Week 13 NFL picks: Familiar foes face off in Thanksgiving Day tripleheader
In 2012, the three road teams went 3-0 in the Thanksgiving Day triple-header, with the three home teams returning the favor in 2013. I don’t foresee another sweep either way this year, but we should be treated to three close and competitive games, involving at least five teams that have healthy playoff chances (sorry Bears, it's Week 13 and I just can’t see it).
Three division games are on tap, and that might be the fitting way to go on Thanksgiving, a day for the familiar and the family. Like those we will gather with, the Bears and Lions, Eagles and Cowboys, and Seahawks and 49ers know each other all too well, flaws included. That always makes things that much more interesting and spirited. For us, and them.
Bring on the feast, both football and otherwise ...
• Last week: 12-3; Season: 120-55 (.686).
• Best pick in Week 12: Chicago 27, Tampa Bay 17 (Actual score: Bears 21-13).
• Worst pick in Week 12: New Orleans 33, Baltimore 23 (Actual score: Ravens 34-27).
Two consecutive losses, an eight-quarter touchdown-less streak, and the lack of competitiveness in a 25-point loss to the Patriots in Foxboro have brought out a lot of the “same old Lions’’ talk in Detroit this week. But back-to-back road defeats at Arizona and New England are one thing, and a galling holiday home-field loss to a Bears team that has looked dreadful for much of the season would be quite another. The Lions aren’t and shouldn’t be in panic mode at 7-4, but the sense of urgency is palpable and it had better be on display from the opening kickoff of Thursday’s traditional early afternoon opener. Detroit is scoring fewer than 18 points per outing and the Lions offense needs to find some higher gear, because there’s too much pressure being placed on the defense to win games. It’s time for quarterback Matthew Stafford and his receivers to take advantage of Chicago’s weak secondary, and make sure the Bears’ hopes of climbing back to .500 and into the NFC North race are snuffed out.
The Cowboys showed me some surprising get-it-done-grit in the comeback road win against the Giants Sunday night, somehow escaping with the victory despite being overshadowed by Beckham-Catch-Mania. Dallas, though, has been far tougher to deal with on the road this season than at home (5-0 versus 3-3), and that gives Philadelphia hope, despite the challenge of having to travel and play on short rest. The Eagles will produce their share of points against the Cowboys, but if Philly quarterback Mark Sanchez continues his two-picks-per-game trend, Dallas will make him pay, and that could be the difference in a narrow Cowboys' victory. Dallas desperately needs to get this one in the win column, because the rematch is in Philadelphia in Week 15, where the Birds are undefeated (6-0) this season.
Truth be told, I don’t really care whether Marshawn Lynch talks to the media or not, and the little editorial comment Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin combined on in Tuesday’s news conference setting was at least a fairly creative way to make a point about the NFL’s perceived policy inconsistencies. There’s always some sideshow drama surrounding both the Seahawks and 49ers, but the football battles they wage are plenty entertaining enough without the extra stuff. The Seahawks seemed to find their defensive swagger and their all-for-one mojo in Sunday’s season-saving home win over Arizona, and now we get to see if it travels well. The 49ers offense just isn’t dangerous or consistent enough to really do much damage against Seattle, and San Francisco’s lack of homefield advantage in Santa Clara’s new Levi’s Stadium could be the lost edge that helps decide a potential wild-card-race elimination game.