Cook’s NFL Picks: Thanksgiving Edition!

Hi, hello and welcome to Week 12 of the National Football League! Thanksgiving Day is the one Thursday we don’t complain about having football on because they’ve done is since before any of us were born. It’s a key part of the holiday. It gives us something to talk about with our rarely seen family members that we really don’t have a whole lot in common with other than some similar genetics.

Three games are on tap to satiate your football needs, so let’s hook em up!

Thursday, November 24

Minnesota at Detroit (-2.5)

As much as people complain about having to watch the Lions on Thanksgiving every season, I seem to remember writing about them being somewhat decent this time of year more often than not. This game pits the two top NFC North teams against each other in a battle that could swing the momentum in favor of one of the teams. Detroit beat the Vikings in overtime just two weeks ago, and I see this game being similarly close.

The Lions have won their last three Thanksgiving games and I think they make it four this week. I expect a low-scoring game with good defensive play, and while the Vikings have been strong on defense all season the Lions have also been making key defensive plays at the right moments.

Washington at Dallas (-6.5)

HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS? Nine straight wins since a one-point loss to the Giants in Week 1 have vaulted the Cowboys to the top of the NFC and reawakened the status of the Dallas Cowboys as America’s Team. Dak Prescott has become America’s favorite player. People want to canonize him for picking up his own garbage on the sideline Sunday. Tony Romo is being treated like Mother Teresa for graciously stepping aside for Dak last week in a press conference. It’s all getting a little bit ridiculous.

You know what’s ridiculous? Washington vs. Dallas actually matters as a football game! That doesn’t happen very often these days, but they’re both in the thick of playoff contention. It feels like everybody’s been sleeping on Washington this season, and as I keep pointing out in this column, they really aren’t bad. Kirk Cousins is earning his money he’ll get from somebody next season. They get a tough turnaround time this week though, as they played the SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT game and get to fly to Dallas for a Thursday afternoon tilt. It’s certainly not ideal. I think the Cowboys will take advantage here…it won’t be a total blowout but I can see it being a 10 point game like the Ravens/Cowboys game was.

Pittsburgh (-7.5) at Indianapolis

I’m sure this game seemed like a great idea for the Thanksgiving night showcase game in the preseason. Two of the NFL’s most consistent franchises that are always in playoff contention with two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks facing off seems like a natural, right?

Until you actually get to that week and you realize that the Steelers are 5-5 and are only likely to make the playoffs because the AFC North is having one of those division-wide down years that seems to hit every division at one point or another. Usually it’s just the Browns dragging things down, but every team in the North is quite uninspiring this season. I fully expect the Steelers to turn things around pretty soon because that’s what they do every single year, but right now they’re not a team people are clamoring to watch.

The Colts are also 5-5 and hanging in contention because the AFC South is its usual self. They got some big problems this week, to say the least. Their good player, Andrew Luck, is in the NFL concussion protocol and unlikely to play this week unless Roger Goodell decides that Thursday night ratings are more important than the long-term safety of his players. (Don’t rule this out.) In his place at quarterback will likely be the immortal Scott Tolzien.

tolzein

They all look like that, don’t they? Tolzien is probably most remembered for his stint filling in for Aaron Rodgers in 2013, when started two games and threw one touchdown & five interceptions. Coach Chuck Pagano sounds optimistic about the situation, but he’s the only one. Also complicating matters is safety Clayton Geathers also being in the concussion protocol, he’s the Colts’ good defensive player.

It’s going to be a high line due to the lack of Luck and the general lack of Colts defense, but you have to go with the Steelers here. I mean, can you trust Scott Tolzien with your bank account? I don’t think so.

Week 11 Results: 7-6-1

2016 Results: 79-76-6

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