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Brian Eller

My picks for Week 12 in the NFL

New England at Detroit -- In this season of parity, I'm inclined to lean ever-so-slightly toward the Patriots as the top team in the league. Not that that means much these days, as Tom Brady and company could fall short and fail to make it to the Super Bowl, where I see them landing early next year. The Lions are still several steps away from competing on a weekly basis, but it's Thanksgiving and you never know what kind of magic the Lions can muster. Sadly, it's not much without Barry Sanders to entertain us. Where have you gone, Mr. Sanders?

New Orleans at Dallas -- So this is the Dallas team we were supposed to watch this season. In all of the madness that encompassed the Cowboys' first eight games, people seemed to be so shocked at how the Cowboys are playing these past two weeks. I'll give Jason Garrett some credit. His boys look ready to play every week. But a home game this Thursday won't be enough to save them against the Saints, who appear to be gearing up for their title defense.

Cincinnati at New York Jets -- The matchup to watch in this one? Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens against Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. On Tuesday, Owens reportedly labeled Revis as a "mediocre corner," when we all know he's slightly better than that. Owens has shown he's still got some skills too, mind you, but will it be enough to back up his trash talk? I don't think so.

Green Bay at Atlanta -- This should be the best game of the week, with both Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan leading promising teams that could be representing the NFC in Dallas in February. I thought the Falcons were impressive in the way they shut down St. Louis' front seven, moving to 8-2 on the year. As always, it doesn't get any easier with linebacker Clay Matthews in town. But I'll take the Falcons in this game.

Pittsburgh at Buffalo -- Hello, two-game winning streak. That's what the Bills have to be thankful for this season. Meanwhile, the Steelers have to be thankful they get to face the Bills, who, while playing their best football of the year, aren't any match for Ben Roethlisberger. On a side note, it was nice to see him get a dose of karma last weekend, in the form of Richard Seymour's fist.

Carolina at Cleveland -- I'm thankful this game isn't on Thanksgiving, so I can choose to watch other ones. It looks like the Panthers are on course to land the top spot in the 2011 NFL Draft, but would they take Stanford's Andrew Luck a year after drafting Jimmy Clausen? We shall see. The Browns might help inch them closer to that decision.
Jacksonville at New York Giants -- The Jaguars are a surprise atop the AFC South at 6-4 and appear to be more than just a passing fad. This Sunday they'll get a tough test, though, against a Giants team that dropped a winnable game in Philadelphia. All of those turnovers are worrisome, but I have faith in Eli Manning to lift his team when needed.

Minnesota at Washington -- Brad Childress is gone in Minnesota, apparently to the joy of pretty much everyone in the organization. He must really be a jerk, judging by all of the negative comments I've read/heard this season. The best I can offer you, Brad, is the chance to watch your former team turn it around with a win against the Redskins. Happy Thanksgiving, Childress family.

Tennessee at Houston -- Rusty Smith will get the start for the Titans this weekend. I know, I had wondered where he had gone, too. Actually I had never heard of good ole' Rusty before a couple of days ago. Now, he'll lead the Titans on the road against the Texans, who still haven't quite figured it out. This is the toughest game of the week, but I'll stick with the Texans, who have slightly more stability.

Kansas City
at Seattle -- My old roommate picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West before the season started and I thought he was a little touched in the head. I still think that, mind you, but Kansas City is still in the driver's seat and has a winnable game at Seattle. The Seahawks, too, are fighting for the division crown, but I like the Chiefs in this one.

Miami at Oakland -- It's the weekly game of mediocrity, as two 5-5 teams do battle in the Bay Area. It's a long trip for the Dolphins, which may or may not have any impact on this game. But seeing as how neither of these teams has any consistency on a weekly basis, that's enough for me to side with the Raiders. Way to go, home team.

St. Louis at Denver -- **Upset Special** Yes, I know I've picked my Broncos as the upset special again. But I have faith. That's actually a lie. I just don't really see any other upsets this week to make me think otherwise. I wouldn't be shocked if the Rams won because, well, the Broncos stink, but it's the holidays and I'll reward poor teams simply because they're my team.

Philadelphia at Chicago -- One quarterback hasn't turned the ball over all year. The other loves to give it away. This game should be interesting as both teams appear to be battling for playoff seeding at this point. Vick has been playing more consistently as of late and the defense forced five turnovers in a game against the Giants last week. That's bad news for Jay Cutler and the Bears.

Tampa Bay at Baltimore -- I doubt the Ravens expected to see a 7-3 Bucs team coming into town this weekend, but that's what they've got. Josh Freeman continues to excel in that offense, and don't be surprised if the Bucs somehow pull the upset against an aging Ravens defense. But as long as Ed Reed is back there, I like Baltimore's chances.

San Diego at Indianapolis -- Here we go again. I had to watch the Chargers climb back into the playoff picture by dismantling my Broncos on national television. Hopefully that means karma is on my side, and Peyton Manning will make them pay dearly. The Colts find themselves in a surprising divisional race with Jacksonville, so there's no time to mess around. I like Manning in the battle of the great quarterbacks here.

San Francisco
at Arizona -- This seems to be the third or fourth time in recent history where these two teams are playing on national television. Maybe it's simply to get them both out of the way at the same time so fans can stop complaining. The 49ers looked to be gaining momentum, but last week's dud against the Bucs isn't promising down the road. Arizona's defense has been anything but promising, however, leading me to side with the 49ers.

Last week:
Season: 51-32

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