Because we believe in giving thanks across the country, you get the NFL.com picks a day early this week.
I'd say, "Enjoy," but if you're a Minnesota Vikings fan, you're probably going to be mad at me. Their game in Chicago is difficult to read because of Jay Cutler's injury. Ditto Panthers-Eagles, because of injuries to Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. That said, there are so many even-steven matchups that Week 12 should produce some close shaves. In fact, if there were ever a week where this prognosticator could go .500 (or worse?), this is it.
The record for the season and last week is in italics below. However, what isn't italicized might be the real story. Somehow, and somewhat undetected, this hack has managed to nail four -- four -- scores in the past three weeks. That includes predicting the exact score in the Denver Broncos' 30-23 win over the San Diego Chargers last Sunday. As someone in my home state of Texas used to say: "Even the sun shines on a dog's butt some days."
Alright let's get to some picks ...
Elliot Harrison went 12-2 in his predictions for Week 11, giving him a 78-33-1 record since taking over this space in Week 4. How will he fare in Week 12? His picks are below, with home teams listed second:
If Jay Cutler plays, the Chicago Bears win. He gets rid of the ball faster than Jason Campbell, and let's face it: There's no way Chicago's offensive line can play any worse than it did Monday night. The plot twist in this game will come when Christian Ponder is faced with pressure. Ponder played a clean game in the Minnesota Vikings' last contest ( a Week 10 win over Detroit), but he turned the ball over nine times in the five games prior. The Vikes' young quarterback cannot give Chicago's challenged offense short fields. That's not to mention the fact that the Bears' defense has scored seven defensive touchdowns, most in the NFL. #MINvsCHI
Carson Palmer will be fired up for his return trip to Cincinnati. That's nice. Oakland Raiders lose. Again. The secondary is in no shape to stop Andy Dalton, who's thrown six touchdowns over his past two games with no interceptions and a passer rating far north of 100. Don't worry, Palmer will still get those coveted garbage points. #fantasy #OAKvsCIN
At first blush, this appears to be the kind of game that will give Charlie Batch a chance to come in and save the day. Heck, he's 5-2 as a starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But these aren't your father's -- or Charlie Batch's -- Cleveland Browns. (Batch and your dad might be the same age.) Cleveland has been playing awfully tough, dominating both sides of the line in an overtime loss at Dallas on Sunday. Here's guessing Trent Richardson gives the Pittsburgh defense all it can handle, with a healthy dose of Phil Dawson from downtown. You just can't hope to stop Phil Dawson. #PITvsCLE
Andrew Luck's home magic continues. Don't expect a blowout. Ryan Fitzpatrick might not play lights-out on the road (209.7 yards per game), but the Indianapolis Colts' run defense is allowing nearly 120 yards per game and 4.68 yards per rush. C.J. Spiller should go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs in this one. Alas, it won't be enough. Luck has dominated opponents at Lucas Oil, averaging over 300 yards per game and winning four of his five starts there. Buffalo will not have an answer for Reggie Wayne, either. #BUFvsIND
What a tough game to call. The Tennessee Titans probably prepared for Blaine Gabbert during the bye week, but that only takes 30 minutes anyway. Chad Henne was hot at Reliant, but he will face a defense that has had a whole week to scheme against him. Plus, he's still Chad Henne. Chris Johnson, on the other hand, should pose a problem for a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that's allowing a whopping 137.3 yards per game on the ground ( 29th in the NFL). Taking the road team here. #TENvsJAC
I know what you're thinking: How are the Kansas City Chiefs going to score 20 points? I agonized (for five seconds) over whether I should predict 17 or 20. But I figure Ryan Succop is good for an extra 50-yarder. Mr. Irrelevant 2009 has had a nice season, hitting 20 of 23 attempts. In related news, Peyton Manning will throw for 339 yards and three touchdowns before handing off in the fourth quarter. I'm calling Demaryius Thomas, then Jacob Tamme, then Brandon Stokley on the touchdowns. The beauty of this Manning-engineered attack is that three other players could just as easily catch the scores. #DENvsKC
Another difficult game to call. On the surface, one would think the Miami Dolphins are due for a rebound at home. And, of course, the Seattle Seahawks are 1-4 on the road. But the Fins' once-formidable run defense looked porous in Buffalo. Marshawn Lynch provides no respite. Russell Wilson isn't a big mistake guy, either. But back to Lynch for a moment: Remember how last year's 1,204-yard campaign was supposedly the result of him being in a contract year? Well, this year he's "slumped" to 1,005 yards in just 10 games, while averaging a half yard more per carry (4.7 vs. 4.2). #SEAvsMIA
Prognosticators will be coming out like kitchen-cabinet cockroaches, championing the new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers and calling an upset of the Atlanta Falcons. It's true that Atlanta hasn't looked good the past couple of weeks, and the Falcons probably won't stop Doug Martin until he's put up a buck fifty. Yet, neither pundits nor the Bucs' defense can rely on Matt Ryan throwing another five picks. Tampa Bay doesn't have the personnel in the secondary to stop Roddy White and Julio Jones. And the Bucs can't expect a miracle comeback every Sunday. #ATLvsTB
The Jarret Johnson Revenge Bowl: Feel the excitement of a linebacker playing his former team! This game is truly up to Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and how he wants to play it. If he plans to pound Ray Rice and take some offensive risks based partially off the run game, the San Diego Chargers are in serious trouble. While we've detailed Joe Flacco's road struggles before, the Baltimore defense will come alive this weekend. The Ravens certainly remember getting their butts handed to them 34-14 in SoCal last year. Philip Rivers' mistake-prone play will be the difference. #BALvsSD
The St. Louis Rams are not the most consistent ball club in the world, but I trust their pass rush to give John Skelton, Ryan Lindley or Neil Lomax more trouble than they can handle. The Arizona Cardinals have allowed 10 more sacks than the next-worst pass-protecting team (Chicago), while the Rams have gotten to opposing quarterbacks 29 times already. Rams coach Jeff Fisher will have his team ready to play after a serious home letdown versus the Jets. All that said, I'd like to see what LaRod Stephens-Howling could do as a full-time starter. #STLvsAZ
This is my odd score of the week, partially because it's almost impossible to discern which way this contest will go. It's almost easier predicting an Aldon Smith safety. The New Orleans Saints just might be the hottest NFL team not named the Denver Broncos, but that doesn't mean Drew Brees will be able to solve this San Francisco 49ers defense. And how will the Saints' subpar front seven account for the mobility of Colin Kaepernick, whom I expect will start? David Akers will suffer through a big miss, then win a thriller in the Superdome with a 48-yard field goal. #SFvsNO
In a rematch of one of the Top 20 Games of 2011, the Green Bay Packers prevail ... again. While the Packers remember that big regular-season win, they certainly also recall having their Super Bowl hopes dashed by the New York Giants' pass rush in January. The problem for the Giants this time around is their anemic passing game, an aerial attack that's been offensive -- as in, offensive to watch. Eli Manning hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in a month, and I don't feel Ahmad Bradshaw will be capable of putting the club on his back. #GBvsNYG
My brother used to try to get me to pick the worst player cards from all the teams in Strat-O-Matic Football and play an "All-Suck Bowl." Why this Monday-nighter prompted that memory, I couldn't tell you. What we do know is that these are two organizations that seem rudderless at the moment. The big factor determining who will win is health -- namely that of Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. If they suit up, I like the Philadelphia Eagles at home, given Cam Newton's shaky play this season. If it's a Foles Bowl, the Carolina Panthers improve to 3-8. #CARvsPHI