Twelve weeks into this season and I've only learned three things:
(a) The 2006 Chargers are the 2005 Seahawks;
(b) The NFC East title is rented out on a monthly basis;
(c) The Patriots just beat your mom in the cranberry-themed dessert contest on Food Network. Your mom wins an apron.
I don't like making picks early but Thanksgiving games necessitate it. Stuff me.
Miami at Detroit - Hey, let me ask you: Don't you think it's time they retired the Lions-on-Thanksgiving bit? They're not the NFL's emissary to America anymore, and the way they've played the last few years tends to spoil everyone's appetite on the most food-focused day of the year. Having said that, I'm picking them.
Tampa Bay at Dallas - Tony Romo's dating Jessica Simpson. Bully for him. Finally, somebody on the Cowboys creating a media circus. It's been nearly a whole month since the last one.
Denver at Kansas City - According to the NFL Network, this may be the last game Jake Plummer starts for the Broncos this season. Rumor has it they'll be bringing in Jay Cutler in Week 13 to start against the... Seahawks? (Crossing fingers): Christmas comes early... Christmas comes early...
Arizona at Minnesota - I realize, Vikings fans, that this could be your feel-good game of the season, but please resist the temptation to sing the theme to The Love Boat. Fred Smoot, you're no Bernie Kopell!
Carolina at Washington - Panthers! Nice to see you! Thought you lost directions to the place!
Chicago at New England - Do I just pick the Patriots out of habit? I'm not sure I've gone against them this year, and there clearly were times I should have. Well, like a junkie, I'm mainlining the Brady factor straight to my arteries, because I feel the Bears have reached their regular season peak. Note the "regular" qualifier there.
Pick: New England.
Cincinnati at Cleveland - It's hard to work up a fervor for either of the representatives from Ohio anymore. The Browns let a win slip away last week to the offensively schizoid Steelers. The Bengals may have derailed the wild orgy fantasies of New Orleans last week, but I just saw that Chargers-Bengals game on NFL Replay and... well, you know. This feels like one of those dreaded contests for "pride," like the Apple Cup has become lately.
Houston at New York Jets - The Jets were my upset special last week. They were shut out by the Bears. Now who's wearing the pantyhose, Broadway Joe? What an unappetizing game this is. You'd think it was on the NFL Network. That way, only Houston, New York, and the eastern half of American Samoa would see it.
Pick: New York.
Jacksonville at Buffalo - The Jaguars obviously responded to my Colbert notice last week and upset the Giants. It cost them the services of Byron Leftwich, however. Now I don't know who their quarterback is. I think it's something with gills.
New Orleans at Atlanta - I'm officially off my sugar high about the Saints. How would you like a nice, hearty laugh? If Atlanta wins this and the Panthers somehow manage to lose to the Redskins, there will be a three-way tie for the lead in the NFC South. I believe the tiebreaker for the NFC South is NASCAR standings.
New York Giants at Tennessee - Yup, Eli sure made a great decision in refusing to sign with San Diego. Where's that team going, huh?
Pick: Tennessee. Not that solid about it, but I'm doing it anyway.
Philadelphia at Indianapolis - Geez Louise. If there's an NFL team more snakebit than the Eagles over the last two seasons, I will personally visit that team's headquarters and suck the venom out of them myself. Well... I'll send a relative. I think there's at least one who's out of prison.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore - A date with the Ravens? Nevermore, Big Ben. Never-the-frickin'-more.
San Francisco at St. Louis - As much as it repulses me, nauseates me, indeed turns me anemic, what you saw last week was the coming-out party of a running back that teams are going to be having a problem with. Even though he was playing against a, ahem, suspect defense last week, Frank Gore got a huge chunk of those yards on his own. The Rams' run defense isn't exactly a brick wall either. The 49ers' rebuilding process seems to be on schedule. Not ahead of schedule, but definitely on schedule. I'd prefer to see the Rams win this one from a divisional standpoint, but to be honest...?
Pick: San Francisco.
Oakland at San Diego - Everybody sitting down? Y'all sitting down right now?... Is this mic working?... Give me a second...
(Drink of water.)
(Another deep breath.)
(Clearing of throat.)
As it stands, right now, this very moment, the Chargers are my pick to win the AFC Championship.
I am not drinking. Except for that water I just had in the stage directions. But that's all.
Pick: San Diego.
Green Bay at Seattle - We want the ball! And we're gonna show up!
Last week: 9-7.
Have a good Thanksgiving, my friends.