A Thanksgiving Week look at what you need to know for Week 12 in the NFL.
Game of the Week
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
Two of the AFC West’s top teams will do battle on Sunday Night Football in a game that will shake up the playoff picture in the AFC. It is the first meeting between the 7-3 teams. Both are comprised of very similar components. They both have shutdown defenses and average offenses led by backup running backs.
Denver is coming off its bye and it could not have come at a better time. In their last two games, they lost by double digits to their division rival, the Oakland Raiders, and they were barely able to beat the 4-6 New Orleans Saints. Their quarterback Trevor Siemian has looked shaky, and for a first-year starter, he has likely gotten overwhelmed by the rigor of an NFL season. Hopefully the bye week has helped him because in tight AFC West and AFC Wild Card races, the Broncos need every win they can get.
The Chiefs are coming off their first loss at home in more than a year to Tampa Bay, in a game they expected to win. They occupied the top seed in the AFC before last week, and now they sit in one of the Wild Card spots. They may have had a bad loss, but Kansas City is still a major player in the AFC. Their defense is good enough to lead them to the Super Bowl and Alex Smith and the offense is good enough to stand on their own to support the defense’s hard work.
Given the Chiefs’ lack of depth at receiver and the fact that Denver has one of the best secondaries in the league, Kansas City has concern of being held to one dimension on offense. I don’t believe the Chiefs’ running attack is strong enough to lead them to victory, but it will push Denver and make it a close game. I like Denver to win this game, but a Kansas City win would not surprise me.
Denver 20, Kansas City 19
Upset of the Week
Washington over Dallas
Other than the Seattle Seahawks, I believe that Washington is the closest challenge for the Cowboys en route to an NFC Championship. However, the Cowboys are likely going to have to go through their hated rival if they want to make it to the promised land, and I think Washington provides a matchup problem for the Cowboys.
Washington is coming off two straight wins against solid NFC teams in Minnesota and Green Bay. Against the Packers, rookie running back Robert Kelley had three touchdowns. He should provide a difficult challenge for Dallas’s run defense on Thursday.
Dallas is a Super Bowl contender without a doubt, but that does not mean they are perfect. They are bound to face bumps in the road, and it would be reasonable for a team to lose a game on a short week against a very talented team. Dallas has lost three of its last four Thanksgiving games.
Washington 33, Dallas 21
Fantasy Start of the Week
Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi
Ajayi has not had a touchdown in the last two games but has still been very strong. This week against San Francisco, I am expecting another breakthrough game for Ajayi and he should have many opportunities to crack the end zone. The 49ers have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, and Ajayi is working towards being one of the hottest running backs this season. He has at least 75 yards or a touchdown in the last six games, and this game will likely be able to stretch that streak.
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Raiders WR Michael Crabtree
Crabtree only has five catches for 32 yards in his last two games, and despite a favorable matchup against the Panthers this week, I don’t like Crabtree against the Carolina secondary. Amari Cooper got a lot of looks from QB Derek Carr in their win this past week against Houston, and the running backs (Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, and Jamize Olawale) also got a lot of attention. Crabtree has gotten a lot of attention recently from opposing defensive coordinators because of his strong start to the season, and defenses are locking up on him. Use other Raider skill players this Sunday.
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
It is very odd to see Peterson in such a position, but if he is available in your league and you have the space on your roster, put the man on your bench. The Vikings announced that he might be able to return in Week 15 or Week 16, the two most pivotal weeks in your fantasy football championship. A good fantasy owner always thinks ahead, and thinking a month in advance could give you enough time to snag one of the best running backs in the game. It could very well pay off in the long run and make you your league’s fantasy football champion.
Lock of the Week
New Orleans Saints over Los Angeles Rams
I could choose multiple games as my lock this week. The winless Browns face a 7-3 Giants team, the 49ers, losers of nine straight, head to Miami to face the Dolphins, winners of five straight, but I felt the need to write about a less obvious lock, the Saints winning at home against the Rams.
The Rams’ offense is in shambles. They finally made the change to their first-round rookie Jared Goff last week, but he didn’t offer much more than Case Keenum did. The Rams were in the lead for the whole game, but they only managed to put ten points on the board against an average Dolphins defense. The week before, they only managed to put up nine points against the Jets, albeit they still won the game. They will probably need more than ten points to beat the high octane offense of the Saints.
This is not a knock on the Rams’ defense, who has effectively kept them from being a complete disaster this season. However, Drew Brees and the Saints are very hard to stop. This probably won’t be the best game you see from the New Orleans offense this year, but they will be able to score more than the fiddling Rams.
It is a must-win game for both teams, but likely more important for the Saints, who are only two games back of the NFC South lead. A win here could move them closer to the playoff picture, but a loss here could make it next to impossible for them to make a run for the postseason. If the Saints don’t win this game, they are cooked like a Thanksgiving turkey. They need to win the games they are projected to win, and they will do so this Sunday.
New Orleans 24, Los Angeles 13
Buzzer’s Best Bet
Jim Buzinski’s picks of the week
Patriots minus 8 at Jets
The Jets have a history of playing the Patriots tough, with the largest margin in the last six meetings being seven points. With Ryan Fitzpatrick starting at QB, the Jets will score enough to keep it close.
Last week: 0-1. Season: 5-5-1
Hot Player of the Week
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
Dak is the newest face of the Cowboys, and I don’t think many people are complaining about that.