Thursday, November 23, 2017

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 12

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Minnesota @ Detroit (+3)

The Lions beat the Bears, 27-24, posting their third win in a row and trail the Vikings by two games in the NFC North.

"What more could you ask for on Thanksgiving?" Matthew Stafford said. "It's the traditional Turkey Day game in Detroit, a huge NFC North showdown, and a national television audience. Appropriately, that's a full plate.

"I'm what you would call this team's 'meal ticket,' and not a cheap one at that. I single-handedly run the Detroit offense, and practically the Detroit economy, too."

The Vikings beat the visiting Rams 24-7, powered by a defense that stifled the NFL's top-rated offense. Case Keenum passed for 280 yards and a score to lead the Minnesota offense.

"Our defense made a statement to the so-called 'Greatest Show on Turf,'" Mike Zimmer said, "and it resonated loudly throughout the league. That statement was the 'Greatest I Don't Think So on Earth.'

"Case Keenum has really been a savior for us at quarterback. He has this offense clicking. Making a change to Teddy Bridgewater would send us in the wrong direction. Even Vikings legend Jim Marshall agrees it's a bad idea, and he's an expert on the subject."

It's a must-win situation for the Lions. A loss places them three games behind the Vikes in the North, and judging by the strength of the NFC South, second place in the North probably won't be good enough for a wild card spot.

On a star-studded day in Detroit, celebrities abound, like Tom Selleck, Kid Rock, and Wayne Fontes. Even the "Motor City Madman" Ted Nugent makes an appearance, in the stands, and also on Ndamukong Suh's "Nut Shot" camera.

Matt Prater kicks 3 field goals, and the Lions win, 23-20.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas (-1)

Philip Rivers and the Chargers head to Dallas looking to build on last week's dominating 54-24 win over the Bills. Los Angeles' defense forced 6 turnovers and scored two touchdowns. The Chargers are 4-6, two games behind the 6-4 Chiefs in the AFC West.

"We very well could be the best team in the AFC West," Rivers said. "Or, we could be the worst team in the AFC West. I guess it depends on the day, and whether Nathan Peterman is starting for the other team.

"Everyone is aware of the Cowboys criminal history, and everyone is aware of my strong faith. So I'm dubbing this game 'Catholic vs. Convicts.'"

Dak Prescott had 3 interceptions and a fumble in Dallas' lopsided 37-9 loss to the Eagles on Sunday night. The loss left the Cowboys four games behind the 9-1 Eagles in the NFC East.

"We're not throwing in the towel yet," Jerry Jones said. "I'm not convinced anyone on this team could throw a towel accurately anyway.

"I think the game would have been different had Ezekiel Elliott played. Most would say I'm kidding myself. To them, I say, 'I'll be the judge of that.' Good golly, if only I could say 'I'll be the judge of that' to all my issues.

"I'm sure Ezekiel Elliott had a nice Thanksgiving meal. He probably ate more than anyone. Serving size is important to Ezekiel. Right now, his 'serving' size is four more games."

Cowboys win, 27-23.

New York @ Washington (-7)

The Giants shocked the Chiefs 12-9 in overtime at MetLife Stadium, winning on Aldrick Rosas' 23-yard field goal with 1:54 left in overtime.

"The truth is," Eli Manning said, "we watched the Chiefs on tape and came to the conclusion that they aren't that good. And that's being brutally honest.

"It's been a frustrating year. There have been some things said in this organization that shouldn't be repeated. And speaking of unmentionables, some of our players did some early Christmas shopping for Coach McAdoo. I hope he likes lingerie, because he's getting a pink slip."

The Redskins blew a 15-point, fourth quarter lead and lost to the Saints 34-31 in overtime despite 322 passing yards and 3 touchdowns from Kirk Cousins. The Redskins dropped to 4-6.

"We let that one get away," Jay Gruden said, "which is exactly what we may be saying next year when Cousins is not our quarterback. I'm not even sure Kirk would accept a long-term deal if we offered him one. If we offered it to him on Thursday, I'm sure that day would be known as 'Thanks But No Thanksgiving.'

"But we have to erase that New Orleans game from our memories and prepare for the Giants. The G-Men are riding a one-game winning streak. That equals their season best. If the Giants hadn't figured it out already, I'm being sarcastic. Knowing them, they probably want me to quit."

Redskins win, 24-21.

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-9)

The Bucs beat the Dolphins 30-20, led by Ryan Fitzpatrick's 2 touchdown passes.

"In Jameis Winston's absence," Dirk Koetter said, "Ryan has 'injected' some life into this team. And that's no surprise, because Ryan went to an 'IV' League school.

"Jameis has been accused of groping an Uber driver in 2016. That's not surprising, because Jameis has often been described as 'uber-predatory.' I hear the Uber driver wanted to talk 'X's' and O's;' he thought she meant 'hugs and kisses.'"

The Falcons outgunned the Seahawks, 34-31, to pick up a huge road win. Matt Ryan passed for two scores and Atlanta improved to 6-4.

"This is a different Seattle team than the one people are used to," Ryan said. "Between Richard Sherman's Achilles heel, Kam Chancellor's neck, and Pete Carroll's brain, we knew the Seahawks were operating with a handicap."

Atlanta wins, 27-21.

Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-8½)

The Bengals handed the Broncos their fifth-straight loss with a 20-17 win at Denver. Andy Dalton passed for 3 scores and the Cincy defense forced 2 turnovers.

"Let me just point out the stellar play of Vontaze Burfict," Marvin Lewis said. "Vontaze had 11 solo tackles and a sack. Most importantly, none were on the officials.

"I sent Vontaze on a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo just to get his mind away from football. Unfortunately, Vontaze put his hands on a 'zebra.'"

The Browns fell to 0-10 after losing 19-7 to the Jaguars. DeShone Kizer had 4 turnovers as Cleveland lost for the sixth time at home.

"I left DeShone in the game for a reason," Hue Jackson said. "For the experience. He needs experience. We all know this is a resume-building opportunity. If you list 'Cleveland quarterback' on your resume, you're basically saying you're better qualified for any other job, including the one you're applying for. So, kudos to me for looking out for the DeShone's future.

"Josh Gordon practiced for the first time since his reinstatement on November 1st. I equated it to opening a new toy on Christmas. I guess if Josh were indeed wrapped for Christmas, it would be in a brown paper sack."

Bengals win, 26-16.

Tennessee @ Indianapolis (+3½)

The Titans were blown out by the Steelers, 40-17, last Thursday. Antonio Brown had t3 touchdown catches for the Steelers, while Marcus Mariota threw 4 interceptions.

"Marcus definitely won't get the game ball," Mike Mularkey said, "and he surely won't get a flag for 'targeting', either."

The Colts had a Week 11 bye and are 3-7, last in the AFC South.

"Andrew Luck is seeking treatment in Europe for his shoulder," Chuck Pagano said. "That's probably a good idea, because the best thing for his shoulder is to be as far away from Indianapolis as possible.

"And speaking of Colts quarterbacks with health issues, Jacoby Brissett is good to go for Sunday. We've cleared him to play on Sunday. He just needs to play within himself and not try to do too much. Hopefully, he can remember 'who he is.'"

Tennessee wins, 27-20.

Buffalo @ Kansas City (-10)

The Chiefs were upset, 12-9, in overtime by the Giants at MetLife Stadium, and have now lost four of five after a 5-0 start.

"By now," Andy Reid said, "all the luster's been take off our 5-0 start. You might as well call us 'K.C. and the Unshine Band.'

"It will be good to get back to Arrowhead Stadium. They may 'circle the wagons' in Buffalo. Here in Buffalo, they 'circle the station wagons' in the parking lot, and tailgate like it's going out of style. And it is going out of style. If we keep playing like this, there won't be a home playoff game."

The Chargers destroyed the Bills, 54-24, as newly-promoted quarterback Nathan Peterman threw 5 interceptions in the first half. Peterman was pulled and Tyrod Taylor took over in the second half.

"Nathan is a rookie out of the University of Pittsburgh," Sean McDermott said. "That makes his performance the 'Pitt of Misery.' Dilly dilly!

"I stand by my decision to bench Tyrod. I can't explain it, but I stand by it. We're going to evaluate Nathan's game tape in detail and make a decision going forward. That decision will likely be to burn it."

Kansas City wins, 23-20.

Miami @ New England (-16½)

The Patriots hammered the Raiders, 33-8, in Mexico City to improve to 8-2, as Tom Brady passed for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"We prepared for this game at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs," Brady said. "Now, breathing the air there obviously can't teach you how to treat women, but it can prepare you for playing in altitude.

"And speaking of 'coming down from great highs,' I played so well in the altitude of Mexico City, I wanted to capture some of that thin air and bring it back to Foxboro. So I had one of our equipment managers fill 12 footballs with Mexico City air. A football filled with that air feels slightly deflated."

Jay Cutler tossed 3 interceptions in the first half of the Dolphins eventual 30-20 home loss to the Buccaneers. Cutler didn't play in the second half due to symptoms of a concussion.

"Jay's wife, Kristin Cavallari, took to social media to criticize football," Adam Gase said. "Was she trying to support her husband? Maybe, and Jay is often so bad at quarterbacking, even a woman could 'defend' him. But everyone's entitled to a 'bitch' session."

Let's see, Tom Brady vs. Matt Moore in Foxboro. A betting line in the 16-17 point range. It's shaping up to be "widespread" carnage.

Patriots win, 31-17.

Carolina @ New York Jets (+4½)

The Panthers had a Week 10 bye after their impressive 45-21 dismantling of the Dolphins in Week 9.

"That's what happens when this team is clicking on all cylinders," Cam Newton said. "And I think we'll stay hot. Let me put it this way: we're gonna be on fire in New Jersey just like the Hindenburg."

The Jets had a Week 11 bye and are 4-6, tied for last in the AFC East.

"Last week was the fifth anniversary of Mark Sanchez' 'Butt Fumble,'" Todd Bowles said. "That was one of the most embarrassing moments in Jets history. And that's saying something. Heck, Rex Ryan was head coach here for six seasons, so the chances of someone 'running into an ass' were quite high."

Panthers win, 23-21.

Chicago @ Philadelphia (-13½)

The Bears lost to the Lions, 27-24, despite rushing for 222 yards as a team.

"We can run circles around anybody," John Fox said. "Now, if we could only pass an oblong ball over anybody, we'd be onto something."

The Eagles blasted the Cowboys, 37-9, at Dallas, piling up 215 yards on the ground, while Carson Wentz tossed 2 touchdown scores.

"To all the people of Dallas," Wentz said, "there's a new sheriff in town. But don't worry, said sheriff doesn't have much to do, because the law has already been laid down, several times."

"Alshon Jeffery says his Super Bowl guarantee is still on, even though he made it last year as a member of the Bears. Of course, he made it on Halloween last year, dressed as Joe Namath."

Eagles win, 25-14.

New Orleans @ Los Angeles Rams (+2½)

The Saints erased a 15-point fourth quarter deficit and stormed back to beat the Redskins 34-31 in overtime, keeping their winning streak alive. New Orleans has won eight in a row and lead the NFC South by two games over the Panthers.

"What an amazing comeback," Sean Payton said. "I don't use the word 'unbelievable' very often, but the NFL does, usually after hearing my testimony in a bounty hearing.

"You've heard the words 'Who dat?' said by the Saints for years. But what about 'Who dis?' That's what I say when Adrian Peterson calls looking to come back."

Saints win, 27-23.

Seattle @ San Francisco (+6½)

The Seahawks lost to the Falcons 34-31 at Century Link Field as Blair Walsh's potential game-tying 52-yard field goal fell short.

"Pete Carroll made some odd decisions in that game," Russell Wilson said. "Particularly, a fake field goal right before the half that was an absolutely horrible call. That play had 'No Chance At All,' and Pete should be worried about an 'NCAA' investigation into his actions.

"We've lost Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor for the season to injury. Those guys were nightmares for opposing offensive coordinators. Richard and Kam put the 'Boo' in 'Legion of Boom.

"And I'm the only player an offense that scares anyone. I lead the team in passing yards and rushing yards. Eddie Lacy was supposed to be the answer at running back. But things don't always work out like you want. Eddie has had trouble controlling his waistline. So, instead of giving 'Thanks,' we're giving 'Spanx.'"

The 49ers had a Week 11 bye and C.J. Beathard will start for the 49ers, with Jimmy Garappolo waiting in the wings.

"We think Jimmy is the future here in San Francisco," Kyle Shanahan said. "Do we really believe that? Maybe, but I think it helps our cause to let Russell Wilson know that 'Future' is in town."

Seattle wins 27-24.

Jacksonville @ Arizona (+4½)

The Jaguars whipped the Browns, 19-7, and now have sole possession of the AFC South lead.

"Our defense keeps us in games," Doug Marrone said. "Our offense keeps our opponents in games. So, I like to say, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' That also applies to Leonard Fournette's ankle."

The Cardinals lost at Houston 31-21, becoming the first team to fall to the Tom Savage-led Texans.

"I originally took blame for the loss," Bruce Arians said. "After further review, I changed my mind. I like stroking my ego, but I'm really turned on when I exonerate myself."

Jacksonville wins, 20-17.

Denver @ Oakland (-5)

The Raiders lost 33-8 to the Patriots in Mexico City as Tom Brady picked apart the Oakland defense. The Raiders fell to 4-6 and trail the Chiefs by two games in the AFC West.

"We haven't been very good in America," Jack Del Rio said. "And we weren't much better in Mexico. We're 'bordering' on awful. Maybe it was the altitude. We found ourselves in a 17-0 first half hole. Now, I'm no scientist, but one would think that if you dig yourselves a hole in altitude, you should come out right around sea level. Right?

"Marshawn Lynch sat for the American national anthem, and stood for the Mexican national anthem. For good or for bad, this just adds to Marshawn's growing legend, from si to shining si. As anthem protests go, I think Marshawn's 'Trumped' them all."

The Broncos broke a five-game losing streak with a 20-17 win over the Bengals.

"John Elway called this team 'soft,'" Von Miller said. "Well, he's the executive vice president. He should be coming up with solutions. Gosh, if only a 57-year-old man had some idea of a way to make things harder.

"But there may be some truth to Elway's words. When it comes straight from the horse's face, there has to be a little truth to it, right? Does Elway think he doesn't have a horse face? Well, he should take a look in the mirror."

Broncos win, 23-22.

Green Bay @ Pittsburgh (-14)

The Steelers blitzed the Titans 40-17 last Thursday night, led by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, who connected for 3 touchdowns.

"Antonio made some great plays," Roethlisberger said, "particularly a one-handed grab that he used his helmet to control. I'm sure Antonio was the most-talked about player the following day. So, whether he's getting a satisfactory amount of targets or not, Antonio is the topic of 'water cooler' conversation."

The Packers were shut out, 23-0, at Lambeau Field. Brett Hundley struggled, with 4 turnovers.

"If you're looking for someone to blame," Mike McCarthy said, "don't look at Brett Hundley. It's much more complicated than that. If you listen to conspiracy theorists, you're aware it's all a concerted effort between Brett Favre and Antonio Barr. There is collusion, according to the website 'BrettBart.'

"But we can only build Hundley up with positive reinforcement. Will it work? That all depends on whether the phrase 'At least you're not Nathan Peterman' counts as positive reinforcement."

Pittsburgh wins, 32-16.

Houston @ Baltimore (-7)

The Texans snapped a three-game losing streak with a 31-21 win over the visiting Cardinals.

"Tom Savage is taking the stage in his first Monday Night Football start," Bill O'Brien said. "Anytime Tom takes any 'stage,' you have to ask, 'Is it amateur night?'

"This game has no playoff implications whatsoever. And since this might be ESPN's lowest-rated Monday night game of the year, it may have layoff implication."

The Ravens whipped the Packers, 23-0, at Lambeau Field, led by a defense that held the Packers to 265 total yards and forced 5 turnovers.

"That was our third shutout this season," John Harbaugh said. "But we're not getting a big head about it. We've faced some anemic offenses this season. None as bad as the University of Michigan's, but pretty bad nonetheless.

"That was my 100th win as head coach here in Baltimore. That's a lot, and easily the most in Ravens history. To put that into perspective, picture my raised index finger beside Tony Siragusa's massive breasts. That image gives you '100,' more or less."

Ravens win, 20-15.

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