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

Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

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Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

ARLINGTON, Texas - Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.

Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott's first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.

"Dak's handled every opportunity he's had right from the start really, really well," coach Jason Garrett said. "No different tonight."

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards - a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter - and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

"We haven't played a complete game," Fox said. "This week was the reverse of what we've had. We played very poorly in the first half."

Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.

"Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs," Garrett said. "He's physically tough. He's mentally tough."

It didn't even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas' first home win since last year's opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.

Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn't do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.

Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

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Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2. 

The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively. 

With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.

MORE PATRIOTS

Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.