NFL Picks: Week 12 - Thanksgiving Edition

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NFL Picks: Week 12 - Thanksgiving Edition

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Happy Turkey Day, all. Your gift from me? An early dose of NFL Picks!

No, really, I'm serious.

Hey, why are you crying?

Anyway, you know who else is crying? My imaginary bookie, who better pay up after last week's stellar 11-4 performance before I break his imaginary thumbs. But in the meantime, here are my three Thanksgiving bets.

Ill be back on Friday with the rest of the games.

The Game: New England (-7) at Detroit

If it weren't for the Cleveland game, this one would raise a flag that's redder than Rudolphs nose. Wait, crap, wrong holiday. What I mean is that I'd probably pick the Pats to lose. First of all, youve got the funky 12:30 kickoff, which might not seem like much, but can mess with the mentality of the non-traditional Thanksgiving team. In Shaun Hill, you've got an average, journeyman quarterback, but one who much like Ryan Fitzpatrick can sling the ball around the field and potentially take advantage of the still-developing Pats secondary. You've also got Calvin Johnson, a superhuman receiver capable of winning a game by himself.

Like I said, without that Cleveland wake-up call, the Pats were primed to drop this one. But they've learned their lesson. That's not to say this game will be easy; in fact I think it will still be close, but New England won't be caught asleep at the wheel when they arrive at Ford Field (pun intended); they'll go home with a win.

The Pick: Lions (7)

The Game: New Orleans (-3.5) at Dallas

Initially, the notion that Jason Garrett was "holding back" the Cowboys offense over the final few games of the Wade Phillips Era sounded preposterous. I mean, do coaches really do that at this level? Is that even possible?

With every passing week, I'm becoming more convinced that it is. It's not that the Cowboys offense has turned into the '07 Pats; after all, Jon Kitna didn't even throw for 150 yards last week. But they're taking more chances and they're far more creative. The Cowboys scored a combined 24 points in Phillips' last two games, and have 68 in the two games since.

Their season is very clearly over, but the post-Phillips momentum and Thanksgiving Day pride will carry them for one more week.

The Pick: Cowboys (3.5)

The Game: Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets (-9)

I've picked both 'dogs in the first two games, and there's no way they're going three-for-three for some reason I'm assuming I'll get the first two right, a page out of the Antoine Walker book of gambling logic.

Anyway, now that Wade Phillips and Brad Childress have finally been taken out behind the barn, we need a third coach to complete the trifecta and there's no one more deserving than Marvin Lewis (apologies to coaches Singletary, Kubiak and Fox).

A national TV blowout should do it.

The Pick: Jets (-9)

The Record

Last Week: 11-4
Season: 82-71-5

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday (and, occasionally, on football holidays like today) on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”