Good luck at the window this season and enjoy the 2020 NFL season whiles it lasts, because with the ways things are going it won't be long!
Houston Texans 3-7 (-3) @ Detroit Lions 4-6 (51.5): Texans 30-24
Thanksgiving, 12:30 PM, Ford Field, Detroit, MI (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: The Texans are riding high after beating the New England Patriots Sunday while the Lions just suffered one of the only shut-outs, if not the only, so far in 2020 to the Carolina Panthers, to boot. With all due respect to the Panthers, they shouldn’t be shutting anyone out, especially these Lions. Detroit also comes into Thanksgiving limping on defense, so look for Deshuan Watson to put on another incredible show against a banged up defense that was awful in the first place.
Washington Football Team 3-7 (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys 3-7 (46): Cowboys 24-23
Thanksgiving, 4:30 PM, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: The Cowboys actually won Sunday on the late Dalton-to-Dalton go-ahead TD pass, while the Football Team was the recipient of an injured Joe Burrow after dropping the previous two games to awful teams. You get the point. In fact, the last time Washington won in earnest it was a dismantling of these Cowboys (25-3 in Week 7). Look for Dallas to get revenge in front of the home crowd on Thanksgiving while riding the momentum of Sunday’s improbable win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: The Raiders struggle to defend the pass (28th), which the Falcons have excelled at for years on offense (3rd). The Raiders can run the ball as well as anyone (7th), but the Falcons actually defend the run well (9th) and the Raiders are banged up at RB. In other words, this is a great chance for the Falcons to cover here, or even win, but the Raiders can’t afford to make too many more mistakes going forward or it’s on to 2021 for Las Vegas, no pun intended.
Sunday, 1:00 PM, New Era Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Sunny; low 50s)
Keys: These teams couldn’t be more opposite. Buffalo is cold and in the northeast; Los Angeles is warm and in the southwest. Buffalo is 7-3 with a +0.7 ppg point differential; Los Angeles is 3-7 with a -1.3 ppg point differential. The Bills score almost exactly what the Chargers give up (BUF: 27.2 ppg; LAC: allow 27.3 ppg) and vice versa (LAC: 26.0 ppg; BUF: allows 26.5 ppg). The Bills are leading their division; the Chargers are definitely not. One thing they have in common is young, talented QBs, although Josh Allen is certainly more proven than Justin Herbert. They also have talent on both sides of the ball and have vastly underachieved on defense, although it’s clearly hurt the Chargers more than the Bills. Buffalo doesn’t lose to bad teams and they need to stay ahead of the Miami Dolphins, but 5.5 points is steep with Joey Bosa back on the other side of Melvin Ingram.
New York Giants 3-7 (-6) v. Cincinnati Bengals 2-7-1 (43.5): Giants 23-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Partly Sunny; low 50s)
Keys: Try to read this without laughing: The Giants are in the playoff hunt. The Bengals were actually in the hunt for their second number one draft in a row before Joe Burrow was lost for the season. So it’s no wonder the Giants are getting six points on the road against the Bengals. Wait a minute, it’s a huge wonder. The Giants are awful and Joe Burrow doesn’t move any needles six points. I don’t care if New York is 3-3 in their last six games and have only lost those three games by an average of 2 ppg, the only thing they do well is defend the run (6th), so a few wins in the putrid NFC East shouldn’t impress anyone, especially when two of those last three losses also came via NFC East teams, too. I’m not saying Brandon Allen is going to win, I’m just saying I doubt these Giants cover six points.
Tennessee Titans 7-3 *(+3) @ Indianapolis Colts 7-3 (51.5): Titans 26-23
Keys: Much like the Indianapolis Colts couldn’t afford to lose to these Titans Week 10 after losing to Baltimore the week before if they wanted to keep pace in the AFC South, these Titans now can’t afford to lose to the Colts or risk losing the tie-breaker in the event of a tie five weeks from now. The Titans also play three more tough games, including Sunday, and more three divisional games, including Sunday. Sometimes all the analysis in the world doesn’t change desperation, and while Colts stout run defense might’ve kept Derrick Henry out of the end zone last time, they didn’t exactly keep him in check (103 rushing yards).
Sunday, 1:00 PM, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: I’m not really sure what to expect out of either of these teams at this point. The Vikings have arguably the three best skill players at their respective positions (Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook & Justin Jefferson), a solid offensive line and a borderline good QB, yet they’re 4-6. Not just because of a bad defense, either, but more so because all that talent can’t muster more than 26.4 ppg, which in today’s NFL is only good for 14th, or middle-of-the-pack. The Panthers, on the other hand, should have been left for dead months ago, yet can pop up in Week 11 and shut out the Detroit Lions. There are no parties to be spoiled here, anyway, so who cares?
Arizona Cardinals 6-4 *(-2.5) @ New England Patriots 4-6 (49.5): Cardinals 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: Sunny; high 40s)
Keys: It wasn’t too long ago Cam Newton was going to revolutionize the NFL because no one had ever seen someone so big and so athletic at the same time. Isn’t it ironic that ten years later we’re saying the same thing about Kyler Murray, except it’s because we’ve never seen someone so small and athletic at the same time. We have no clue what the hell we’re talking about. These are two are the best rushing offenses in the NFL, while both defenses rank in the lower third of the NFL defending the run. Considering Bill Belichick and some of the league’s best pass defenders will be all over DeAndre Hopkins it’s safe to say we’re in for a quick, run-heavy game. Considering the weather won’t be too cold, and the Cardinals explosive ways, I’d say we’re in for a Cardinals cover and a recover from last week.
Miami Dolphins 6-4 (-7) @ New York Jets 0-10 (44.5): Dolphins 27-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)
Keys: The offensively-woeful Jets have exploded for 27.5 ppg their past two games, and nearly beat the New England Patriots three weeks ago. The Dolphins were on a tear trying to catch the Buffalo Bills, but stumbled against the Denver Broncos last week after the Broncos chased Tua Tagovailoa off the field, literally. Look for one of the league’s best scoring defenses (4th) to get the Dolphins back on track by stifling Joe Flacco and the league’s worst scoring and total offense, because the Jets are incapable of revenge.
Sunday, 1:00 PM, TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: 30% storms; high 70s)
Keys: Whoever is missing on defense for the Browns is more than made up for by the offensive players missing Sunday for Jacksonville. It might rain Sunday in Jacksonville, too, which would be Cleveland’s fourth straight game in the rain. Where is Las Vegas getting an O/U of 50 points from? The bottom line is Cleveland is capable of losing any game at any time, but these Jaguars are one of the league’s worst teams, and the Browns should be able to run them out of their own building. It’s so fitting that in one of the few places in the country where they value football over human life they're forced to watch one of the worst teams in the NFL. That’s a shame.
New Orleans Saints 8-2 (-6) @ Denver Broncos 4-6 (43.5): Saints 24-17
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO (Weather: Sunny; mid-40s)
Keys: The Broncos had given up 36 ppg over their previous four games before holding the Miami Dolphins to 13 points last week, but before you think the Broncos have found their defensive ways again, or that they’ll automatically yield 36+ to the Saints (6th 29.5 ppg), think again. It’ll be somewhere in between, because New Orleans will be trotting out Taysom Hill with a week’s worth of starter tape out on him, but the Saints line is better than Miami’s, and Hill is at least as mobile as Tua Tagovailoa if you consider his experience. The Saints defense should stifle the Broncos, while their offense will score just enough to cover.
Sunday, 4:05 PM, SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: The Rams are home and seeking revenge against a hobbling 49ers team. That’s a bad recipe and one not really worth analyzing. Besides, I don’t want to hurt my greater Sacramento family member’s feelings.
Keys: What appears as a great match up on paper is really what should be the Chiefs covering the 3.5 points with ease. The Buccaneers are not as good at beating up teams that excel at all three phases of the game and the Chiefs more than qualify. With one of the highest point differentials in the NFL (11.3 ppg) and arguably the league’s best kicker to complement a good pass defense and an offensive line that gives up the 4th-fewest sacks, it’s hard to find a way to justify Tampa Bay covering.
Sunday, 8:20 PM, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: Windy; high 30s)
Keys: If I’m the Packers I’m thinking one thing: Keep Kahlil Mack away from Aaron Rodgers. That’s it. Game plan. Besides that the Packers well-rounded offense (3rd scoring offense; 7th total offense) should score enough points to cover against a Bears team going back to Mitch(ell) Trubisky. Instead of jinxing my choice to start Rodgers over Deshaun Watson in a critical fantasy football week, I’ll just leave it there.
Seattle Seahawks 7-3 *(-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles 3-6-1 (50): Seahawks 30-24
Monday, 8:15 PM, Lincoln Financial Stadium, Philadelphia, PA (Weather: 40% rain; high 40s)
Keys: These teams combine to average 53.8 ppg (SEA: 31.8 ppg; PHI: 22 ppg) and allow 54.1 ppg (SEA: 28.7 ppg; PHI: 25.4 ppg), which is not only bizarre, but cause to take the over. That’s about the only interesting thing about this game, besides the fact that despite being 3.5 games apart in the NFC conference standings and the Eagles being three games under .500, both teams are fighting for their respective divisions and could even face each other in the playoffs. What a year. The Eagles (3rd sacks) could easily get to Russell Wilson, but one of the only offensive lines that allows more sacks than the Seahawks are the Eagles (32nd).
Baltimore Ravens 6-4 (+4) @ *Pittsburgh Steelers 10-0 (45): 23-17
Tuesday, 8:00 PM Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (Weather: 50% snow; low 30s)
Keys: Are you ready for some footbaaaaall?!?! A...Tuesday night party? Again??? Who said the Steelers were getting the short end of the stick this season because of covid? Now they might get a Ravens team led by RGIII scrambling to fill other roster spots with practice squad players, including the back-up QB position. Not to mention the weather went from Sunny and 50º (Sunday afternoon) to snowing (Tuesday evening). So the real question is, how much do the Steelers win by and do we put an asterisk next to their team if they go undefeated this season?