NFL Week 12 Picks, Predictions: Cowboys, Vikings earn tough Turkey Day wins

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Photo: Keith Allison via Flickr.com


Thursday, Nov. 24

Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Detroit Lions (6-4)

The Vikings have noisily dropped four of their last five games while the Lions have quietly climbed into a first-place tie with Minnesota for the NFC North lead.

Detroit has won five of their last six games, but none of them have been by more than one possession. That’s primarily because the Lions offense has been average, even with Matthew Stafford at the helm, and their defense is mediocre at best.

The Vikings, on the other hand, have one of the best defenses in the league and a secondary that should be able to handle Stafford.

Minnesota’s run defense has struggled as of late, but they won’t really need it against a Detroit rushing attack that averages only 79.5 yards per game, third-fewest in the NFL.

Q’s Pick: Vikings, 24-20


Washington Redskins (6-3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-1)

These teams met at the dawn of the season, a Week 2 game in Washington that ended with a Cowboys win and started what is now a franchise-record nine-game winning streak for Dallas.

It took a late touchdown to preserve Dallas’ 27-23 win, but it also came before the Cowboys had really gelled together.

Ezekiel Elliott only rushed for 83 yards, his fewest in a Cowboys win this season, and Dak Prescott didn’t throw a touchdown pass, a goose egg he hasn’t posted in that column of the stat sheet since.

The Redskins are a solid team, we saw that when they put up 42 points against a depleted Packers secondary, but Dallas is fresh off scoring 27 against Baltimore, one of the best defenses in the league.

Q’s Pick: Cowboys, 30-23


Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

A Colts offense that already ranks outside the top-10 in most major categories may now have to perform without Andrew Luck, who is still in concussion protocol.

Pittsburgh’s secondary isn’t anything special, but their offense has found its footing, scoring a combined 54 points in their last two games after failing to score more than 16 in each of their previous three.

On the other side, Indy’s secondary is the league’s worse, statistically, allowing 284.5 yards per game through the air.

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown should post big numbers in what could turn into a shootout.

 Q’s Pick: Steelers, 33-26


Sunday, Nov. 27

San Diego Chargers (4-6) at Houston Texans (6-4)

The Texans defense kept up with the Raiders last weekend but things won’t get any easier this weekend against Philip Rivers and the fifth-best offense in the league.

Houston’s much-improved secondary allows the fourth-fewest yards per game (206.6) and has playmakers that should be able to keep up with San Diego.

The problem for the Texans is their horrendous offense, which only scores 18.1 points per game and is led by a struggling Brock Osweiler.

Expect a close, hard-fought, low scoring game.

Q’s Pick: Texans, 23-20


Tennessee Titans (5-6) at Chicago Bears (2-8)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the Titans score a lot of points against bad defenses and struggle against good ones.

They get something in between on Sunday.

The Colts were able to shut down Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray last weekend, but I don’t expect them to get blanked for consecutive weeks.

Further, the Titans defense is much better than the Bears offense, especially with Jay Cutler still listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.

Q’s Pick: Titans, 27-23


Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8) at Buffalo Bills (5-5)

LeSean McCoy is fresh off a surgery that repaired his thumb, but he is expected to play against a Jaguars defense that gives up more than 113 yards per game on the ground (23rd).

Buffalo’s defense also made a statement by allowing the Bengals only 12 points last weekend, the fifth time this season they have allowed fewer than nineteen points.

Blake Bortles has kept his team in games, but he hasn’t helped them win any. The Jags have lost five-straight, including three in a row by one possession.

The Bills simply have too much talent to let this one slip away at home.

Q’s Pick: Bills, 26-20


Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

The Ravens defense went toe-to-toe with the Cowboys last weekend but came just short of a win.

Not that the defense played poorly, they just played a team that is absoultely on fire.

Now they get to face an ice-cold Bengals offense that will be without A.J. Green and only scored 12 points last weekend.

All eyes are on Andy Dalton and his ability to move the ball because there is no use running it — Baltimore still has the league’s No. 1-ranked run defense (76 ypg).

Q’s Pick: Ravens, 26-17


Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1) at Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

This game’s storyline? How about Patrick Peterson and the Bird Gang’s secondary against Atlanta’s high-flying pass game led by Matt Ryan?

Arizona has the league’s No. 1 secondary, allowing only 190.2 yards per game and now they are tasked with holding Ryan and Julio Jones in check. The latter tandem lead the league’s No. 2-ranked pass offense.

On the other side of the ball, David Johnson continues to raise eyebrows in his sophomore campaign while Carson Palmer continues to struggle.

I’m going to give the Cardinals a chance in this game and wouldn’t be surprised at all if they win, but they have struggled against teams worse than Atlanta.

Q’s Pick: Falcons, 29-21


San Francisco 49ers (1-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-4)

Remember when the 49ers blew out the Rams in Week 1 and it looked like they might be halfway decent?

Those days are long gone and the anti-Cowboys have lost nine-straight since that impressive season opener.

The Dolphins, on the other hand, have won five in a row after starting the season 1-4 and are in the hunt for a playoff spot.

That’s not to say they’ve dominated games during their run (they haven’t) but they have a chance to do just that against a San Francisco defense that is ranked last in the league in most major categories.

Q’s Pick: Dolphins, 30-17


Los Angeles Rams (4-6) at New Orleans Saints (4-6)

The Saints shouldn’t be as bad as their record indicates; Drew Brees has been at the helm of the league’s top-ranked pass offense.

The problem is their defense, which allows 382.8 yards per game, 27th in the NFL.

The good news is that the Rams offense is one of only two teams that averages fewer than 300 total yards per game and Jared Goff will only be making his second career start.

If the Saints can’t win this game, their season is in serious jeopardy.

 Q’s Pick: Saints, 30-24


New York Giants (7-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-11)

I don’t know when things are going to turn around for the Browns but things don’t look too good this weekend.

The Giants are winners of five-straight, though none were by more than a touchdown.

Still, Eli Manning is an experienced and talented enough quarterback to pick apart a secondary as weak as Cleveland’s.

At least Believeland has the Cavaliers and Indians to be proud of.

 Q’s Pick: Giants, 28-17


Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)

Jameis Winston against the Legion of Boom? That should be fun.

Further, Russell Wilson is on an absolute tear, scoring seven touchdowns in his last three games, including a reception TD.

Seattle is on the road but they would still have to play a pretty disappointing game to lose against Tampa’s 26th-ranked defense.

Earl Thomas is questionable to play Sunday, but Kam Chancellor will play and as long as one of them is patrolling in the secondary, the Seahawks defense is among the league’s best.

Q’s Pick: Seahawks, 27-20


Carolina Panthers (4-6) at Oakland Raiders (8-2)

The Raiders are back at home and have sole possession of the AFC West lead again with their best record through 10 games since 2001.

Derek Carr and a committee of running backs have helped the Raiders remain in the league’s top-5 in most offensive categories.

But their Achilles heel, as it has been all season, is their defense which ranks 29th in total yards allowed.

Cam Newton would love to take advantage of that, but the Raiders offense has been playing too well for the Panthers to catch in a shootout.

Q’s Pick: Raiders, 33-27


New England Patriots (8-2) at New York Jets (3-7)

At this point it appears both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are questionable for Sunday’s AFC East matchup.

What’s scary about New England is that they probably don’t need either of them to beat the Jets, even in New York.

The airplanes will send Ryan Fitzpatrick back out under center, benching Bryce Petty, in the hopes that the veteran can provide some sort of spark against the Patriots’ No. 15-ranked secondary.

It still won’t be enough. The Patriots are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Q’s Pick: Patriots, 30-22


Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) at Denver Broncos (7-3)

Both teams hold records that are better than four division leaders, but neither club holds their own division’s lead, thanks to the red-hot Raiders.

The Chiefs saw a five-game winning streak come to an end at home against the Bucs last weekend, demonstrating severe inconsistencies on both sides of the ball.

Denver has won three of their last four and seem to have their defense back on track behind Trevor Siemian‘s offense.

I’ll give the edge to the Broncos because they are fresh off a bye, are playing are at home, and tend to play well in big time games like this one.

Q’s Pick: Broncos, 27-21


Monday, Nov. 28

Green Bay Packers (4-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)

The Packers lack of depth has been on full display this season as injuries have added up resulting in embarassing performances like last weekend’s rout at the hands of the Redskins.

The Eagles are still somewhat in the playoff picture and even though Carson Wentz has been inconsistent, he isn’t facing a very good secondary.

To make matters worse for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers has to face the league’s No. 9-ranked secondary and Green Bay doesn’t really have a running back to exploit the Eagles weak run defense.

Q’s Pick: Eagles, 29-22


Last Week’s Record: 10-4

Season Record: 101-58-2


** Bye Week: N/A

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