Thanksgiving Double Column: Week 12 NFL Picks, Week 13 CFB Predictions, Best Bets, Territorial Cup Thoughts and more!

To me, there’s nothing better than Thanksgiving and its subsequent four day weekend. It’s without a doubt by favorite week of the year.

From family and friends to food (especially the twice-baked potatoes & apple pie) to football overload (UofA-ASU, Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn, NFL, and my own Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving morning), the next four days simply can’t be beaten.

Without further ado, here’s a supersized Thanksgiving-weekend edition of the picks column complete with the usual Friday’s Quick Hitters mixed in:

john-madden-turducken

This week’s guest picker is one of the best college football writers out there, Dan Wolken from USA Today. Looking at his picks below, let’s just hope he’s correct on the one that is most important to the writer of this blog!

Guest Picker Results
Week 1: Adam Green 9-1 SU, 5-4 ATS
Week 2: Mike Muraco 4-6 SU, 6-4 ATS
Week 3: Mike Bauer 8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS
Week 4: Jeff Dean 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS
Week 5: Arnie Spanier 8-2 SU, 8-2 ATS
Week 6: Jason McIntyre 6-4 SU, 5-5 ATS
Week 7: Dan Manucci 7-3 SU, 8-2 ATS
Week 8: Lauren Joffe 6-4 SU, 3-7 ATS
Week 9: Shane Dale 6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS
Week 10: Shawn Crespin 8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS
Week 11: Tim Montemayor 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS
Week 12: Charles Wulf 6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS


Week 13 College Football Predictions

Eric Cohen Jon Bell Steve Malina Guest Picks (Dan Wolken)
Twitter: @eacohen83 @koshercoach @stevenmalina @danwolken
Overall (Straight Up): 82-38 76-44 89-31 78-42
Overall (Against the Spread): 56-63 53-66 63-56 64-55
Last Week (SU): 8-2 7-3 9-1 6-4
Last Week (ATS): 6-4  4-6 6-4 4-6
Arizona at ASU (Pick’em) AZ 41-38 AZ 38-35 ASU 38-36 AZ 38-33
South Florida at Central Florida (-11.5) UCF 35-30 UCF 31-21 UCF 38-24 UCF 44-30
Cal at UCLA (-6.5) UCLA 34-26 UCLA 20-17 UCLA 28-24 CAL 27-24
Ohio State (-10.5) at Michigan OSU 26-17 OSU 20-17 OSU 34-17 OSU 24-6
Georgia (-10.5) at Georgia Tech GA 34-13 GA 38-10 GA 31-17 GA 30-14
Alabama (-4.5) at Auburn AUB 28-27 AUB 28-27 ALA 31-20 ALA 21-17
Oregon State at Oregon (-25.5) ORE 47-20 ORE 55-3 ORE 44-17 ORE 36-21
Notre Dame (-2.5) at Stanford ND 24-20 STAN 17-12 STAN 28-27 STAN 20-19
Washington State at Washington (-8.5) WASH 37-24 WASH 31-28 WASH 28-21 WSU 38-35
Colorado at Utah (-10.5) UTAH 27-24 UTAH 21-20 UTAH 31-24 UTAH 31-17


This Week’s Bold Prediction:

EC: Two Pac-12 matchups will determine bowl eligibility this season: Cal-UCLA and Utah-Colorado. It’s hard to pick against the home teams in both games but I’m especially curious as to how motivated UCLA will be after coach Jim Mora was unceremoniously dumped with one game to play. Look for the Bruins to not only win on Friday night in a close game…but to also win the Chip Kelly sweepstakes and introduce the former Oregon coach as their new HC early next week.

JB: Michigan fans griping about an 8-3 season in year 3 of Harbaugh need some perspective. Yes, the team is young…we’ve all heard that. But they’re really good. And for those complaining about not seeing progress, remember that the Wolverines were on the wrong side of a questionable at best fourth down call in OT last year against Ohio State from playing in the Big Ten Championship, and likely the playoffs thereafter. Unless they run the golden boy out of town – unlikely given the size of his contract – this is a playoff contending team for years to come.

SM: Baker Mayfield proves he is the deserving Heisman Trophy winner by sitting out the first half but still putting up 250 yards in the air and 50 on the ground with 3 TDs in the second half against West Virginia.  His off the field issues prove to be just a minor step back that only costs him a few votes. Additionally the playoff picture begins to look even more fuzzy when Miami and Clemson both put up stinkers to barely win their games heading into the ACC title game.

DW: 
South Carolina will have the ball with a chance to beat Clemson on the final drive of the game, but the Tigers’ defense will come up with a turnover and stop a game-winning field goal attempt. Clemson will hold on to win 27-25

College Football Rivalry Week Thoughts:

-Can I just let it be known that I HATE going to Sun Devil Stadium for the Territorial Cup game every other year!? ASU fans can be and have been obnoxious towards me over the years despite the fact that I’m not the type to be loud or troublesome before, during, or after the game. There have been plenty of quality ASU people that I’ve met along the way but every odd year I get nervous taking that trip to Tempe.

-It also doesn’t help that UofA generally loses when I see them play on the road. I’ve been to 16 of these rivalry games in-a-row not including this year just yet…and I’ve only seen the Wildcats win 3 of the 8 times they’ve played in Tempe. But then again, I’ll never forget last year’s game in Tucson…

-I have absolutely no idea how either defense is going to stop the other one in this game. Assuming he’s healthy, Khalil Tate will run wild around ASU’s porous defense. But with the injuries on Arizona’s defensive line, how will they be able to slow down Sun Devil RBs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage? My 41-38 prediction above might be too low-scoring.

-From what I know about college football, there’s only one rivalry that supersedes the Territorial Cup in terms of hatred…the Iron Bowl. And once again this year, Auburn-Alabama will decide the SEC West Division title. While I think Alabama is the better team, this game could cause MASSIVE ripples in the CFB Playoff picture (see my scenario at the end of this column). Alabama is really, really good but I have a sneaky feeling that Auburn is primed to pull the upset this year.

-In my opinion, Ohio State-Michigan football is the best rivalry in sports. One of these years I’d love to make it to Ann Arbor or Columbus to see this game in person. It is everything that’s great about college football. While both sides don’t like each other, I believe there’s at least a mutual respect for each other’s program. OSU has won 12 of the last 13…but wouldn’t it be fitting for Jim Harbaugh and company to play spoiler to the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes?

-Stanford should rest star RB Bryce Love and his gimpy ankle against Notre Dame while at the same time rooting for a Washington victory in the Apple Cup. If this happens, the result this week means little…and the Cardinal will have a better chance to upset USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game next week with a healthier Love.

-Speaking of the Apple Cup, I’m not impressed in what I’ve seen from Washington State on the road this season, including a 21 point blowout in Tucson and utter destruction in Berkeley. Some pundits are picking the Cougs to pull the upset in Seattle…I feel confident in saying that my Huskies pick won’t be incorrect.

-If Central Florida beats rival South Florida, they will likely clinch a Peach Bowl berth with an undefeated 12-0 regular season. But if USF pulls the upset, do they automatically move into the more prestigious bowl game? Certainly a storyline to follow if the Bulls put together a special performance on Friday.

-Finally, here’s the doomsday College Football Playoff scenario that could entirely wreck the system…you tell me what would happen:

-Auburn beats Alabama and wins the SEC Championship Game over Georgia next week.
-Wisconsin runs the table, beating both Minnesota and Ohio State to complete an undefeated regular season.
-Oklahoma wins the Big XII Championship Game and finishes 12-1.
-Miami beats Clemson in the ACC Championship Game to finish the regular season unbeaten.

So rank the top 4 in that scenario:
1. Miami
2. Wisconsin
3. Oklahoma
4. Auburn

Could Alabama, the consensus best team right now, with one loss be left out of the playoff in favor of a two-loss Auburn team? Very, very likely, isn’t it?

College Football Week 13 Best Bets
Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 33-31-1
Cal / UCLA Under 64 Total Points
Arkansas +11.5 vs. Missouri
Arizona / ASU Over 73.5 Total Points
Washington / Washington State Over 48.5 Total Points
UNLV +2.5 at Nevada


NFL Week 12 Best Bets
Last Week: 4-1
Overall: 28-26-1
Saints +2.5 at Rams
Browns / Bengals Over 38 Total Points
Packers / Steelers Over 41.5 Total Points
Titans -3.5 at Colts
Eagles -13.5 vs. Bears

Week 12 NFL Picks
Last Week: 9-5 Straight Up (SU),  7-7 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 101-59 SU, 85-74-1 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; home teams in caps)

Minnesota 24, DETROIT 20 (ATS: Vikings -2.5)
Detroit won in Minnesota earlier this season so I’ll go with the Vikings to return the favor on Thanksgiving day. With this win, the Vikings will be close to closing the door on an NFC North title sooner than later.

Los Angeles Chargers 26, DALLAS 19 (ATS: Chargers +1.5)
Without RB Ezekiel Elliott, (possibly) LT Tyron Smith, and LB Sean Lee, pick Dallas at your own risk. The Chargers are playing well of late and might have a chance at the AFC’s last playoff spot. Give me the 2nd road team on Turkey Day.

WASHINGTON 31, New York Giants 20 (ATS: Redskins -7.5)
What a brutal choke job by the Redskins on Sunday in New Orleans. Fortunately they host the punchless Giants at home on Thursday night. Look for another 3 TD performance from Kirk Cousins in a fairly easy ‘Skins W.

ATLANTA 34, Tampa Bay 24 (ATS: Falcons -8.5)
What a huge win for the Falcons in Seattle on Monday night. Look for the Falcons positive mojo to keep going as hosting the Bucs and their lousy D should be easy pickings for Matt Ryan and his receivers.

CINCINNATI 27, Cleveland 17 (ATS: Bengals -8.5)
The Browns’ best chance to win this season might come in Week 13 against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team at home. I’d be seriously shocked if they beat Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and the Bengals in Cinci on Sunday.

Tennessee 27, Indianapolis 19 (ATS: Titans -3.5)
The Colts are really bad. The Titans are halfway decent. This is one of those times I’d like to pick the upset but unfortunately the ends don’t justify the means. Marcus Mariota and his Titans bounce back from an ugly loss to the Steelers.

KANSAS CITY 33, Buffalo 20 (ATS: Chiefs -9.5)
The Bills were having a heck of a season before the last two weeks. I just don’t see how they bounce back from back-to-back disastrous outings against a Chiefs team that is due to post big offensive numbers again sooner than later. And what happened to Chiefs RB, Kareem Hunt? He’s disappeared since Week 3! I’ll predict that he finds the end zone for the first time in a while this Sunday.

NEW ENGLAND 31, Miami 16 (ATS: Dolphins +16.5)
I don’t care who starts at QB for Miami, Matt Moore or Jay Cutler, I don’t see how the Dolphins make this one a game. Even (Patriots backup QB) Brian Hoyer might see some action in the 4th quarter of this rout. I do think the spread might be a bit inflated, however.

Carolina 26, NEW YORK JETS 17 (ATS: Panthers -4.5)
Honestly I don’t enjoy watching either of these teams much – I find both to play rather unattractive styles of football and own virtually no fantasy players from either team. Carolina should be aided by the return of All-Pro TE Greg Olsen from a broken foot (and the FOX TV booth) so I’ll pick them to win in the Meadowlands.

PHILADELPHIA 34, Chicago 13 (ATS: Eagles -13.5)
No need to overanalyze this game. The Eagles are so much better than the Bears and Sunday’s score will reflect just that. And oh by the way, there’s no doubt in my mind that Philly QB Carson Wentz is the frontrunner for NFL MVP.

Seattle 24, SAN FRANCISCO 20 (ATS: 49ers +7.5)
I was really tempted to take the 49ers, at home, coming off a bye, against a Seahawks team on a short week after losing on MNF to the Falcons. But Russell Wilson will make a crucial play in the 4th quarter to dash the 49ers hopes at win #2 in 2017.

OAKLAND 23, Denver 13 (ATS: Raiders -4.5)
Both teams are a mess but Oakland at least still has a path (albeit a slim one) to the playoffs in the top-heavy AFC. Denver is just playing out the string at this point with a trio of BAD QBs.

New Orleans 33, LOS ANGELES RAMS 27 (ATS: Saints +2.5)
I’d choose the Saints to come out of the NFC right now due in part to the playoff experience of QB Drew Brees compared to the other contenders at this point. The Rams have most certainly overachieved thus far but they’re due for a bit of a correction. Give me New Orleans to win their 9th in a row!

Jacksonville 20, ARIZONA 16 (ATS: Arizona +4.5)
It’s an even week which means the Jaguars will give up double digit points (if you read this column regularly, you know what I’m talking about). But even still, their defense will make a key play or two in the 4th quarter to hold on for the win against former Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert.

PITTSBURGH 34, Green Bay 20 (ATS: Packers +14.5)
As a Packers fan, it’s wishful thinking that this game is remotely close. But I know better. I expect Le’Veon Bell to go crazy…I’m thinking 3 TDs this week. Hope I’m wrong!

BALTIMORE 22, Houston 12 (ATS: Ravens -7.5)
The Ravens defense already has THREE shutouts this season including last week in Green Bay. I wouldn’t be shocked if they got #4 against the Tom Savage-led Texans on Monday night. This game will be mighty ugly…probably only worth watching for the diehards.


Fantasy Football Picks

PPR HERO (an underrated player who will finish in the top-10 at his position this week): 

Season Record: 3-8
Week 12: Joe Mixon (RB, Bengals)

PPR ZERO (a top-15 player who will finish outside of the top-20 at his position this week): 
Season Record: 8-3
Week 12: Adrian Peterson (RB, Cardinals)

KICK IT TO WIN IT (A likely waiver wire kicker who will end up in the top-10):
Season Record: 3-8
Week 12: Graham Gano (Panthers)

PUNT OF THE WEEK (the team I think will punt most frequently therefore upgrading the other team’s fantasy defense…aka turning them into a top-10 fantasy D for the week):
Season Record: 9-2
Week 12: Houston Texans (vs. Baltimore Ravens)

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

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