Randall the Handleís Week 12 NFL power rankings along with his three Thursday, U.S. Thanksgiving Day picks:
Rank Team Last week Comments
1 Green Bay Packers 1 Will they go undefeated?
2 San Francisco 49ers 2 Would rather stuff Ravens than turkeys.
3 Houston Texans 3 Back to work without their leader.
4 New England Patriots 5 Pulling away in division.
5 Pittsburgh Steelers 4 Facing Chiefs is like extra week off.
6 Chicago Bears 6 Cutlerís thumb is a bad break.
7 New Orleans Saints 7 Several good prime timers upcoming.
8 Atlanta Falcons 8 Remain in the wild card race.
9 Baltimore Ravens 10 Family get together on Thanksgiving.
10 Dallas Cowboys 11 Division is there for the taking.
11 Detroit Lions 12 Is sizzle better than the steak?
12 Oakland Raiders 15 Good fortune has aided their ascension.
13 Cincinnati Bengals 14 Youthful mistakes costing them.
14 Philadelphia Eagles 22 Wings clipped but team not grounded yet.
15 New York Jets 13 May require more than 10 days to fix this.
16 New York Giants 9 Failed to deliver knockout punch to Eagles.
17 San Diego Chargers 17 Can they stop the Tebow train?
18 Denver Broncos 19 All eyes on Broncos these days.
19 Tennessee Titans 18 Sub .500 opponents are more their speed.
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 Poor coaching negated upset opportunity.
21 Miami Dolphins 23 Feeling better about themselves.
22 Seattle Seahawks 24 Have never won three straight under Carroll.
23 Washington Redskins 28 Should pretend all opponents are Cowboys.
24 Buffalo Bills 16 That bubble didnít burst, it exploded.
25 Carolina Panthers 26 Had Lions on the ropes but couldnít finish.
26 Arizona Cardinals 20 Moderate win streak came to abrupt halt.
27 Minnesota Vikings 29 Battled despite losing best player early.
28 Cleveland Browns 31 Dodged a water balloon.
29 Jacksonville Jaguars 25 Del Rio days all but done.
30 Kansas City Chiefs 27 Dubious first to worst distinction.
31 St. Louis Rams 30 Missouriís misery.
32 Indianapolis Colts 32 Donít expect much change after break.
RANDALLíS U.S. THANKSGIVING DAY PICKS
Packers (10-0) at Lions (7-3)
LINE: GREEN BAY BY 6
The Lions havenít had a meaningful Thanksgiving Day game since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. With Detroit being pencilled in each year on this American holiday, this was typically a game when the bumbling Lions would display their ineptitude to all. Rarely was it pretty. Now comes an opportunity to show everyone that things have changed. The Packers are clearly the class of the league but they have shown some vulnerability, particularly on pass defence. Green Bay can mask that inefficiency with its powerful passing game but surprisingly, defending the pass is one of Detroitís strengths. The Lions currently rank 5th best in the league, giving up just 192 yards per game through the air. With a potent offence of its own and a frenzied crowd behind them, this matchup allows for us to take the near touchdown being offered in a game that may come down to last team with the ball wins.
TAKING: LIONS +6
Dolphins (3-7) at Cowboys (6-4)
LINE: DALLAS BY 7
With apologies to Miami fans, we just canít get jacked up about the Dolphinsí current three-game winning streak. A look at Miamiís opponents during this present run consists of three of the more incompetent teams in the league. The combination of Kansas City, Washington and Buffalo reveals a trio that is currently on a 0-10 run while being out-scored 277-86 in that span. Now the Fish must travel on a short week to play a Dallas team that is battling for its division and will remain focused throughout. Clearly, this is Miamiís toughest assignment in a month. They will have to contend with the hot hand of Tony Romo, who has been on a tear and with his downfield capabilities, expect the ĎBoys to attack Miamiís suspect secondary. With Dallas having gone to overtime against the rival Redskins last week and the ĎFins being on this streak, this price gets reduced, allowing us a Thanksgiving Day bargain.
TAKING: COWBOYS Ė7
49ers (9-1) at Ravens (7-3)
LINE: BALTIMORE BY 3
The Harbowl. Now that thatís out of the way we can concentrate on the task at hand. Frankly, we feel that it may not be as daunting a task as many believe. While we commend the Niners for what theyíve accomplished on the field this season, there is too much compensation being allocated for this one. The Ravens are a perfect 5-0 at home this season, in addition to winning 16 of their past 17 as hosts. Even though San Franciscoís defence has been outstanding this year, it wonít rattle these birds. Baltimore has had visits from similar types with the Steelers, Texans and Jets stopping by. Not only did the Ravens sweep those teams, they did it convincingly by a combined 98-38 with the closest margin being 15 points. The Ravens are a battle-tested squad. Same canít be said of the Niners, hailing from the weak NFC West. Now, this visitor is coming west to east on a short week, which theyíve openly complained about, while the Ravens have been sitting home for more than a week after hosting last Sunday. All things considered, spotting a field goal is cheap here.
TAKING: RAVENS Ė3