Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NFL Pick 5 -- Week 12

With three games on the NFL slate for Thanksgiving, and with the holiday weekend upon us such that I may not post again until Monday, I wanted to get my five NFL picks in for Week 12 in advance of the Thursday games. Recall that I went 4-1 in Week 11, including a 4-0 performance in the Sunday games, bringing my total season record to 32-18 against the spread, so I'll be looking to add to that impressive total this week as there are a few games on the schedule which I think represent good value in one direction or the other. So, as usual, in no particular order, here are the Week 12 picks:

1. Oakland Raiders +14 at Dallas Cowboys. This is not so much a play on the greatness of the Raiders -- although with the switch to Bruce Gradkowski at starting quarterback has the team 1-0 so far with last weeks victory over the Cincinnati Bengals -- as it is on the Cowboys who seem set to engage in their typical December slump. After scoring just 7 points in each of their past two weeks -- against not great defenses at that -- now the 'Boys are giving two full touchdowns after a short week to prepare for Thanksgiving Thursday? Gotta go with the value here.

2. Denver +7 vs. New York Giants. When this game moved to 7 points on Bodog around mid-week, I was thrilled as I already thought this was another game with some great value on the underdog among the Thanksgiving games. In this case I think we're looking at an overreaction to what has admittedly been an extremely poor stretch for the Broncos, who have totally crashed back to Earth after a 6-0 start. But come on now -- giving 7 points at home to a team that can't stop anyone from scoring at will on them over the past 5 weeks? Play the overreaction, and play the fact that the sportsbooks are always looking to inflate the lines on the major market teams since donkey bettors will keep betting on them regardless.

3. Indianapolis Colts -3.5 at Houston Texans. Interestingly, this was a game I picked earlier in the season in favor of the Texans, when they were a double digit dog to the Colts in Indy. But now I think the 3.5 points is a bit too thin for this weekend's game in Houston. Indy is playing well as always, but it's really Houston that has me thinking they won't keep this one within a field goal. After last week's loss to the Tennessee Titans, Houston is for all intents and purposes eliminates from the playoff race after thinking a month ago that they had a real shot when they were 5-3. Now the Texans basically know they aren't going to the postseason in 2009, and I expect them to come out a little flat as a result. Moreover, Houston comes off a short week after playing last Monday night, so that always adds just a little extra that in this case I think should keep this game a little more than a field goal spread for the 10-0 Colts.

4. Carolina Panthers +3 at the New York Jets. I just cannot believe that the Jets keep being favored, week after week, despite losing to every team they've played for nearly two months other than the lowly Raiders. Yes they're at home, but that didn't help the Jets when they lost to Buffalo, Jacksonville or Miami -- none of whom are great teams btw -- all at home thanks to a team defense that can't stop anybody when it counts. I would be tempted to take Carolina in a pickem game at the Jets given New York's recent performances, but when I'm getting a free field goal to boot, I just can't stay away.

5. Minnesota Vikings -10.5 vs. Chicago Bears. I'm going to the well one more time with both the Vikings and the Bears, as Jay Cutler and Chicago have continued to play bad football -- especially on the road and double especially against the good teams -- while the Vikings have continued to roll as the season wears on. Brett Favre is having his best season in ages, and Adrian Peterson should be a major threat to score at any time against the porous Bears defense. The Bears have allowed at least three touchdowns to every solid offensive team the've played this year, which should translate to at least upper 20's for the Vikes in my view on Sunday, while the Bears have managed to put up fewer than two touchdowns in half of their last six efforts. While the Bears may put up a better fight when the two teams meet in Week 16 in Chicago, I think this spells for a bad matchup for the Bears in the dome this weekend, and 10.5 points should not be out of reach for this juggernaut Vikings squad.

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