Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
As the resident Bengals homer here at CBS Sports, I was going to spend Black Friday purchasing 19 different Bengals jerseys, but I can't do that because I'm simply not functional right now due to the fact that I still haven't recovered from Thursday. Not only did I eat 11 slices of pumpkin pie, plus an entire turkey, but I'm still not emotionally recovered from one of the wildest days of Thanksgiving football in NFL history. This year marked the first time since 2002 that every game played on Thanksgiving finished with a one-score margin and there were only two games that year, so this year was definitely better.
There were seven different points yesterday where I thought I was going to take a nap, but I'm glad I didn't because all three games ended up being pretty crazy and I would have missed them if I had napped. We'll be covering all three games in today's newsletter, plus making some bold predictions for Week 12. So let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Recapping all three Thanksgiving games
After spending Thanksgiving Day with my family, I moved on and spent Thanksgiving night with my podcasting family aka Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson. The three of us stayed up extra late last night so that we could recap all three games that were played on Thursday.
Here are a few key aspects of each game that we touched on:
- Cowboys use their stars to beat Giants. It's fitting that the Cowboys have a star on their helmet because their stars came up big on Thursday during Dallas' 28-20 win. Ezekiel Elliott averaged an impressive 5.75 yards per carry on a day where he ran for a season-high 92 yards (Zeke also added a rushing TD). Tony Pollard also rushed for 60 yards in a game where the Cowboys totaled 169 yards on the ground. CeeDee Lamb also came up big with six catches for 106 yards. Finally, there was Dak Prescott. Although he got off to a slow start with two interceptions in the first half, he rebounded with two touchdown passes in the second half, which both went to Dalton Schultz. Overall, Prescott went 11 of 14 for 145 yards during a nearly perfect second half (He finished 21 of 30 for 261 yards in the game). I should note that this game also gave us the best Thanksgiving TD celebration of all time -- a game of whack-a-mole in the Salvation Army kettle -- and you can see it by clicking here.
- Lions miscues help out Bills. In the biggest surprise of the day, the 9.5-point underdog Lions went toe to toe with the Bills and probably would have won if not for several ugly mistakes during their 28-25 loss. The three biggest mistakes? The Lions lost a fumble in the first half after driving into Buffalo territory only to watch the Bills score a TD off the turnover a few plays later. The second mistake was Jared Goff taking a safety in the third quarter after getting sacked in the end zone on a third-and-15 play from his own 3-yard line (The safety gave Buffalo a 19-14 lead). The third mistake was Lions kicker Michael Badgley missing a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter, which was shocking because kickers almost never miss from that close when playing indoors. The Lions went toe to toe with the Bills and if they wouldn't have made so many mistakes, they might have won.
- Kirk Cousins comes up big in prime time. Over the course of his career, Cousins has built a reputation for flopping in prime time, but he might have shed that reputation on Thursday night by feasting on New England's defense during a 33-26 win. Cousins finished 30 of 37 for 299 yards and three touchdowns and his only bad throw came in the second quarter when he got picked off by Jonathan Jones. One reason Cousins was so good is because Justin Jefferson caught nearly every ball that was thrown his way. The Vikings star caught nine passes for 139 yards and a touchdown and during the win, he passed Randy Moss for the most receiving yards in NFL history through a player's first three seasons.
If you want to hear our entire recap of each game, be sure to click here. You can also watch today's episode on YouTube by clicking here. You can also check out our takeaways from each game by clicking here for Bills-Lions, here for Giants-Cowboys and here for Patriots-Vikings.
2. Thanksgiving leftovers: Belichick not happy with officials; rough day for kickers
The NFL has been playing three Thanksgiving games since 2006 and for the first time ever, all THREE games on Thanksgiving were decided by one score, so there was a lot to cover from each game and since there are always leftovers on Thanksgiving, I decided to offer some leftovers in today's newsletter.
Here's a look at a few other things from the three games that we also talked about on the podcast:
- Bill Belichick not happy about Patriots TD being overturned. One of the key plays in New England's loss came in the third quarter when Hunter Henry appeared to catch a 6-yard TD on third-and-goal. However, after reviewing the play, the officiating crew overturned the call on the field and ruled that that pass was incomplete. Henry says he caught it and Bill Belichick was not happy that the call got overturned. You can check out the play and make the call for yourself by clicking here.
- Officials also missed another key penalty in Patriots-Vikings. Belichick is probably going to be writing a lengthy letter of complaint to the NFL after this game, because the officiating crew also botched another call against the Patriots. On a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter, Mac Jones threw an incomplete pass to Henry and just after he threw the ball, Minnesota's Danielle Hunter got him with a facemask. This wasn't just any facemask, either, it was one of those plays where Jones' head got completely twisted (You can see it here). If the flag had been thrown, the Patriots would have gotten a first down at their own 49 while trailing 33-26 with eight minutes left to play, but instead, they punted on fourth-and-1 and the rest is history.
- Special teams meltdown for Patriots. Bad calls happen in every game, so you can't blame the officials for New England's loss, but the Patriots can blame their own special teams. The Patriots are usually one of the most disciplined teams in the NFL, but their special teams had a meltdown on Thursday night. First, they gave up a 97-yard kickoff return TD to Kene Nwangwu (You can see the play here). They also got called for running into the punter on a fourth-and-3 in the fourth quarter that gave the Vikings a free first down after New England's defense had forced a three-and-out (That drive ended with the Vikings scoring the game-winning TD). Speaking of punting, Patriots punter Michael Palardy also had two punts of 36 yards or less. Those would have been fine if they pinned the Vikings inside their 20-yard line, but neither kick did that. Marcus Jones also caught a punt at the 1-yard line at the end of the game -- the rule of thumb is that you don't catch it inside the 10 -- and I would label that part of the meltdown, but Belichick said after the game that he was OK with Jones trying to create a spark considering what he did against the Jets in Week 11.
- Mac attack is back. Although the Patriots didn't win, Jones still had one of the best games of his career. The second-year quarterback threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns. His passing total was a career-high by more than 60 yards and marked just the fourth time ever that he's hit the 300-yard mark in a game. If you click here, you can see a clip of one of his best throws of the night, a 40-yarder to Davante Parker in the third quarter.
- Giants' fourth-down gambles fail. The Giants went 0-for-2 on fourth down and that was a big reason why they lost. Brian Daboll's biggest gamble came in the third quarter when he decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 FROM HIS OWN 45 in a game where the Giants were trailing 14-13. On the play, the Giants only had 10 players on the field and even then, they might have converted if Daniel Jones had thrown a better pass to Saquon Barkley. Despite the bad throw, Barkely probably should have caught it (You can see the play here). After the fourth-down failure, the Cowboys scored a TD six plays later to take a 21-13 lead and they coasted to the win from there. Besides going 0-for-2 on fourth down, the Giants also went 3-for-11 on third down. The offense just couldn't come up with clutch plays when the team needed them the most.
- Sack machine. Micah Parsons recorded two sacks against the Giants giving him six multi-sack games for the season, which is notable, because that's an NFL record. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, no player had ever recorded six multi-sacks games through the first 12 weeks of a season. Not Lawrence Taylor. Not Reggie White. Not Bruce Smith. Parsons is the only one who has pulled it off and he's making a strong case to be voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
- Josh Allen still struggling. For the first three quarters, Allen was having arguably his worst game of the season. Going into the fourth quarter, he had completed just 43.8% of his passes for 163 yards while also throwing an ugly red zone interception. Allen rebounded with a wildly impressive fourth quarter where he went 10 of 19 for 90 yards and a TD, but the problem for the Bills is that he still looks like he's playing injured. Allen's accuracy and velocity have both suffered since he injured his elbow and although you can play three bad quarters and beat the Lions, that won't be the case in the playoffs. The Bills better hope Allen's elbow is fully healed before the postseason starts.
- Von Miller injured. The Bills star pass rusher was carted off the field on Thursday after suffering a knee injury near the end of the first half against the Lions. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson, the initial prognosis is a sprained knee for Miller, which might be the best-case scenario (There was some early speculation that he might have torn his ACL). On Friday, NFL Media reported that Miller did in fact dodge a torn ACL but is not out of the woods entirely. He'll wait the next week or so for the injury to calm down before deciding on what steps to take to save his season.
3. Today's show Part II: Best bets for Week 12
The best part about Friday -- besides the fact that it's Friday -- is that you get two episodes of the podcast in your feed. After recapping each Thanksgiving game with Wilson and myself, Brinson kicked us to the curb so that he could record his weekly picks show with Pete Prisco and R.J. White.
To be honest, though, Brinson didn't even have to ask me to leave. I ditched him as soon as the Thanksgiving podcast was over so that I could eat more pumpkin pie
Anyway, Brinson, Prisco and White spent nearly 60 minutes going over their best bets for every single game being played in Week 12, and we're going to cover three of those bets from each guy below. You actually might want to listen to them this week because they've gone a combined 23-12-1 over the past four weeks.
Pete Prisco (2-1 last week in picks covered here, 21-11-1 on the season)
- Saints (+8.5) to cover against the 49ers
- Buccaneers (-3) to cover against the Browns
- Chiefs (-14.5) to cover against the Rams
R.J. White (2-1 last week in picks covered here, 20-12-1 on the season)
- Eagles (-7) to cover against the Packers
- Dolphins (-12) to cover against the Texans
- Cardinals (+4) to cover against the Chargers
Will Brinson (0-3 last week in picks covered here, 15-17-1 on the season)
- Ravens (-4) to cover against the Jaguars
- Jets (-4.5) to cover against the Bears
- Rams at Chiefs UNDER 44
To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 12 -- and there are quite a few -- you can check out the episode on YouTube by clicking here.
4. NFL Week 12 picks: Bengals win AFC showdown against Titans, Ravens squeak by Jaguars
This is the final newsletter of the week, which means we will be cramming as many Week 12 picks as humanly possible into this space.
With that in mind, we've got five more Week 12 picks coming your way, and those will be coming from NFL senior writer Pete Prisco along with Jordan Dajani, Tyler Sullivan and myself.
Here's how things are going to work: I'm going to give you one pick from each guy and then direct you to the rest of their picks. That way, if you like their pick, you'll be able to read the rest of them, but if they pick against your favorite team, you can ignore the rest of their picks and move on. Every pick that was featured here last week ended up being correct, so let's see if we can make it two weeks in row.
- Pete Prisco -- Ravens 21-20 over Jaguars (-4). From Prisco: "The Jaguars come off their bye with a tough home game against the Ravens. The Baltimore defense has come alive in recent weeks and will present a real challenge for Trevor Lawrence. This game will be low-scoring and close." For the rest of Prisco's Week 12 picks, be sure to click here.
- Tyler Sullivan -- Buccaneers (-3.5) 27-20 over Browns. From Sullivan: "After rallying to beat the Rams in Week 9 and then edging out the Seahawks -- who were a 2.5-point favorite -- in Germany, it feels like the Bucs are on the verge of fully righting the ship." For the rest of Sullivan's Week 12 picks, be sure to click here.
- Jordan Dajani -- Jets (-6) 24-16 over Bears. From Dajani: "The Jets were favored by 4.5 points over the Bears before the news of Wilson's benching. Now, they are favored by six points. The oddsmakers think the Jets will be better without Wilson and so do I." For the rest of Dajani's Week 12 best bets, be sure to click here.
- John Breech -- Bengals (-1.5) 23-20 over Titans. This is a revenge game for the Titans, but it's also a game the Bengals can't afford to lose, which I think supersedes revenge, so I'm taking Cincinnati. For the rest of my Week 12 picks, be sure to click here.
5. Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists announced
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has officially taken one giant step closer toward revealing its next class. The semifinalists for the class of 2023 were announced this week with a total of 28 players making the cut, including five first-time nominees.
Here's a look at the full list:
- Eric Allen, cornerback
- Jared Allen, defensive end
- Willie Anderson, offensive tackle
- Ronde Barber, cornerback
- Anquan Boldin, wide receiver
- Henry Ellard, wide receiver
- Jahri Evans, offensive guard
- London Fletcher, linebacker
- Dwight Freeney, defensive end
- James Harrison, linebacker
- Rodney Harrison, safety
- Devin Hester, kick returner/wide receiver
- Torry Holt, wide receiver
- Andre Johnson, wide receiver
- Albert Lewis, cornerback
- Robert Mathis, defensive end/linebacker
- Darrelle Revis, cornerback
- Steve Smith Sr., wide receiver
- Fred Taylor, running back
- Joe Thomas, offensive tackle
- Zach Thomas, linebacker
- Hines Ward, wide receiver
- DeMarcus Ware, linebacker/defensive end
- Ricky Watters, running back
- Reggie Wayne, wide receiver
- Vince Wilfork, defensive tackle
- Patrick Willis, linebacker
- Darren Woodson, safety
You can check out our full story on the semifinalists by clicking here.
The next step in the process will come in January when the HOF narrows down the list of semifinalists down to just 15 finalists. After that, the selection committee will vote on the 2023 class during the week of Super Bowl LVII. Once the final vote is tallied, the official class will be announced at the NFL Honors ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 9.
6. Bold predictions for Week 12
There's nothing we love here more than making bold predictions, so we asked Cody Benjami to come up with five of them for Week 12.
With that in mind let's take a look at his predictions:
- Sam Darnold leads the Panthers to an upset win over Denver "Making his 2022 debut as Carolina's third different starting quarterback in as many weeks, Darnold has a known chemistry with No. 1 wideout D.J. Moore. Darnold should also get some help from D'Onta Foreman, who's due for a rebound against Denver's vulnerable run defense."
- Bengals roll the Titans. "Maybe it's not that bold, considering Cincinnati is favored even as a visitor. But it's about time someone takes advantage of Tennessee's No. 30-ranked pass defense. With Ja'Marr Chase set to return, Joe Burrow could be in for a big game."
- Colts blow out Steelers on Monday night. "Indy boasts a top-10 defense that just limited the Eagles to 17 points, and all Matt Ryan and Co. might need is a few scoring drives to run away with this. Pittsburgh's porous secondary should afford opportunities for Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell to go off."
For a full look at all of Cody's bold predictions for Week 12, be sure to click here.