Saturday, November 26, 2016

NFL Week 12 Primer (With Picks): Giving Thanks

Larry Fitzgerald's Cardinals and Matt Ryan's Falcons will play a pivotal "Battle of the Birds" Sunday.
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

This year, Jeremy is thankful for a new job, a new apartment, a new roommate, continued good (enough) health, and potato stuffing.

This year, Joe is thankful for the growth of, a budding small-market radio career and, of course, his wife and dog.

This week, Joe and Jeremy are both thankful for football.

Game(s) of The Week:

We got two good games Thursday, and the slate for the weekend looks rather interesting as well.

Arizona at Atlanta (1:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

The birds square off against the birds in a matchup of strength vs. strength. Atlanta ranked 1st in scoring and third in yardage on offense, while Arizona ranks 9th in scoring and 1st in yardage on defense. Atlanta needs a win to keep a lead in the NFC South, and Arizona needs a win if they want to keep pace with the rest of the NFC Wild Card picture.

San Diego at Houston (1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

The Chargers are better than their record might indicate, and have played a lot of close games. The Texans are worse than their record might indicate, and have played a lot of close games. This one should be close in the 4th quarter.

Carolina at Oakland (4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

Don't look now, but the Panthers have won three of their last four, and probably should have won the 4th as well. Meanwhile, both of Oakland's losses came at home (they're 6-0 away from Oakland, including their win in Mexico City, which was a nominal home game). The Panthers are fighting for their lives, which could make this game one to watch.

Kansas City at Denver (8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC)

Both of these teams are looking to keep pace with Oakland at the top of the AFC West, and they're also jostling for Wild Card positioning - I assume both teams would rather play the AFC South champion than the AFC North champion (assuming the byes go to the East and West, which seems to make sense at this moment). It's also worth noting that both of these teams hold just a one-game lead over Miami right now, and Miami plays San Francisco this week.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

Jacksonville (+7.5) over BUFFALO

JC: Blake Bortles has to pull a glorious backdoor cover out of his rectum at some point, right?

JP: Yeah, this seems like a Jag backdoor cover special if I've ever seen one.

Cincinnati (+4) over BALTIMORE

JC: Either this is the week that Cincinnati gets back on track (I don't think Baltimore is as good as they've appeared so far this year), or this is the week when the wheels just totally come off and Marvin Lewis gets fired.

JP: The Bengals need this freakin' game, and Baltimore has played a little over its head, especially defensively. I'll take Cincy and the points.

Arizona (+5.5) over ATLANTA

JC: I keep waiting for the Cardinals to wake up, and I keep getting burned. Given their upcoming schedule, this might be the last time I roll the dice.

JP: Man, I was really looking forward to betting against Arizona, figuring they'd blow this game late, but I didn't think the line would be above a field goal. It pains me, but I THINK the Cards keep this one very close.

San Francisco (+7.5) over MIAMI

JC: The 49ers covered against Arizona and pushed against New England. They've earned my respect as an underdog. And I'm not exactly buying Miami as anything more than an average team who has played an easy schedule.

JP: I like the Dolphins, but you hit the nail on the head: If New England can't cover again the Niners, why should I believe Miami will?

NEW ORLEANS (-7) over Los Angeles

JC: The Saints could very, very easily be 7-3 right now instead of 4-6. Their losses Week 1 (to Oakland) and Week 10 (to Denver) came down to bizarre 2-point swings with less than a minute remaining. They've also had games against the Giants, Chiefs, and Panthers that could have gone either way. The Saints have played one of the hardest schedules in football to this point and have looked pretty okay despite that. They could be a sleeper in the NFC South.


Seattle (-6.5) over TAMPA BAY

JC: Seattle is making their move. They've won three straight, and, given their schedule, they might run that streak to nine straight by the time January rolls around.

JP: Yeah, it sure seems like the Seahawks and Cowboys are distancing themselves from the rest of the NFC, and as much as I like the potential of the Bucs, they don't have enough against Seattle.

Carolina (+3.5) over OAKLAND

JC: I'm buying the Carolina turnaround, and I'm also willing to gamble on Oakland maybe not being that great of a home team. Oakland's defense has struggled at times when they aren't playing the Texans, and Carolina really has their back against the wall at this point. They need a win.

JP: I like Oakland, but I too am buying the Panthers being back. I see this thing being a pretty entertaining game, but I'm certainly not calling a blowout for the home team, so I'll take the points.

New England (-8) over NEW YORK JETS

JC: Ryan Fitzpatrick is back in the lineup, so New York's leading receiver in this game will probably be Devin McCourty.

JP: Ha, good one.

Kansas City (+3.5) over DENVER

JC: I think this will be a close game, and I'm more willing to fade Denver for as long as their secondary is banged up (Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward are both questionable for Sunday).

JP: Yeah, I have no idea, so I'll just take the points.

PHILADELPHIA (-4) over Green Bay

JC: Well, maybe Green Bay sucks? Their defense is among the worst in the league, and their linebackers and defensive backs keep dropping like flies. With no defense and no running game to speak of, I'm not sure how they hang with Philadelphia on the road.

JP: I think we can drop the "maybe" and just say that Green Bay sucks. If Aaron Rodgers wasn't the quarterback of this team, nobody would even entertain the thought of it being good. 

Here Are The Picks We Disagree On (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

JC: DETROIT (-2) over Minnesota

Minnesota has been reeling and still got less than a field goal against a division-leader? Thank you.

JP: Minnesota (+2) over Detroit

Ugh, Sam Bradford, you looked so competent until the end.

JC: Washington (+6.5) over DALLAS

Washington had been surging and still got almost a touchdown against a team that has played way more close games than a supposed juggernaut usually would? Thank you again.

JP: DALLAS (-6.5) over Washington

Don't sound all smug, like Dallas wasn't in total control of this game and Washington didn't backdoor cover me.

JC: Pittsburgh (-9.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

Pittsburgh is finally healthy, Indianapolis was without their all-pro quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger had thrown 10 touchdowns and close to 1000 yards in his last TWO games against the Colts, and I didn't even have to lay double-digits? Thanks a million.

JP: INDIANAPOLIS (+9.5) over Pittsburgh

Ok, you got me there.

JC: HOUSTON (+1.5) over San Diego

This might have swung a little too far - Houston still has a really good defense (at least they can slow down the running game), and they're still somehow pretty good at home (5-0 with wins over Detroit, Indy, Tennessee, and Kansas City). Also, if we get right down to it, Houston is 6-0 against teams that aren't New England, Oakland, Denver, and Minnesota. Those are the three best teams in the AFC and a team that opened the season 5-0 and looked like a Super Bowl contender. Just sayin'. Houston getting points at home against a decidedly not-outstanding team is a good bet.

JP: San Diego (-1.5) over HOUSTON

We haven't even gotten to Sunday and I'm already sick of you and your good bets. Phil Rivers and his 33 kids say nah.

JC: CHICAGO (+5.5) over Tennessee

Yeah, this one definitely swung too far. Tennessee is good, and Chicago is bad, but Tennessee definitely isn't "give almost a touchdown as a road favorite" good. If they were giving a field goal, this is a different story, but this line is at least two points too high.

JP: Tennessee (-5.5) over CHICAGO

At the end of the day, I just think Tennessee is pretty good, and the Bears are absolute trash. I'm not gonna lose sleep over an extra two points.

JC: CLEVELAND (+7) over New York Giants

I'm rolling with "The Giants might not actually be good, they've just played an easy schedule and still haven't blown anybody out yet" until they, you know, do.

JP: New York Giants (-7) over CLEVELAND

Have you seen Cleveland play this year? I hadn't actually watched them all the way through until last week, but now I'm fairly sure I'd take Alabama giving a touchdown against them.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 8-5-1
Season: 79-77-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-1 
Season's Disagreements: 22-26-1

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 7-6-1
Season: 83-73-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 1-2  
Season's Disagreements: 26-22-1

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