John Paul Starkey, SB Nation Dallas' resident pick guru, returns to pick the winner of each Thanksgiving Day game, as Week 12 in the NFL kicks off on Thursday afternoon.
As is tradition on Thanksgiving Day, the Dallas Cowboys will be in action, along with the Detroit Lions. The NFL now gives us three games on Thanksgiving, and have no fear -- I'm here on a Thursday for the first time this year, to make my special Thanksgiving Day picks.
Full disclosure: coming into Week 12, my record picking games straight up stands at 96-52-1 -- good for a 65% accuracy rate. I'll take it.
Houston Texans (-3.5) at Detroit Lions -- Well, it's been nice that the Lions haven't sucked the last two years, so that the first game on Thanksgiving is at least a little bit interesting, hasn't it?
This year's Thanksgiving Day game with the Lions is actually a dandy, as the 9-1 Texans will be headed to Mo Town, just days after narrowly escaping an upset at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At 4-6, the Lions are just barely clinging to playoff hope in the NFC, and desperately need a win. Detroit, with a shoddy 3-5 conference record, trails Seattle, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, New Orleans, Dallas and Washington -- just for the sixth playoff spot in the conference.
I don't think the Lions are the better team, but I do think they'll pull off the upset on Thursday, and stay in the playoff race. Traveling on a short week usually has ill effects on the visiting team, and I just don't think the Texans are at that point where they're that dominant to travel to Detroit on a short week and win.
Washington Redskins (+3) at Dallas Cowboys -- Man, Dallas' Week 11 win sure was ugly, wasn't it? I guess the main takeaway is that a win is a win, but the Cowboys did not look like a playoff team in that game whatsoever.
So here we are, on Thanksgiving Day, and both the Cowboys and Redskins need a win. Can the Cowboys contain Robert Griffin III in his homecoming to Dallas? I don't know. At least Washington's wide receivers are really lame, which helps.
Despite playing some really, really poor football this year, I still think the Cowboys are the better team -- and they're at home. Again, traveling on the road for a Thursday game after playing on Sunday bites.
New England Patriots (-7) at New York Jets -- No Rob Grokowski? No problem. Luckily for the Pats, Aaron Hernandez, though listed as questionable, is expected to play on Thanksgiving Day, and his return will help offset Gronk's loss.
Remember what I just said about the road team on a short week thing for the other two games? I take it back, at least for this game. Going from Foxboro, Mass. to East Rutherford, N.J. really isn't too much of a trek anyway.
Plain and simple, the Patriots are the better team. Tom Brady is eons better than Mark Sanchez. Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Julian Edelman are better than the Jets' wide receiving corps. Aaron Hernandez is better than Dustin Keller. Perhaps most importantly, Bill Belichick is better than Rex Ryan.
Patriots win, but the Jets do manage to keep the game close enough to cover.
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