I am without Madden this week due to spending Thanksgiving on the opposite coast. As a replacement, I have simulated the games using a best-of-five format on nflgamesim.com. Although Madden continues to lose ground, it did call Blair Walsh missing a field goal to end the Falcons-Seahawks game. Madden also succeeded with its lock pick. The Giants chose to embarrass me after catching wind of mine. Both of New York’s wins have come in lock games I have picked against them.
Bold Prediction: The Ravens will get their fourth shutout of the season against the Texans.
Kownack Record: 105-63
Madden Record: 93-75
Week 12 Picks
Big Game Spotlight
- Kownack: Vikings 20, Lions 23
The Lions shut down the Vikings and beat them 14-7 in week four. Since then, Detroit has gone 3-3 and Minnesota has gone an astounding 6-0. It’s difficult to pick against Minnesota with confidence, especially after their dismantling of a strong Rams team, but Detroit has won four straight Thanksgiving games. A Detroit win would fit that trend – as well as the usual script for NFC North division races. The North hasn’t been decided by more than one game since 2011. Detroit should upset Minnesota, capture the season tiebreaker, and set the stage for a fierce race down the stretch.
- Kownack: Chargers 30, Cowboys 17
There isn’t exactly a slew of games that demand the spotlight this week, but the Thanksgiving atmosphere and both teams having an outside shot at the playoffs does provide some intrigue. The AFC is so weak that the 4-6 Chargers can make a push for the postseason by putting together a win streak. Dallas sits at 5-5, four games out of the NFC East, and has shown zero signs of life without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith. Even if Smith returns Thursday, the Chargers simply appear to have more fight.
- Kownack: Bills 14, Chiefs 21
It’s hard to believe, but Buffalo will have the same record as Kansas City if they find a way to win this game. The Bills essentially gave up on their season and their quarterback after one bad game in order to start someone who doesn’t look like he will be ready for years. The Chiefs, after being the last NFL team to lose a game, have dropped four of their last five. This game has suddenly spiraled into a must-win for both teams. Even though Kansas City endured a hideous lost to New York, it’s difficult to see the Bills becoming functional enough to win on the road. They haven’t even come close since their last victory on October 29th.
- Kownack: Saints 31, Rams 24
This is the biggest matchup of the week. The Vikings proved capable of finding holes in Los Angeles’ defense last Sunday, and the Saints should be able to find similar opportunity – if not more – thanks to Drew Brees and a two-headed monster in the backfield. Robert Woods’ shoulder injury will have more impact on the Jared Goff’s offense than many might think. His absence should prove enough to give New Orleans their ninth straight win.
- Kownack: Texans 0, Ravens 17
The Ravens recently shut out the Packers at Lambeau for the first time since 2006. That’s more of an indictment of Brett Hundley, but they do get to face another backup on Monday night. While Tom Savage is better than Brett Hundley, that does not mean he is good. The Ravens will shut Houston’s offense down. Joe Flacco will continue an unimpressive march toward playoff contention. It’s not a guarantee Baltimore’s offense outscores their defense, but the team as a whole will amass enough points to win.
Pick a Lock
Kownack: Redskins (vs. NYG) – This is purely for superstitious, experimental purposes. If the Giants pull out another win, I apologize to New York fans for not locking in against them every week.
GameSim: Patriots (vs. MIA) – The Patriots won all five simulations with an enormous point differential. New England is rolling and Jay Cutler is in concussion protocol.
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