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Bill Parcells used to say, Thanksgiving is the time when you find out which teams are for real, and which ones aren't. There is a giant cluster of teams in the hunt for the two spots in the AFC will card.

It is conceivable that a 7-9 team AFC team can make the playoffs. On the other hand, the NFC is a loaded conference where a 10-6 team may not even make the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.


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Nuggets from Week 11

  • The marquee game of the day saw the Vikings handle the high-octane Rams. The Rams scored a touchdown on their opening possession going nine plays, 75 yards. After that, 47 plays for 179 yards and zero points. The Vikings now own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints and Rams. And if you forgot, they're hosting the Super Bowl this year.
  • I am not sure why the RedZone Channel was showing meaningless plays of the Bucs-Dolphins game. Those teams are such garbage. I'm also not sure why it took the Dolphins 10 weeks to realize Matt Moore is a better option than Jay Cutler. Even after three interceptions in the first half, it still took a concussion for Cutler to be yanked. Just cut your losses already, Miami. You made a mistake bringing Cutler out of retirement. Moore is the better option.
  • The Giants were allowing an average of 3 touchdowns per game and 4 over their last three heading into Sunday's game. Alex Smith couldn't even lead the offense to a SINGLE touchdown. Let’s also not forget he was EVERYONE’s MVP after four games. Absurd.
  • Blake Bortles played a perfect game. That's because he didn't turn the ball over. He is just so bad though. 17 of 30 for 154 yards. That's 5.13 yards per attempt. Yikes.
  • Joe Flacco and the Ravens were once again unwatchable. Is there a player more disinterested than Flacco?
  • I picked the Redskins last week and I'm still not sure how they blew that game.
  • I hate to toot my own horn, but as soon as I saw Nathan Peterman was slated to start on Sunday, I immediately updated my column and put the Chargers as my top play. I even wrote, "If Sean McDermott somehow thinks this Peterman guy is better than T-Mobile, he should be fired." Well Peterman threw five picks in the first half. The next person to do that will be "pulling a Peterman." The worst part, McDermott still wants to evaluate the quarterback position for this week. I think I need a drink.
  • The Bengals continued the Broncos' misery, and I'm quite happy. John Elway sits up there in his press box all smug acting like he's the greatest general manager of all time. In that game though, Dre Kirkpatrick had a 100-yard interception return that did NOT go for a touchdown.

MMQB writer Peter King posed this question,  "Anyone ever see a 100-yard interception return that wasn’t a touchdown before Dre Kirkpatrick did it Sunday in Denver? Bueller? Bueller?" Well, yes, Peter, I have. In 2006, Champ Bailey did it in the playoffs against Tom Brady. Here it is:

Always nice to see Brady making a blunder of this magnitude.

Remember everyone saying how bad the Patriots defense was. Well, they haven't given up two touchdowns and more than 17 points in their past four. This just fuels me more. Everyone LOVES to overreact after four games, but everyone fails to realize how it's ONLY four games. I'll take another drink now.


Rant of the Week

I've had enough of players leaping over defenders to make the highlight reel and be seen across social media. Is it really worth the extra two yards when any defender can come and knock you out of mid-air? What if you land on your head? You're simply putting yourself at unnecessary risk just to be THAT guy to hurdle someone.

Survivor League Strategy

For those of you unfamiliar with survivor pools, it’s very simple; pick a team to win each week, if they win you move on to the next week. But you cannot use that team ever again. There is no point spread involved.

Before making any picks, look at the point spreads. Vegas has the best minds, smarter than any of us, use them to get a glimpse at how each team is projected to fare that week. There will be a game or two a week where the line makes NO SENSE which means Vegas is giving you an inside scoop and they're mostly always right.

The biggest favorites in Week 12 per sportsbook (home team in caps):

  • PATRIOTS -16.5 vs Dolphins
  • STEELERS -14 vs. Packers
  • EAGLES -13.5 vs. Bears
  • CHIEFS -10 vs. Bills
  • FALCONS -10 vs. Bucs
  • BENGALS -9 vs. Browns
  • Seahawks -7 @ 49ERS
  • RAVENS -7 vs. Texans


There are some MONSTER lines this week. Vegas is begging you to tease more than half of these teams. I see several upsets coming.

Teams on bye: NONE. NO MORE BYES!!!

The NFL gave us FOUR late games. It's a miracle!


Top Survivor Picks for Week 12

PATRIOTS -16.5 vs. Dolphins

The Pats are rolling. They are not losing this game. No chance. It's just so so so many points to lay. I kinda like the Fins as a monster dog. Matt Moore can make some plays and get a backdoor cover. Surprisingly, the Dolphins are averaging the second-most yards per play over their last three games in the NFL at 6.6.

STEELERS -14 vs. Packers

Oh, what could have been. This game was supposed to be Rodgers vs. Roethlisberger on Sunday Night Football. What a game that would have been. Two legendary franchises going at it to culminate Thanksgiving weekend. Instead, we're stuck with Brett Hundley. Once again, this line is huge. If the Steelers get out to a quick early lead, they will roll and win by 21.

One other interesting schedule tidbit that may only interest myself. The Steelers are playing FOUR consecutive weeks in primetime. Talk about the NFL banking on a team to be healthy and good this late in the year. Last week they played the Titans on Thursday night. This week, Packers on Sunday night. Next week, at Cincinnati on Monday night. The week after, home to the Ravens on Sunday night.

REDSKINS -7.5 vs. Giants

This is the nightcap to the Thanksgiving triple-header. The Giants just got their second win on Sunday so I think they're  done winning. The Redskins are off a heartbreaking loss. They should rebound. Kirk Cousins has been phenomenal in primetime this season. In his three nationally televised games this year, Cousins has competed an average of 73% of his passes for 296 yards and a whopping 9.64 yards per attempt. He's also thrown 8 touchdowns to 1 interception and has a 126 passer rating. I like the Skins big.

EAGLES -13.5 vs. Bears

Even if the Eagles have a let down, they won't lose. Once again, it's just a matter if they will cover or not.


Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

FALCONS -10 vs. Bucs

 Tampa won two in a row behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. I'm still just not sold on Atlanta.  They've played four home games this year; Packers, Bills, Dolphins, and Cowboys. They played great against the Packers and Cowboys, dominating both of them. While against the Bills, as eight-point favorites, and Dolphins, as 13.5-point favorites, they didn't seem to take them seriously, losing both. Will they take the Bucs seriously this week? Well they better because they have playmakers with DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans.

CHIEFS -10 vs. Bills

The Chiefs are reeling. Their defense is beyond overrated. They give up 383 yards per game, fifth worst in the league. They are bottom five against the run and the pass. If Tyrod Taylor starts, this will be the ultimate F-You game to head coach Sean McDermott. It's not as if the Chiefs get pressure on the quarterback, they're bottom ten in the league in sacks. The NFL is a league where if you get blown out one week, you usually play better the next. I'm calling for the outright upset.

Jaguars -5 @ CARDINALS- Blaine Gabbert will be facing his former team. Blake Bortles was so horrible against the Browns on Sunday, I'm not sure how anyone can be confident picking the Jags. Eventually, they'll need Bottles to make some plays. The Cards have the 10th best rush defense, so this could be the game Bortles throws his first pick-six of the season. However, the Cards have been awful protecting the quarterback allowing the third most hits. The Jags lead the league in sacks with 40.

BENGALS -9 vs. Browns

The Bengals don't deserve to be favorite by nine points over anyone. That's a joke. Cincy is off an emotional win in Denver last week. I think Cleveland will win a game this season. I'm not sure which one. This game feels weird to me. It could be a let down game for the Bengals. The Browns will cover this week though. The Bengals have won four games this season and only ONE has been by more than seven. That was against the Browns in Week 4, 31-7.

  • Vikings -3 @ LIONS- First of the three Thanksgiving games. I am shocked the NFL put the Vikings on Thanksgiving in back-to-back years. I really don't think I've ever seen this. I thought the NFL liked having different teams playing on Thanksgiving. And no, I'm not talking about the Lions and Cowboys annually hosting a game. For all you fools who wonder why the Lions and Cowboys ALWAYS play on Thanksgiving. It's a tradition.   The Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving since 1934 and the Cowboys since 1966. Deal with it. As for my pick, I like the Lions. Since losing nine consecutive Thanksgiving games, the Lions have won their last four. I    always like taking a home dog, but I'd highly advise you stay away. You don't want to ruin your appetite that early.
  • COWBOYS -1 vs. Chargers- Sit back and enjoy this one. It's the reeling Cowboys and the peaking Chargers. I'm not sure how much worse the Cowboys can be after their second half collapse Sunday night. But Jason Garrett needs to adjust. You can't be outscored 47-0 in the second half of your past two games. If the Cowboys can't protect Dak Prescott from Melvin Ingram and Joey Boss, they are in trouble.
  • Panthers -4.5 @ JETS- Both teams are off a bye. Carolina is an underwhelming 7-3 team. You just never know how Cam Newton will play. The Jets are unpredictable as well. Vegas put this line in a perfect spot, right in the Vegas Zone. I like the Panthers by three.
  • Titans -3.5 @ COLTS- Don't watch a second of this game. It will be boring as can be. I like Indy though.
  • Seahawks -7 @ 49ERS- I have no idea if Jimmy Garoppolo will start in this one. Either way, Seattle will win.
  • RAMS -2.5 vs. Saints- This is the game of the week. The Saints were bad all game against the Skins but eked out a late win. This may be the highest-scoring game of the day. Enjoy this one.
  • RAIDERS -5 vs. Broncos- Both of these teams are horrible. I have no stats to back this up, but doesn't it always seem after an offensive coordinator gets fired, that team comes out firing the week after and wins?
  • RAVENS -7 vs. Texans- What a terrific Monday Night Football game. Joe Flacco against Tom Savage. Flacco does not care whatsoever about football anymore. He looks beyond bored. Their defense has been very good, but I can't watch any of this.


Any questions? Feel free to ask me on Twitter @Seth_Fink.

Best of luck and happy Thanksgiving!


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