NFL Week 12 game picks: Rams edge Saints; Falcons roll on

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Pro football on Thanksgiving Day is steeped in tradition ...

It goes all the way back to the 1920s, like a famous game in 1920, when Cardinals punter Paddy Driscoll did everything he could to kick away from the most important rookie in NFL history, the Bears' Red Grange. The Lions started entertaining foes on Turkey Day every year starting in 1934, facing that same Chicago team (with Grange in his last year). After a brief hiatus during World War II, the holiday tradition resumed with the Lions hosting the Rams in 1945. That would be a day known for Jim Benton posting over 300 yards receiving. That record would stand until the Chiefs' Stephone Paige broke it 40 years later.

It wasn't until 1969 that Detroit hosted the Vikings, a game where the weather conditions got progressively worse until the field was covered in snow in the second half.

Just three years prior to that, the Cowboys started their own Thanksgiving Day tradition, besting the Browns behind Don Meredith's passing and Don Perkins' 100-yard rushing day. Dallas' opponents this Thanksgiving will be the Chargers, who first played on Thanksgiving in 1964 against the Bills. Interesting matchup, given that they would play again in the AFL Championship Game a month later.

Actually, the Chargers and Bills would face off the following Thanksgiving and meet in the championship later that year ... again. If either are to make the postseason this year, they had better get wins this weekend. You'll see both of those picks below, along with the Lions and Vikings and everybody else. Even the Browns. Much thanks for your take ... @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 8-6 on his predictions for Week 11, giving him a record of 96-64 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 12? His picks are below:

Titans
23
Pick
Colts
22
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 1 PM ET
Marcus Mariota leads a late drive with a couple of clutch scampers to put the Titans ahead. Jacoby Brissett tries to answer with no timeouts, but he can't get Adam Vinatieri in range for a makeable try (55 yards). That's how I see this AFC South fight playing out. Tennessee fans would like their team to exert its will in the division, but Mike Mularkey's crew simply isn't there yet. The Colts haven't rolled over for anyone since getting embarrassed in that ill-fated second half in Seattle in Week 4. Either way, with the Jaguars playing a very winnable game in Arizona, this is a huge contest for the AFC South. All those people clamoring for the Titans to be higher on the Power Rankings might be surprised to know that the Titans are the only team with a winning record and a negative point differential this season. It's not my fault.

Eagles
30
Pick
Bears
16
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 1 PM ET
The score reads like it's going to be a near blowout, but I don't think it'll get out of control until late, when Mitchell Trubisky is forced to get the Bears back in the game. As long as this deal stays within 10 points, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will see the vast majority of the offensive work. Alfred Morris made hay against the Eagles last Sunday night, until the game situation took him out. Philadelphia will have trouble with the Chicago backs. Although not enough trouble, apparently.

Wentz watch: Carson Wentz joined Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers as the only quarterbacks to have at least 25 touchdown passes and five or fewer interceptions in the first 10 games of the season. Both those dudes pulled it off twice, though.

Panthers
21
Pick
Jets
17
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 1 PM ET
The Panthers are coming off a bye, which is scary. This matchup against the Jets is the precise kind of game in which Carolina could come out flat. If Cam Newton doesn't have "it," they'll lose, and right quick. New York has taken care of a few teams this season that were favorites while giving a few others ( the Patriots and Falcons) a shudder. The Jets need to provide Josh McCown with some semblance of a running game to alleviate pressure from the Panthers, even if the ground game isn't always churning out yards. Stick with it. Here's a fun note: Newton's average -- average -- passer rating fluctuation from game to game is 33.3. Wild inconsistency. #passerratingfluctuation #fluxcapacitor

Patriots
42
Pick
Dolphins
13
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 1 PM ET
This AFC East "battle" could turn into garbage quite fast. (Not gonna say hot garbage, as I've seen enough Dumpster fire tweets to steer me away from the genre for awhile.) While it's easy to consider the mismatch to be Brady versus the Miami secondary, Matt Patricia's defense has been balling since early October. And the Dolphins' offense has been sucking since early September. The difference can be seen in a stat I developed with the help of @RealJackAndrade: N3P, or net positive play percentage. Tom Brady generates net positive plays (positive plays minus harmful plays) a staggering 39.9 percent of the time, which leads the league. Jay Cutler is way in the back at 28.2. He's currently ahead of Mitchell Trubisky, Joe Flacco, Mike Glennon, DeShone Kizer and Tom Savage.

Falcons
34
Pick
Buccaneers
17
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 1 PM ET
The Bucs have played well in Atlanta in the recent past, winning there in each of the last two years. Tampa can make it three straight if it gets a few meaty kick returns. If you caught "Monday Night Football" this week, you might have noticed -- besides missing Giff, Howwwwwwerd Co-sale and Danny Don -- that the Falcons' kick coverage was downright terrible. This is a Doug Martin game. If he gets going for the Bucs, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be Fitzmagic. If not, he'll force throws and be Fitztragic. Appreciate that terrible pun. It's Thanksgiving week. People acknowledge cranberry sauce this time of year, and cranberry sauce is gross.

Back to Fitzpatrick: He ranks 10th in the N3P metric I designed with the help of @RealJackAndrade. Because Fitzpatrick has rushed for four first downs and thrown just three picks (with zero fumbles lost) in addition to being an efficient passer, his N3P is at 35.7 percent -- ahead of Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson.

Bengals
28
Pick
Browns
14
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 1 PM ET
The Bengals offense is due for a breakout game. Andy Dalton is actually posting one of his better seasons, mostly because he's really picked up his play over the last month. A.J. Green's production has been uneven, largely as a result of Dalton's inconsistency early, plus the lack of a major threat opposite him. Rookie running back Joe Mixon has flashed, but as of yet hasn't offered a signature performance to justify all of the pre-draft hype. His 2.9 yards per carry is flashy in a blocking fullback kind of way. As for Cleveland, can DeShone Kizer put more points on the board? This Cincy secondary is nowhere near as good as the Jags back five he struggled against last week. Same could be said for the Bengals' pass rush.

The Bengals' rushing attack is much worse than that of any team in the league. Their 68.0 rushing yards per game would be the lowest since the 2000 Chargers and 2000 Browns (they tried to see who could be less effective). Then there's Cincy's horrific 2.98 yards per carry. That would be the lowest since the 1994 Patriots. That's why Drew Bledsoe set the record for most pass attempts in a game that year. Bill Parcells loved running the football. But not that much, man.

Chiefs
30
Pick
Bills
17
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 1 PM ET
I know the Chiefs have struggled, losing four of their last five games, but they're due for a fun outing. Bills coach Sean McDermott could make it an even better day for Kansas City by, I don't know, signing Jeff Tuel and sending him out there. Maybe make a trade for Austin Davis. Perhaps, in sitting Tyrod Taylor and starting rookie Nathan Peterman against the Chargers last week, McDermott was trying to send a message to his team that no player was above being benched after the debacle(s) against the Jets and Saints. Well, Peterman threw five first-half picks and Taylor isn't riding the pine anymore. It will be interesting to see how Taylor responds at a tough place to play like Arrowhead. How will Chiefs back Kareem Hunt play after yet another so-so game? After posting at least 100 yards from scrimmage in his first seven games, the rookie workhorse has failed to hit that mark in any of the last three contests.

Seahawks
22
Pick
49ers
17
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 4:05 PM ET
The Seahawks try to keep pace with the Rams in advance of their Week 15 meeting in Seattle. They had better not look past these 49ers, who are coming off both a win and a bye. The first question is whether the visiting Seahawks will play any better in the secondary without their stars than they did versus the Falcons. Kam Chancellor -- who might miss the rest of the season with a neck injury -- makes a huge difference in the run game, which San Francisco revived against the Giants in Week 10. None of that matters, because Russell Wilson will probably pull this contest out in the fourth quarter. His passer rating during that super-relevant part of the game is a superhuman 133.0. That is off the charts this deep into the season.

Rams
28
Pick
Saints
25
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 4:25 PM ET
Scoring might be higher in this contest, although New Orleans' defense has been stout for the balance of the season, and the Rams' unit has really come on over the last six games. Neither played particularly well last week. Wade Phillips' group struggled with those talented Vikings wideouts, playing without a full deck in the secondary. The Saints can empathize, as the absence of cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore (who left early last week with an ankle injury) and Delvin Breaux ( on injured reserve) really hurt against Kirk Cousins. New Orleans won't have the home crowd to lean on this week, but either way, this should be a fantastic matchup.

Fun fact: The Saints and Rams are two of the three teams in the league that can boast both a top-10 rushing offense and top-10 passing offense this season (the Chiefs are the other). Only two squads could claim that last year: the Patriots and Falcons. You might have heard that they played in the Super Bowl.

Jaguars
23
Pick
Cardinals
13
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 4:25 PM ET
Arizona quarterback Blaine Gabbert faces his former team. Get excited. Jacksonville defensive lineman Calais Campbell is doing the same. Actually, that is pretty cool. Campbell is enjoying a career year with the Jaguars, pacing the league in sacks with 11.5. The odd aspect of that prolific sack total is that he's never posted double-digit sacks in any given prior season in his lengthy career. Granted, the difference in scheme, as well as the talent of the Jags' secondary, has made a huge difference. Jacksonville is on pace for 64 sacks, which is unbelievable in this era of dinks and dunks and none-yard outs. The Cards can slow that pass-rush down if Adrian Peterson can average more than a yard per carry. If not, look out. Jacksonville could become only the third team in the last 25 years to lead the league in both scoring defense and takeaways. The other two -- the 2000 Ravens and the 2013 Seahawks -- won the Super Bowl.

Raiders
22
Pick
Broncos
17
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 4:25 PM ET
The Raiders get back on track, although the kind of offensive onslaught we've waited for all season doesn't happen this week, either. Maybe Marshawn Lynch will create a different kind of uproar ... by actually rushing for 100 yards. That way, Derek Carr can generate completions downfield off play-action as opposed to obvious passing situations. Carr shouldn't have to play much keep up with Paxton Lynch. The latter will try to help the Broncos try to avoid their seventh straight loss this season, which is incredible, given the talent on that roster.

(Not) fun fact: Raiders opponents are completing 72.3 percent of their passes while compiling a 113.3 passer rating. Both of those numbers would be second highest since the AFL-NFL merger. Maybe the Raiders should never have merged.

Steelers
37
Pick
Packers
13
Sunday, Nov. 26 @ 8:30 PM ET
This interconference matchup could get awfully ugly awful fast, like, ridiculously fast ( LUDICROUS SPEED!!!!!!), if the Packers go three-and-out and the Steelers' offense calls back to last week's scoring bonanza. Granted, much of Pittsburgh's windfall last Thursday night came off of Titans turnovers -- but Brett Hundley might be this week's Marcus Mariota 2.0. Hundley often tries to make plays out of the pocket a la the guy in front of him on the depth chart, to varied results (that's one way to put it). For all the handwringing over the Steelers' offense, they have put up at least 300 net yards in every game since Oct. 1. Points haven't come in bunches, partially because of interceptions, stalled drives and poor red-zone scoring. Somewhat under the radar (is anything ever over the radar?): Pittsburgh's win over Tennessee ensured that Mike Tomlin would finish at least .500 for the 11th consecutive season, his entire tenure in the league. Only famed Rams and Redskins head coach George Allen has more (12) without ever suffering a losing campaign.

Ravens
26
Pick
Texans
10
Monday, Nov. 27 @ 8:30 PM ET
Would like to predict a better outcome for the Texans, who battled their way back into the playoff race with a win over the Cardinals. This is a tough matchup for Tom Savage. The Ravens' defense gives everyone fits, and when they've faltered, it's largely been due to an anemic offense. Baltimore's passing game flat stinks. The ground attack has fared miserably as of late. Consider their rushing totals in three of their last four games (minus an outlier against the Dolphins in Week 8): 64 yards against the Vikings, 73 against the Titans and 58 against the Packers. Houston must force turnovers. That's not a strength for a group that misses J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Fun fact: The Ravens are the first team since the 2000 Ravens to record three shutouts in the first 10 games of the season.

THURSDAY GAMES

Vikings
26
Pick
Lions
20
Thursday, Nov. 23 @ 12:30 PM ET
Think this will be a whale of a Thanksgiving game. It was entertaining last year, right up until the point that Darius Slay picked off Sam Bradford to save the day for the Lions. It might have been the deciding play in Detroit reaching the playoffs and Minnesota staying home. I anticipate Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen making their presence felt against Slay and his secondary comrades in the second half. Now, it should be noted that the Lions have won four straight on Thanksgiving -- but Detroit hasn't taken five in a row on Turkey Day since the six-game run they had from 1950 to 1955, with Bobby Layne, Doak Walker and the boys.
Cowboys
26
Pick
Chargers
23
Thursday, Nov. 23 @ 4:30 PM ET
Going to go with the Cowboys, who have been historically great on Thanksgiving Day, posting a 30-18-1 record overall. Can't really say that Dallas is any better than the visiting Chargers, but the home-field advantage on Thanksgiving has proven formidable over the years. Last year, the Redskins outplayed the Cowboys up and down the field, gaining over 500 yards of offense, and lost. If Dallas is to win, Dak Prescott will have to develop some pocket awareness. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were so effective for the Chargers last week that Bosa started feeling sorry for Nathan Peterman. Speaking of, since Week 5, Los Angeles has posted the best sack differential (plus-12) and turnover differential (plus-10) in pro football. Actually, they're tied on the sack differential front. Who cares? They done good.

Redskins
30
Pick
Giants
20
Thursday, Nov. 23 @ 8:30 PM ET
Wouldn't it be something if the Giants pulled off another upset four days after upending the Chiefs? In order to do that, they must get pressure on Kirk Cousins, who has played at a high level all season, despite a banged-up offensive line, no Jordan Reed and inconsistency galore from the rest of his pass-catchers. Washington is slowly getting healthier, and despite them being on a short week, I like the Redskins at home. Back to Kirk's hard luck for a second: Cousins is on pace to become the second quarterback in NFL history to start 10 or more games in a season with a 100-plus passer rating and a losing record. Welcome to what's been Drew Brees' world the last couple of years.
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