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NFL Week 12 Picks: Cowboys Host Saints, Packers Travel To Atlanta

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This week is highlighted by the Packers headed to Atlanta to take on the Falcons while the Cowboys look for their second home win on the season on Thanksgiving day.

ARLINGTON TX - NOVEMBER 21:  The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders perform before the Cowboys take on the Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium on November 21 2010 in Arlington Texas.  The Cowboys beat the Lions 35-19.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON TX - NOVEMBER 21: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders perform before the Cowboys take on the Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium on November 21 2010 in Arlington Texas. The Cowboys beat the Lions 35-19. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Week 12 of the NFL season and Thanksgiving are upon us which means we have not one, not two but three Thursday football games. As tradition mandates, the Cowboys and Lions will both be playing games today as the Lions host the Patriots and the Cowboys host the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.

There's a slew of great games on Sunday as well, including the Falcons/Packers, Eagles/Bears and Chargers/Colts.

 

New England (8=2) at Detroit (2-8) - One of the NFL's best teams against one of the NFL's worst. While the Lions aren't as bad as their record states, they're still 2-8. The Patriots are coming off back to back impressive wins in Pittsburgh and at home against the Colts. The Pats have wins now in San Diego and Pittsburgh and at home against Indy and Baltimore - not bad, huh?

  • Liam Ponting: Patriots
  • Christopher Fittz: Patriots -  I actually expect to see the Patriot players eating celebratory pumpkin pie on the sideline during this game.
  • Charley Code: Patriots - Tom Brady isn't even watching film this week. He's impregnating models.
  • Maurice London: Patriots - Why would the NFL schedule Lions/Patriots on Thanksgiving? That's cruel.
  • Robbie Griffin: Patriots - I like the Lions march to respectability, but this isn't very winnable I don't think.
  • Brett Perryman: Patriots - The Lions are not a bad team, but they have a bad QB. This should be another win for the Patriots where they leave us expecting more.
  • JP Starkey: Patriots - Tom Brady is finding his post-Moss groove. The Pats are good.

New Orleans (7-3) at Dallas (3-7) - Jason Garrett's first big test at home is on Thanksgiving day with the New Orleans Saints coming into town. Obviously there would be more intrigue if the Cowboys were, you know, in the playoff hunt, but Garrett has Dallas playing well and they are worth watching - for Dez Bryant if nothing else. 

  • Ponting: Saints
  • Fittz: Saints - The Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saintsbeating the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day? It's not right, I tell ya!
  • Code: Saints - Ah, back to reality. Cowboys lose by double digits and things return to normal in the metroplex.
  • London: Saints - Please put an end to the playoff talk, Saints.
  • Griffin: Cowboys - More and more I've been buying in to this team actually playing for Garrett. I will always buy in to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. And then I see Brian Burke giving the Cowboys the win 60% of the time, and I just have to go with optimism here.
  • Perryman: Saints - The Saints have gotten hot, but they have to be asking why they couldn't have gotten Dallas early. This Cowboys second half feels like the Labors of Hercules.
  • Starkey: Saints - I think Dallas keeps it somewhat close but New Orleans is just better.

Cincinnati (2-8) at New York (8-2) - Terrell Owens called Darelle Revis average after Revis called him a slouch last year. Oh the drama. Too bad the Bengals are one of the worst teams in the league. The Jets could very well be 5-5 but instead they sit atop the AFC (via tiebreaker) and control their fate for the AFC playoff picture. Maybe the Bengals will surprise and we'll all need to have our popcorn ready on Thanksgiving night.

  • Ponting: Jets
  • Fittz: Jets - Nothing like this game to ease you into your post-Thanksgiving dinner food coma.
  • Code: Jets - Dirty Sanchez is playing well. Keep it up. My fantasy team needs you. Would you like to see a picture of my kids?
  • London: Jets - I don't like a world where Mark Sanchez is good.
  • Griffin: Jets - Both of these teams have found ways to annoy me this year.
  • Perryman: Jets - If these two teams had swapped head coaches for the past two years, I wonder what their records would be?
  • Starkey: Jets - I do think T.O. has a good game but the Jets are just way better than Cinci.

Green Bay (7-3) at Atlanta (8-2) - This is the marquee matchup of the weekend, pitting two of the NFC's best teams against each other. The Packers got their second head coach of the year fired after stomping the Vikings in Minnesota while the Falcons quietly are 8-2. Two of the best young quarterbacks in the league will be on display here with Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.

  • Ponting: Falcons
  • Fittz: Packers - One last chance to ruin the Falcons "Best teamin the NFC" talk.
  • Code: Falcons - This is a tough one, Pal. I'm picking the home team. I think the Packers are a better team though.
  • London: Falcons - Game of the week. Home team gets the nod.
  • Griffin: Packers - The Falcons are good, but their record is due in part to some unsustainable turnover rates. I think they're going to be seen hitting a little bit of a wall as that regresses, and I'm going to pick that to start this week. I still think they're Super Bowl contenders, though.
  • Perryman: Falcons - Two hot teams on four-game winning streaks here, going with the home team.
  • Starkey: Packers - I'll take the Kuhn and Friends backfield and the Packers to win.

Pittsburgh (7-3) at Buffalo (2-8) - Chan Gailey led his Buffalo Bills to quite the come back last week over the Bengals but they'll have their work cut out for them against the Steelers, who made the Raiders look like a high school team last week. I do wonder if anybody on the Bills will punch Ben Roethlisberger like Richard Seymour did last week - that will probably be the biggest victory in Buffalo this weekend.

  • Ponting: Steelers
  • Fittz: Steelers - Hey look, it's the Steelers second bye week of the season.
  • Code: Steelers - Roethlisberger isn't even watching film this week. He's exposing himself to drunk college chicks with low self esteem.
  • London: Steelers - Chan Gailey has won 2 games. I'm sad.
  • Griffin: Steelers - This is gonna be ugly, right? I hope someone else punches Roethlisberger. That should be a weekly thing.
  • Perryman: Steelers - Buffalo has a longer win streak than Pittsburgh!
  • Starkey: Steelers - I hope this isn't on TV here on Sunday.

Carolina (1-9) at Cleveland (3-7) - Jake Delhomme gets to start against his former team. That's about it for storylines here except for draft position. Mike Goodson might pick up another 100 yard game? Does that count as anything noteworthy? 

  • Ponting: Browns
  • Fittz: Browns - This game makes me wish the NFL regulated teams.
  • Code: Browns - Colt McCoooooooy (say it like Brent Musburger).
  • London: Browns - The Panthers are just bad.
  • Griffin: Browns - Even without McCoy the Browns aughta beat the Panthers.
  • Perryman: Browns - Only two wins separate these two teams, but the Browns are A LOT better.
  • Starkey: Browns - Jake Delhomme makes the Panthers sad they let him go. No, really.

Jacksonville (6-4) at New York (6-4) - Who had the Giants and Jaguars having the same (winning) record after Week 11? This is a pretty big game for both teams - there's no guarantee the NFC East gets a wild card team and the Jaguars, well, they're in first place thanks to tiebreaker, but they have to keep winning while Peyton and his Colts are hurt.

  • Ponting: Giants
  • Fittz: Giants -  I'm just not ready to accept that I live in aworld where the Jaguars have a pretty good chance at this game.
  • Code: Giants - G Men win and cover the big spread.
  • London: Giants - I think the Jags can pull this one out.
  • Griffin: Giants - What's with the Jaguars suddenly being contenders? Who authorized that?
  • Perryman: Giants - This is a good test for Eli. His weapons are limited, but his opponent is very beatable and they really need this win.
  • Starkey: Jaguars - Upset of the week. Big Blue is beat up and the Jags think they're good for whatever reason.

Minnesota (3-7) at Washington (5-5) - Adios Brad Childress. Brett Favre is still around, so I'm sure we'll hear how great it is to see the gunslinger havin' a good ol' time out there without Chilly around or something like that. The Vikes are toast and the Redskins are close to it - they need to win this week if they want to maybe sneak into the playoff race.

  • Ponting: Vikings
  • Fittz: Vikings - Removing a weak-spined coach seemed to work for the Cowboys.
  • Code: Vikings - Favre is watching film this week. On his cell phone.
  • London: Vikings - Zygie Wolf is a moron. Should've just kept Moss and fired Childress a few weeks ago.
  • Griffin: Redskins - I go back and forth on this one, and I think I'm just going to take the team with less drama playing at home.
  • Perryman: Vikings - I'm betting on the new-coach bounce here.
  • Starkey: Vikings - I don't believe in the Redskins.

Tennessee (5-5) at Houston (4-6) - Desperation Bowl? The Titans will be starting Rusty Smith as they cling to their playoff hopes while the Texans have choked away wins left and right this year and are coming off back-to-back gut wrenching losses. If Houston loses this game you can officially stick a fork in them and Gary Kubiak.

  • Ponting: Texans
  • Fittz: Texans - The annual Whine-About-Vince-Young Bowl.
  • Code: Texans - Jeff Fisher has a kick ass mustache and doesn't put up with any bullsh. However, the Titans are a mess thanks to VY. Maybe bad karma is befalling Bud Adams for trying to screw Houston.
  • London: Titans - That's right, I'm picking a team being quarterbacked by Rusty Smith.
  • Griffin: Texans - Is Rusty Venture starting again?
  • Perryman: Titans - Two early season mirages are now on losing streaks. Houston has the QB, Titans have better most everything else.
  • Starkey: Titans - Randy Moss finally has himself a good game with the Titans.

Miami (5-5) at Oakland (5-5) - The Dolphins are maybe the most boring team in the NFL. If you've watched more than one of their games this year, you'll know what I mean. Brandon Marshall will likely miss this game and possibly another one or two with a hamstring injury. If Miami wants to keep their playoff hopes alive, they need to win. The same go for the Raiders, as they have to keep pace with the Chargers and Chiefs.

  • Ponting: Raiders
  • Fittz: Raiders - I think the Dolphins are playing Bobby Carpenter at QB this week.
  • Code: Raiders - Parcells fupa jiggles as he cusses during this loss.
  • London: Raiders - Darren McFadden is fun to watch again.
  • Griffin: Raiders - Home team.
  • Perryman: Raiders - The Raiders are the most enigmatic team in the league. The Dolphins are among the most boring. I guess I'm going with intrigue here.
  • Starkey: Raiders - Miami needs a quarterback.

Kansas City (6-4) at Seattle (5-5) - Two teams with fairly surprising records. Kansas City likely needs the win more than Seattle; the Chargers are in the AFC West whereas nobody is in the NFC West. Still, the Seahawks need to put together an actual winning streak if they really want to be a playoff team. They host Carolina next week, so a win here will set the table for that.

  • Ponting: Chiefs
  • Fittz: Chiefs - The battle of West division leaders. God this season is terrible.
  • Code: Chiefs - Hawks lose by double digits.
  • London: Seahawks - This game sucks.
  • Griffin: Seahawks - I really do believe in the Chiefs, but I think the Seahawks have a real shot at knocking them off with homefield advantage. I'm taking that shot.
  • Perryman: Seahawks - These are two first place teams. How about them apples?
  • Starkey: Chiefs - Dwayne Bowe has 11 touchdown receptions, who knew?

Philadelphia (7-3) at Chicago (7-3) - The Eagles have been the flavor of the week in the NFC the past two weeks when it comes to the "best team in the NFC" debate. Mike Vick has emerged as an MVP candidate this year. He'll face a Bears team that is led by their defense, so this cold be another good test for Vick and the Eagles.

  • Ponting: Eagles
  • Fittz: Eagles - Are the Bears are the worst 7-3 team ever?
  • Code: Bears - The Bears have Brian Urlacher, the all-time leading tackler for the greatest defensive franchise in NFL history. Maybe you've heard of him. Also, he shaves his head and looks pretty bad ass.
  • London: Bears - Upset Special.
  • Griffin: Eagles - I'm excited for Cutlerface in this game.
  • Perryman: Eagles - I can't believe that these two have the same record. Good signs for Chicago: Jay Cutler's INTs are down from last year and he'll have two days to recover from Thanksgiving.
  • Starkey: Bears - Vick finally has a bad game.

St. Louis (4-6) at Denver (3-7) - The Rams can still definitely win the NFC West. If they want to, Sam Bradford and company will have to win on the road - they're winless there this year. The Broncos and Josh McDaniels are going nowhere fast - unless McDaniels is running to the unemployment line in January.

  • Ponting: Rams
  • Fittz: Broncos - Our penance for over-eating all week.
  • Code: Rams - Tebow is still a dooshnozzle.
  • London: Rams - Really?
  • Griffin: Broncos - Meh.
  • Perryman: Broncos - Home field is everything in this one.
  • Starkey: Broncos - Josh McDaniels might do just enough to keep his job, including winning this game.

Tampa Bay (7-3) at Baltimore (7-3) - Another pretty good game that Week 12 gives us has the Bucs visiting the Ravens. Josh Freeman will be tested against a pretty good defense. How the Bucs play in this game will tell us a lot about them and their legitimacy as playoff contenders.

  • Ponting: Ravens
  • Fittz: Ravens - Oh wait, sorry Bears. Are the Bucs are the worst 7-3 team ever?
  • Code: Ravens - I like the Bucs this year, but unfortunately they're playing Ray Lewis and he's got swagger.
  • London: Ravens - I love Josh Freeman but I can't see him winning in Baltimore.
  • Griffin: Ravens - I'm starting to buy in to the Bucs being legitimately good and not just lucky lately, but I still think they probably get stomped in Baltimore (who has also been lucky).
  • Perryman: Ravens - The Ravens have been quietly unimpressive for a while now. They'll do what's necessary but not much more.
  • Starkey: Ravens - Still don't believe in the Bucs.

San Diego (5-5) at Indianapolis (6-4) - Is the loser of this game in trouble? Probably not, but possibly. The Colts are still pretty banged up while the Chargers are just starting to get healthy and are adding Vincent Jackson back to the lineup this week. The Colts have too many division games left to say they're in trouble if they lose and the Chargers, well, they play in the AFC West - though six losses after Week 12 would be ugly.

  • Ponting: Colts
  • Fittz: Colts - This has the stink of a future Wild Card Weekend matchup between two teams disappointed in their season.
  • Code: Colts - Peyton is better than Rivers. Plus, I don't care for Rivers.
  • London: Chargers - Hey look, it's the Chargers making a late charge again!
  • Griffin: Colts - Did you know that AccuScore (53%) and Brian Burke (69%!!!) both favor the Chargers in this game? I have trouble seeing that with the Colts at home, but I'm making note of it here just in case.
  • Perryman: Colts - The Chargers aren't has hot as they seem. They'll still probably win the AFCW with a loss here.
  • Starkey: Chargers - Vincent Jackson will make an immediate impact.

San Francisco (3-7) at Arizona (3-7) - The winner of this game will have a chance to win the division. That is an ugly, not so fun fact. Arizona misses Kurt Warner and San Francisco still misses Steve Young.

  • Ponting: Cardinals
  • Fittz: 49ersThe 49ers had better win or Singletary is going to be dropping trou at the press conference to announce he has been fired.
  • Code: 49ers - 9ers, you've ruined my NFL pick em record this year. Why do I continue to pick you?
  • London: 49ers - If you combine these two teams, they still wouldn't win the NFC West.
  • Griffin: 49ers - Mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
  • Perryman: Cardinals - 49ers offense is a quite resistible force, Cards defense is a very movable object. Should be a blast!
  • Starkey: Cardinals - I'm done picking San Francisco.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.