WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA: On this Thanksgiving, it is more than football and the NFL There are many people who are thankful they are alive. My home city of Los Angeles has been rocked by a shooting in Thousand Oaks and deadly wildfires that have incinerated home and destroyed lives.
I am thankful that I am one of the lucky ones who escaped the wreckage unscathed. I am thankful for my family, friends and other loved ones. I am thankful to live in the greatest nation in the history of civilization, the United States of America. I am thankful that America has been blessed with brilliant military leaders from George Washington to Douglas MacArthur to George Patton to David Petraeus to James “Mad Dog” Mattis.
They lead the best troops in the world who keep us all safe and free.
I am thankful for football.
Football cannot rebuild a house by itself. It cannot restore the massive losses so many have suffered. Yet if for a few hours football can ease people’s pain and distract them from their worries, then football has done its job.
I am thankful that after the 9/11 horrors, an inspired New York Giants defense had the NYPD and FDNY cheering.
I am thankful that after Hurricane Katrina, Sean Payton, Drew Brees and Steve Gleason (may God look after him) brought pride back to New Orleans.
I am thankful that Houston Texans star J.J. Watt raised over
50 million dollars in Hurricane Harvey relief.
I am thankful that the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams just played the most exciting regular season game in NFL history.
I am thankful that after an emotional 54-51 win, Rams quarterback Jared Goff and other teammates stayed on the field to console victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting. These players have been active in community relations in the wake of the fires.
I am thankful that there is no tanking in football. Unlike other sports, NFL teams would never purposely lose a game to gain draft position. The New York Giants started out 1-7 and then won two straight. The Oakland Raider started 1-8 and pulled out a victory last week on the final play.
There is no shame in losing.
There is only shame in quitting. In the NFL, nobody ever quits.
That is why football is quintessentially American. We Americans never quit.
So I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Pass the turkey and the stuffing, and let’s enjoy some football.
With that, here is the NFL 2018 Week 12 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by OddsShark and all times Eastern.
Thursday, November 22, 2018, 12:30 p.m.
Chicago Bears (-4) at Detroit Lions —
There was a time when it was foolish to be against the Lions on Thanksgiving day. However, Matthew Stafford has taken a ton of sacks and Khalil Mack has been delivering them. Go with the Bears defense. Bears win but fail to cover.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5) —
Alex Smith suffered a brutal leg injury 33 years to the day after Joe Theismann suffered his. Colt McCoy will have a tough challenge. After wasting the first half of the season, Dallas has finally started running the football the last couple weeks. Ezekiel Elliott will run wild again, but Dallas does not blow anyone out. Cowboys win but fail to cover.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-13) —
The spread is high, but the Saints just walloped Philadelphia by 41 points. In this series, the road team often wins. The Saints have so much firepower, and the Falcons are underachieving, especially on offense. This could be a blowout, but a garbage touchdown is highly possible. Saints win but fail to cover.
Sunday, November 25, 1:00 p.m.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-3) —
The Browns have improved but the spread seems very low in this game. The Bengals are nothing special, but they have more talent on offense than the Browns do. Bengals cover.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (-3.5) —
Seattle won a tough game over Green Bay while Carolina lost on a failed two-point conversion try. It’s hard to criticize Riverboat Ron Rivera for making the call. If it works, he’s a hero. Russell Wilson and Cam Newton are pros at this. This is one of those games to just go with the home field. Panthers win but fail to cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Buffalo Bills —
The Jaguars blew a 16-0 third-quarter lead at home in a 20-16 defeat to Pittsburgh, their sixth straight loss. Buffalo is a bad football team, but the Jaguars no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt as favorites, especially on the road. Upset special, Bills win outright.
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-10.5)—
The Ravens have struggled after a fast start, while the Raiders finally got another win after a 1-8 start. The Raiders beat the only team they could possibly beat. Expect whoever quarterbacks the Ravens to shred Oakland’s secondary. Ravens cover.
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) —
The quarterback carousel keeps spinning in Tampa, as Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to the bench and Jameis Winston gets the start. They both play better as a backup than as a starter. Nick Mullins has shown promise in two starts. Granted it was against two awful teams, but the Buccaneers are not much better. Trust Mullins until he proves otherwise. Upset special, 49ers win outright.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-6) —
The Eagles are 4-6 and lost last week by 41 points. The Giants have won two straight. Yet in Philadelphia, expect the Eagles to take all their frustrations out on the Giants and return them to reality. Eagles cover.
New England Patriots (-9.5) at New York Jets —
This might be another game where the spread is too low. The Jets seem to play Tom Brady tough in New England and then roll over at home. Either way, the Patriots have the talent and the Jets don’t. Patriots cover.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Chargers (-12) —
The Chargers lost a shocker at home to Denver to snap their six game winning streak. They face an Arizona team so pathetic that they could not even finish off Oakland. The Chargers just never blow bad teams out, and Josh Rosen and Larry Fitzgerald could do just enough to beat the spread. Chargers win but fail to cover.
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts (-10) —
Both teams are 5-5 but headed in opposite directions. After starting 1-5, the Colts have won four straight. The Dolphins started 3-0 before being exposed as frauds. Andrew Luck should handle business, but the spread is too high given that Miami has moments of decent play. Colts win but fail to cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Denver Broncos —
Both teams won last week on the road in thrilling fashion in the closing seconds. Denver stunned the Chargers 23-22 while the Steelers overcame a 16-0 third-quarter deficit to win 20-16. Ben Roethlisberger has too many weapons for Denver to stop him. Steelers cover.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) —
Aaron Rodgers is not getting any help as the Packers keep losing close games. After getting humbled by Chicago, Minnesota should rebound. With this series, trust the home team. Mike Zimmer’s defense should harass Rodgers. Vikings win but fail to cover.
Monday, November 26, 8:20 p.m.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-6) —
The Texans have won seven straight games. The Titans looked horrendous in a blowout loss at Indianapolis. The Texans win close games. They do not blow teams out. In a close game at home, trust DeShaun Watson over Marcus Mariota. Texans win but fail to cover.