It’s about 1:45 as this post goes live, which means I have to leave my apartment in about 10 or 15 minutes to cover the Stanford/Notre Dame game in Palo Alto, where I’ll get to see Stanford’s new “combat uniforms” in person.
I’ll be analyzing Andrew Luck’s last game on The Farm mostly from a Fighting Irish perspective for CSN Chicago, but if I have time I’ll get to impersonate Ray Ratto and write a Stanford-themed column for CSN Bay Area, which would be fun. I’d like to try and write something in Ratto’s voice, but that might be impossible for a mere mortal like myself.
Anyway, between researching Notre Dame (FYI, Lou Holtz doesn’t coach the team anymore) and all the Thanksgiving and HarBowl craziness, I almost forgot to make the rest of this week’s NFL picks.
I actually had a respectable day on Thanksgiving, going 2-1 after the 49ers lost their second game of the year and failed to cover (or push) for the first time in 2011. We’ll see how well I do when I make the following picks, seeing as I did almost no research and made these predictions as quickly as possible.
So in other words, the warning this week is even stronger than usual: DON’T GAMBLE ACTUAL MONEY BASED ON THESE PICKS. But you already knew that…
Onto the Week 12 picks, with odds courtesy of 5dimes.com from around 1 pm PDT Saturday (11/26/11):
Browns @ Bengals (-9)
In-state rivalry game, so look for a closer-than-expected win for Cincinnati.
Vikings @ Falcons (-10.5)
No Adrian Peterson? Unless Toby Gerhart has some Stanford flashbacks, this is going to be a rough one for Minnesota.
Panthers (-3.5) @ Colts
Pretty hard to justify betting on Andrew Luck’s future team these days.
Buccaneers @ Titans (-3)
Since losing 48-3 in San Francisco, the Bucs beat the Saints and then lost four in a row. Weird team, and they’re reeling.
Texans @ Jaguars (-7.5)
The Jaguars play solid defense at home, but more than anything else there’s absolutely no way I’m predicting Matt Leinart to cover the spread in his first game.
Bills @ Jets (-11)
The Jets are 5-5 and need this game to save their season. And the Bills are dreadful.
Cardinals @ Rams (-1)
Arizona needed a 99-yard punt return for a TD by Patrick Peterson to beat the Rams in OT a few weeks ago … at home.
Redskins @ Seahawks (-3.5)
The Redskins’ losing streak will hit seven after this one.
Broncos @ Chargers (-5.5)
Strange line, considering the Chargers have lost five in a row and Denver’s won four of their last five games. Anyone else feel like San Diego’s the only west coast team that consistently gets too much credit from the national media?
Patriots (-3.5) @ Eagles
Michael Vick missing his second consecutive game with broken ribs actually makes picking Philly seem kind of tempting here, but the Pats are hitting their stride offensively. Rob Gronkowski’s nearly unstoppable right now.
Steelers (-11.5) @ Chiefs
Another gross Sunday night game.
Giants @ Saints (-8.5)
New York’s a feisty road team, and they need to remedy things quickly after consecutive losses to the 49ers and Eagles. The over/under is in the 50-51 range — the over looks like a good play in what should be a shootout between two good passing teams.
Bears @ Raiders (-3.5)
Without Jay Cutler, Oakland can focus more attention on defending the run. That’s great news, since only New Orleans (5.19) gives up more yards per carry than the Raiders (5.16).
While Cutler’s thumb injury creates a huge void for the Bears (who are forced to start Caleb Hanie at QB), the Raiders have an almost ridiculous number of injuries to overcome on offense. Darren McFadden’s still out. Jacoby Ford’s out as well, and Denarius Moore (foot) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (neck) are questionable.
Hanie performed quite well in last year’s NFC Championship after Cutler left, but Carson Palmer’s in a groove and Michael Bush has been huge in McFadden’s absence, rushing for 461 yards over his last four games on 96 carries. Chicago’s defense has been tough as of late, but the Raiders should expect to win this game at home against a backup quarterback who hasn’t played all season. I think they will.
Last week: 8-6 (2-1 on Thanksgiving)