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In keeping with my last couple of days in the house, my Thanksgiving picks were a sodden mess of leaking points undermining my attempts to catch up with Dan as he extended his lead to double digits. At this point I think I am just waiting for the end of the season to put me out of my misery but let us see if I can rescue something out of the week.

Early Games:

I think there are two stand out games in the early slate, although they are for slightly different reasons.

The first is the Tennessee Titans return visit to play the Indianapolis Colts to see if they can avenge their loss from week ten. The Colts must be taken seriously, yet the loss of DeForest Buckner will be a blow to a top five defense by DVOA, but they looked pretty good against the Packers last week. Dan and I were both discussing how we were struggling to pick the Titans, but head coach Mike Vrabel seems to have a real feel for game management and working clever little advantages, and although the offence has sputtered a little in recent weeks, we are getting into the time of year where Derrick Henry seem to keep getting stronger. I think this should be a competitive game and I am determined not to miss watching the Colts again.

The other game might not be quite the same contest, but the chance to watch Justin Herbert is not one to miss and with the Buffalo Bills coming off a bye their pass first offence should be raring to go. I might be wrong, but I think this is game is likely to be a high scoring watch that should be a lot of fun, even if I think that ultimately the Chargers will fall short on the road.

What else to watch:

  • The Las Vegas Raiders will be looking to bounce back after a last drive loss to the Chiefs and with Julio Jones battling to get fit for Sunday, I think this could well be a get right game for the Raiders as Matt Ryan looks like a very different quarterback without Jones.
  • I now have a certain fascination in what Brandon Allen can do with the Bengals offence, but given what happened when Burrow went down I am not exactly excited. I still like the direction that the Giants are heading, and although their schedule may preclude actually winning the division, I can see them winning this game easily, but would love to be proved wrong.
  • The Jaguars are moving on from Jake Luton after he threw four interceptions against the Steelers last week, but it is Mike Glennon who gets the start as Gardner Minshew II still works his way back from injury. Frankly, given recent results for the Jaguars, I have a feeling that this won’t matter a whole lot, and the real interest in this game is what the Browns offence does now that they’re not playing in terrible weather and can throw the ball. I’m not expecting fifty drop backs like the Bengals have been trying, but it will be interesting to see how the offence runs without Odell Beckham now that throwing is actually an option.
  • The Miami Dolphins ran into a defensive coach who had a game plan for Tua Tagovailoa and now that tape exists the Dolphins will have to work out how to counter it. Still, that might not be a problem this week with Tagovailoa struggling with a thumb injury so currently Ryan Fitzpatrick is looking more likely to get a start. I’m not sure either QB will have to do too much to beat the Jets given how well in the other two other phases of the game the Dolphins are playing.
  • I’m really not sure what to make of either team in the matchup of the Carolina Panthers at the Minnesota Vikings. Whilst I like the direction the Panthers franchise is heading, their defense is unlikely to pitch another shut out and they must develop before they are going to truly compete. The Viking meanwhile lost to the Cowboys last week despite Dalvin Cook generating plenty of yards, as did Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson in the passing game. Either the Vikings recovery was over blown or last week was a blip and this game will shed some light on that, although Adam Thielen being out with Covid-19 will muddy matters. To be honest, I’m not that convinced by either side going into this one.
  • It is truly weird to see the New England Patriots getting points at home, but that is where we are with them hosting the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have extra time to recover from their loss last week, and have a chance to bounce back against the New England Patriots, but this is not the easiest of road trips and whilst the Cardinals are another team where I like where they are headed, I don’t exactly trust them.

Raiders @ Falcons (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Raiders
Dan’s Pick:      Raiders

Chargers @ Bills (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

Giants @ Bengals (+5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Giants
Dan’s Pick:      Giants

Browns @ Jaguars (+6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Browns
Dan’s Pick:      Browns

Titans @ Colts (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Titans
Dan’s Pick:      Titans

Dolphins @ Jets (+6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Panthers @ Vikings (-4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Panthers

Cardinals @ Patriots (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Late Games:

The game that leaps of the page out of the late games is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Bucs have not looked right for a couple of weeks now and whilst I can see Tom Brady and the Bucs offence having some success against the Chiefs defense, they have not all been on the same page recently and I find it hard to believe that they can keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs explosive offence. It is not impossible given the talent the Bucs have, but even laying points on the road I like the Chiefs in this one.

The breaking new on Saturday was that thanks to close contacts after Jeff Driskel tested positive for Covid-19 the Broncos have no quarterback available to them when hosting the New Orleans Saints. The Broncos receiver Kendall Hinton is going to play QB and so this game is likely to be a curiosity if nothing else. I already thought that the match up of the Denver Broncos offence going against the New Orleans Saints’ offence with Taysom Hill as the quarterback was going to be the matchup of the game. With their win last week Sean Payton demonstrated that Hill was a viable option to win a game, but the jury is out on whether he can maintain this for enough weeks that Drew Brees can get healthy and compete in the play-offs. I’m not sure about watching the whole game, but I am definitely interested in the coaching tape of the Saint’s offence this week.

Finally, a divisional game between the San Francisco 49ers and LA Rams will always have some interest thanks to the offensive schemes of the two head coaches, but even getting some players back a win feels like a tough ask for the 49ers and the Rams should be looking to apply pressure on the Seahawks with a win in this game.

Saints @ Broncos (+5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

49ers @ Rams (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Rams
Dan’s Pick:      Rams

Chiefs @ Buccaneers (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Sunday Night Football:

Bears @ Packers (-8.5)

This line feels high to me because the Chicago Bears defense is still ranked fourth by DVOA, but their offence is ranked twenty-ninth for a reason and it feels like they will need to address quarterback in the off-season as neither of their options has exactly convinced this year. The Packers will still be smarting from their loss to the Colts last week, and they have had some concerning losses this season, but they are a good team and I would expect them to win this one. If you want to be really simplistic a matchup of Aaron Rodgers versus Mitchell Trubisky is not much of a contest.

Gee’s Pick:      Bears
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Monday Night Football

Seahawks @ Eagles (+5.5)

I am all for letting Russell Wilson play like one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but it was good to see the Seahawks run the ball more last week and get some support from the defense as they beat the Cardinals. I really hope that Pete Carroll doesn’t revert to type and get the run-pass balance too far towards running the ball as has been his desire in previous seasons, but a balanced attack should help this Seahawks win. I would love to say that the Eagles can spring a surprise, and you can’t entirely rule it out, but it seems unlikely for a team who appear to have broken their quarterback and look a shadow of the team who a Super Bowl only a few seasons ago.

Gee’s Pick:      Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:      Seahawks

Maybe Night Football

Ravens @ Steelers (-3.5)

The poor Pittsburgh Steelers have again had their schedule messed around by an opponent struggling with Covid-19 cases, and there are some real questions about their game against the Baltimore Ravens getting played on Tuesday. It seems like the Ravens have had player to player transmission given they are up to nineteen positive cases, and with them not even able to get into the facility you have to wonder if this game will get played, never mind whether the Ravens can make it competitive. The Ravens were already struggling this season, and this can’t help, whilst the Steelers have managed to overcome every obstacle put in their path but I’m really not sure how the NFL is going to play this one. We can only wait and see, but I think there is only one way we can pick this game.

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Steelers

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.