This is the best Thanksgiving schedule that I can remember since the addition of the third Thursday night game. It helps that both Detroit and Dallas are good and the NFL picked a great rivalry game for the late spot. Thanksgiving is about family, food, and football (and the whole giving thanks thing), so hopefully you can enjoy this one as much as I expect to.
Locks of the Week:
PITTSBURGH -4.5 over New Orleans
If you honestly believe in the Saints after they lost three home games in a row then you need your head checked. Their offense is devoid of big plays as teams keep Drew Brees doing his work in front of them. The result is a great completion percentage and a “great offensive team” that hasn’t scored 30 points since they did it against the Bucs in Week 5. Look for Le’Veon Bell to run rampant against a defense that made Justin Forsett look Herculean. The Steelers’ also get three defensive starters back to help at the right time.
Kyle’s Pick: Pittsburgh
INDIANAPOLIS -9.5 over Washington
The Colts’ margin of victory against teams currently with losing records is 18.4. Colt McCoy actually helps Washington because Robert Griffin III is clearly useless as a QB right now. Unfortunately their 31st ranked pass defense according to FO won’t be able to hold down Mr. Luck.
Kyle’s Pick: Indianapolis
BALTIMORE – 5.5 over San Diego
The Ravens have won their last four home games by an average of 21 points, continuing to dominate in Baltimore since Joe Flacco became quarterback. San Diego’s defense isn’t good enough to stop Baltimore from scoring points and their offense seems somewhat off, averaging 16.2 points over the last five games. Whether that’s because of an injury Rivers is hiding or something else, I don’t care.
Kyle’s Pick: Baltimore
Trap Games of the Week:
SAN FRANCISCO – 1 over Seattle
I’m honestly not sure what to think here. The 49ers squeaked out wins in the last two weeks at the Giants and home against Washington. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The Seahawks, however, clearly aren’t the same team they were last year despite Richard Sherman’s ability to hold everyone’s attention. This is a game best watched and not picked if you didn’t pass out by now.
Kyle’s Pick: San Francisco
Rest of the Picks:
DETROIT -7 over Chicago
The Lions arguably have one of the better passing quarterbacks in the league, the best receiver, and a great second receiver, yet they haven’t scored more than 24 points since Week 1. (You could say the same thing about Chicago who hasn’t surpassed 23 since Week 6.) I’m not sure what exactly to blame it on, but a visit from the Bears should cure what ails them given that they’re the 24th ranked passing defense according to Football Outsiders (FO). This isn’t like years past where the Lions have had a Swiss cheese defense. They’ll truly get to enjoy their turducken.
Kyle’s Pick: Detroit
DALLAS -3 over Philadelphia
Both teams can score and neither can play defense well, which means we should be in for an exciting game as we’re passing out from too much turkey. (Mmmm, turkey…) Maybe the last team with the ball wins, but remember how Philly traveled to Green Bay a couple weeks ago in a similar situation and lost. And remember how they traveled to Arizona three games before that and lost. It’s possible they’re just not capable of closing things down in a tough road game. The over in this game looks too easy, which is why I might look at a teaser with the Lions spread just in case.
Kyle’s Pick: Philadelphia
N. Y. Giants -2.5 over JACKSONVILLE
Did you know Odell Beckham Jr. can catch the ball very well? The Giants defied all odds by covering the spread against a good team last week, yet exceeded all our expectations by twice grasping defeat from the hands of victory (The Manning interception and the defense allowing to Cowboys to score with ease on a two minute drive). Now they take a vacation to the warm weather and take on a team ranked third in the league in sacks. But this is clearly the worst team the Giants have played since Atlanta in Week 5 and I think they’ll be invigorated by the lack of quality in the opponent.
Kyle’s Pick: N.Y. Giants
BUFFALO -2.5 over Cleveland
Your guess is as good as mine on this one. Neither team has a quarterback you can put your faith in. Unfortunately for Cleveland, Josh Gordon can’t stop the run and Johnny Manziel doesn’t like to be hugged. The Bills can, however, and that plays right to the strength of Cleveland’s offense, so the Browns will struggle to score in this one. Shovel that snow Buffalo!
Kyle’s Pick: Buffalo
Oakland +7 over St. Louis
It’s very possible that the Raiders come out flat after winning their first game of the season, but it’s also possible the Rams are emotionally spent after playing teams with winning records in their last nine games. Neither team has an offense good enough to think this will be won by a touchdown.
Kyle’s Pick: Oakland
TAMPA BAY +4 over Cincinnati
Josh McCown has an incredibly wide differential between quality of NFL and fantasy football gameplay. His three turnovers last week killed what should’ve been a closer game for the Bucs. I can’t promise that won’t happen again, but I’m taking the shot regardless.
Kyle’s Pick: Cincinnati
HOUSTON -6 over Tennessee
The injury to Ryan Mallett means Houston is forced to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Despite having the same first name, this makes thinks a tad awkward. Given Fitzpatrick’s inability to run the offense, which got him benched in the first place, Houston’s defense will be pressured into dominating Tennessee. They did so in Zach Mettenberger’s first game a few weeks ago and should relish the opportunity to do so again here. The likely return of Arian Foster means good things as well against the worst rated run defense according to FO.
Kyle’s Pick: Tennessee
MINNESOTA -2.5 over Carolina
Is it me or is this another game I don’t want to watch this Sunday? Neither team is interesting right now as Cam Newton limps through a highly mediocre year and the Vikings “enjoy” life with a rookie quarterback. Minnesota, however, does something better than Carolina and that’s play defense. They’re league average against the pass, which is more than we can say about Carolina. Besides do you see a warm weather team like Carolina dealing well with below freezing temperatures in Minnesota this weekend?
Kyle’s Pick: Minnesota
Arizona +2.5 over ATLANTA
Drew Stanton failed in his big road test last week, but thankfully Atlanta’s defense should allow Arizona to be a lot more effective this weekend. Matt Ryan should be running for his life as Arizona showed an improved pass rush with seven sacks last week. Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson will relish the opportunity to go against Atlanta’s dynamic duo at WR.
Kyle’s Pick: Atlanta
New England +3 over GREEN BAY
Hope you keep your afternoon free to enjoy the game of the week. This could be a Super Bowl preview as both teams are Vegas’ favorites to win their respective conferences. This to me simply comes down to the quality of victories. New England has beaten Cincinnati, Buffalo, Denver, Indianapolis, and Detroit. They’re all teams over .500. Green Bay on the other hand has beaten Philadelphia and Miami (on a deceptive last minute maneuver by Rodgers). After that it’s a collection of dominant wins over piss poor teams.
Kyle’s Pick: Green Bay
Denver -1 over KANSAS CITY
Sunday night’s game should be entertaining as well given the teams’ records, Denver’s recent look of vulnerability, and Kansas City’s surprise defeat to Oakland last week. The first game between these two was a long time ago and lacked Jamaal Charles, so it may not be an accurate reflection of what’s going to happen this weekend. Arrowhead is clearly a tough place to play, but Denver’s run defense is still a strength and the sad loss of safety of Eric Berry (best of luck to him) will open up Kansas City’s defense for Manning.
Kyle’s Pick: Kansas City
N.Y. JETS +7 over Miami
The line jumped from 4.5 to 7 when Geno Smith replaced Michael Vick as the starting quarterback for the Jets. I’m not sure it matters because both are quite terrible. It’s a rivalry game for Miami, but there’s hangover + trap game potential after last week’s loss to Denver and Baltimore coming up next week.
Kyle’s Pick: N.Y. Jets
Last Week: 6-9