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Thanksgiving Weekend NFL Picks, Aiding And A'Betting: Packers-Falcons, Saints-Cowboys, Eagles-Bears

Raise a turkey leg to Thanksgiving's NFL action, which features all single-digit point spreads for the first time in years.

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There's at least one thing to be thankful for this holiday season: NFL parity. In each of the last three years, two Thanksgiving games have had point spreads of 10 or more, and they have been more sleep-inducing than a turkey overdose. Of course, Thursday's trifecta still involves Dallas and Detroit, this year with a serving of Cincinnati, but let's focus on the treats. All spreads are in the single digits, Tom Brady will be introduced to one Mr. Ndamukong Suh, and Atlanta could pick up a huge win without even playing.

The picks:

New England (-7) @ Detroit. Having never lived west of Atlanta, I can't imagine waking up to a 9:30 a.m. kickoff - but that's what the west coasters will be getting on Thursday. Patriots fans are biting their hooves over the dreaded "trap game," but New England has looked too damn good of late. PICK: New England

New Orleans (-3 1/2) @ Dallas. Three weeks ago, the Saints would be favored by 14 and Falcons fans wouldn't even pay attention. However, the Cowboys are 2-0 under interim coach Jason Garrett, and there's at least a glimmer of an upset. While it may take me until halftime to digest rooting for Keith Brooking (sorry, out of practice), I'll take the Cowboys at home. PICK: Dallas

Cincinnati @ NY Jets (-8 1/2). Last week, I wrote about never giving the Jets a touchdown cushion. They seem to win every game by three or four points, and should never be favored by a touchdown or more. The exception to that rule is Cincinnati, aka the team outscored 35-0 by Buffalo in last week's second half. Chad Ochocinco will be miked up for this game, but I'm guessing the network censors won't air anything after the first quarter. PICK: NY Jets

Green Bay @ Atlanta (-1 1/2). In each of the past two weeks, a loss to the Packers has resulted in a coach's firing (Wade Phillips with Dallas, Brad Childress with Minnesota). Even if the Falcons fall on Sunday, I'm thinking Mike Smith won't be updating his resume anytime soon. This game is scary for Atlanta because success relies on the DBs - and we're going to learn a whole lot about Dunta Robinson on Sunday. And though my fingers are itchy to type "PICK: Green Bay," something tells me domefield advantage is going to be enough. (Barely.) PICK: Atlanta

Philadelphia (-3) @ Chicago. The possibility of meeting one of these teams in the playoffs is making me nervous. The possibility of meeting one of these teams in the playoffs is making my nipples cut through my shirt. Guess which is which. PICK: Philadelphia

Tampa Bay @ Baltimore (-7 1/2). Exciting things are afoot in the NFC South this week. Absolutely anything could happen, and it wouldn't be that surprising - all teams win, all teams lose, any combination therein. While I picked Dallas to upset New Orleans, I feel a lot more confidant in getting help from the Ravens. PICK: Baltimore

Tennessee @ Houston (-5). After last week's Vince Young meltdown, Jeff Fisher announced "Rusty" would be his Week 12's starting quarterback. I just assumed "Rusty" was Fisher's weird nickname for Kerry Collins, but no - it's rookie Rusty Smith, last seen blazing in the college football factory Florida Atlantic. Brian St. Pierre suddenly looks like Old Man Favre. PICK: Houston

Minnesota @ Washington (-2). Dallas came to life after losing their head coach, but I don't see a similar fire being lit under this mopey Vikings squad. Brett Favre could retire by halftime. PICK: Washington

Jacksonville @ NY Giants (-7). I can't imagine betting on this game, because I'm just not sure what the Giants are. They beat the cupcakes (Seahawks, Cowboys Part I, Lions, Panthers, etc.) and lose to teams with a pulse (Colts, Eagles, Cowboys Part II). The problem is, we don't know which group the Jags belong in. They have a three-game winning streak, but have also lost three times by 21+. Only degenerates need apply. PICK: Jacksonville

Pittsburgh (-6) @ Buffalo. This spread looks a little too good, right? The Bills have shown signs of life, but they shouldn't hang with Pittsburgh for more than a quarter. Or maybe that's what Vegas wants me to think ... DAMMIT. PICK: Pittsburgh (this one will bite me)

Carolina @ Cleveland (-11). Is this the low point for the Panthers franchise? Being 11-point dogs to a 3-7 Cleveland team? Well, no, I guess the low point will be when the Browns cover. PICK: Cleveland

Kansas City (-1) @ Seattle. It's bizarre to live in a world where the 5-5 Seattle Seahawks are headed to the playoffs. At the moment, they have a one-game lead in the NFC West, with a host of semi-winnable games still on the schedule (Carolina, San Francisco, Tampa Bay). Go ahead and circle Jan. 2nd: Rams @ Seahawks might decide the last playoff spot, which will make it the most pathetic "win and they're in" game in NFL history. PICK: Seattle

Miami @ Oakland (-3). Tyler Thigpen on the road. An embarrassed Raiders team wanting to stay in the playoff race. Who you pickin'? PICK: Oakland

St. Louis @ Denver (-4). Last week, one thought kept coming to mind as I watched the Atlanta-St. Louis game: "Man, I wish Sam Bradford was in the AFC." The Rams are going to be a thorn in Atlanta's butt over the next few years, and I'm betting sooner than later. In fact, there's no reason they shouldn't pull the upset on Sunday, especially after Denver's pitiful Monday night performance. PICK: St. Louis

San Diego @ Indianapolis (-3). Using the standard "home field = three points" theory, Vegas is saying the Chargers and Colts are essentially equal. And I understand Indy's health issues, but I still have a problem with that - especially with San Diego on the road after a short week. However, the Colts have a very weird streak. Since 2004, every Indy season has seen a single two-game losing streak, and no other losing streaks of any kind. Could this be 2010's? PICK: San Diego

San Francisco @ Arizona (PICK). Oh, for the ability to flex Monday night games. Seriously, though, I blame ESPN for this one - even three months ago, did anybody think 49ers-Cardinals would be a better prime-time matchup than Packers-Falcons? Or hell, anything else? This weekend's schedule is littered with duds, but Monday night features the most boring of them all. PICK: Arizona

Last week: 11-5-0
Overall: 89-64-7

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.