Fearless Rick's NFL Football Picks - Week 12 early games

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WEEK 12 NFL Picks

All times Eastern

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Week 11 Results: Coin: 1-11-2; Rick: 5-7-2
Cumulative: Coin: 60-82-5; Rick: 69-73-5

Thursday, November 24

Minnesota at Detroit(-2 1/2, 43), 12:30 pm (CBS) - Considering that the Vikings' win by a touchdown over Arizona was due largely to special teams and Cardinal turnovers (including a 101-yard interception return, a 10-to-14-point swing) winning on the road in this all-important divisional clash would seem unlikely.

Detroit almost always struggles, but they should take advantage of the home field edge and their potential to take the NFC North by storm, now that the Packers have all but been eliminated. All six of the Lions' wins have occurred after they've trailed in the fourth quarter, so this one figures to be an interesting affair.

Coin Flip: Minnesota

Rick's Pick: Lions 27 Vikings 20

Washington at Dallas (-7 1/2, 51), 4:30 pm (FOX) - The enormity of this game for the visiting Redskins cannot be understated. At 6-3-1, Washington can pull one game closer to the Cowboys, winners of nine straight. As good as Dallas has been all season, they're bound to be tripped up at some point down the stretch, though one would need a powerful crystal ball to predict just when that will happen.

The Redskins are about as steady a team as exists in the NFL. Witness their absolute 42-24 pounding of the Packers on Sunday night for proof and their rankings (9th offense, 25.4 ppg; 18th defense, 23.3 ppg). Don't be swayed by the point spread; it has only gotten bigger the more "America's Team" continued to win.

Coin Flip: Dallas

Rick's Pick: Redskins 26 Cowboys 25

Pittsburgh (-7, 50 1/2) at Indianapolis, 8:30 pm (NBC) - The Steelers had what amounted to a bye last week, kicking the poor Browns to their 11th straight defeat, 24-9. Indy has come through the mid-season with flying colors, winning three of their last four, including last week's 24-17 victory at home over the Titans.

Both teams possess strong offenses and so-so defenses, making this game a potential last man standing affair. If Ben Roethlisberger has his team in reasonable field position with a minute left in the game, they're the likely winner. Thus, the coin flip at the start of the game or turnovers could be the determining factor in they barn-burner. If the line looks suspicious, it's because Colts' QB Andrew Luck may not play due to a concussion suffered in the win over Tennessee. If he's out (very likely), take the Steelers. If he plays, still take the Steelers, as the spread will be much smaller, like three points.

Coin Flip: Pittsburgh

Rick's Pick: Steelers 36 Colts 24

Sunday, November 27

Arizona at Atlanta (-4, 50 1/2), 1:00 pm (FOX) - Sunday starts off fittingly with the first two teams in the NFL's alphabetic order, which is an interesting fact, but useless as far as picking a winner is concerned. The Cardinals have been reeling (1-2-1 in their last four), and cost themselves a game at Minnesota with sloppy play and turnovers last week.

On the contrary, Atlanta had a week off after being dismantled by a very average Philadelphia squad two weeks ago. The extra rest and home field should be enough to propel the Falcons to victory, though the outcome is very iffy.

Coin Flip: Arizona

Rick's Pick: Falcons 31 Cardinals 26

Cincinnati at Baltimore (-4 1/2, 40 1/2), 1:00 pm (CBS) - While the Bengals lost to Buffalo at home, 16-12, the Ravens were being dealt a 27-17 defeat at Dallas, those results rendering the AFC North the weakest division in the league by record.

The Bengals (3-6-1) have not been eliminated from the division title yet, but, without A.J. Green, it's doubtful that they will make the playoffs this season. Baltimore at least bears the semblance of a complete team and should rightly be favored in a game they can and should win.

Coin Flip: Baltimore

Rick's Pick: Ravens 20 Bengals 10

Jacksonville at Buffalo (-7, 45 1/2), 1:00 pm (CBS) - Buffalo got back to .500 with their win at Cincinnati last week, but has to guard against overconfidence versus the Jaguars.

2-8 Jacksonville is completely out of the playoff race and should be trying just about every play in the book to get a win, so this will not be as easy a game for the Bills as many think. However, with the Bills needing to win at least four of their final six games, the cards are on the table. Buffalo also will be pulling out all stops for a win. Jacksonville can be victorious if the Bills commit turnovers, something they've avoided most of the year.

Coin Flip: Buffalo

Rick's Pick: Bills 34 Jaguars 17

Tennessee (-3 1/2, 43) at Chicago, 1:00 pm (CBS) - The Bears put a scare into the Giants last week, but that's all they did, falling 22-16 in New Jersey. Tennessee is done playing Indianapolis, the one team in the AFC they cannot defeat, so the Titans may actually be in good shape to make a playoff run or at least give their fans some hope.

Since the Bears are in their usual late-season condition of despair and lost hope, the Titans have ample opportunity to snatch an easy win.

Coin Flip: Bears

Rick's Pick: Titans 24 Bears 9

NY Giants (-7, 44) at Cleveland, 1:00 pm (FOX) - With the NFC East possibly the most competitive division in the league, the Giants understand their position well enough. They have to keep pace with the Redskins and Cowboys if they wish to reach the promised land of the post-season.

Slowly, the Giants have been gathering momentum, and now their defense is giving opponents fits while Eli Manning and the starved running attack remains opportunistic. The good news for the Browns is that they have a bye next week.

Coin Flip: NY Giants

Rick's Pick: Giants 31 Browns 14

San Diego at Houston (-1, 47), 1:00 pm (CBS) - Ever-dangerous, the Chargers had last week off and will be poised to take their best shot against the Texans, who surprisingly still lead the AFC South with a 6-4 mark after their 27-20 loss to the Raiders Monday night in Mexico City.

Houston was leading that game, but fell apart on defense late, which cost them all hope of a win. Then, they were unable to move the ball with under four minutes left and could not stop the Raiders as time wore down. If that's the kind of game they're going to play against a hungry, 4-6, Charger team, chalk up a loss.

Coin Flip: Houston

Rick's Pick: Chargers 27 Texans 24

San Francisco at Miami (-7 1/2, 45 1/2), 1:00 pm (FOX) - Pulling out a 14-10 win at Los Angeles with two TDs in the final five minutes, the Dolphins have made themselves a legitimate playoff contender and they get the good fortune of playing at home against the hapless 1-9 49ers, who have not won a game since week one.

While San Francisco may well be the laughing stock of the NFC, they have shown some signs of improvement, for instance, hanging with the Patriots in last week's 30-17 loss. Figure the combination of a stifling Miami defense and a struggling, tired 'Niner offense to lead to a 6th straight win for the Fins.

Coin Flip: San Francisco

Rick's Pick: Dolphins 26 49ers 7

Los Angeles at New Orleans (-7, 45 1/2), 1:00 pm (FOX) - A classic? Probably not, but this is a match-up of extremes, as the Rams have a tough defense and no offense, while the Saints rely almost entirely upon outscoring the other guys. New Orleans is 30th on defense, allowing 28.6 points per game.

As time dwindles down in the stretch run to the end of the regular season, the Saints find themselves fully ensconced in a playoff hunt and are coming off a 23-20 loss at Carolina. They should manage to find enough offense to outscore the Rams, unless LA gets a defensive or special teams score.

Coin Flip: New Orleans

Rick's Pick: Saints 23 Rams 13

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