Happy Turkey Day to all of the fans of Sportsmasher.com who have been keeping up with our up and down picks throughout the 2012 NFL season. I plan on spending the day pigging out on multiple courses of turkey (I think my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the sloppy turkey sandwich I’ll be drunkenly making during the third quarter of the night game) and not helping as my relatives work tirelessly to help me gain 20 pounds. Sportsmasher is coming off of and excellent week, going (9-5) and hitting a monster wager on the 49ers in the Monday night game, however he just went (1-3) on his best bets. RexRated on the other hand had another perfect week on his best bets (3-0) and has really been on a roll as of late. Sportsmasher is only one game under (.500) on the year right now, and he is looking to get his head back above water, with only a few weeks left to get it done. With lots of home underdogs this week, and no more bye weeks for the remainder of the season, let’s get to the picks:
Houston Texans @ Detroit Lions (+3.5) This is a tough break for the Texans (9-1), they just won a come-from-behind overtime game against the Jaguars on Sunday, and now they have to head to Detroit for a 12:30pm start on Thanksgiving Day. The Lions (4-6) are coming off of a tough loss to the Packers, and they are playing nowhere near the level that they should be, but they usually play better at home on Thanksgiving. I do not think that this game will be a blowout by any means, despite the fact that one of the best teams in the NFL, the Texans, is facing off against the underachieving Lions. I see a chippy contents, but I think the Texans ride tailback Arian Foster and their stout defense to a victory, and a cover.
The Pick: Texans (-3.5) FINAL SCORE: TexanZs 24 Lions 20
***REXRATED BEST BET: Texans (-3.5)***
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys (-3) Suddenly the Cowboys (5-5) are right back in the thick of the playoff hunt, after an overtime win over the Cleveland Browns at home, that was way too close for comfort. The Washington Redskins (4-6) have not given up hope of making a run at the playoffs this season, and lead by the fantastic play of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, would still have an outside shot if they could win this game. The Cowboys have struggled as of late, giving up seven sacks to the Browns, and the Redskins should be able to move the ball on the Dallas defense. I think this will be a fun game to watch, and I’m taking the points.
The Pick: Redskins (+3) FINAL SCORE: Redskins 27 Cowboys 24
New England Patriots @ New York Jets (+7) These two bitter rivals last battled in New England on 10/21, when the Patriots edged the Jets 29-26, and the rematch takes place on Thanksgiving night. The Patriots (7-3) have struggled defensively due to their lack of pass rush, and their leading playmaker on offense tight out Rob Gronkowski is out with a broken forearm. The Jets (4-6) are coming off of an impressive win against the Rams in St. Louis where, they played their best football of the season, and look to continue to play well against their arch rivals. Although I think that the Jets are playing better and the Patriots have been struggling a bit, I think that eventually the Patriots offense will make the Jets pay for a few mistakes, and will cover this spread.
The Pick: Patriots (-7) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 31 Jets 21
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears (-0.5) I had to dig a bit for this line, which could change by game time, depending on the status of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler who is dealing with a concussion. We all saw how much the Bears (7-3) missed Jay Cutler on Monday Night Football when they were absolutely manhandled by the 49ers without him. The Vikings (6-4) heavily rely on their running game, which is highlighted by superstar tailback Adrian Peterson, who is not just making a case for NFL Comeback Player of the Year but also NFL MVP. If there is any indication that Jay Cutler is going to play, this is an easy pick, and right now I am hearing that he is likely to start.
The Pick: Bears (-0.5) FINAL SCORE: Bears 23 Vikings 17
Oakland Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals (-8) The Bengals (5-5) have been playing much better football as of late and crushed the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants respectively in the last two weeks, lead by star wide receiver A.J. Green, who has proven to be one of the best players in the league. The Oakland Raiders (3-7) have really struggled this season, and I do not think they have much of a chance on the road against a hot Bengals team. The Raiders have had major problems on the defensive side of the ball, and I do not see how they can hold A.J. Green in check, he has a big game and the Bengals cruise.
The Pick: Bengals (-8) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 34 Raiders 20
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: BENGALS (-8)***
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (+10.5) I am starting to feel bad for Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) fans and think it may be time for a top-to-bottom organizational overhaul, because the people of Kansas City deserve a better product, this is embarrassing. Also, there does not seem to be a quarterback prospect worth drafting with the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft, so their biggest need will be tough to acquire. Meanwhile Peyton Manning has the Denver Broncos (7-3) playing excellent football, and the team looks like true contenders in the AFC, even with starting running back Willis McGahee suffering a serious knee injury last weekend. For me, this line could not be high enough, Peyton and the Broncos trounce the Chiefs in Kansas City.
The Pick: Broncos (-10.5) FINAL SCORE: Broncos 41 Chiefs 16
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: Broncos (-10.5)***
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) This is a tough one to call, I mean the Jaguars (1-9) played their best game of the year last week in a loss to the Texans in Houston, but did so only after starting quarterback Blaine Gabbart was injured and replaced with veteran Chad Henne. Following Henne’s performance and the play of the Jacksonville wideouts last weekend, find myself wanting to take the points. Then I remember that the Titans (4-6) are not a good team, but seem to be good enough to beat up on bad teams, and the Jaguars are awful. This game has “stay away” written all over it for me, however, I think that I am giving the Jaguars too much credit for their play in Houston last weekend. Give me the Titans coming off of a bye week.
The Pick: Titans (-3) FINAL SCORE: Titans 26 Jaguars 17
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1) This is the best early Sunday game of the week as the Atlanta Falcons (9-1) travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers (6-4) in a divisional battle. The Bucs have been playing excellent football lately, lead by quarterback Josh Freeman and rookie running back Doug Martin, and beating the Falcons would really cement them as playoff contenders. The Falcons record looks great, but they are limping to the finish a bit, as they had to overcome five interceptions by quarterback Matt Ryan to beat the Arizona Cardinals last weekend. Star wide receiver Julio Jones has been banged up for the Falcons, and they seem to miss his big play ability, which really opens up their offense. I think the Buccaneers win a tight one at home lead by a big game from rookie Doug Martin in the ground game.
The Pick: Buccaneers (+1) FINAL SCORE: Buccaneers 31 Falcons 27
***REXRATED BEST BET: Falcons (-1)***
Seattle Seahawks @ Miami Dolphins (+3) A battle of impressive rookie quarterbacks pits Seattle’s Russell Wilson against Miami’s Ryan Tannehill when the Seahawks teavel to South Beach to take on the Dolphins. The Seahawks (6-4) are coming off of a bye week, while the Dolphins (4-6) last played on Thursday night in a loss to Buffalo, so both teams should be well rested. Although the Seahawks are a far better home team than a road team, I like their matchups with the Dolphins, and think that their hard hitting and athletic defense will frustrate Ryan Tannehill. When the Seahawks have the ball on offense I see a huge game from Marshawn Lynch, who will use his power to grind down the Dolphins defense, and secure a win for the visiting Seahawks.
The Pick: Seahawks (-3) FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 24 Dolphins 17
Buffalo Bills @ Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) The Indianapolis Colts (6-4) have been better than anyone expected so far this season lead by rookie sensation quarterback Andrew Luck, however I think the Bills (4-6) could present some matchup problems for the Colts, especially when they have the ball. The Bills played an excellent game against the Dolphins last Thursday night, and seem to have found an offensive rhythm with explosive running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Stevie Johnson leading the charge. While the Colts have been a better home team than a road team this season, they are coming off of a blowout loss to the Patriots in New England, and they will try to right themselves on Sunday. In a game that I expect to be close and very back and forth, I’m taking the points.
The Pick: Bills (+3.5) FINAL SCORE: Bills 27 Colts 23
***REXRATED BEST BET: Colts (-3.5)***
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns (+0.5) First Steelers (6-4) starting quarterback Ben Roethlisburger is injured, then their backup Byron Leftwich is injured, so now they will rely on their third string quarterback Charlie Batch in Cleveland this weekend. This is not a good sign. The Browns (2-8) are actually not as bad as their record indicates and have been involved in several close games that they should have won, but ended up losing late, due to a lack of experience by their young roster. I think that the Browns are finally able to beat a mortally wounded Steelers team, and think that rookie Browns running back Trent Richardson wears down the Steelers defense, as Charlie Batch struggles.
The Pick: Browns (+0.5) FINAL SCORE: Browns 20 Steelers 13
Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers (+1) Despite the Ravens record (8-2) I am not convinced that they are a great team, and I thought the line would be a lot higher in this contest, and was surprised when I saw the Ravens were only one point favorites in San Diego. The Chargers (4-6) seem to have quit on head coach Norv Turner, and although they normally make a push for the playoffs around this time every year, I do not think they have the personnel to do so this season. Plus the Broncos are clearly going to win the AFC West. I think that the Ravens will get a few big plays from quarterback Joe Flacco’s arm and they will spend most of the game wearing the Chargers down with tailback Ray Rice en route to another win.
The Pick: Ravens (-1) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 23 Chargers 16
***SPORTSMASHER BEST BET: RAVENS (-1)***
St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals (-3) This one is pretty simple for me, the Cardinals (4-6) could not beat the Atlanta Falcons last weekend despite their defense making five interceptions, and they are starting rookie Ryan Lindley at quarterback, so I would not be taking them as favorites against anyone in the NFL this week. The Rams (3-6-1) are not a good team by any means, but they already dominated the Cardinals earlier this season in St. Louis, and I think they win this game outright. Take the points for sure.
The Pick: Rams (+3) FINAL SCORE: Rams 24 Cardinals 20
San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints (+1) The New Orleans Saints were one of the worst teams in the NFL at the start of the season, even losing to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs (1-9), but have since battled their way back to playoff contention with a (5-5) record. The 49ers (7-2-1) are one of the best teams in the league, backup quarterback Colin Kapernick looked incredible in the 49ers Monday Night drubbing of the Chicago Bears, and it sounds like he will get the start again this Sunday in New Orleans. I think that the 49ers will have no problem moving the ball on the Saints in New Orleans, and although the Saints will put up some points, the 49ers defense will make a few plays that will win them this game.
The Pick: 49ers (-1) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 30 Saints 27
Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants (-3) The Giants (6-4) have played well against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (7-3) over the past few seasons, including knocking them out of the playoffs last season in Green Bay, and this will be an excellent game with huge playoff implications. Eli Manning and the New York Giants started this season hot, but have since struggled, and are coming off of a much needed bye. I give the edge to the Giants in this matchup, Rogers will have a big game throwing the ball against the Giants weak secondary, however the Giants dangerous pass rush will dominate the Packers sorry offensive line. Eli Manning will make enough plays against an average Packers defense and the revitalized Giants will win this game.
The Pick: Giants (-3) FINAL SCORE: Giants 34 Packers 28
Carolina Panthers @ Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) The Philadelphia Eagles (3-7) lost both running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Michael Vick to concussions, and seem to have quit on head coach Andy Reid, they played extremely poorly as a team in a horrible loss to the Redskins last weekend. Although Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has really struggled so far this season, and he lacks playmakers on offense, the Eagles seem like they have given up on this season and are more concerned on who will be back for the 2013 season. I think that Cam Newton will make enough plays to beat the Eagles, who seem like they are just treading water, so this season can end and they can move on.
The Pick: Panthers (+2.5) FINAL SCORE: Panthers 23 Eagles 17
Week 1: (9-7)
Week 2: (7-8-1)
Week 3: (10-5-1)
Week 4: (8-7)
Week 5: (5-9)
Week 6: (6-7-1)
Week 7: (6-7)
Week 8: (5-9)
Week 9: (8-6)
Week 10: (5-9)
Week 11: (9-5)
2012 Season: (78-79-3)
Sportsmasher’s Best Bets: 14-18
RexRated’s Best Bets: 19-14-1