Do you smell that? There’s a scent of roasted bird wafting through the air. And now … potatoes? Yes, potatoes, that’s what that is. And pumpkins! Pumpkin pie! Oh my sweet goodness, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time. Welcome to Thanksgiving.
OK, so today is Wednesday, which means my mind (and/or stomach) is getting ahead of itself. And I am not John Breech. I am Cody Benjamin, John Breech’s trusty midweek newsletter assistant. But we’re here today to talk about Thanksgiving — and, more notably, the NFL — because this will be the last newsletter until Black Friday. I’m not sure if John is planning to drop that Friday newsletter at 12:01 a.m. so that you’ll have something to read while waiting in line for Black Friday deals, but I am sure this’ll be the last Pick Six update until after the holiday. So pay attention! Because we’ve got everything you need to know in today’s edition.
Please, if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re signed up to receive this newsletter every day. You don’t want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL. Now, for today’s update …
We’ve got Thanksgiving game previews (update: the Ravens-Steelers game has been postponed to Sunday), betting advice, Week 12 predictions and so much more:
Today’s shows: Betting Thursday’s games; do Lions belong on Thanksgiving?
You know what’s better than watching football on Thanksgiving? Watching football and collecting just a little extra dough for the Black Friday frenzy. Betting expert R.J. White was Will Brinson’s guest on a special late-night edition of the Pick Six Podcast (listen and subscribe right here), and he helped handicap the entire Thursday slate with everything from picks to prop bets to DFS advice. You’ll want to check out the show for a full breakdown, but this wisdom alone should be a good starting point if you’re looking to get in on Thanksgiving Day action: Don’t you dare put your money on the Detroit Lions, who are three-point underdogs against the Texans.
“If you bet the moneyline (+140) on the Lions on Thanksgiving,” White said, “you probably deserve to lose your money and take the rest of the day off.”
Thank you for laying down the law, R.J. We’re all gonna be getting enough sweets on Thanksgiving; we don’t need any sugarcoating on our betting advice, either.
Speaking of the Lions, should the NFL just flat-out take Detroit off the annual Thanksgiving schedule because of their, shall we say, general ineptitude? Brady Quinn tackled that question — and a whole lot more, from Tom Brady’s prime-time issues to Lamar Jackson’s 2020 struggles — in Wednesday morning’s episode of the Pick Six Podcast (don’t forget, you can listen and subscribe). The short answer from Quinn, on the Lions: Traditions are traditions, so while Detroit may not have a good team, the city remains an anticipated Thanksgiving destination.
2. Prisco’s Picks: Chiefs edge Bucs, Falcons upset Raiders
We tried to get Pete Prisco to spend this week predicting the desserts he’d enjoy on Thanksgiving, but he passed. (Just for the record, we did not try to do this. But feel free to ask him about it on Twitter anyway.) Instead, we got some bold prognostications for the Week 12 schedule! Check out Pete’s full list of predictions in preparation for the holiday weekend, but here’s a sneak peek at two of his most notable picks, including another Buccaneers loss and a surprise victory for an NFC South team:
Chiefs (-3.5) at Buccaneers
The Bucs have to shake off the poor offensive showing versus the Rams Monday night against a Kansas City team that is cooking on offense. Can Tom Brady keep up with Patrick Mahomes? Jared Goff carved up Tampa Bay’s defense. Mahomes will do the same. The Chiefs will win a second straight road game.
Pick: Chiefs 30, Bucs 24
Raiders (-3) at Falcons
This is a tough trip for the Raiders after a tough home loss to the Chiefs. They played well in that game, while the Falcons did not in the loss to the Saints. That will change in this one. The Raiders defense still has big-time issues and I think Matt Ryan will get back on track and pull off the upset in a shootout with Derek Carr.
Pick: Falcons 34, Raiders 31
3. Thanksgiving previews: Can the Cowboys win again?
We’ve got not one, but two different games on tap for Turkey Day (Ravens-Steelers has been postponed to Sunday) which means we’ve got no time to waste! It’s time to get you caught up on all that awaits you on Thanksgiving. Without further ado, we present a duo of abbreviated previews to cover the entire first day of Week 12 action (for a look at the best prop bets to make on Thanksgiving, click here):
What: Texans (3-7) at Lions (4-6)When: 12:30 p.m. ETThe Lowdown: Both of these teams are pretty lost, but this matchup could accelerate big-picture changes (see: Matt Patricia’s future as Lions coach) and, on a simpler level, should still offer high-scoring potential. Matthew Stafford versus Deshaun Watson might be more entertaining than expected, even though Detroit laid an egg in its Week 11 shutout.Cody’s Pick: Texans 26, Lions 23
What: Washington (3-7) at Cowboys (3-7)When: 4:30 p.m. ETThe Lowdown: The records are ugly, but this game is of supreme importance in a division where any team that can just be competent for a few weeks will earn a playoff berth. Washington’s defense remains feisty, and Alex Smith’s been fine at QB, but Dallas might be the NFC East favorite now that Andy Dalton looks more comfortable utilizing the Cowboys’ offensive weaponry. Cody’s Pick: Cowboys 27, Washington 20
What: Ravens (6-4) at Steelers (10-0)When: Postponed from Thanksgiving to SundayThe Lowdown: Baltimore’s COVID-19 outbreak has caused this game to be moved from Thursday to Sunday.4. Playoff projections: Browns favored over Dolphins, Raiders
The playoff picture is taking shape as we turn into the home stretch of the 2020 season, but there are still plenty of spots up for grabs. That’s why John Breech, your normal Pick Six newsletter man, does a weekly roundup of SportsLine projections regarding the postseason field. You’ll want to give the entire thing a look-see, but the Week 12 edition is particularly interesting because of what’s going on in the AFC: The Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders are essentially in a three-team battle for the final wild card spot, and right now, the computers love them some Browns, even though it’s extremely close.
Here’s how the entire playoff picture is projected to look, as of Breech’s latest roundup:
SaintsRamsPackersEaglesSeahawksBuccaneersCardinals5. QB Power Rankings: Derek Carr overtakes Tom Brady in top 10
Mike Meredith graphic
Some rodeo clown named Cody Benjamin (who gave this guy two first names, after all?) is in charge of ranking all 32 NFL QBs each week, and he had some big changes ahead of Week 12 — none bigger than moving Derek Carr ahead of Tom Brady in the top 10. Josh Allen, Ryan Tannehill and Justin Herbert were among others who jumped up this week, but Carr’s ascension to No. 8 overall speaks volumes about his performance guiding Las Vegas into the playoff picture. Here’s a peek at Benjamin’s updated top 10:
Patrick MahomesAaron RodgersRussell Wilson (+1)Kyler Murray (-1)Deshaun Watson (+1)Ben Roethlisberger (-1)Josh Allen (+2)Derek Carr (+2)Tom Brady (-2)Ryan Tannehill (+1)6. Super Bowl odds: Chiefs still favored over Steelers
You’d think, by now, the experts would’ve hitched their wagons to the Pittsburgh Steelers as Super Bowl favorites; no team has been more balanced in 2020 and, more importantly, literally no team has won more than them. But then you watch Patrick Mahomes and you realize why this is true: The Kansas City Chiefs remain favorites to repeat as world champions. Tyler Sullivan rounded up the latest Super Bowl odds as we enter Week 12, and K.C. is the top dog, just ahead of Pittsburgh:
Chiefs (+300)Steelers (+550)Saints (+600)Buccaneers (+1100)Packers (+1100)7. Holiday bonus: Top NFL Thanksgiving moments of all time
You didn’t think we were going to leave you hanging with just six newsletter topics on Thanksgiving Week, did you? Since we won’t be seeing each other on the actual holiday, it only seemed appropriate to include this special piece from our resident NFL historian, Bryan DeArdo: The top NFL Thanksgiving moments of all time. Bryan’s got a ton of fun memories packed into this rundown (from Randy Moss’ huge game against Dallas to Jerome Bettis’ coin-toss remarks), so you really ought to dive into it for a full breakdown of Turkey Day folklore, but what a pleasant surprise to see this as his No. 1:
The ‘Butt Fumble’
The most famous play in Thanksgiving history is not a Sanders run, a Moss catch or a Manning touchdown pass. It instead is former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez’s 2012 “Butt Fumble” that resulted in a 32-yard touchdown return by Steve Gregory in New England’s 49-19 win over the Jets. The iconic fumble was the result of a great play by former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who shoved Jets guard Brandon Moore into his quarterback.