Week 12 of the 2020 NFL season brings us the traditional Thanksgiving tripleheader of games on Thursday. That gives us three more early chances to make picks and predictions against the spread ahead of a full slate of matchups.
There’s something in common with the latest three servings — the lines are all tight, including two tough division rivalries. From the the appetizer in Detroit, the main course in Dallas and the dessert in Pittsburgh, here’s breaking down how the Turkey Day action should play out:
NFL picks, predictions for Thanksgiving
- Texans (-2.5, 51.5 o/u) at Lions
12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Texans have seen a dominant Deshaun Watson with his big arm and fast legs of late. He’s needed to play at that high level given the awful run defense and mostly shaky pass defense Houston features on the other side of the ball. Watson is getting it done mostly with his top two wideouts, Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks, taking games into his own hands with the traditional rushing attack struggling.
The Lions won’t be at full strength around Matthew Stafford to make enough big plays to outscore what Watson does. Running back D’Andre Swift will be hard-pressed to return from his concussion suffered late last week. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) is iffy to return and wide receiver Danny Amendola (hip) is headed to miss another game. The Lions struggled to run the ball with Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson in a great matchup last week, so that doesn’t inspire without Swift, even at home.
Detroit didn’t score a point last week, playing less inspired with likely lame-duck coach Matt Patricia. Meanwhile, Houston has been fired up to save some face after Bill O’Brien was fired. Watson makes the difference again.
Pick: Texans win 27-24 and cover the spread.
- Washington Football Team at Cowboys (-2.5, 46.5 o/u)
4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Cowboys got their offense going again without Dak Prescott, thanks to Andy Dalton having some good rest and more time to absorb the offense. Ezekiel Elliott ran hard again, the line played well and the talented receivers made all the plays that were there in Minnesota. That momentum should carry into a must-win game against Washington, who ripped Dallas and Dalton in Week 7.
The Cowboys’ defense will be more active to contain the run, namely rookie Antonio Gibson, and the secondary gets a break with Alex Smith’s limited weapons. The Cowboys’ offense feasts again with balance and some big plays downfield. With the win, the Cowboys jump back into first place in the NFC East, deny’s Washington’s chances to get ahead of the Eagles.
Pick: Cowboys win 24-20 and cover the spread.
- Ravens at Steelers (-3, 45)
Update: Ravens vs. Steelers has been postponed to Sunday due to positive COVID-19 tests
The Ravens are short on offensive playmakers and reliable lineman around Lamar Jackson. They will be down two, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K Dobbins, both on the COVID-19 list. Dobbins’ loss especially hurts, as they finally trusted the rookie back to a big spark for their running and passing game in a featured role.
The Steelers’ run defense has proved to be weaker of late and they have given up big plays in the passing game. But Gus Edwards won’t duplicate his Week 8 success against Pittsburgh on the road and Marquise Brown has disappeared as a downfield receiving factor. Making matters worse for the Ravens has been a one-time daunting defense that’s been suddenly been gashed against run and pass the past two weeks in bad losses to the Patriots and Titans.
The Steelers (10-0) have a four-game lead as they try to displace the third-place Ravens as AFC North champions. They stay perfect with their 11th win, handing the Ravens a 5th loss that might bury Baltimore’s fading playoff hopes.
Pick: Steelers win 27-20 and cover the spread.