Wednesday, November 24, 2021

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 12

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Chicago @ Detroit (+3½)

The Bears lost 16-13 to the visiting Ravens, who were without Lamar Jackson. Justin Fields left the game early with a rib injury, and Andy Dalton nearly led Chicago to the upset.

"We're thrilled to be playing on Thanksgiving," Matt Nagy said. "It's the day with turkey, and all the fixings. That pretty much sums up Chicago football — here's a turkey, me, and a lot that needs fixing.

"And speaking of a table full of food, this game is going to ruin some appetites. But loyal Bears fans can all agree that if there's just one thing that needs to be 'eaten,' it's the remaining years on my contract after I'm fired."

The Lions lost 13-10 to the Browns in Cleveland. With Jared Goff out with an oblique injury, backup quarterback Tim Boyle was ineffective, passing for only 77 yards with 2 interceptions.

"I'm not even sure what an 'oblique' is," Dan Campbell said. "In fact, I don't think I even have one, so I can't relate to the pain Jaren is experiencing. Which is only fair, because he can't relate to the agony I experience as head coach watching him play.

"Hey, I wasn't thrilled about Tim making his first NFL start. But I'm not the first coach Jared Goff has pushed to the 'Boyle-ing' point.

"On a bright note, it's Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. It's that day of the year when Lions fans can say 'thanks,' while everyone else at their Thanksgiving celebration can say, 'can we watch something else?'"

Bears win, 20-13.

Las Vegas @ Dallas (-6½)

The Cowboys offense was shut down by an inspired Chiefs defense in a 19-9 loss at Arrowhead Stadium. Dak Prescott passed for only 216 yards and threw 2 interceptions.

"I just got outcoached," Mike McCarthy said. "It's not like that hasn't happened many times before, so I know exactly what to do, and that's the opposite of what I think I should do. See, I can't out-think an opposing coach, but I can sure outthink myself. That's easy.

"Jerry Jones and Mark Davis are two of the better well known owners in the NFL. They're very recognizable. If you see Jerry out in public, you immediately place him. If you see Mark out in public, you immediately run."

The Bengals rolled over the Raiders, 32-13, at Allegiant Stadium. Cincy dominated in the trenches, rushing for 159 yards, while their defense held Derek Carr in check.

"That was just a pathetic effort on our part," Rich Bisaccia said. "As a coach, it falls on my shoulders, and I'm quite ashamed. Call it an 'embarrassment of Rich's.'

"We didn't play smart. It hasn't been a season of good decision-making here in Las Vegas. In fact, I'd say the decisions made by members of the Raiders organization this year have made hiring Lane Kiffin as head coach look like a good one."

Despite some key injuries, the Cowboys have never been ones to back down from a fight. But in this case, they "run like hell," with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

Cowboys win, 27-20.

Buffalo @ New Orleans (+4½)

The Saints lost their third straight, falling 40-29 to the Eagles in Philadelphia. Philly rushed for 242 yards, and Jalen Hurts rushed for 3 scores.

"We just had no answer for Hurts," Sean Payton said. "I have lots of questions for my defense. Like, 'That didn't look like the defense that was the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense. So, 'Who dat?'

"Drew Brees will be honored at halftime of the game. Hopefully, he'll say 'I'm honored' when we present him with a contract to return for the remainder of the season."

Jonathan Taylor and the Colts thundered past the Bills 41-15, as Taylor pounded his way to 204 total yards and 5 touchdowns.

"Defensively," Sean McDermott said, "we showed about as much resistance as a flaming folding table facing the G-forces of an inebriated and overweight member of the Bills Mafia.

"Hopefully, that loss will be our wake-up call. I definitely believe it already was, because giving up 264 yards on the ground is certainly 'alarming.'

"Thanksgiving night in New Orleans will certainly be a test. I hear some are saying the 'Big Easy' was what Super Bowl representatives from the NFC East called the Bills in the 1990s."

Bills win, 28-20.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-3½)

The Steelers lost a 41-37 shootout to the Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday night. Justin Herbert passed for 382 yards and rushed for 90, while Austin Ekeler scored 4 touchdowns.

"That's just not Steeler football," Mike Tomlin said. "We have a standard. And the standard is apparently below the standard.

"Not to make excuses, but we had several defensive starters out, including T.J. Watt, who, it appears, is well worth the $112 million we're paying him, and also worth about 17 points per game."

The Bengals hammered the Raiders, 32-13, at Allegiant Stadium, powered by Joe Mixon, who rushed for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"Joe is running with a purpose this year," Joe Burrow said. "Joe runs best when he's running from his past."

Bengals win, 25-22.

Tampa Bay @ Indianapolis (+2½)

The Buccaneers beat the Giants 30-10 on Monday night, halting a two-game skid. Tom Brady passed for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"People often ask what motivates me," Brady said. "'Winning' tops that list, followed closely by 'two straight crappy games.'

"Antonio Brown allegedly tried to obtain a fake vaccination card. I know it may sound crazy, but that's probably one of the more saner things he's done in his life. One of the less sane things I've done is welcome him into my home."

The Colts stunned the Bills, 41-15, in Buffalo, as Jonathan Taylor exploded for 204 total yards and 5 touchdowns.

"Jonathan and Bills coach Sean McDermott have something in common," Frank Reich said. "They've both 'blown up' the Buffalo defense.

"As he showed against the Bills, Jonathan is capable of blowing a game wide open. And that's good, because Carson Wentz is capable of blowing a game."

Colts wins, 27-24.

Carolina @ Miami (+1½)

The Panthers lost 27-21 at home to Washington, despite 3 total touchdowns from Cam Newton, making his first start of the season.

"Cam brought his A-game," Matt Rhule said. "Our defense brought all the letters in the alphabet except 'D.'

"Signing Cam was a good move for both parties involved. As business decisions go, Cam's made a number of good ones, and one decidedly bad one, which was not even trying to recover his fumble in Super Bowl 50. As they might say on ESPN, 'C'mon Superman!'"

Miami beat the Jets 24-17 at MetLife Stadium, and the Dolphins have now won three in a row.

"Believe it or not," Brian Flores said, "we're just three games behind the Patriots in the AFC East. My guess is you can not believe that it's only three games."

Dolphins win, 24-21.

Tennessee @ New England (-5½)

The Patriots shut out the Falcons 25-0 in Atlanta on Thursday night. New England's defense recorded 4 sacks and 4 interceptions.

"We overcame a 25-point deficit to the Falcons in Super Bowl 51," Bill Belichick said. "We ended Thursday's game with a 25-point lead. That's the very definition of going 'full circle.' And a full circle is also known as a zero, which is what Atlanta scored.

"I'm excited to face my former player Mike Vrabel. He's done a great job at Tennessee. If Mike ever wanted to return to New England and join my coaching staff, I would welcome him willingly, and not reluctantly, like I did with Matt Patricia."

The Texans stunned the Titans 22-13 in Nashville, snapping Tennessee's six-game winning streak.

"I think it's safe to say we miss Derrick Henry," Mike Vrabel said. "Frankly, I think having Derrick on one good foot would make me happy. Incidentally, 'one good foot' is about what we average per rush without Derrick."

Patriots win, 22-18.

Philadelphia @ NY Giants (+3½)

The Giants looked terrible in a 30-10 loss to Tampa on Monday Night Football and fell to 3-7, last in the NFC East. On Tuesday, the Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

"Some would call Garrett a 'scapegoat,'" Joe Judge said. "Others would call him 'the first domino.' Still others would call him a 'preview of leaving attractions.'

"Our offense is far from dynamic. Daniel Jones may be the most vanilla of NFL quarterbacks. If he were a Giants receiver from the 1980s, he'd be called 'Phil McHonkey.'"

The Eagles beat the visiting Saints 40-29 behind the legs of Jalen Hurts and a rushing attack that piled up 242 yards. Hurts had 69 of those yards and all three rushing scores.

"Jalen is the latest in a long line of Philadelphia athletes known for their great running ability," Nick Sirianni said. "Like, for example, Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, and finally, Lenny Dykstra. What, exactly, was Dykstra's running ability, you may ask? Well, not only could he run the bases, but he also ran cars into trees, and businesses into bankruptcy."

Eagles win, 28-19.

Atlanta @ Jacksonville (+1½)

Atlanta's season hit a new low in a 25-0 loss to the visiting Patriots on Thursday night. The loss came just four days after a 43-3 loss to the Cowboys.

"Three points in two games?" Arthur Smith said. "That pretty much underscores our offensive shortcomings."

The Jaguars lost 30-10 to the visiting 49ers, who had their way on the ground and through the air against Jacksonville's overmatched defense.

"Coaching-wise," Urban Meyer said, "Kyle Shanahan took me to school. There are a lot of Jaguars fans, and hell, players, who wish I'd go back to school."

Falcons win, 24-21.

NY Jets @ Houston (-2½)

The Jets lost 24-17 to the visiting Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flacco passed for 2 touchdowns, but penalties and mental errors ultimately cost the Jets.

"I thought Joe looked pretty good for a middle-aged, non-vaccinated quarterback," Robert Saleh said. "I can think of another middle-aged, non-vaccinated quarterback I'd like to have as my starter.

"Meanwhile, Joe is out because he was deemed a close contact of Mike White, who tested positive for COVID-19. Long story short, Zach Wilson will start. Zach was the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, and he's certainly lived up to the hype, because he's played like a rookie."

The Texans pulled off a shocker in Nashville, beating the Titans 22-13. Houston forced 5 Titans turnovers, and Tyrod Taylor rushed for 2 touchdowns.

"It was indeed a shocker," David Culley said. "This was truly a surprise party for the Titans, because we hosted it at their house."

Texans win, 27-13.

L.A. Chargers @ Denver (+2½)

The Broncos had a Week 11 bye and face the Chargers in the first of five division games in their next seven matchups.

"It's go time," Vic Fangio said. "It's nice for me to be able to say that for once, as opposed to it being said about me and my coaching.

"We're going to need Teddy Bridgewater to lead us. Say what you will about Teddy, but I think he's got a future as a politician, because issues might be the only thing he's not afraid to tackle."

The Chargers beat the visiting Steelers 41-37 at SoFi Stadium.

"It was estimated that 65% of the fans at SoFi were Steelers fans," Herbert said. "As a Chargers player, I estimated the remaining 35% won tickets in a radio station giveaway.

"Steelers fans travel well. They made themselves heard inside SoFi. I saw hundreds of Terrible Towels waving. Our fans? The only thing they wave is 'goodbye' to the ticket office."

Broncos win, 29-27.

L.A. Rams @ Green Bay (-1½)

The Rams had a Week 11 bye and return to action hoping to end a two-game losing streak.

"It's never easy playing at Lambeau Field," Sean McVay said. "We don't feel the need to go there and make some bold statement; we just want to play our game and emerge victorious. I hear you can get away with murder in Wisconsin; we just want to get away with a win."

The Packers lost 34-31 to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Aaron Rodgers passed for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns, but the Vikings countered with Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, who connected for 2 touchdowns.

"Cousins is a lot like me," Rodgers said. "With either one of us as your quarterback, you always have a shot, just not in the arm."

Packers win, 27-24.

Minnesota @ San Francisco (-2½)

The 49ers spanked the Jaguars 30-10 for their third win in their last four games. San Fran rushed for 171 yards and Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 2 touchdowns.

"Jimmy ran the offense to perfection," Kyle Shanahan said. "It's a common misconception that I've got Jimmy on a short leash. Not true. Jimmy's got the green light to do anything, I tell him to."

Greg Joseph's 29-yard field goal as time expired gave the Vikings a big 34-31 win over the visiting Packers.

"I get nervous anytime my kicker sets up for a game-winning field goal," Mike Zimmer said. "I feel like I should call a timeout, to ice my constricted sphincter.

"Justin Jefferson had an incredible game. He had 8 catches for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns. Randy Moss is his hero. And games like that make it look like Justin could be the next Moss. But he's got a long way to go if he wants to the comparisons to be accurate. So Justin needs to not only step up his game, but also needs to play for four more teams, hit a parking attendant with his car, smoke a little weed, and simulate 'mooning' fans at Lambeau Field. Among other things."

San Fran wins, 30-27.

Cleveland @ Baltimore (-3½)

The Browns beat the visiting Lions 13-10 to improve to 6-5. Nick Chubb rushed for 130 yards and added a receiving score, while Baker Mayfield struggled.

"Our fans actually boo'd me," Mayfield said. "That really doesn't bother me. I mean, you really haven't truly entered the brotherhood of Cleveland quarterbacks until you've been boo'd by your own fans. So, if you're asking if I know what it feels like to be Tim Couch, the answer is yes. If you're asking if I know what it feels like to play like Tim Couch, the answer is also yes."

The Ravens, without Lamar Jackson, beat the Bears 16-13, as backup quarterback Tyler Huntley led the game-winning drive, which culminated in Devonta Freeman's three-yard TD run with 22 seconds left.

"Tyler knows he has to be ready at a moment's notice," John Harbaugh said. "He's our No. 2 quarterback, which basically means he's in the game should Lamar have to go 'No. 2.'"

Ravens win, 26-23.

Seattle @ Washington (-½)

Washington beat the Panthers, 27-21, as Ron Rivera faced his former team.

"That game brought back a lot of memories," Rivera said. "I remember the day I was fired by the Panthers organization. I also remember the day I was hired by the Washington organization, which was practically the next day."

The Seahawks offense continued to struggle in a 23-13 loss to the visiting Cardinals. Russell Wilson completed only 14-of-26 passes for 207 yards, and doesn't have a passing TD in two games since his return from injury.

"Our offense has scored only one touchdown since Russell returned," Pete Carroll said. "So, we can count those touchdowns on one finger. And it appears one finger is responsible for all that.

"I'm very frustrated. I actually walked out of the post-game press conference. Notice I didn't run out. That was totally my decision, and again, the wrong one."

Washington wins, 21-17.

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