I’m changing up the format this week, as I feel picking point spread winners for every single game might be overkill. While it’s been a fun exercise, I’m sure no one wants to read a bunch of predictions when I’m only confident in a handful of them. I’m going to start analyzing the betting options for three games per week, plus the 49er game. I think this will hold me more accountable for my picks, as I won’t get the cop-out of vocalizing my uneasiness in the pick in the first place. If you like to bet the over/under on games, I’ll also include my picks in that department, but my overall season record will continue to reflect the point spread bets.
I’m picking only the “locks” from here on out, so if you want to trust me and follow along, let’s win some Black Friday money!
Last week’s record: 5-5-1
Season record: 61-64-2
Bears (-3) @ Lions
Right now the Bears are rolling, and while the Lions managed to beat the Panthers last week, I think that was more the fault of Carolina than it was as a result of Detroit playing winning football. Look, they played better than they have been, but I am still not impressed by the Lions at all.
They enter this Thanksgiving showdown with the Bears with a minus-5 turnover differential on the year. The Bears meanwhile are sporting a ridiculous plus-13 turnover differential. That right there should be enough to get you to pull the trigger on Chicago laying 3 points.
This Bears team reminds me a lot of the 2011 49ers team (whose stellar defense was also coached by Vic Fangio.) A vicious pass rush led by superstar Khalil Mack makes everyone’s job on the defense easier. Quarterbacks simply don’t have time to wait for their guys to get open, because if they stay in the pocket too long, Khalil Mack is going to get there, and he’s going to eat.
With Trubisky really coming into his own this year and playing good football, I don’t see a scenario where the Lions play well enough to keep this game within 3 points.
The pick: Bears (-3) [UNDER 44.5]
Falcons @ Saints (-13)
Two high-octane offenses and two suspect defenses facing off in a divisional matchup that always seems to come down to the wire? Using that information, it would seem like a no-brainer to take the Falcons with a 13-point spot. That very well could be the case when it’s all said and done, because that’s a big spread in the NFL. But Drew Brees is playing some of the best football of his entire Hall of Fame career. The Saints are making it look easy, scoring on seemingly every offensive possession. Everything is clicking on that side of the ball, and if last week’s blowout win over the defending champion Eagles was any indication, the Saints’ defense is starting to get it together as well.
For the Falcons to keep this game within reach, Matt Ryan is going to have to play a flawless four quarters of football. The Saints are going to demoralize the Falcons’ defense from the get-go, and it’s going to be up to Ryan to answer the call on each and every possession.
This will be a high scoring game, and I definitely like the over, but there’s just no way I can bring myself to bet against Drew Brees right now, even with a spread this large.
The pick: Saints (-13) [OVER 60.5]
Giants @ Eagles (-6)
Believe it or not, the New York Football Giants have won two straight games, which all but guarantees Eli Manning will be under center for the next five years. The Eagles on the other hand, are playing consistently bad football, and should’ve been forced to hand over their Lombardi trophy to Sean Payton after last week’s beat down in the Superdome.
I’m not saying the Giants are a better team than the Eagles, because they’re not. But what I am saying is there’s a perfect storm brewing for the Giants to pull off an upset in Philadelphia. The Eagles’ secondary is banged up, and if Manning can avoid turning the ball over, he should have no problem getting his skill position players involved and keeping up with the Eagles’ offense. The good news is, we don’t even need the Giants to pull off the upset; we just need them to keep the game within 6 points. Divisional games tend to be tightly contested matchups for the most part, and I don’t see this one being any exception.
The pick: Giants (+6) [OVER 46]
49ers @ Buccaneers (-3.5)
The 49ers are coming off their bye week, having had plenty of time to reflect on their crushing collapse in the second half against the Giants in Week 10. The Buccaneers are continuing their insane QB carousel and will be trotting out Jameis Winston this week.
After Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched after his third interception during last week’s game against the Giants, Jameis Winston came in and played well. He got his team within striking distance to win, then he did something literally every person on the planet knew he would do:
He threw a game-losing interception.
The Niners will look to capitalize on a team that is prone to mistakes, but they’ll have to limit their own mistakes as well. Tampa Bay is last in the league with a minus-23 turnover differential, but the 49ers are second to last in the league with a minus-15 turnover differential.
Aside from the turnovers, both of these teams have struggled mightily this year defending air attacks. I don’t envision this being a pretty game, but I think the 49ers will keep it within 3.5 and cover on the road.
The pick: 49ers (+3.5) [Under 54.5]
Stay tuned next week for a recap of this week’s picks as well as picks for the week 13 games!
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