It's Thanksgiving Week and we all know what that means around here: Instead of giving you football picks today, I'm going to list off my 15 favorite Thanksgiving side dishes because that's way more exciting. Just kidding, I'm not going to do that and that's mainly because it would only take roughly four seconds. There are only two side dishes I like to have on Thanksgiving and they're both wine.
Actually, I also enjoy sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, garlic potatoes, baked potatoes, and really, any kind of potato, but I'm going to stop talking now because I'm starting to sound like Bill Belichick.
Question: One side dish on the table for Thanksgiving?— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 22, 2021
Bill Belichick (to @TheGregHillShow): "Oh boy. It would be hard for me to turn down any type of potatoes. I'll go with whatever -- mashed potatoes, scalloped, baked ... Load 'em up. Throw some butter on there. Starch me up."
For some reason, I'm not surprised that Belichick is a potato guy. If you would have asked me before today which NFL coach was mostly like to be a potato guy, I would have 100% guessed Belichick.
Since Belichick and I both love potatoes, does that mean I'm going to pick the Patriots to win this week? Let's get to the picks and find out.
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. You can listen to Tuesday's episode below and the reason you're going to want to listen is because we spent way more time than we should have debating whether the Giants should just go ahead and clean house.
Alright, I think I've babbled for long enough, let's get to the Turkey Day edition of the picks where I will be picking all three Thanksgiving games even though they don't deserve to be picked because all six teams playing on Thursday are coming off a loss.
NFL Week 12 Picks
Chicago (3-7) at Detroit (0-9-1)
Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
If you didn't get to watch the Lions on Sunday -- and I'm guessing you didn't because I'm pretty sure their game was only shown to about .00001% of the country -- they lost again, which you probably assumed since they lose pretty much every week.
The Lions starting quarterback on Sunday was a guy named Tim Boyle, who somehow ended up on an NFL roster even though he threw more interceptions than touchdown passes in college. Like, a lot more.
Tim Boyle's career stats at UConn— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 21, 2021
133-275 (48.4% completion)
1 TD / 13 INT
He is starting an NFL game today.
The Lions are the only team in the NFL that would take a guy who had a 13-to-one interception-to-TD ratio in college and let him start an actual game, which is what happened on Sunday. In the least surprising news in the history of football, Boyle threw two interceptions in a loss to the Browns. I guess things could have been worse. He could have thrown 13. The problem for Boyle is that I don't think things are going to get much better for him this week since he's going to be playing on just three days rest (Jared Goff could end up starting, but if he's on the field, he'll be playing injured and I'm not sure an injured Goff is much of an upgrade over Boyle. Choosing between Goff and Boyle is like choosing between green bean casserole and corn pudding as your main side dish at Thanksgiving. You're losing no matter what you pick: The green bean casserole is injured and the corn pudding keeps throwing interceptions).
As for the Bears, Justin Fields likely won't be playing, which actually doesn't bother me at all, because if he's out, that means we all get to spend Thanksgiving with ANDY DALTON. To be honest, I can't think of a person I would rather spend Thanksgiving with than Andy Dalton.
As everyone knows, I never pick against Dalton unless he's playing in a prime-time game, but I don't think this counts as a prime-time game, so I'm taking the Bears.
The pick: Bears 20-17 over Lions
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Las Vegas (5-5) at Dallas (7-3)
Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
If these two teams decided to cancel Thursday's game and just hug each other for four quarters, that would be completely understandable because it has definitely been a rough month for both of them. Going into November, the Cowboys and Raiders had a combined record of 11-3. However, since the start of November, the two teams have combined to go 1-5, which includes an 0-3 record from the Raiders.
To add insult to injury, the NFL is making the Raiders fly halfway across the country on a short week to play in a game on a holiday. The last place anyone wants to be around the holidays is at an airport. If I were the Raiders, I would skip the airport and just drive to Dallas. Sure it's six times longer than flying, and yes, 18 hours of driving does seem like a lot of a road trip, but they could stop in Albuquerque along the way and I feel like the Raiders could really stand to use a stop in Albuquerque right now. If you've watched them play at all over the past few weeks, you may have noticed some troubling things about them: Their offense has gotten worse every week, their defense has gotten worse every week and their interim coach seems like he might be in over his head.
The only upside for the Raiders going into this game is that they're playing a Cowboys team that has been almost as bad as they have for the month of November. Not only are the Cowboys just 1-2 in their past three games, but they will be going into this game without Amari Cooper and possibly without CeeDee Lamb (concussion). The good news for the Cowboys is that they shouldn't need either of those guys. The Raiders are giving up 132.1 yards per game on the ground this year, which is the fourth-most in the NFL and if the Cowboys are smart, they'll take advantage of that by running the ball roughly 50 times. However, the Cowboys haven't looked overly smart this month, so there's no guarantee that's going to happen.
The pick: Cowboys 30-23 over Raiders
Buffalo (6-4) at New Orleans (5-5)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
On paper, this feels like a game that the Saints have zero chance to win, but if I've learned one thing in my life about picking NFL games, it's that the Bills might actually be the team that has a zero chance to win and that's mainly because this game is being played on a HOLIDAY in New Orleans. If you've ever been to New Orleans for any holiday, even flag day, then you already know that everyone in town goes to Bourbon Street and drinks for 24 straight hours, which leads to a completely crazy crowd at the game, which leads to one of the best home-field advantages possible. Last month, we saw this play out in real time when the Saints hosted the Buccaneers on Halloween. Had I paid attention to the fact the game was being played on Halloween, I would have picked the Saints to win by 97, but I ignored the fact that it was Halloween and picked the Buccaneers to win. The Buccaneers did not win, because winning a holiday game in New Orleans is borderline impossible. If you need more proof of this, just look at last year's schedule: They scored 52 points in a Christmas win. They won on Columbus Day. They even win on Mexican holidays and I know that because they won on the Day of the Dead last year against the Bears.
This time around, the Saints are hosting a Thanksgiving game and let me just say that if the NFL's plan this year was to get the drunkest possible crowd for a Thanksgiving game, then I'm pretty sure they're going to accomplish that. I mean, when you put a game near Bourbon Street, there's a 100 percent chance that people will be drunk, and when you multiply that by the fact that people will be drinking all day because this game is at night, you basically get the Thanksgiving version of Mardi Gras.
That being said, the only rule I have that supersedes "Don't pick against the Saints at home on a holiday" is "always pick against Trevor Siemian." The Saints are 0-3 since Siemian took over as their starting quarterback and although I'm not going to pin the blame for those losses on him, I am going to pin most of the blame on him. If Alvin Kamara plays Thursday, I could see this being close, but if he's out, I think the Bills win by at least a touchdown.
The pick: Bills 31-24 over Saints
Tennessee (8-3) at New England (7-4)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
I don't feel like Bill Belichick is a guy who circles games on his calendar before the season, but I have a feeling that he might have circled this one. For one, he's never beaten Titans coach Mike Vrabel. Belichick has faced him twice and both times he came away with a loss. Not only that, but the Titans basically ended the Patriots dynasty when they beat New England in the playoffs in 2019.
In two games against Vrabel, the Patriots have averaged 11.5 points per game and that's because Vrabel is the one guy who has always been able to out-Belichick Belichick. I'm guessing that has a lot do with the fact that Vrabel actually spent eight seasons playing for Belichick.
The problem for Vrabel this time around though is that he's not going to have Derrick Henry like he did in his first two games against Belichick. Without Henry, that means the Titans are going to have to rely on Ryan Tannehill, who hasn't exactly been Mr. Reliable this season. In his past six games, Tannehill has thrown nine interceptions, which would be solid numbers if he played for the Lions, but it's not so good when you're the QB of the top team in the AFC. When Henry was around, it was easier for the Titans to deal with the turnovers because they would stop letting him throw the ball and just give it to Henry.
When Tannehill has to take over a game, things can get ugly. The Titans have had four games this year where he's thrown 35 or more passes and they're 1-3 in those games. On the other hand, the Titans are a perfect 7-0 when he throws fewer than 35 passes. Besides Tannehill, my other biggest concern with the Titans is that everyone on their roster seems to be injured.
I don't think an NFL team can technically run out of players, but the Titans might.
The one saving grace for the Titans in this game is that their defense gets to go up against a rookie quarterback. Because of that, I think Tennessee will keep this game close, but not close enough.
The pick: Patriots 23-16 over Titans
Tampa Bay (8-3) at Indianapolis (6-5)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
When I was in high school, my physics teacher basically spent three straight days trying to explain the irresistible force paradox and thanks to this game, I think I might finally understand what he was trying to say. On one hand, we have the unstoppable force (Jonathan Taylor) and it will be colliding with the immovable object (The Buccaneers defense). Heading into Week 11, Taylor is leading the NFL in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and every other rushing stat you can think of. In his last six games alone, Taylor has rushed for 795 yards, which would rank fourth in the NFL for the entire season.
The challenge for Taylor this week is that he's going up against the best rushing defense in football. The Buccaneers have only given up 784 rushing yards on the season (78.4 per game), which is crazy when you consider that no other team in the NFL has even surrendered less than 880 yards. They are truly an immovable object, unless you're trying to pass the ball on them, then they're not so immovable, but I'm not convinced Carson Wentz is going to have much success throwing the ball against Tampa.
As I noted last week, I cracked the code to picking Colts games, but then the code blew up in MY FACE. Heading into Week 12, the Colts are 6-5 on the season, but here's the key part: They're 6-0 this year when they rush for more than 125 yards in a game and 0-5 when they rush for less than 125, so all you have to do is figure out whether they're going to rush for 125 yards against the Tampa Bay. Last week, I said they wouldn't hit that number against Buffalo and look who got the last laugh. It definitely wasn't me. This week, I've decided I don't want to be laughed at so I'm taking the Colts.
The pick: Colts 27-24 over Buccaneers
L.A. Rams (7-3) at Green Bay (8-3)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
As someone who lived in California for six years, let me just say there is nothing more traumatic than being forced to leave the West Coast for a trip to a cold-weather city during the middle of November. There's a reason birds fly south for the winter and not to Green Bay.
If you've ever been to Los Angeles, you may have noticed that people start wearing jackets there when the temperature falls below 70 degrees. In Green Bay, no one even owns a jacket, and if they do, it's only so they can wear it to make fun of people from Los Angeles.
The projected kickoff temperature on Sunday is supposed to be 36 degrees. Since hiring Sean McVay in 2017, the Rams have played exactly three games in temperatures that cold and they went 1-2 in those games. Although that's not a huge sample size, you don't need to have a huge sample size when dealing with cold weather because we have thousands of years of human civilization as our sample size: People who don't live in cold weather hate cold weather.
Let's also not forget that Matthew Stafford is going to be making his return to Lambeau Field. The Rams have lost two straight games and Stafford struggled in both of those losses and based on how he's played at Green Bay in the past, I have no reason to think that he's going to magically fix all his problems in a game where he'll be facing a Packers team that is highly familiar with how he plays.
The fact that Aaron Rodgers has an injured toe does slightly concern me, but he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns on the injured toe in Week 11, so I'm going to assume that he'll be just fine for Sunday.
The pick: Packers 30-27 over Rams
NFL Week 12 picks: All the rest
Bengals 23-20 over Steelers
Panthers 22-19 over Dolphins
Eagles 27-20 over Giants
Jaguars 24-17 over Falcons
Texans 19-16 over Jets
Chargers 34-27 over Broncos
Vikings 33-30 over 49ers
Ravens 34-24 over Browns
Washington 25-22 over Seahawks
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Dolphins would beat the Jets 24-17 and guess what happened? The Dolphins beat the Jets 24-17. WE GOT A BREECHAGAMI. In related news, that's now the word I'm going to use any time I pick the exact score of the game. It's like a Scorigami, but with a twist. Now, did I know that there would be three missed field goals in the Dolphins-Jets game? Of course I did. Have you ever seen those two teams play? They both make roughly 91 mistakes per game, so I obviously I factored that into my score prediction.
Since I know you're counting at home, we are now up to three BREECHAGAMIS on the season, and by the way, we also had a Scorigami in the Colts-Bills game. Indy's 41-15 win marked the first time in NFL history that a game ended with that score.
Worst pick: Even though I made a vow to myself to never pick a team to win if Trevor Siemian is their quarterback, I broke that vow last week when I picked New Orleans to beat Philadelphia. I've made some bad choices in my life and I have to say, picking the Saints to beat the Eagles might have been the worst one I've ever made that didn't involve three shots of tequila.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I'm actually good at picking, here's a quick look:
Teams I'm 10-1 picking this year: Colts, Texans (9-1), 49ers (9-1)
Teams I'm 8-2 picking this year: Rams, Buccaneers, Lions, Vikings, Jaguars, Steelers (7-2-1), Dolphins (9-2)
Longest current streak of picking a team's games correctly: Steelers (7-0-1 since Week 3)
Teams I've been the worst at picking this year: Saints (2-8), Washington (2-8).
Longest active streak of picking a team's games wrong: Broncos (0-5 since Week 6 after going 5-0 picking their games to start the season)
Straight up in Week 11: 9-6
SU overall: 101-63-1
Against the spread in Week 11: 8-7
ATS overall: 81-81-3
Exact score predictions: 3
Exact score, wrong winner: 2
Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a good night!
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he's not doing one of those things, he's probably enjoying one of his two favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, which are both wine... or he's eating potatoes. He might be eating potatoes.