NFL

Week 12 NFL game picks: Pats hand Vikings second straight loss on Thanksgiving night; Titans > Bengals

Gregg Rosenthal went 12-2 straight up on his Week 11 picks, bringing his season total to 99-64-1. How will he fare in Week 12? His picks are below.

The lines provided by Caesars Sportsbook are current as of 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 23 unless otherwise noted below.

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THURSDAY, NOV. 24

  • WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)
  • WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Bills: -440 | Lions: +335
  • SPREAD: Lions +9.5 | O/U: 54.5

The Lions went into their Week 6 bye ranked dead last — by a healthy margin — in defensive efficiency (DVOA) through five games. In the five games since, they are 14th. Progress! The effort is there. Detroit can slow down a Buffalo team trying to simplify life for Josh Allen, and the Lions’ offensive line can lean on the Bills enough to make this an entertaining game. That’s all we ask for, Lions!

  • WHERE: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
  • WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET | FOX, FOX Deportes
  • MONEYLINE: Giants: +345 | Cowboys: -455
  • SPREAD: Cowboys -10 | O/U: 45.5

This game feels like a Cowboys blowout or a tight Giants win. If New York can get Saquon Barkley to slow down the pace of the game and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale can confuse Dak Prescott with blitzes, it’s easy to see the G-Men playing another confident fourth quarter. But the talent disparity is immense. The Giants are banged up on the offensive line and in the secondary, two areas that the Cowboys are primed to expose. Prescott’s willingness to run again opens up the offense, and Dallas’ waves of pass rushers will be too much.

  • WHERE: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC, Telemundo
  • MONEYLINE: Patriots: +118 | Vikings: -140
  • SPREAD: Patriots +2.5 | O/U: 42.5

This is the type of Patriots team Bill Belichick loves: all defense and special teams, with the hope to find offensive footing by Thanksgiving. There were some promising signs against the Jets when the Pats used their two-tight end sets and ran play action. Mac Jones now gets a favorable matchup against a banged-up Vikings cornerback group. Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, held the ball too long against the Cowboys because he didn’t trust what he was seeing. Look for Belichick to confuse Cousins, too, and get a win over Kevin O’Connell, whom the Patriots coach once drafted to back up Tom Brady.

SUNDAY, NOV. 27

  • WHERE: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Broncos: -135 | Panthers: +115
  • SPREAD: Broncos -2.5 | O/U: 36

The Panthers’ defense is a lot better with Jaycee Horn and Jeremy Chinn back in the secondary. That should lead to another long day for Russell Wilson, who has only played well against the Raiders this season. Unfortunately, Sam Darnold’s return to the lineup will come against this depleted-but-excellent Broncos defense. This will not be the first game I watch on Game Pass next week.

  • WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Buccaneers: -178 | Browns: +150
  • SPREAD: Buccaneers -3.5 | O/U: 42.5

Was the Buccaneers’ win in Germany a sign of their season finally turning around? Chris Godwin’s renewed explosiveness and the defense’s return to health are great signs. This is a veteran squad that should be fresher after the bye week and ready to close the season strong, like it’s 2020. The Browns’ defense, meanwhile, is getting pushed around up front. Cleveland is the rare team the Bucs can find success against when they run on early downs.

  • WHERE: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Ravens: -205 | Jaguars: +170
  • SPREAD: Jaguars +4 | O/U: 43.5

My producers at GameDay View on NFL Network keep track of how I pick each team. I’ve been wrong more about the Jaguars than any other team (3-7!), underestimating them early and overestimating them of late. They are better than their record, but I can’t take them over a Ravens defense that is peaking. The Roquan Smith addition has helped to unlock Patrick Queen and, suddenly, the defense is strong at every level. Jacksonville will make Baltimore sweat, though.

  • WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Texans: +550 | Dolphins: -800
  • SPREAD: Dolphins -13.5 | O/U: 47

The Dolphins’ tour of the league’s worst defenses ends after this week, so let’s enjoy this one. In a league of declining passing attacks and increasingly defensive games, watching with disbelief how deep Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle get by the end of Tua Tagovailoa’s drop is an amusing activity. Tua’s anticipation and touch are reminiscent of Kurt Warner. Noting the weak opposition lately isn’t a slight. Only the Chiefs and Dolphins are capable of regularly destroying poor defenses, a quality which now feels like a vestige of a different era of football, from way back in 2020.

  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Bears: +180 | Jets: -220
  • SPREAD: Jets -4.5 | O/U: 39.5

The score here assumes Justin Fields is playing, but either way, I like Mike White to win his first start of the season. Zach Wilson’s replacement should be able to read defenses and get the ball to the Jets’ talented receivers quickly. That’s especially true against a Bears defense that has quietly been among the league’s worst since trading Roquan Smith. Fields is listed as “day to day” because of his shoulder injury; subtract 10 points off the Bears’ total if they downgrade to Trevor Siemian.

  • WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Bengals: -130 | Titans: +110
  • SPREAD: Titans +2 | O/U: 42.5

Both quarterbacks are coming off superlative performances. Joe Burrow could get Ja’Marr Chase back this week, while Ryan Tannehill is now getting help from maturing rookie Treylon Burks and Robert Woods, who appears to bring more juice the further away he gets from ACL surgery. This is the best game on Sunday because both teams have improved throughout the season and should make the playoffs. In a toss-up, I like the Titans because they’re at home and their defense is the best-coached unit in the game. Also, this line is almost as disrespectful as being underdogs in Lambeau.

  • WHERE: FedExField (Landover, Md.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Falcons: +175 | Commanders: -210
  • SPREAD: Falcons +4.5 | O/U: 41

The Commanders are great at winning crazy games and stopping the run. The Falcons aren’t truly great at anything, but they like running the football and playing in crazy games. Logic would indicate, then, this is a bad matchup for the Falcons, who don’t trust Marcus Mariota to throw. But logic has no place in a game with these teams, so 4.5 points feels like too much to give away.

  • WHERE: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Chargers: -220 | Cardinals: +180
  • SPREAD: Chargers -4.5 | O/U: 47.5

The Chargers have played better the last two weeks despite losing close games to the 49ers and Chiefs. Justin Herbert looks like his old self, and Brandon Staley has come up with some answers for his banged-up defense. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are a mess. Arizona opened November with three straight games against NFC West rivals. Heading into this stretch, on Hard Knocks, Kliff Kingsbury promoted the opportunity to get to first place and save the season. The Cards weren’t competitive in two of those games — embarrassing themselves on and off the field in Mexico — and now their season is all but over.

  • WHERE: Lumen Field (Seattle)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • MONEYLINE: Raiders: +162 | Seahawks: -195
  • SPREAD: Seahawks -3.5 | O/U: 47.5

How can a defense with Maxx Crosby be this bad? (The same way a Browns defense with Myles Garrett can be that bad.) The Seahawks should be able to hit deep shots against this Raiders secondary, then allow Kenneth Walker III to close out the game. In a matchup between two offenses that can slow down the pace of play, however, don’t be surprised if it’s closer than the records might suggest, another one-score loss for Vegas in a season full of them.

  • WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Rams: +700 | Chiefs: -1100
  • SPREAD: Chiefs -14.5 | O/U: 43

This score assumes Bryce Perkins will start at quarterback for the Rams. If Matthew Stafford plays, give Los Angeles an extra touchdown. The quarterback situation for L.A. feels strangely irrelevant after watching the defensive effort from the mostly-healthy Rams defense over the last two weeks. When Chris Olave and Juwan Johnson start cooking Jalen Ramsey, something isn’t right.

  • WHERE: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • MONEYLINE: Saints: +345 | 49ers: -455
  • SPREAD: 49ers -9.5 | O/U: 43

The Rams are serving as slump busters these days, so don’t be fooled by New Orleans’ win over Los Angeles last week. The Saints are so banged up on both lines that it’s hard to imagine them creating pressure or preventing it, a dastardly combination against these 49ers. San Francisco might get near the top of Dan Hanzus’ Power Rankings after two beatdowns in a row.

  • WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC, Universo
  • MONEYLINE: Packers: +240 | Eagles: -305
  • SPREAD: Packers +6.5 | O/U: 46.5

Packers beat writers were questioning after Green Bay’s Thursday night meltdown if the team would win another game this season. It isn’t that dramatic. It’s just been so long since the Packers were average that no one knows what it looks like. Aaron Rodgers is still playing well enough, and the defense has enough talent to win (or lose) any game. Green Bay lacks closing ability, but the ground game can keep the Pack close.

MONDAY, NOV. 28

  • WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • WHEN: 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes
  • MONEYLINE: Steelers: +118 | Colts: -140
  • SPREAD: Steelers +2.5 | O/U: 39

Both offenses have improved in recent weeks. Both Najee Harris and Jonathan Taylor have more juice now than earlier in the season. George Pickens is getting more consistent chances downfield, while Parris Campbell is becoming a thing. The defenses remain better overall for both teams here, but I’m more interested in this game than I imagined possible two weeks ago. For that, clearing the lowest of bars for entertaining football, I’d like to give thanks.

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