So now we're lucky enough to hit Week 13 of the season. My picks for this lucky occassion -
LIONS over Packers - Despite maddening inconsistency and the ultimate bizarre interception against the Bucs, the Lions remains NFC North leaders and face a faltering Packers outfit that hasn't won a game since October. Matthew Stafford is playing some inspired football and should finally ignite a run to the playoffs.
COWBOYS over Raiders - The Cowboys remain the mediocre squad they've been for years, and get a Raiders team that remains in perpetual rebuilding.
RAVENS over Steelers - It's division foe time for Baltimore and the Steelers, even with the win over the Browns, are a shell of what they were two years ago - which despite 12-4 was weaker than it looked. Even if they win, I'm not sold the Ravens can catch the Bengals, though both Pittsburgh and Baltimore are surprisingly close to a playoff berth after their terrible starts.
Cardinals over EAGLES - The Cardinals are becoming a real playoff threat and have won their last three against the Eagles. The Eagles, though, have been getting better as the season has gone on and Nick Foles is proving he's for real. This could be a points bloodbath.
Dolphins over NY JETS - The Dolphins continue to play much better than people are assuming they'd play even in losses, and they get a Jets team that blew the chance at becoming the first 8-8 team without a streak longer than one game on either side; the Jets should begin freefalling, especially given their poor recent home record against the Dolphins.
Titans over COLTS - Yes, this is a rash prediction given recent history and given Andrew Luck is certainly very good, but this rivalry's games have been bitterly close of recent and the Titans want to end their losing streak to the Colts, plus Ryan Fitzpatrick got a burden of poor road games off his back; no long-term answer certainly and he's authored many a heartbreak in recent years, but he's not the bust some think of him. Expect the winning margin to be no higher than three.
VIKINGS over Bears - The Vikings won't make the playoffs yet they contend week after week, and the Bears have been mediocre overall.
BROWNS over Jaguars - The Browns' slim playoff hopes took a huge hit and they looked awful again against the Steelers, but overall there's real talent here, and they should salvage something against a game Jaguars squad.
PANTHERS over Buccaneers - Speaking of game, the Bucs have begun salvaging their season, but the Panthers have become a juggernaut ready to challenge New Orleans for the division.
Patriots over TEXANS - The watchphrase for the Patriots is to not play down to the opponent. The liberating win over the Broncos is reminiscent of the liberating win over the Saints, but the Patriots need to guard against another crash like in their subsequent game against the Jets; Houston is out of the playoffs but Case Keenum, despite being winless and only 56% in his completions has shown real grit this year.
BILLS over Falcons - The Bills schedule gives them a break with the enemic Falcons coming to Toronto; the Bills haven't had anything to cheer about in their games at the Rogers Centre, but as bad as the Falcons are, there's reason for optimism here.
Rams over 49ERS - The Niners got the win at Washington; now they face a Rams team that's starting to look up and which is looking for payback after getting smacked around earlier this season.
CHARGERS over Bengals - The Chargers squandered opportunities to ice a playoff spot earlier this year, they're not going to do that against a good-not-great Bengals team.
CHIEFS over Broncos - Both teams lost last week, but Alex Smith suddenly discovered some firepower while Peyton Manning is starting to look old. Look for a score fairly close to the 41-38 shootout at Arrowhead Stadium last week.
REDSKINS over NY Giants - NFC East cellar dwellers battle it out. RGIII has flamed out and so have Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin. Housecleaning may follow in both clubs.
Saints over SEAHAWKS - This is my upset prediction. Both teams are playing super; both teams can score, both teams can stop the opponent. The Seahawks have had some issues of late up the middle, and the Saints offense is among the best the league has ever seen. The homefield edge for the Seahawks has been famous but even with that they famously needed to score 40 earthquake-measuring points to beat the Saints in the 2010 playoffs.
So we thus await Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.