NFL Week 12 Predictions

It’s Week 12, which means we’ll be treated to three games on Thanksgiving! Let’s make prediction for those games, as well as all the other matchups this week.

Bears (7-3) at Lions (4-6)

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In the first Thanksgiving game, the Lions will host the Bears in a NFC North matchup. Chicago destroyed Detroit two weeks ago at Soldier Field, winning 34-22 in a game they led by 26 at one point. There’s a twist to this affair though. The Bears will likely be without their starting quarterback; Mitchell Trubisky is dealing with a shoulder injury and is listed as doubtful for this game. That means journeyman Chase Daniel will likely start in his place. The 32-year old signal caller has started just two games in his career, with the last one coming in Week 17 of 2014. Even though he hasn’t played much throughout his career, he’s still a quality backup, which is why the Bears gave him a multi year deal to be their backup quarterback. Still, they have enough talent around Daniel to pick up a road win. They have a top ten rushing attack that can take the pressure off of Daniel, which is crucial considering the Lions have just the 24th ranked rush defense. The Bears also have the best defense in the league, which leads the league in takeaways and is top five in sacks. The Lions offense has been vulnerable to sacks and giveaways this season, and will struggle mightily to move the ball without running back Kerryon Johnson and receiver Marvin Jones. Even without Trubisky, the Bears will dominate in this game. Prediction: Bears 27 Lions 17

Redskins (6-4) at Cowboys (5-5)

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Four years ago, Texas football legend Colt McCoy led the Redskins to an improbable win in Dallas. This year, the Redskins backup quarterback will attempt to do the same thing; Alex Smith will be out for the rest of the year with a broken tibia and fibula. This time, McCoy will come up just short. While the Redskins are falling, the Cowboys are surging and have won two straight. With the addition of Amari Cooper to go along with a revamped focus of the running game, Dallas’ offense has been much more productive these last two weeks. That’s a game changer for them; their defense ranks top ten in yards allowed. It’s going to be hard for a backup in McCoy to move the ball against this defense, so Dallas is in a great position to do what they do best- win a close, low scoring affair. That’s what they’ll do once again on Thanksgiving and they’ll take control of the NFC East as a result. Prediction: Redskins 17 Cowboys 20

Falcons (4-6) at Saints (9-1)

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To wrap Thanksgiving, the Falcons and Saints will meet up in New Orleans in a NFC South rivalry matchup. The Saints got the upper hand in Week 3 with an overtime victory, but that won’t happen again. New Orleans’ defense has taken advantage of two free-falling offenses recently, but they are still amongst the league’s worst, especially against the pass. That’ll be an issue against Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense, which ranks 3rd in passing yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons are getting healthier; there is a good chance linebacker Deion Jones will play in this game. With Jones back into the fold, Atlanta’s defense is better than New Orleans’, which is the big difference in this game. The Falcons will pick up a big divisional road victory, and spoil the Saints’ Thanksgiving as a result. Prediction: Falcons 34 Saints 33

Raiders (2-8) at Ravens (5-5)

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For the second straight week, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson will start for the Ravens. He was alright in his first game, passing for 150 yards while adding 127 rushing yards. Jackson’s presence as a dual threat also opened up the running game for rookie running back Gus Edwards, who had 115 rushing yards and a touchdown. That revamped rushing attack should continue to flourish against the Raiders, who rank just 31st in defending the run. Jackson and the offense should also get support from Baltimore’s terrific defense that ranks 1st in yards allowed per game. They should have no trouble keeping Oakland’s mediocre offense in check, especially considering Baltimore should win the time of possession with their running game rolling on all cylinders. At home and with Jackson getting more comfortable with each start, the Ravens should have no problem putting away the 2-8 Raiders in a game that has the makings of a blowout. Prediction: Raiders 14 Ravens 27

Jaguars (3-7) at Bills (3-7)

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In a game that is ironically a rematch of a matchup from the wildcard round of last year’s playoffs, the Jags and Bills will face in a matchup between two teams that don’t have a chance of making the playoffs this year. Both teams are very similar; they have great defenses that are being wasted by inept offenses. That means that this game is destined to be a close, low scoring affair that will come to which offense can be less awful. Since we have to pick one of these offenses, Jacksonville has more playmakers and has the better run game with Leonard Fournette healthy. Their conservative game plan usually doesn’t work, but in a defensive affair that will be determined by turnovers,  it may finally work to their advantage. It will be ugly, and I wouldn’t advise watching this game, but Jacksonville will finally end their six game losing streak this week with a close win. Prediction: Jaguars 17 Bills 16

Seahawks (5-5) at Panthers (6-4)

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In one of the most important matchups this week, the Seahawks and Panthers will face off in a game that each team desperately needs to win in order to keep afloat in the NFC playoff picture. Both of these teams have dynamic rushing attacks with run-first quarterbacks, but there is one big difference that could be the X-factor in this game- the Panthers can stop the run, while Seattle can’t. Seattle has been exposed by several dynamic running backs, including Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot, and will have trouble stopping Christian McCaffrey this week. Furthermore, this game is in Carolina, so if the Panthers get off to a fast start due to them being desperate to get back on track after losing back to back road games, it will be tough for the Seahawks to fight back. The Seahawks are notorious for playing every team competitive, so this game will be close, but the Panthers will definitely come out with a huge victory. Prediction: Seahawks 20 Panthers 24

Browns (3-6-1) at Bengals (5-5)

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What happened to the Bengals? Once sitting at 4-1, Cincinnati is now at 5-5 and has shown no signs of life recently. They’ll try to save their season against the Browns, who may be the better team on paper. Cleveland has looked a lot better since firing head coach Hue Jackson and has the 5th ranked rushing attack in football. The Bengals, meanwhile, have a historically bad defense that ranks last defending the run. Despite all of this, the Bengals will stay be victorious in this game. Cincinnati may be getting star receiver AJ Green back, which will boost their offense and help them expose a Browns defense that is mediocre at best. They’ve also beaten Cleveland in seven straight games, and Andy Dalton is 11-3 lifetime versus the Browns. Cleveland has lost 25 straight road games, and until they get that monkey off their back, it’s hard to see them winning away from home, especially with a rookie quarterback in Baker Mayfield and a desperate Bengals team playing for their season in this game. The Browns will soon take over as the best team in Ohio, but not in this game. Prediction: Browns 26 Bengals 28

Patriots (7-3) at Jets (3-7)

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The Jets just lost by 31 points at home to the Bills, of all teams, and seem to be quitting on head coach Todd Bowles. What do they get next after a bye, the angry Patriots, who just suffered a rough loss of their own to the Titans and are coming off a bye as well. Oh boy. To make matters even worse, Josh McCown, who had a quarterback rating of 35.8 in that loss to the Bills, will get the start once again in the spot of the injured Sam Darnold. That’s all that really has to be said here, but let’s keep going. New England is a mistake-free team with a defense that has the ability to force turnovers. New York, on the other hand, is tied for second for the most giveaways and has a negative seven turnover differential. Add in the fact that Bowles stands no chance out-coaching the wizard that is Bill Belichick, and the Jets may not even bother showing up this Sunday. The result either way will be the same- a Patriots double digit victory. Prediction: Patriots 27 Jets 17

Giants (3-7) at Eagles (4-6)

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Normally, a matchup between a 3-7 team and a 4-6 team would signify a game with no playoff implications. However, due to the weak NFC East, the Giants and Eagles are still in striking distance of first place in the divisions. So who will come away with a big divisional victory? Despite their recent shortcomings, the Eagles are still the better team and have the advantage in this game. Philadelphia’s offense has been sputtering recently, but they still possess a dynamic passing attack led by Carson Wentz. Against a defense that ranks just 25th overall and 22nd against the pass, Wentz and the Eagles offense will get back on track. Philadelphia also possesses a strong front seven that is capable of getting to the quarterback. Luckily for them, they’re also in a great position to succeed this weekend, going up against arguably the worst offensive line in football. This is a great matchup for the Eagles; their strengths will exploit New York’s weaknesses. They’ll come away with a win in this game, and will be just one game out of the division as a result. Prediction: Giants 21 Eagles 23

49ers (2-8) at Buccaneers (3-7)

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In the game of the week that no one will watch, the 49ers and Bucs will face off in a game that has more draft implications than anything else. Still, this game does offer some intrigue. Can Nick Mullens continue to play well for the 49ers? Can Jameis Winston put together a strong performance to gain back trust of the Bucs front office? There is so much uncertainty in this game due to the two quarterbacks, that it makes this game extremely difficult to predict. Ironically, the undrafted Mullins is actually easier to trust that the former first overall pick in Winston. That’s because of the coaching; Kyle Shanahan has a much better chance of scheming his team to a victory that Dirk Koetter. San Francisco also has a running game that the offense can rely on, while the Bucs have had trouble stopping the run without linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. Tampa Bay has had little faith in Winston all season, and the constant chaos surrounding the game’s most important position will plague them once again, as the 49ers will come away with a close victory. Prediction: 49ers 30 Buccaneers 27

Cardinals (2-8) at Chargers (7-3)

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Last week, the Chargers overlooked their inferior opponent, and ended up losing to the Broncos. This week, they’re faced in a similar situation; they’ll host the 2-8 Cardinals. This time, there will be no upset. Arizona has one of the league’s worst offenses, scoring just 14.5 points per game. They won’t be able to keep up with the Chargers offense, which is scoring 26.2 points per game. Furthermore, Arizona is one of the leagues worst at defending the run, while Los Angeles has a solid rushing attack led by Melvin Gordon. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has struggled to take care of the football, and he’ll have to play a flawless game to even match up with Phillip Rivers. That clearly won’t happen against a Chargers defense that will continue to get better as Joey Bosa gets back into his groove, and this will likely be a blowout as a result. Prediction: Cardinals 17 Chargers 30

Dolphins (5-5) at Colts (5-5)

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Here come the Colts. Indianapolis has won four straight, including a 28 point divisional win against the Titans last week. At 5-5, they are within striking distance of an AFC wildcard spot, but the same can be said about their opponent this week- the 5-5 Dolphins.  Miami is getting their quarterback Ryan Tannehill this week back from injury, and are fresh off a bye. Don’t be fooled though, the Dolphins are no match for the Colts. Where as Miami ranks in the bottom half of every offensive and defensive category, Indianapolis has one of the league’s best offenses and an improving defense. They also are allowing the least amount of sacks, while the Dolphins generate close to zero pressure on opposing quarterbacks. With all day to throw, Andrew Luck should shred Miami’s secondary. At the same time, Marlon Mack and the rushing attack will dominate against the 30th ranked rush defense. That will be too much for Miami’s weak offense to overcome, and the Colts will control this game from the start. Prediction: Dolphins 20 Colts 28

Steelers (7-2-1) at Broncos (4-6)

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Both the Steelers and Broncos are coming off of emotional, road victories. Pittsburgh came back from 16 in the fourth quarter to beat the Jaguars, while the Broncos beat the Chargers on a last second field goal. Despite the records between these two teams, this game is going to be extremely close. The Steelers have failed to put away teams on the road this season despite their undefeated road record, while Denver has played every team – including the Rams and Chiefs – competitive this season. Still, Pittsburgh is the better team and the much better bet to win this game. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense clicked in the fourth quarter in Jacksonville, and that momentum will carry over against a Broncos defense that ranks just 22nd overall. Pittsburgh’s strong offensive line should be able to negate Denver’s strong pass rush, but the same can’t be said about the Broncos subpar offensive line that has to go up against a Steelers pass rush that leads the league in sacks. At the end of the day, would you rather roll with Roethlisberger and the Steelers, who have managed to win a lot of close games, or Case Keenum and the Broncos, who have managed to lose almost all of their games by one score. The answer to that is obvious, and the Steelers will come out of Denver with a big road victory. Prediction: Steelers 26 Broncos 24

Packers (4-5-1) at Vikings (5-4-1)

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When you search up the definition of a “must-win game”, this matchup between the Packers and Vikings should be what first comes up. There is so much on the line for each teams. A loss for the Packers would send them to 4-6-1 and out of the playoff picture, while a loss for the Vikings would put them third in the division and in a very tough position to even make the playoffs as a wildcard. It’s never a good idea to pick against Aaron Rodgers, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. These teams may have similar records, but the talent difference between these two teams is quite substantial. Minnesota has a defense that ranks in the top ten against the pass and the run. They’ll force Rodgers to constantly have to pass, and with a solid pass rush led by Danielle Hunter, they’ll get pressure on Rodgers, as Green Bay’s offensive line has struggled to protect him all year long. They’ll be able to negate Rodgers just enough to put their offense in a position to lead them to victory, and Green Bay’s weak front seven presents Minnesota a great chance to finally establish their running game with Dalvin Cook poised to finally breakout. If that happens, and it should, the Vikings will prove to be too much, even for Rodgers. Prediction: Packers 23 Vikings 24

Titans (5-5) at Texans (7-3)

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On Monday Night Football, the Titans and Texans will face off in an important AFC South matchup. Houston has a chance to get a three game lead on the Titans and dismiss them from having a realistic chance of winning the division. If Tennessee can win, however, they’ll be just one game out and will have swept the season series between these two teams. The former has a much better chance of happening that the latter; the Texans are the better team, are at home, and have won seven straight. Houston has playmakers on defense that are capable of shutting down the Titans’ weak offense. That will put tremendous pressure on the Titans defense to hold the Texans offense in check, and considering that they just allowed 38 to the Colts, that won’t happen. Houston gets their eighth straight win, and puts the Titans away with a big divisional victory. Prediction: Titans 19 Texans 24



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