Each Week, Head of Content Michael Schottey makes his picks for the upcoming slate of NFL action. For more on the best picks of the week, check out Pickwatch Pro for only $30 per year and get access to in-depth insights on proven winners. 

All odds are courtesy of our friends at BetMGM. 

Chicago Bears (-3) @ Detroit Lions

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The Lions have not won a game for almost a full calendar year and have not won on Thanksgiving since 2016. Their offense has become increasingly stagnant, and although starting quarterback Jared Goff is expected to play in this one, he’s been one of the worst (if not the worst) quarterbacks in the NFL this season. 

The smart play might be to pick the Bears here, but they’re riddled with injuries and are not the same team who beat the Lions by 10 points earlier in the season.  Pick: Lions

Las Vegas Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)

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After a surprisingly good start, the Raiders have lost three straight under interim coach Rich Bisaccia. In those three losses, QB Derek Carr has largely fallen off a cliff after a darkhorse MVP candidacy earlier in the season. His completion percentage has remained stellar, but he’s thrown four interceptions and his passing yardage has steadily declined. 

Already unable to take the top off the defense with a vertical passing attack, the loss of key players like guard Richie Incognito and fullback Alec Ingold has taken the teeth out of the rushing attack as well. 

The Cowboys have the better defense and the (far) better offense. Pick: Cowboys

Buffalo Bills (-5) @ New Orleans Saints

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Much like the Cowboys above, I trust the Bills to have taken their medicine after an embarrassing loss last week and play much better here. The Bills have lost four games this season and have responded after the other three losses with decisive victories—scoring 45, 35 and 28 (against the Dolphins) in the process. 

However, the Saints have all the trends working in their favor to keep this close. The Saints are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games as the underdog, they also tend to win many of those games. Meanwhile, head coach Sean McVay is 3-0 on Thanksgiving and is considered the NFL’s preeminent master of the short week/uniquely scheduled games. If both teams were healthy, I’d be all over the Saints here, but neither top running back has practiced as of the writing of this article. The Saints just don’t have the healthy bodies to pull this one out. Pick: Bills

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5)

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If I was doing “confidence picks,” this would be one of my lowest confidence picks of the week no matter what. As I said on today’s Three & Out taping, the AFC North is always interesting because the character of all four teams has been largely consistent for recent memory and all four teams epitomize the idea of building first and foremost to beat your divisional opponents. 

These teams are pretty evenly matched statistically on both sides of the ball, but the Steelers are likely getting an army of defensive players back for this one, including CB Joe Haden, S Minkah Fitzpatrick and OLB T.J. Watt. That’s the difference here. Pick: Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) @ Indianapolis Colts

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I am tempted (extremely tempted) to ride my season-long infatuation with the Colts being better than expected, playing teams extremely close and out muscling opponents. The Buccaneers, too, worry me. As much as they beat up on the New York Giants (for what that’s worth) last week, the offense continued to struggle with consistency and they’re playing a Colts defense that is able to outmuscle and intimidate as they did against the Bills. 

The pick here comes down to two factors. First, can the Buccaneers score enough points through the air to essentially take the ball out of RB Jonathan Taylor’s hands? Second, with defensive tackle Vita Vea likely returning, can they slow him down enough if the Buccaneers intermittently struggle to connect down the field? The answer to both of those questions should be yes. Pick: Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers (-1.5) @ Miami Dolphins

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Both the Panthers and the Dolphins are feeling really good about their quarterback situations right now, and for good reason. The Panthers are a much more dangerous team with Cam Newton than at any other point this season. From an offensive playcalling perspective, it’s difficult not to feel great about him and a healthy Christian McCaffrey in the same backfield. 

Still, it’s been Tua Tagovailoa who has been truly special in the last couple of weeks. The offense is striking down the field and the defense has been as strong as we all expected.  In their three-game winning streak, they’ve gone against two solid mobile QBs—Tyrod Taylor and Lamar Jackson. They’ve stymied both. Pick: Dolphins

Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (-6.5)

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As important as trends can be in the game of football, it’s important to reset and not get caught up in storylines as teams continually remind you who they are. The Titans earned some street cred as a tough team during their winning streak, but they also continued to give up yards—especially through the air. They’re giving up 23.1 points per game this season and 253.3 yards per game through the air. Both marks are mediocre or less than. 

The Patriots, meanwhile, have overcome a slow start to the season and have shown us who they are. They’re bringing the sixth-ranked scoring offense and an increasingly potent passing attack. They also have the top scoring defense and are uniquely situated to stop a team that can’t run the ball. Mike Vrabel is 2-0 against former coach Bill Belichick, but I’m looking for that perfection to stop.  Pick: Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) @ New York Giants

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Listen, there is a chance that the Giants come into this (divisional) game with a big ol’ chip on their shoulder after the shakeup of the offensive staff. One of my favorite lines in comic book history comes from Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil, “A man without hope is a man without fear.” That mindset is how the Giants win this game. They have the talent to put up a 50 spot, and they have nothing to lose if they turn the ball over ten times instead. 

Give me the Eagles, though, who have been playing with a similar chip on their shoulder all season and whose offense is starting to actually (not just theoretically) click. Over the course of the season, they’ve been better than the Giants in almost every way and they’re continuing to widen that gap. They’re not a great team, but they’re on the cusp of the playoff picture and overplaying their talent. Pick: Eagles

Atlanta Falcons (-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars

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We’ve seen some bad football this season, but this game has a chance to be among the worst football any of us watch this year. The game is pretty evenly matched. If Vegas generally considers home field advantage to be worth 2-3 points, the Falcons being one-point favorites means Vegas considers the Falcons about a field goal (or so) better than the Jaguars. 

Without RB/WR/waterboy/ticket taker/dance troupe leader Cordarrelle Patterson, that’s likely true. He has not practiced this week as of Wednesday and one gets the feeling that the Falcons are eager to rush him back. If he does end up playing, that probably makes the Falcons closer to a touchdown favorite. Either way, look for them to get the road win. Pick: Falcons

New York Jets @ Houston Texans (-2.5)

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OK, so maybe this will be some of the worst football we see this year. Maybe one of my favorite data visualizations this year is how bad the Jets’ spider chart is but the Texans’ is basically just a small circle. Even other bad teams like the Lions and Jaguars have some character to their charts and, you know, surface area. 

Yet, the Texans’ season-long statistical issues were (mostly) without QB Tyrod Taylor who has come back and played well (albeit with some turnovers against the Dolphins). The Jets have the worst defense and worst passing defense in the league. First team to 20 points should win, and that’s Houston. Pick: Texans

Los Angeles Chargers (-3) @ Denver Broncos

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The Chargers pulled out a win against a banged-up Steelers defense, but still continued to give up far too many yards/points and made the Steelers offense look like a juggernaut throughout much of the second half. QB Justin Herbert looked good, and it was in primetime, so many are thinking the Chargers woes are over. 

I’m not so sure…

The Broncos are bringing one of the top defenses to the table in this one, and while their offense is nothing to write home about, they have the horses (pun intended) to run the ball against the Chargers last-ranked rushing defense. Pick: Broncos

Los Angeles Rams (-1) @ Green Bay Packers

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This matchup is a microcosm of the difference between a team’s year-long statistical pursuits and where they are trending. The Rams are a light road favorite here because even on the tail end of a two-game losing streak that saw their offense sputter, they bring a Top 5 passing offense to the table. The Packers, for all their sound and fury, are barely in the Top 15 in terms of passing and 17th in terms of scoring. 

The Packers are playing in Lambeau, where temperatures will be near freezing against a team for Los Angeles. They’re the trendy pick here to continue the Rams’ offensive struggles and they have the defense to do it. But, Sean McVay 3-1 after a bye week and I trust them to have things figured out. Pick: Rams

Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco 49ers (-3)

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In many ways, these two teams are carbon copies of each other. The Vikings are thought to have a much better offense because QB Kirk Cousins has been having a great season. However, the difference in passing yards per game is only about thirty yards. In terms of scoring, that difference is less than a point. 

Defensively, however, the 49ers have a clearer advantage than most people would believe. They have the third-ranked passing defense and are 11th in scoring defense. The 49ers have some injury issues at the running back position, but Deebo Samuel can be the answer to any lingering questions. Pick: 49ers

Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Football Team (-1)

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In general, both offenses have roughly the same scoring production (about two points difference with Washington having a slight advantage). Defensively, though, the Seahawks are about a touchdown better on that side of the ball—much to the chagrin of all of us who thought that Washington would have an elite defense. On that point alone, one could take the Seahawks and feel very comfortable. 

Yet, over the last few years, the Seahawks have often struggled on trips to the East Coast. Washington, too, has been playing much better than Seattle as of late. Look for the Washington passing offense to go against the season-long grain and thrive here. Pick: Washington Football Team