NFL Week 12
Seriously, what the hell? It’s Thanksgiving already?
I know way too many people who are rooting for 2016 to end. Not me. I never want a year to end. Another year just means another tally added to my age, which brings me that much closer to being a nursing home resident and gumming my dinner.
I don’t care. I’ll sit through another election season if it means I won’t age.
But I digress …
So, the clichéd Thanksgiving week column dictates that I should waste a bunch of words blathering about family and food and good feelings and world peace and easy L.A. traffic and blah, blah, blah.
I don’t feel that way about this holiday. If I had to pick one emotion about Thanksgiving, it would be disappointment. Not saying I don’t enjoy it, because I do. In fact, my wife and I are getting together with family on Thursday and the food and wine will be flowing. But when it comes to the meal, I let myself down. I underachieve year after year.
I wait all day for this elaborate dinner and within 10 minutes, I’m full and dozing off at the table. I’m not one of the great ones.
But whatever, nobody cares about my personal life. Let’s move on!
Week 11 picks: 10-4
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Not gonna lie, it was a tough week around Saraf headquarters after last week’s embarrassment. But I had a great week of practice and it showed on game day. Not everyone can go 10-4, folks.
So, thank you to the Redskins, Dolphins, Seahawks and Panthers for making me look like I actually watch the NFL for once.
Raise your glass to: Kirk Cousins
I’ve always rooted for Kirk. People got upset when Mike Shanahan drafted him in the fourth round in the same year the Redskins took Robert Griffin III.
People have doubted his ability and lauded the Redskins for their reticence to give Cousins a long-term contract after a solid 2015 season.
And those people are idiots. Cousins lit up the Packers on Sunday to the tune of 375 yards passing and 3 TDs in a big win that kept Washington on pace in a very competitive NFC East. The game was also the second time this season that the Redskins have topped 500 yards of total offense.
That’ll do, Kirk. That’ll do. And you’re going to reap the rewards this coming offseason. Good for you.
Boo this man: Roger Goodell
Wow, someone on the Internet is talking smack about the NFL commissioner. What a surprise. Not hacky at all.
But this is for a different reason. My beef with Roger is his insistence on playing games over in London. Let me tell you something about the British: They think we’re tools. Uneducated, silly, tools.
And they don’t care for football. Oh, sorry, “American football.” Sure, the stadiums are always full, but have you seen more uninspired crowds? I’ve seen surgeries with more shouting.
Now, compare those typical London crowds with the fans that packed Estadio Azteca on Monday night in Mexico City. Now, THAT was a football crowd. Everyone was dressed in Silver and Black, knew the game backwards and forwards and knew when to get emotional.
I loved it. The NFL should play a game in Mexico every year. Forget about Europe. Smarten up, Roger.
Now, on to the picks!
VIKINGS AT LIONS
So, this game starts at 9:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, so that means I’ll be enjoying a mimosa or two at kickoff. Which is great because I don’t anticipate there will be much scoring here. So I’ll need a drink or two to fight off the boredom.
The Lions are tied with the Vikings at the top of the NFC North, but are still an up-and-down team. I still can’t put my full faith in them, even at home.
The Vikings finally ended their losing skid last week and will have enough momentum to get the W here with a strong defensive effort.
REDSKINS AT COWBOYS
This one starts around 1:30, so I should be about two IPAs deep and feeling dangerous.
And this is a game you want to feel jazzed for. This is arguably the best game of the week. Both offenses shouldn’t have a problem moving the ball, but while the Redskins are more of a big-play threat, the Cowboys will grind out 10-plus play drives with regularity.
And it’s that factor that I think carries the day for Big D. They will play ball control, keep the ball out of Kirk Cousins’ hands and that win streak should keep rolling.
STEELERS AT COLTS
I should feel bad for the Colts, but I don’t. I feel bad for Andrew Luck. He’s the one who will likely be out with a concussion because the organization he sacrifices his body for doesn’t feel it’s important to protect him.
So, fine. Here’s hoping Andrew has a relaxing Thanksgiving while his dopey team goes out there and gets squashed.
By the way, at this point of the night, I’ll have had a third glass of wine and will be out for the count.
CARDINALS AT FALCONS
The Cardinals aren’t just struggling; they’re agitating their head coach Bruce Arians so much he had to go into the hospital with chest pains. By the way, that’s not me throwing hyperbole out there.
“I think there’s a trend here,” Larry Fitzgerald told the Arizona Republic. “It’s stressful when we’re playing bad. We were 13-2 last year and he was feeling good. As a player, you feel partly responsible for what’s happened. A lot of that falls on our shoulders.”
Fitz is probably being a tad too hard on himself, but there’s no doubting this has been a disappointing start for Arizona. It’s hard to point a finger at any one reason for it, but the bounces clearly haven’t been going their way.
Now they get a second straight road game against a team with a solid offense coming off a bye. This one is pretty easy.
49ERS AT DOLPHINS
The Dolphins are rolling. They survived a slog in the rain in Los Angeles long enough for Ryan Tannehill to come through late with two clutch TD passes to get the win. That is what winning teams do and Miami is acting like one.
They’ll take care of the 1-9 49ers without much of a problem.
RAMS AT SAINTS
Speaking of Los Angeles, I’d like to share a couple stories from my excursion to the Coliseum on Sunday.
1) I can’t tell if Jared Goff is any good. I had a decent vantage point from my end zone seats, so it was like watching the all-22 film. And what troubled me was the Rams’ refusal to throw the ball down the field. Now, I don’t mean that Goff has receivers running deep routes and he failed to hit them. The Rams didn’t have anyone going deep. They were all quick slants or out routes. Maybe the weather played a factor in that, maybe it didn’t. But I can’t make a judgment on the rookie quarterback until he actually makes an NFL throw.
2) Speaking of the rain, the weather report said it wouldn’t start coming down until 8 p.m., so I showed up to the game in shorts and no jacket. So, I went to buy a beanie at the souvenir stand. As my wife and I were standing in line, we discussed how much I liked the throwback beanie and that I would buy that one. There was one left. The jerk in front of me, who I know heard our conversation, bought that last hat. I’ve never been so close to committing a homicide.
Anyway, back to the game. I hope Goff gets a chance to throw deep in this one. But I still think New Orleans will take this one.
GIANTS AT BROWNS
The Giants are 7-3 and I’ve seen people calling them frauds because they haven’t beaten any good teams. Well, that trend continues this week.
CHARGERS AT TEXANS
The Texans got hosed in Mexico City. They had a touchdown ruled out of bounds and were on the losing end of a couple of inexplicable review calls. And they had some fan shooting a laser pointer in their eyes.
This is a game Houston should probably lose as it welcomes a streaky Chargers team to town. But something tells me they’ll get it done at home.
BENGALS AT RAVENS
The Bengals have all kinds of injury issues and have to go on the road against a Ravens defense that played well enough to win last week, but fell just short.
I like a reinvigorated Joe Flacco to prove Ray Lewis wrong and come through with an inspired effort at home against the division rivals.
JAGUARS AT BILLS
Give me Buffalo at home, but good lord, who is sitting down to watch this stinkbomb without being forced to?
TITANS AT BEARS
Marcus Mariota and Co. disappointed me last week as they should have been able to handle the Colts, even if it was on the road.
They’re getting back to .500 this week though. It always helps to get a cupcake like the banged-up Bears after a tough loss.
SEAHAWKS AT BUCCANEERS
Hmmm, this one should be a fairly easy win for Seattle, but hold everything. The Legion of Boom will be short a couple hands.
Earl Thomas is out. DeShawn Shead is out. Running back C.J. Prosise will be out for a while. Doesn’t that give out pause?
Maybe this is the week Jameis Winston gets the Buccaneers above .500 with a signature win at home. Just, maybe …
PANTHERS AT RAIDERS
The Raiders got a clutch win on the road, but let’s face it: They got a little lucky. Meanwhile, the Panthers are facing a must-win game every week. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching this team over the past few years, they play their best football with the proverbial gun to their heads.
I’m going with an upset here.
PATRIOTS AT JETS
Yeah, like this one will be close. I don’t care that Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting.
CHIEFS AT BRONCOS
I usually go with a team coming off a bye. Denver is indeed that team in this matchup. And the Chiefs didn’t look great last week.
PACKERS AT EAGLES
Another sexy matchup! And another opportunity to see how far Green Bay has fallen. The Packers defense is an absolute mess and I don’t see that getting better on the road.
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.