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NFL picks 2017, Week 12: Experts see Saints sustaining streak, Chiefs rebounding

Once again our expert panel has reconvened for indispensable advice about every game happening for Thanksgiving week.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Two things happen this week. First, we get a triple-header of Thanksgiving games. That means a short week for six squads, with three days to sort out the playbooks and figure out who’s healthy enough to play.

Second, no more bye weeks. All 32 teams are in action this week and every week til the end of the season. We are officially in the stretch run. That’s good because that also means playoff chase.

And what a chase it’s shaping up to be. Aside from the usual offender at the top of the AFC, it’s a whole bunch of new faces in new places for the rest of the playoff picture.

The most notable matchup this week for shaping the overall playoff picture happens in the NFC. The 7-3 Rams are coming off a tough loss to the Vikings last week, in Minnesota. They’re back home in the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon to welcome the 8-2 Saints and their eight-game winning streak.

Our panel, for the most part, sees the Saints pushing that winning streak to nine games against the Rams. Los Angeles is dealing with some injuries, most notably wide receiver Robert Woods. He’ll be out a couple weeks at least with a shoulder injury. It’s a tough blow for the Rams too; Woods is their leading receiver in both yardage and catches.

The Saints have an edge in health. Plus, they have the running back duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara doing something unprecedented in NFL history. They might have their own injury issue if stud rookie corner Marshon Lattimore can’t play after injuring his ankle last week against Washington.

This might be the toughest game of the week to pick.

Speaking of newcomers in the playoff race, the Jaguars have what should be another one-sided affair, truly a schedule to be thankful for this holiday week. They’ll be in Arizona facing Blaine Gabbert and the Cardinals.

Jacksonville knows Gabbert well because he’s an earlier version of Blake Bortles. But the idea of that defense going against Gabbert and the Cardinals’ offensive line ... little wonder the Jags are a unanimous pick to win this week.

The Titans could keep things close in the AFC South race this week too, where they trail the Jags by one game, and are themselves holding onto a wild card spot at the moment. Marcus Mariota and Co. will be in Indianapolis to take on a Colts team that, quite frankly, I tend to forget exists from week to week, unless Chuck Pagano or the front office finds a new way to screw up Andrew Luck’s recovery or fracture their relationship with some other injured player.

The Chiefs have a two-game cushion in the AFC West, thanks to the rest of the division being even more awful this season. Kansas City’s hot start — remember when they beat the Patriots? — feels so like it happened in a different season entirely. They hit rock bottom in last week’s overtime loss to the Giants, and have now lost four of their last five.

It looks like the Chiefs get a break, maybe, with the Buffalo Bills coming to Arrowhead. A couple weeks ago, I think we would have seen our panel more divided on this game, with more of us picking the Bills to win. That was before Sean McDermott decided that it would be a good idea to start Nathan Peterman over Tyrod Taylor last week.

If you didn’t know who Peterman was before that, and why would you, he’ll be a household name for the rest of the season thanks to his infamous five-interception debut. The Bills, McDermott specifically, may have thrown themselves out of the playoff race with that move.

The Ravens are not a good team, but the schedule makers did everything they could to ensure that we get to see mediocre quarterback Joe Flacco in the playoffs this year. After pulling themselves back to .500 last week against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, they’ll face the Deshaun Watson-less Texans this week. They finish the season with the Browns, Colts, and Bengals, so their AFC wildcard spot is pretty much locked down.

Our guest panelist this week is Brett Mock from Stampede Blue, SB Nation’s home for all things Colts.

You can find the OddsShark computer picks right here, along with more info for each game.

NFL picks, Week 12 2017

Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Harry Lyles Jr. Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Brett Mock Joel Thorman OddsShark computer
Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Harry Lyles Jr. Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Brett Mock Joel Thorman OddsShark computer
MIN vs DET MIN DET DET MIN MIN MIN MIN DET MIN
LAC vs DAL LAC DAL LAC LAC LAC LAC DAL DAL DAL
NYG vs WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS NYG WAS
TB vs ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL
CLE vs CIN CIN CLE CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN
TEN vs IND TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN IND TEN TEN
BUF vs KC KC BUF KC KC KC KC KC KC KC
MIA vs NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE
CAR vs NYJ CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR
CHI vs PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI
SEA vs SF SEA SEA SF SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA
DEN vs OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK DEN OAK
NO vs LAR NO NO NO NO LAR NO NO LAR even
JAX vs ARZ JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX
GB vs PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT
HOU vs BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL
Last week 6-8 9-5 11-3 9-5 9-5 9-5 8-6 9-5 8-6
Season 88-72 93-67 101-59 104-56 97-63 98-62 103-57 95-65 94-66
Stuff yourself on these picks!

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