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Week 12: Thanksgiving Dinner with the Harbaugh Family

As we sink our teeth into turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all of our favorite fixings this Thursday, we will be blessed with three exciting matchups to watch with our family and friends.  And yes, you will likely be confronted with questions from a relative asking, “Tell us about this fantasy football game you play!?”

The matinee begins with the undefeated Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers hosting their NFC North rivals, the Detroit Lions.  Despite Tampa Bay fighting until the end of the game last week, Green Bay improved to 10-0.  Winning each week seems to be as important as also helping every Packer score a touchdown, including 337 lb. defensive lineman B.J. Raji. The Detroit Lions rebounded from their terrible Week 10 loss with a seven touchdown effort to defeat the Carolina Panthers led by Matthew Stafford and a monstrous game from running back Kevin Smith.  I would recommend all serious football fans to research the 1962 battle between these two teams, which has shocking resemblances to this game.  Expect this Thanksgiving matinee to be a shootout between these two NFC North rivals!

Several weeks ago, there may have been minimal interest in the game between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.  However, Miami is now riding a three game winning streak and averaging over 28 points per game. The Dallas Cowboys have also strung together three straight wins and now join the New York Giants atop the NFC East standings. Miami’s quarterback Matt Moore has played a major role in their success, while Dallas’ DeMarco Murray has not slowed down since earning the starting gig. This game should be an action-packed, competitive battle between two improved teams.

With the potential for shootouts in the opening games, the Thanksgiving main event will be far from a scoring fest.  For the first time in NFL history, two brothers that are head coaches will face off in a defensive war in Baltimore.  This family affair will send Jim Harbaugh and his 9-1 San Francisco 49ers across the country to battle older brother John Harbaugh in a Thanksgiving slobber knocker!  Both contenders sit among the defensive leaders, so prepare yourself for a low scoring, grinding duel!

Before you begin finalizing your Thanksgiving plans and scouring the Black Friday ads, let’s glance at a few highlights from Week 11.  Tim Tebow led another miraculous comeback in the final seconds with a 20-yard touchdown scurry to stun the New York Jets. The Detroit Lions roared back this weekend led by a five touchdown performance from Matthew Stafford and a monstrous 201 total yards, three touchdown performance by running back Kevin SmithAaron Rodgers earned his fifth straight game with at least three touchdowns to help the Pack stay undefeated. Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears continued their hot streak with their fifth win a row by defeating Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers who lost their fifth straight.  However, Cutler broke his right thumb making a tackle following an interception and will be sidelined for several weeks.  This is only a small slice of Week 11’s action so take a dive with me as we identify a few key matchups for Week 12.  With three games set for Thanksgiving Thursday, make sure your lineup is ready to go!

QB Mark Sanchez– With three picks and an average QB rating of 66.3 in his last two games, Sanchez is poised for a rebound.  During a rough patch last season, Coach Rex Ryan allowed backup veteran quarterback Mark Brunell to take a few snaps with the starters in practice, which irked Sanchez and resulted in a victorious performance against Pittsburgh.  During practice this week, Ryan spited Sanchez with this tactic again, which should fire him up for a favorable start against the Buffalo Bills who rank 24th in passing yards per game.

Week 12 Projection:  200 passing yards and 2 TD’s

RB Donald Brown– You may be wondering how I can recommend starting a player on the 0-10 Indianapolis Colts who own one of the worst offenses. If you are in a deep league, check your waiver wife for Brown as he has been solid on a terrible offense averaging 4.5 yards per carry.  Indy’s opponent, the Carolina Panthers, suffered another horrible defensive stand allowing 169 yards on the ground including three total touchdowns to Detroit Lions’ running back Kevin Smith. The Washington Redskins are the only team that has not rushed for triple digits against them this season.  The Panthers are not just bad against the run; they are absolutely awful and have allowed almost 20 points to running backs over the last seven games. Brown should receive the bulk of the carries and have one of his better outings.

Week 12 Projection:  80 total yards and 1 TD

WR Torrey Smith– Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice has an amazing skill set, but may have a tough evening breaking through the San Francisco 49ers’ top run defense that has yet to allow a single rushing score this season. However, San Francisco’s defense has been susceptible through the air at times and allowed scores to wideouts five weeks in a row.  Smith is coming off a huge game against Cincinnati where he was targeted seven times for six catches and 165 yards including a touchdown.  Smith is Baltimore’s deep threat and will catch a few long tosses from Joe Flacco.

Week 12 Projection:  100 receiving yards and 1 TD

TE Kellen Winslow– Winslow’s inconsistent production can partially be attributed to quarterback Josh Freeman’s roller coaster performances this season. The veteran tight end was in sync with Freeman last weekend against Green Bay as he hauled in nine catches for 132 receiving yards.  Winslow faces the Tennessee Titans who are the fourth worst defending tight ends and have allowed at least five receptions and an average of 73 receiving yards per game over the last seven games.  Winslow should be in line for another great start.

Week 12 Projection:  60 receiving yards and 1 TD

St Louis Defense– The Rams’ offense, especially passing game, has been questionable this season.  However, their defense has been solid and is tied for fifth most points over the last four weeks.  They also lead the league in that time span with 15 sacks and two safeties.  With a home matchup welcoming the Arizona Cardinals, they may be useful again. Whether John Skelton or Richard Bartel start, the Rams’ defense should continue to excel as Arizona has allowed the third most sacks and thrown the sixth most interceptions.

Week 12 Projection: 12 points


QB Alex Smith
Week 11 Projection: 200 passing yards and 2 TD’s
Week 11 Results: 267 passing yards, 2 TD’s, and 1 INT (Success)

RB  Michael Bush
Week 11 Projection: 125 total yards and 1 TD
Week 11 Results: 109 total yards and 1 TD (Success)

WR Earl Bennett
Week 11 Projection: 80 receiving yards and 1 TD
Week 11 Results:  75 receiving yards (Partial Success)

TE Ed Dickson
Week 11 Projection: 80 receiving yards
Week 11 Results:  21 receiving yards (Fail)

New England Defense
Week 11 Projection: 11 points  
Week 11 Results: 16 points (Success)

Happy Thanksgiving and good luck in Week 12!

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