Can Connor Cover? What I'm Thankful For This Year

November 23, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer (21), quarterback Josh Allen (17), and tight end Dawson Knox (88) eat a Thanksgiving turkey after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman, File)
Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer (21), quarterback Josh Allen (17), and tight end Dawson Knox (88) eat a Thanksgiving turkey after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman, File) (Tyler Kaufman)

By Connor McCann

First of all, I’d like to wish a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you, and I’d like to thank all who read this for taking the time out of their holiday to read my rambles and rants. It means so much, truly. 

This edition of Can Connor Cover will only appear online, as there is no newspaper today due to the festivities. Last year, I just skipped out on making a column, but this time around, I want to make good on my promise to pick every single game every week. So, here I am, ready to get to work. 

If you were wondering what I was going to go with for this week’s introduction, I decided on the cliche “what I’m thankful for this year.” Yes, I know, very groundbreaking. There are a few things I want to touch on this week and thought this might be a good way to get to all of them. Let’s begin. 

I’m thankful for Harrison Mevis. 

Are you really that surprised? I think I’ve mentioned the Missouri football team at least once a column this season and after another thrilling win last weekend, I have no choice but to do so again. This week, it was another last-second win over Florida, with Mevis stepping up to add another big-time kick to his illustrious career to end his Senior Night in style. With two games left, Mevis has already become the leading scorer in Missouri history, owns the record for longest field goal in SEC history, and has a chance to make some more special stuff happen. I hope to interview Harrison for a feature story in between his final regular season game and bowl game this winter.

On the off chance the Thiccer Kicker is reading this, thank you for helping bring so much joy to myself and other Tiger fans around the country this season. I’m very thankful for you, Brady Cook, Cody Schrader and the rest of the team. 

I’m thankful to be the Times-Union sports editor. 

There is at least one night a week where I’m sitting in the bleachers at a game with a notepad in one hand and a box of popcorn in another and I think about how lucky I am. I get to show up to a sporting event, watch it go down, write what I thought about it, call it a night and get paid to do it. Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into it than that, and being the only full-time member of the sports staff has added to my stress level more than I’d like to admit, but there aren’t a lot of things I’d rather be doing for work. Plus, I get the freedom to write this column every week, which is truly my favorite thing I’ve ever done. It could be a whole lot worse. To you readers, thank you for continuing to support your local newspaper.

I’m thankful for the wonderful year of movies we’ve gotten. 

Another thing that shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you, as I’ve mentioned movies in pretty much every edition of this year’s column. I’d wager I’ll probably bring it up again on the final one of the year, but this is another great opportunity to do so. Seriously, there have been so many amazing movies this year, from unbelievable dramas from the best directors alive in Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon, to heart-pumping action epics like John Wick 4 and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, I have lived at the theater this year and have loved every second of it. I can’t forget mentioning Barbie and Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse, two box office darlings that are still in my top 10 favorites of the year. I just named six absolutely awesome films and I haven’t even scratched the surface of 2023. The moral of the story is that I love movies almost as much as I love sports. Thankfully I get to enjoy both. 

I’m thankful for my wonderful girlfriend Stephanie. 

There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to be with someone that not only doesn’t mind that my apartment looks like a toy store due to all the LEGO sets, but also puts up with my tantrums and manic episodes during sporting events. I don’t know how Stephanie does it, but she does. My life has gotten substantially better since we got together a little over a year and a half ago. She’s at my place for every big game, and next to me at the premiere of every big movie. She’s my partner in crime and I’m very, VERY thankful to have her in my life. 

I am NOT thankful to be a fan of the Chicago Bears. 

There’s nothing to elaborate on. That is all. 

I’m also extremely thankful for my family, friends and coworkers. I truly don’t have a bad seed in my garden and I’m thankful to love and be loved by so many amazing people. 

And, of course, I’M THANKFUL FOR FOOTBALL. 

I’m thankful to get to watch all of the games every week. I’m thankful that I get to play fantasy football with my friends and stay close with them from hundreds of miles away. I’m thankful that I went 3-0 in primetime picks last week to get to 7-7. I’m thankful that I get to make these picks and talk about the sport I love week in and week out. 

Let’s do this. 

TURKEY DAY TRIO 

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-7.5) 

This is the first time in quite a long time that the Lions and their fans are looking forward to the Thanksgiving game. Detroit will be buzzing at home sitting at 8-2 after a crazy comeback win over the Bears last weekend. The Packers put together probably their best performance of the year thus far on Sunday over the Chargers. Jordan Love looked good, the young receivers came alive and Green Bay got a much needed win. The Lions cruised past the Packers in the first matchup of the year, but since then, the Detroit defense has taken a big step backwards. Either way, this is a huge game for the Lions and I think they take advantage. 

The Pick: Lions -7.5 

Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-12.5) 

The Cowboys on Thanksgiving, a tradition unlike any other. Dallas is hefty favorites in this one against the Commanders team that is coming off of a bad loss to the Giants. Washington turned the ball over six times last week, something they have to avoid big time against a stout Dallas defense. Late last week, this line was hanging around six points, but the results of last week’s games have shifted it dramatically. Despite their successes, the Cowboys have not done well to cover the spread on Turkey Day. I think this is going to be a one-possession game. 

The Pick: Commanders +12.5 

San Francisco 49ers (-7) at Seattle Seahawks 

The 49ers are all the way back, picking up their second straight double-digit win last weekend against the Buccaneers. The Seahawks started off strong against the Rams but lost Kenneth Walker for the game and Geno Smith for a few drives, allowing Los Angeles to come back. Head coach Pete Carroll is optimistic that Smith will return on the short turnaround, but it will be former Missouri standout Drew Lock if he can’t. Walker is doubtful for this one. Even if Seattle wasn’t battling through some pretty serious injuries, I’d probably like the Niners here. They used their bye week to get healthy and have been rolling since. 

The Pick: 49ers -7 

BLACK FRIDAY FUN 

Miami Dolphins (-9.5) at New York Jets 

For the first time ever, the NFL will play a game on Black Friday, with the Dolphins taking on the Jets. It’ll be a new quarterback for New York, as Zach Wilson has officially been demoted and Tim Boyle will become the new starter. I’ll be honest, I fully expected the Dolphins to roll over the Raiders last week and it just didn’t happen. The Jets defense that started off the season so strongly has fallen off a bit in recent weeks, but with the way the offense has been playing, I can’t say I blame them. I know Boyle has started NFL games before, but I don’t really know what to expect out of him in this one. Miami should get back on track with a double digit win. 

The Pick: Dolphins -9.5 

1 O’CLOCK SUNDAY 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) 

These are two teams that feel like they don’t play each other that often. Just an odd observation I had. The Bucs are coming off a loss to the Niners while the Colts enjoyed their bye last week. I really don’t know which way to lean for this one. Tampa Bay has looked really good in spurts this season, but it has not translated to wins. The Colts are still in the race for a playoff spot and have played some good football. I think the combination of this being at home after a bye week is going to be too much for Baker Mayfield and company to handle. Give me Indy.

The Pick: Colts -2.5 

Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans (-4) 

There’s really not much left to be said about the Panthers that hasn’t been said already. The worst team in football so far this year, it’s been a long year in Charlotte. It hasn’t been much better in Nashville, as the Titans have fallen apart in recent weeks and have looked horrible offensively. Rookie quarterback Will Levis is still figuring it out and I don’t want to put too much blame on him, but he doesn’t have much to work with. Anybody who reads this column on a weekly basis knows I have a weird infatuation with the Titans, I just can’t let them go. This week however, I’m switching it up. In this battle of two bad teams, I think the worse one finds a way to win it. 

The Pick: Panthers +4

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) at Cincinnati Bengals 

What a week for both of these teams. Joe Burrow, after finally getting over his leg injury and starting to play some great ball, injured his wrist on Thursday night against the Ravens and will be out for the remainder of the season. After another putrid offensive performance against the Browns on Sunday, the Steelers fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Like all AFC North games, this is going to be a close, gritty slugfest. One of those games where by the time Sunday rolls around, the other team might be favored. Which, by the way, is a brutal part about releasing this column on Thursdays. Half the lines are drastically different by the time the games are played, but I’m not here to make excuses. Anyway, Jake Browning is the new quarterback in Cincy. Will the changing of the OC make Pittsburgh’s offense any better? I don’t think it could get any worse. 

The Pick: Steelers -1.5 

Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.5) at Houston Texans 

I’m not sure I know anybody that could have predicted that the Texans could take over first place in the AFC South with a win over Jacksonville here. Houston has been playing outstanding ball as of late, led by rookie quarterback CJ Stroud. Stroud had the worst game of his young career last week turnover wise, but his defense stepped up to show that this team is firing on all cylinders. The Jaguars got back on track with a dismantling of the Titans on Sunday afternoon. I am a sucker for a fun story, and the Texans have been one of if not the most fun team to see develop this year. The Jaguars have done some really good stuff too, and the return of Zay Jones to the receiver room seems like it has opened up everything for Trevor Lawrence. This is going to be one of the better games this weekend. Making this pick on Tuesday afternoon, this is a toss up for me. I’m going to say the home team keeps it rolling. 

The Pick: Texans +1.5 

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) 

Both of these teams were on a bye last week and I can’t say I missed watching either of them play. Derek Carr did not practice at all during that week off as he remains in concussion protocol, so it might be Jameis Winston once again for New Orleans. The Falcons are no strangers to quarterback drama of their own, having announced they will be going back to Desmond Ridder after not liking the results of the Taylor Heinicke experiment. Regardless of how tedious it can be to watch these two sides try to move the ball, this is one of the better rivalries in the league and it usually produces fun matchups. I think the team with the better defense comes out on top here, so I’m going with New Orleans. 

The Pick: Saints +1.5 

New England Patriots (-3.5) at New York Giants 

The Patriots were another team I did not miss on their week off. The G-Men got a big win on Sunday, sweeping the season series of the Commanders while Tommy DeVito looked pretty solid. He now has more touchdown passes this season than Zach Wilson which is pretty crazy when you think about it. As of Tuesday while I’m writing this, New England has been non-committal about who will start at quarterback for this game. Mac Jones obviously is not the answer long term, but for a team who doesn’t really have any goals besides securing the highest draft pick possible, why not throw him out there? Both of these teams are in the bottom tier of the league but I just don’t understand how this version of the Patriots at this moment in time can be favored by more than a field goal over anyone. 

The Pick: Giants +3.5 

LATE AFTERNOON SLATE

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-1.5) 

The Rams earned a much needed come-from-behind win over the Seahawks last week to sweep the season series while the Cardinals fought hard but couldn’t get it done against the Texans. The return of Kyler Murray seems to have lit a fire under Arizona, as the Cardinals and their QB have played well in the two weeks since returning. I feel like the Rams should be favored in this one despite being the road team, so that is something that is definitely throwing me through a loop. One of these teams has proven time and time again to be consistent against the spread and that’s Arizona. Really the only thing I’m liking here. This is a toss up for me.

The Pick: Cardinals -1.5

Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (-2.5) 

The Browns were able to outlast the Steelers in a very low scoring game last week, but the big story was the  Broncos downing the Vikings on Sunday night to continue their winning streak and get to .500 after starting 1-5. Both teams are playing some very good football over the last few weeks, and this has the potential to be another big defensive standoff. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be the starter for Cleveland once again, something the suddenly takeaway-producing Broncos D could have its eyes on. Will the Browns’ defense slow down Russell Wilson and company enough to give their rookie quarterback a shot? I think the answer is yes. The winning streak ends here for Denver. 

The Pick: Browns +2.5 

Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Las Vegas Raiders 

There might be some issues brewing in Kansas City. The Chiefs were shut out in the second half for the third straight game in Monday night’s loss to the Eagles, and have the lowest scoring average in the second half of games in the NFL. They also lead the league in drops. The Raiders have looked a whole lot better with Antonio Pierce as the new head coach, taking the Dolphins to the brink in last week’s loss. Even with all that being said, there has to be a game this season where the Chiefs look like the Chiefs again right? It’s got to happen soon, too. Patrick Mahomes lives for these divisional games and I think he uses this one to start to right the ship. 

The Pick: Chiefs -9.5 

Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles (-3) 

The Bills finally got a much needed win against the lowly Jets on Sunday, which might have been the spark they were looking for. Meanwhile, the Eagles pulled off one of the best wins of the season on Monday night, coming from behind to take down the Chiefs at Arrowhead. A few weeks ago, I would have said Phily runs away with this one, but even though the team got that big win on Monday night, they were outplayed for a majority of it. The Bills need to win every game they can to get themselves back into the playoff picture. I think they can maybe take advantage of an Eagles side coming off of an emotional win. 

The Pick: Bills +3

WAITIN' ALL DAY FOR A SUNDAY NIGHT

Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers 

In a week full of close picks and underdogs being selected everywhere, this is one of my easier choices of the week. The Chargers are a mess. Brandon Staley lost his mind on a reporter after last week’s game in what was just another weird moment for the LA head coach. The Ravens are coming into this game with some extra rest after winning last Thursday and I have no doubt in my mind they take advantage of an atrocious Charger defense. This line should be closer to six than it is three. Lock it in. 

The Pick: Ravens -3.5 

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL 

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) 

Oh man, I really don’t want to talk about the Bears anymore than I already have but here we are. What else can be said about last week? It was one of the worst losses in NFL history. Chicago possessed the ball for 40 minutes, won the turnover battle by three, led by two possessions with less than five minutes left and lost. It was disgusting, disheartening and downright appalling. The Vikings were unable to hold onto a late lead against the streaking Broncos and had a long winning streak of their own snapped. Both of these teams love to play games that go down to the final possession so this is one that is a lot harder than it looks on face value. I try not to let my emotions influence my selections, but I can’t get last week’s loss out of my head. 

The Pick: Vikings -3.5 

As I mentioned a few picks ago, there are a ton of razor-thin lines and I really, really like a lot of underdogs this week. The margin for error has never been smaller as the league is sadly running out of weeks. 

Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving. 

Last Week’s Record: 7-7

Season Record: 80-67-4 

First of all, I’d like to wish a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you, and I’d like to thank all who read this for taking the time out of their holiday to read my rambles and rants. It means so much, truly. 

This edition of Can Connor Cover will only appear online, as there is no newspaper today due to the festivities. Last year, I just skipped out on making a column, but this time around, I want to make good on my promise to pick every single game every week. So, here I am, ready to get to work. 

If you were wondering what I was going to go with for this week’s introduction, I decided on the cliche “what I’m thankful for this year.” Yes, I know, very groundbreaking. There are a few things I want to touch on this week and thought this might be a good way to get to all of them. Let’s begin. 

I’m thankful for Harrison Mevis. 

Are you really that surprised? I think I’ve mentioned the Missouri football team at least once a column this season and after another thrilling win last weekend, I have no choice but to do so again. This week, it was another last-second win over Florida, with Mevis stepping up to add another big-time kick to his illustrious career to end his Senior Night in style. With two games left, Mevis has already become the leading scorer in Missouri history, owns the record for longest field goal in SEC history, and has a chance to make some more special stuff happen. I hope to interview Harrison for a feature story in between his final regular season game and bowl game this winter.

On the off chance the Thiccer Kicker is reading this, thank you for helping bring so much joy to myself and other Tiger fans around the country this season. I’m very thankful for you, Brady Cook, Cody Schrader and the rest of the team. 

I’m thankful to be the Times-Union sports editor. 

There is at least one night a week where I’m sitting in the bleachers at a game with a notepad in one hand and a box of popcorn in another and I think about how lucky I am. I get to show up to a sporting event, watch it go down, write what I thought about it, call it a night and get paid to do it. Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into it than that, and being the only full-time member of the sports staff has added to my stress level more than I’d like to admit, but there aren’t a lot of things I’d rather be doing for work. Plus, I get the freedom to write this column every week, which is truly my favorite thing I’ve ever done. It could be a whole lot worse. To you readers, thank you for continuing to support your local newspaper.

I’m thankful for the wonderful year of movies we’ve gotten. 

Another thing that shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you, as I’ve mentioned movies in pretty much every edition of this year’s column. I’d wager I’ll probably bring it up again on the final one of the year, but this is another great opportunity to do so. Seriously, there have been so many amazing movies this year, from unbelievable dramas from the best directors alive in Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon, to heart-pumping action epics like John Wick 4 and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, I have lived at the theater this year and have loved every second of it. I can’t forget mentioning Barbie and Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse, two box office darlings that are still in my top 10 favorites of the year. I just named six absolutely awesome films and I haven’t even scratched the surface of 2023. The moral of the story is that I love movies almost as much as I love sports. Thankfully I get to enjoy both. 

I’m thankful for my wonderful girlfriend Stephanie. 

There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to be with someone that not only doesn’t mind that my apartment looks like a toy store due to all the LEGO sets, but also puts up with my tantrums and manic episodes during sporting events. I don’t know how Stephanie does it, but she does. My life has gotten substantially better since we got together a little over a year and a half ago. She’s at my place for every big game, and next to me at the premiere of every big movie. She’s my partner in crime and I’m very, VERY thankful to have her in my life. 

I am NOT thankful to be a fan of the Chicago Bears. 

There’s nothing to elaborate on. That is all. 

I’m also extremely thankful for my family, friends and coworkers. I truly don’t have a bad seed in my garden and I’m thankful to love and be loved by so many amazing people. 

And, of course, I’M THANKFUL FOR FOOTBALL. 

I’m thankful to get to watch all of the games every week. I’m thankful that I get to play fantasy football with my friends and stay close with them from hundreds of miles away. I’m thankful that I went 3-0 in primetime picks last week to get to 7-7. I’m thankful that I get to make these picks and talk about the sport I love week in and week out. 

Let’s do this. 

TURKEY DAY TRIO 

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-7.5) 

This is the first time in quite a long time that the Lions and their fans are looking forward to the Thanksgiving game. Detroit will be buzzing at home sitting at 8-2 after a crazy comeback win over the Bears last weekend. The Packers put together probably their best performance of the year thus far on Sunday over the Chargers. Jordan Love looked good, the young receivers came alive and Green Bay got a much needed win. The Lions cruised past the Packers in the first matchup of the year, but since then, the Detroit defense has taken a big step backwards. Either way, this is a huge game for the Lions and I think they take advantage. 

The Pick: Lions -7.5 

Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-12.5) 

The Cowboys on Thanksgiving, a tradition unlike any other. Dallas is hefty favorites in this one against the Commanders team that is coming off of a bad loss to the Giants. Washington turned the ball over six times last week, something they have to avoid big time against a stout Dallas defense. Late last week, this line was hanging around six points, but the results of last week’s games have shifted it dramatically. Despite their successes, the Cowboys have not done well to cover the spread on Turkey Day. I think this is going to be a one-possession game. 

The Pick: Commanders +12.5 

San Francisco 49ers (-7) at Seattle Seahawks 

The 49ers are all the way back, picking up their second straight double-digit win last weekend against the Buccaneers. The Seahawks started off strong against the Rams but lost Kenneth Walker for the game and Geno Smith for a few drives, allowing Los Angeles to come back. Head coach Pete Carroll is optimistic that Smith will return on the short turnaround, but it will be former Missouri standout Drew Lock if he can’t. Walker is doubtful for this one. Even if Seattle wasn’t battling through some pretty serious injuries, I’d probably like the Niners here. They used their bye week to get healthy and have been rolling since. 

The Pick: 49ers -7 

BLACK FRIDAY FUN 

Miami Dolphins (-9.5) at New York Jets 

For the first time ever, the NFL will play a game on Black Friday, with the Dolphins taking on the Jets. It’ll be a new quarterback for New York, as Zach Wilson has officially been demoted and Tim Boyle will become the new starter. I’ll be honest, I fully expected the Dolphins to roll over the Raiders last week and it just didn’t happen. The Jets defense that started off the season so strongly has fallen off a bit in recent weeks, but with the way the offense has been playing, I can’t say I blame them. I know Boyle has started NFL games before, but I don’t really know what to expect out of him in this one. Miami should get back on track with a double digit win. 

The Pick: Dolphins -9.5 

1 O’CLOCK SUNDAY 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) 

These are two teams that feel like they don’t play each other that often. Just an odd observation I had. The Bucs are coming off a loss to the Niners while the Colts enjoyed their bye last week. I really don’t know which way to lean for this one. Tampa Bay has looked really good in spurts this season, but it has not translated to wins. The Colts are still in the race for a playoff spot and have played some good football. I think the combination of this being at home after a bye week is going to be too much for Baker Mayfield and company to handle. Give me Indy.

The Pick: Colts -2.5 

Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans (-4) 

There’s really not much left to be said about the Panthers that hasn’t been said already. The worst team in football so far this year, it’s been a long year in Charlotte. It hasn’t been much better in Nashville, as the Titans have fallen apart in recent weeks and have looked horrible offensively. Rookie quarterback Will Levis is still figuring it out and I don’t want to put too much blame on him, but he doesn’t have much to work with. Anybody who reads this column on a weekly basis knows I have a weird infatuation with the Titans, I just can’t let them go. This week however, I’m switching it up. In this battle of two bad teams, I think the worse one finds a way to win it. 

The Pick: Panthers +4

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) at Cincinnati Bengals 

What a week for both of these teams. Joe Burrow, after finally getting over his leg injury and starting to play some great ball, injured his wrist on Thursday night against the Ravens and will be out for the remainder of the season. After another putrid offensive performance against the Browns on Sunday, the Steelers fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Like all AFC North games, this is going to be a close, gritty slugfest. One of those games where by the time Sunday rolls around, the other team might be favored. Which, by the way, is a brutal part about releasing this column on Thursdays. Half the lines are drastically different by the time the games are played, but I’m not here to make excuses. Anyway, Jake Browning is the new quarterback in Cincy. Will the changing of the OC make Pittsburgh’s offense any better? I don’t think it could get any worse. 

The Pick: Steelers -1.5 

Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.5) at Houston Texans 

I’m not sure I know anybody that could have predicted that the Texans could take over first place in the AFC South with a win over Jacksonville here. Houston has been playing outstanding ball as of late, led by rookie quarterback CJ Stroud. Stroud had the worst game of his young career last week turnover wise, but his defense stepped up to show that this team is firing on all cylinders. The Jaguars got back on track with a dismantling of the Titans on Sunday afternoon. I am a sucker for a fun story, and the Texans have been one of if not the most fun team to see develop this year. The Jaguars have done some really good stuff too, and the return of Zay Jones to the receiver room seems like it has opened up everything for Trevor Lawrence. This is going to be one of the better games this weekend. Making this pick on Tuesday afternoon, this is a toss up for me. I’m going to say the home team keeps it rolling. 

The Pick: Texans +1.5 

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) 

Both of these teams were on a bye last week and I can’t say I missed watching either of them play. Derek Carr did not practice at all during that week off as he remains in concussion protocol, so it might be Jameis Winston once again for New Orleans. The Falcons are no strangers to quarterback drama of their own, having announced they will be going back to Desmond Ridder after not liking the results of the Taylor Heinicke experiment. Regardless of how tedious it can be to watch these two sides try to move the ball, this is one of the better rivalries in the league and it usually produces fun matchups. I think the team with the better defense comes out on top here, so I’m going with New Orleans. 

The Pick: Saints +1.5 

New England Patriots (-3.5) at New York Giants 

The Patriots were another team I did not miss on their week off. The G-Men got a big win on Sunday, sweeping the season series of the Commanders while Tommy DeVito looked pretty solid. He now has more touchdown passes this season than Zach Wilson which is pretty crazy when you think about it. As of Tuesday while I’m writing this, New England has been non-committal about who will start at quarterback for this game. Mac Jones obviously is not the answer long term, but for a team who doesn’t really have any goals besides securing the highest draft pick possible, why not throw him out there? Both of these teams are in the bottom tier of the league but I just don’t understand how this version of the Patriots at this moment in time can be favored by more than a field goal over anyone. 

The Pick: Giants +3.5 

LATE AFTERNOON SLATE

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-1.5) 

The Rams earned a much needed come-from-behind win over the Seahawks last week to sweep the season series while the Cardinals fought hard but couldn’t get it done against the Texans. The return of Kyler Murray seems to have lit a fire under Arizona, as the Cardinals and their QB have played well in the two weeks since returning. I feel like the Rams should be favored in this one despite being the road team, so that is something that is definitely throwing me through a loop. One of these teams has proven time and time again to be consistent against the spread and that’s Arizona. Really the only thing I’m liking here. This is a toss up for me.

The Pick: Cardinals -1.5

Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos (-2.5) 

The Browns were able to outlast the Steelers in a very low scoring game last week, but the big story was the  Broncos downing the Vikings on Sunday night to continue their winning streak and get to .500 after starting 1-5. Both teams are playing some very good football over the last few weeks, and this has the potential to be another big defensive standoff. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be the starter for Cleveland once again, something the suddenly takeaway-producing Broncos D could have its eyes on. Will the Browns’ defense slow down Russell Wilson and company enough to give their rookie quarterback a shot? I think the answer is yes. The winning streak ends here for Denver. 

The Pick: Browns +2.5 

Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) at Las Vegas Raiders 

There might be some issues brewing in Kansas City. The Chiefs were shut out in the second half for the third straight game in Monday night’s loss to the Eagles, and have the lowest scoring average in the second half of games in the NFL. They also lead the league in drops. The Raiders have looked a whole lot better with Antonio Pierce as the new head coach, taking the Dolphins to the brink in last week’s loss. Even with all that being said, there has to be a game this season where the Chiefs look like the Chiefs again right? It’s got to happen soon, too. Patrick Mahomes lives for these divisional games and I think he uses this one to start to right the ship. 

The Pick: Chiefs -9.5 

Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles (-3) 

The Bills finally got a much needed win against the lowly Jets on Sunday, which might have been the spark they were looking for. Meanwhile, the Eagles pulled off one of the best wins of the season on Monday night, coming from behind to take down the Chiefs at Arrowhead. A few weeks ago, I would have said Phily runs away with this one, but even though the team got that big win on Monday night, they were outplayed for a majority of it. The Bills need to win every game they can to get themselves back into the playoff picture. I think they can maybe take advantage of an Eagles side coming off of an emotional win. 

The Pick: Bills +3

WAITIN' ALL DAY FOR A SUNDAY NIGHT

Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers 

In a week full of close picks and underdogs being selected everywhere, this is one of my easier choices of the week. The Chargers are a mess. Brandon Staley lost his mind on a reporter after last week’s game in what was just another weird moment for the LA head coach. The Ravens are coming into this game with some extra rest after winning last Thursday and I have no doubt in my mind they take advantage of an atrocious Charger defense. This line should be closer to six than it is three. Lock it in. 

The Pick: Ravens -3.5 

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL 

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) 

Oh man, I really don’t want to talk about the Bears anymore than I already have but here we are. What else can be said about last week? It was one of the worst losses in NFL history. Chicago possessed the ball for 40 minutes, won the turnover battle by three, led by two possessions with less than five minutes left and lost. It was disgusting, disheartening and downright appalling. The Vikings were unable to hold onto a late lead against the streaking Broncos and had a long winning streak of their own snapped. Both of these teams love to play games that go down to the final possession so this is one that is a lot harder than it looks on face value. I try not to let my emotions influence my selections, but I can’t get last week’s loss out of my head. 

The Pick: Vikings -3.5 

As I mentioned a few picks ago, there are a ton of razor-thin lines and I really, really like a lot of underdogs this week. The margin for error has never been smaller as the league is sadly running out of weeks. 

Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving. 

Last Week’s Record: 7-7

Season Record: 80-67-4 

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