Ed: Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving? I certainly did — we hosted the family celebration this year, and I grilled up the turkey on my awesome new Solaire infrared grill, which I converted to natural gas a few days earlier. I also rustled up the turkey in my NFL picks on Thanksgiving, going 3-0 to run my record to 45-34. To make it even sweeter, the Steelers muscled out a win over the Colts, playing without Andrew Luck. But we’ll take it anyway.
Jazz: Having spent Thanksgiving day on the road (except for sitting down for the actual meal) I didn’t get to watch much football. In fact I had to Google the results later in the evening to discover that I’d gone 2-1 for season total of 49-30. No, it wasn’t a sweep, but it moves me one notch further above .500 so I’ll take it. Now let’s see if I can find anything to be thankful for on the gridiron today.
Ed: So we don’t have the Steelers or the Vikings for this week’s picks, thanks to their Thursday games. We’ll focus on the Jets, who welcome the Patriots (4:25 pm ET, CBS), which means a tough afternoon for New York fans. The Pats score nine points a game more than the Jets, and their defense is stingier by six points, too. Pats 31-16 over the Jets. The only other game I’ll highlight here is the 49ers at the Dolphins (1 pm, FOX), not so much for the football but for the unfortunate timing of having Colin Kaepernick wear a shirt with Fidel Castro’s face on it in Miami just days before the tyrant’s death. Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero exposed Kaepernick as an ignorant poseur on Castro earlier this week, and the 49er record under his leadership speaks for itself. Miami was going to beat the 49ers anyway, who stink on ice but are even worse on the road. The Dolphins and their fans will be looking for blood in this one. Fins over Frisco 35-10.
Jazz: This is the week no Jets fans were looking forward to. The Patriots are our perennial sore spot and this year is no different. The Jets have a terrible record and their stats are worse in every category. New England has a couple of injuries, but we’re starting Ryan Fitzpatrick again for some reason. (He’s been somewhat less than impressive this year.) But this is the same QB who found a way to beat the Patriots in Week 16 last year so I’ll cross my fingers and pick New York to do it again, 24-17. As for the Miami game, Jay Ajayi has now racked up more than 800 yards as a starter and the Dolphins’ defense is punching well above their weight class. Kaepernick, on the other hand, has improved in the past couple of weeks but that’s only to climb from really crappy to just sort of crappy. They won’t have enough gas in the tank for his one and the Dolphins should walk away with it by a smaller margin than Ed took, 27-17.
Ed: Let’s rack up a few more for today:
- Bengals at Ravens (1 pm, CBS) – The Bengals always seem just within reach of a win, but too often just can’t quite close the gap. Their two offenses score the same amount of points per game, but the Ravens’ defense and their home-field advantage will probably make the difference. I’m rooting for the Bengals because of the Steelers’ lead in the division, but the Ravens should win 24-17.
- Seahawks at Buccaneers (3:05 pm, CBS) – Tampa’s offense scores a couple more points per game, but their defense gives up eight more points a game. The Seahawk defense will take control of this game and frustrate Jameis Winston. Seattle 23-14 over Tampa Bay.
- Chargers at Texans (1 pm, CBS) – This one could be an interesting game. San Diego’s actually favored in this game despite being a 1-4 road team — and the Texans being undefeated at home. I’ll take the Texans in a really tight 28-24 win.
- Chiefs at Broncos (8:30 pm, NBC) – With the Raiders soaring this season, this game is critical to both teams in the AFC West. Denver and Kansas City are nearly equal on both sides of the ball, and they know each other pretty well. Denver has played strong at home, while the KC has struggled while beating lesser teams over the last few weeks. Broncos 23-19 over the Chiefs.
- Packers at Eagles (8:30 pm Monday, ESPN) – What’s the matter with Green Bay? Mostly defense; they’re giving up almost 28 points a game, while their offense is still scoring 24.7 points a game. Over their four-game losing streak, they’ve scored 24 or more points each time — but they’ve coughed up 31 to 47 points in those games. They actually do slightly better on offense than Philadelphia, but the Eagles give up eight fewer points a game. They have also had problems of late, losing four of their last six games, mainly because of a shortage of offense. They’re playing tougher than the Packers, though, and they should win a close game here, 31-27.
- Bengals at Ravens (1 pm, CBS) – The Bengals offense has too many folks on the IR list just as they’re facing one of the premier run defenses in the league. Cincinnati is close to “must win” territory here, but I don’t see them getting it done. Ravens win 24-13.
- Seahawks at Buccaneers (3:05 pm, CBS) – This one comes down to the fact that Russell Wilson has seriously uppped his game this season while Tampa Bay is 25th in passing defense and have given away 20 passing TDs. The Buc’s ground game can’t make up for that so I’ll take Seattle 28-13.
- Chargers at Texans (1 pm, CBS) – I’m not sure how the Chargers wound up being the favorite against a team with a better overall record and undefeated status in home games. It may all come down to the fact that San Diego is essentially out of the running in their division and would probably need a miracle to land a wild card slot. But wishes aren’t fishes and I’m going with Houston 24-20.
- Chiefs at Broncos (8:30 pm, NBC) –This is a tough one to call. The Chiefs have had a weak run game but the Broncos’ defense against the run has been mediocre as well. These two teams are tied for second in the AFC West, only one game behind the Raiders. In the end it comes down to who wants it more today and I think that’s the Chiefs. I’ll go with the slight upset and take Kansas City in a tight one, 20-17.
- Packers at Eagles (8:30 pm Monday, ESPN) – The Eagles are an understandable favorite in this home game and their defense has been consistently stronger than the Packers. But every time I wind up picking the Eagles they let me down. I’ll take a flyer on this one and predict a Lambeau Leap in enemy territory with the Packers pulling it out 34-31.
Ed addendum: I have to post a pic of the turkey, just because I’m making everyone look at it. Hope yours was just as tasty.