browns
Dolphins 34-20 over Texans
Jets 20-13 over Bears
Commanders 27-23 over Falcons
Broncos 19-16 over Panthers
Ravens 30-20 over Jaguars
Chargers 34-24 over Cardinals
Seahawks 30-27 over Raiders
Chiefs 30-16 over Rams
49ers 27-20 over Saints
Colts 20-16 over Steelers
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that Zach Wilson would have a total meltdown and that the Jets would lose to the Patriots and guess what happened? Zach Wilson had a total meltdown and the Jets lost to the Patriots. The only thing uglier than Wilson’s performance during the game was his performance at the podium during his postgame press conference.
Literally any answer would have been better than giving that answer. Wilson’s answer was so bad that his defensive teammates are apparently mad at him and since you can’t start a QB who has lost the locker room, his .
Worst pick: For the second week in a row, I picked the Broncos to win and for the second week in a row, that decision totally backfired in my face. Every week that I miss a Broncos pick, I swear to myself that I’m never going to pick them to win another game, but then I immediately pick them to win another game. The most embarrassing part about picking them to beat the Raiders last week is that Antonio Brown got his pick right.
I’m not sure what rock bottom is when it comes to NFL picks, but when a guy who once accidentally froze his feet in a cryotherapy chamber is picking games better than you, that’s when it’s to start re-evaluating every decision you’ve ever made in life.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I’m actually good at picking, here’s a quick look at my best and worst teams when it comes to picks this year.
Teams I’m 9-1 picking this year (Straight up): Chiefs.
Longest winning streak: Chiefs (Seven straight games picked correctly)
Team I’ve been the worst at picking this year (Straight up): Raiders (3-7).
Longest losing streak: Raiders (Four straight games picked incorrectly)
Every other team is somewhere in the middle.
Straight up in Week 10: 10-4
SU overall: 97-66-1
Against the spread in Week 10: 8-4-2
ATS overall: 76-80-8