Last week: 6-9. To quote Mark McGwire, I’m not here to talk about the past. Season forecast is now 104-61.
Bears at Lions (+3.5): The Lions have their best opportunity all season to secure a victory, something they haven’t done on Thanksgiving in their annual Turkey Day matinee since 2016. These are the two worst passing offenses in the NFL, and lately the Lions have had the better running game. Andy Dalton at QB does give the Bears a better chance to win, however. Given the rumors the Bears are firing Matt Nagy imminently, it’s easier to pick the Lions and have at least some modicum of confidence.
Lions 20, Bears 16
Raiders at Cowboys (-9): All six teams playing on Thursday lost last week. No team is better equipped to get back on victory road than the Cowboys. And that’s more about the Raiders and their sinking ship than it is the Cowboys being at home. Las Vegas is 0-3 and has been outscored 96-43 in those losses, all since their bye week and unexpected coaching change. The Raiders pass rush going against the Cowboys offensive line gives them a chance to make it interesting, but the radical falloff from Derek Carr since the bye week dampens the enthusiasm.
Cowboys 33, Raiders 20
Bills at Saints (+4.5): The Saints continue to sputter with backup QB Trevor Siemian. If only they had another option…like maybe the QB they just paid a $40M contract extension. Oh, that’s right, Taysom Hill isn’t even good enough to play quarterback over the milquetoast Siemian. At some point, Hill will have to at least prove he’s worth even being on the roster, right? He’s produced less than 200 total yards in 7 games this year and the Saints are in salary cap hell. Don’t expect him to prove it against a Bills defense that is fixing to show they’re a lot better than they were in getting gashed by the Colts last week.
Bills 27, Saints 13
Titans at Patriots (-6.5): The key matchup here is the Titans defense against Mac Jones and the offense. Despite their loss last week, the Tennessee defense did play well. If they can slow down the Patriots resurgent rushing attack, they have the ability to outscore New England. I see Ryan Tannehill bouncing back from his terrible Week 11. But the Patriots are smart and versatile enough to weather the Titans storm.
Patriots 27, Titans 24
Buccaneers at Colts (+2.5): The Buccaneers are getting healthier, and they’ll need all hands on deck to handle Jonathan Taylor and the Colts offense. The Colts have won 5 of 6 and have scored over 30 points in all but one of those contests. That’s long enough of a track record against divergent types of teams to prove legitimacy. The issue for the host Colts will be forcing offensive mistakes from Tom Brady that the likes of Josh Allen, Jimmy Garoppolo and Davis Mills have made to help bolster the Indianapolis defense.
Buccaneers 26, Colts 21
Jets at Texans (-2.5): The Texans are favored! I repeat, the Texans are favored to win! And given the Jets QB carousel of death and how well the Texans rushed the passer in their win over Tennessee last week, it’s a smart bet. If you’re somehow still alive in survivor fantasy pools, I’m going to guess you haven’t used the Texans. It’s risky, no doubt, but it could preserve a better team for another week.
Texans 30, Jets 19
Eagles at Giants (+3): The Giants fired OC Jason Garrett after Monday’s night debacle and head coach Joe Judge driving every motorized vehicle at his disposal over Garrett in blame. Somehow I don’t think that will dam the river flowing rapidly down the hill that is the Giants season and Judge’s tenure as their coach. The Eagles are playing too well for such a cheap gambit to work. Then again, Garrett really was doing a terrible job. Hmm…
Eagles 34, Giants 24
Falcons at Jaguars (+1): Someone has to win. Might as well be the Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence, who is quietly playing better than the record and his stats would indicate. I’m thankful I won’t have to watch the Falcons prove this forecast is horribly wrong.
Jaguars 26, Falcons 24
Panthers at Dolphins (+2): Tough call here. I like the way the Dolphins have surged out of the cellar in the last three weeks, but the Panthers have the defense to slow down the Tua attack.
Panthers 19, Dolphins 17
Chargers at Broncos (+3): Don’t ask me how it happens, but the Chargers will continue their confounding season where they appear to be the class of the AFC one week and a bottom-10 team the very next, no matter the opponent. Denver’s just schizo enough on its own to make it happen, too.
Broncos 25, Chargers 24
Vikings at 49ers (-3): Really like Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen against the 49ers secondary, and the Vikings have just enough defense to withstand the occasionally great, sometimes competent but uninspiring 49ers offense under Jimmy Garoppolo and coach Kyle Shanahan.
Vikings 27, 49ers 21
Browns at Ravens (-3.5): Both AFC North rivals struggled to vanquish bad NFC North foes a week ago. The Browns are finally getting healthier at just the right time, but their biggest injury remains their biggest issue. Baker Mayfield is not right and won’t get right by playing with his completely messed up left shoulder. Admire his toughness, but he’s just not capable of placing the ball when and where it needs to be with his broken wing. His receivers aren’t helping enough, either. Tough to fly with the Ravens when the wings are clipped, though if any team can it’s the one with the best guard combo in the NFL and Nick Chubb running behind Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. Very low confidence in this pick.
Ravens 30, Browns 27
Seahawks at Football Team (pick’em): This game did not materialize as well as the schedule makers hoped when they pitted these two 2020 playoff teams in primetime. The Football Team has played better of late, coming out of the bye with two straight wins. Seattle appears to be stumbling to the end of a very bad season with a surprisingly--even for being injured--ineffective Russell Wilson. Roll with the home team and enjoy the last of the leftover mashed potatoes.
Football Team 24, Seahawks 20
Nothing beats rivalry games
Mississippi State 37, Ole Miss 30
Ohio State 33, Michigan 17
Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma State 21
Georgia 48, Georgia Tech 10
Notre Dame 50, Stanford 22
Alabama 38, Auburn 25
Oregon State 29, Oregon 27