Week 12 NFL game picks: Lions top Bears; Rams rebound against Packers

Gregg Rosenthal went 7-8 straight up and 8-7 against the spread on his Week 11 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 91-73-1 and 84-79-1, respectively. How will he fare in Week 12? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of 5:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 24 unless otherwise noted below.

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THURSDAY, NOV. 25

  • WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)
  • WHEN: 12:30 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Lions +3 | O/U: 41.5

I have a confession to make. I am picking this result because I want it to happen, because Dan Campbell winning his first game on Thanksgiving is the only way to bring sunshine into this otherwise gray affair. This is the darkest Matt Nagy timeline, with him denying dubious reports regarding his own firing while facing brutal scrutiny in his personal life. The Lions’ defense has played hard the last two weeks, Detroit’s offensive line is quietly strong and D’Andre Swift may be the best player in this game. A Lions win would be best for everyone.

  • WHERE: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
  • WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Cowboys -7.5 | O/U: 51.5

Derek Carr isn’t throwing deep as often or as successfully over the last three weeks. That’s led to a drab Raiders offense that is unlikely to score much against a Cowboys group in which Micah Parsons has improbably gone from a very good middle linebacker to a sensational edge rusher. As of this writing, CeeDee Lamb is trending toward playing on Thursday, and it appears Tyron Smith is back. That’s enough health for the Cowboys’ offense for me to believe they’ll cover this spread.

  • WHERE: Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Bills -6 | O/U: 45.5

This would be a fascinating game if the Saints were healthy. Instead, they will be without Alvin Kamara and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk again. Left tackle Terron Armstead and running back Mark Ingram are questionable, and their best defensive lineman, Marcus Davenport, is also out. It’s starting to look like Sean Payton and friends have tipped over the cliff from impressively resourceful to the least-talented offense in football. I was ready to pick New Orleans in an upset here, because I believe this defense can give Josh Allen problems, and the Saints, ranked ninth in DVOA overall, have been as tough and well-coached as any 5-5 team. But all the missing pieces on offense will make it too difficult for the Saints’ defense to overcome.

SUNDAY, NOV. 28

  • WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Bucs -3 | O/U: 52.5

These are two of the best run defenses in football, which matters a lot less to the Bucs’ offense. Tom Brady orchestrates an offense ready to play around the opponent’s strengths, while I’m not giving Carson Wentz that benefit of the doubt yet. This is the perfect week for the Bucs’ secondary to finally be nearly back to whole if cornerback Carlton Davis returns. I’m not buying this “Jonathan Taylor is in the MVP conversation” noise yet, but I’d happily change that tune if he carries the Colts again on Sunday.  

  • WHERE: NRG Stadium (Houston)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Texans -2.5 | O/U: 44.5

Two stats: 1) The Texans have forced 10 turnovers in the last two weeks, which is more than seven teams, including the Steelers, Ravens and Jets, have all season. 2) The Jets were dead last in EPA/play in the first seven weeks of the season when Zach Wilson was starting. They were ninth in the weeks he was out. Wilson is back in the saddle this week. This offense is running better than when Wilson left it with Elijah Moore playing well, but I still want to see Wilson improve before buying in.

  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Eagles -3.5 | O/U: 45.5

The Eagles’ transformation hasn’t only come on offense. While Jalen Hurts, Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson have steamrolled opponents for the league’s best running game since Week 8, Philadelphia’s defense has shown some growth over the last month, too. No longer content to just allow underneath receptions, the Eagles are blitzing and getting more pressure with varied defensive looks. That should be enough against a lost Giants offense, even if it gets a post-Jason Garrett bump. When Giants GM Dave Gettleman arrived, he wanted to build a team that was great at running and stopping the run. The Giants are 30th in rush defense DVOA, making them ill-equipped to deal with this Eagles squad.

  • WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Panthers -2 | O/U: 42

Call me old fashioned, but the reality that the Dolphins have been outscored by 68 points this season matters more than their three-game winning streak. Tua Tagovailoa does a nice job making his offensive line look better than it is with quick throws, but Miami doesn’t have the running game to hurt the Panthers’ biggest weakness on defense. Cam Newton played well enough to win last week, and Christian McCaffrey looks ready to break some big runs.

  • WHERE: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Patriots -6.5 | O/U: 44

The Patriots are on quite a streak of excellence and fortune. They keep catching teams at the right time, with Titans receiver Marcus Johnson now out for the season, just as he was starting to produce. A.J. Brown‘s status is also uncertain, and he is so vital to this Titans offense. The big, bad Tennessee defensive line is too good to dismiss, but I like the chances of a cohesive Patriots defense forcing Ryan Tannehill to beat them without a lot of help from his running game or a sneaky bad offensive line.

  • WHERE: Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Steelers +4.5 | O/U: 45

The Steelers are expected to get T.J. Watt, Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick back this week, which means Pittsburgh’s defense should start to resemble its usual form again. Ben Roethlisberger is also trending up, but this pick is less about logic and more about Mike Tomlin. I have bought in to his weekly press conferences, and I don’t even play for the team. There is something impressive about this proud, weird Steelers team, and games like this — as well as the Steelers-Browns game from a few weeks ago — are more about the bones of the organization and its great head coach than they are about any X’s and O’s.

  • WHERE: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Falcons -2.5 | O/U: 46

I do not want to watch this Falcons offense any more without Cordarrelle Patterson, and his status is up in the air again this week. The Jaguars’ offense is an even tougher slog at the moment. They’re averaging 10.8 points per game in the four contests since their bye week, with much of the scoring coming in garbage time. The Falcons’ defense should provide some relief, but they are looking at Trevor Lawrence the same way.

  • WHERE: Empower Field at Mile High
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Chargers -2.5 | O/U: 48

Tough game to pick. Brandon Staley learned directly from Vic Fangio when they were together in Chicago and Denver. Both are capable of coming up with a defensive game plan gem in a given week, but these are two of the most disappointing defenses in football. The Chargers can’t create pressure or stop the run. The Broncos are similar. I don’t trust either of these teams to make life easier for themselves, so the slight edge goes to the healthier team with the better quarterback.

  • WHERE: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Rams -1 O/U: 47

I have come to believe in this Packers team more than the Rams this season, something I did not expect. Yet I still believe in the Rams more this week. The Packers are limping to their Week 13 bye, with David Bakhtiari‘s knee setback coming in the same week they lose Elgton Jenkins for the season. The Packers have overcome injuries all year, and Aaron Rodgers is coming off his best performance of the season, so I’m losing my nerve as I type this, but the Rams are catching Green Bay at the right time.

  • WHERE: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: 49ers -3 | O/U: 48.5

The 49ers are first in EPA/play since Week 8, the game after Kyle Shanahan publicly wavered on whether he’d keep Jimmy Garoppolo as his starting quarterback. Trent Williams is the key component to an offensive line that is pushing defenses around. That’s the best recipe to beat a Vikings squad that is at its best defending the pass. In other words, it’s a bad week for Vikings run stopper Dalvin Tomlinson to be out, and fellow defensive line starter Everson Griffen could also be unavailable after police and Vikings mental health professionals responded to a 911 call at his home early Wednesday morning.

  • WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Ravens -3.5 | O/U: 46

The Ravens have the most clearly defined weakness that I can remember any team of recent Ravens vintage having: They simply can’t cover on the outside when Wink Martindale blitzes. This is a weakness that this version of the Browns is ill-equipped to attack, although you would have thought that about Andy Dalton and Marquise Goodwin a week ago, too. The potential return of Kareem Hunt gives the Browns a chance, but the quarterback disparity is too great, assuming Lamar Jackson is back. 

MONDAY, NOV. 29

  • WHERE: FedExField (Landover, Md.)
  • WHEN: 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN
  • SPREAD: Seahawks +1 | O/U: 46.5

The Seahawks started as 3.5-point road favorites. A whole lot of people who have watched these teams play the last two weeks went the other way to flip it all the way to Washington. I saw some signs of life from the Seahawks’ passing game last week against a more talented defense than Washington’s present crew. Taylor Heinicke has decisively outplayed Russell Wilson over the last two weeks, a statement that is so obviously true yet ridiculous that I can’t bring myself to imagine it happening for a third straight week. 

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