Scott Shapiro's Week 12 NFL Worksheet: Cowboys Get Right on Turkey Day
Happy Thanksgiving, all!
I hope everyone gets to spend some quality time with their loved ones over the next few days and, of course, gets to take in a lot of football. As we approach the end of 2021, I am thankful for many things, including my job here at TwinSpires, the National Football League, and your support over the years of my written and video content.
I know it is cliché, but it is hard to believe we are this far into the 2021 NFL season. It feels like just yesterday I was attempting to predict division, conference, and player award winners.
Now, we are about to complete the third month of the campaign and are starting to get a decent idea of which teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders and which are pretenders.
Week 12 is headlined by the traditional trio of games on Thanksgiving, a battle between first-place teams in Massachusetts, a pair of huge divisional clashes in the AFC North, a potential inter-conference shootout in Indianapolis, and a possible preview of the NFC title game in Lambeau Field. As usual, it should be loads of fun.
Team most likely to win by 14+ points: Dallas Cowboys
Thu, November 25 2021, 9:30 PM
The 2021 season has seen plenty of lopsided matchups on paper, but that is not the case in Week 12, where 12 of the 15 games on the slate feature matchups in which the point spread is fewer than five points.
Therefore, predicting a rout is not an easy task. Without a couple of key contributors on offense, I am not fully convinced that the Cowboys will blow out the Raiders. However, Dallas is in a bounce-back spot after laying an egg on offense in Kansas City.
“America’s Team” hosts a Las Vegas squad that has lost three in a row and has dealt with a lot of off-the-field issues. Expect the Cowboys to look a lot more like one of the NFC’s best on Thursday afternoon, even if they are without Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
Underdog of 6+ points most likely to spring an outright upset: Tennessee Titans
Sun, November 28 2021, 6:00 PM
The options are extremely limited this week, with only three teams favored by six points or more at TwinSpires Sports.
Clearly, I am not in love with the Raiders’ chances of upsetting the Cowboys, and the Saints are far too banged-up to beat the Bills.
That leaves me with the Titans. Tennessee is a mess on offense, with Derrick Henry out of the lineup with a broken foot, Julio Jones sidelined with a hamstring injury, and A.J. Brown questionable with chest issues. It will be a struggle for them to score enough to get out of Foxborough with a victory, but the Titans defense should be able to keep the game close throughout.
If Mike Vrabel’s squad can force New England into a couple of turnovers and avoid the big mistakes, perhaps Tennessee can get back into the win column after a disappointing loss to the Texans last Sunday.
RB/WR/TE most likely to score two touchdowns: Ezekiel Elliott
The Dallas offensive line played poorly in their loss to the Chiefs, but it should get left tackle Tyron Smith back in the lineup on Thanksgiving.
Look for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to get the ball to Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard early and often in a game where the Cowboys should be playing with the lead from start to finish.
This should lead to multiple trips to the end zone for the fourth overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Quarterback most likely to throw for 400 yards: Tom Brady
Sun, November 28 2021, 6:00 PM
The Bucs-Colts game has the highest total on the Week 12 slate and features two of the best rushing defenses in the NFL.
Therefore, it is sensical to expect much of the offensive success to come through the air.
Tampa Bay’s offense has not been nearly as dynamic with Antonio Brown out of the lineup with a high ankle sprain over the last several weeks, but Tom Brady still should have plenty of success via the forward pass against Indianapolis.
Defense most likely to pitch a shutout: Chicago Bears
Thu, November 25 2021, 5:30 PM
The Bears are down some key contributors on defense, but that should not prevent them from holding one of the league’s worst offenses down in the first of three Turkey Day contests.
Both Detroit and Chicago play at a slow pace and lack offensive firepower, which should lead to a boring, low-scoring affair in the “Motor City” between the two NFC North rivals. Look for Chicago to find a way to win an ugly one to start the holiday.
My Week 12 ATS Plays of the Week
- Bills/Saints Under 46.5
- Miami +1.5
- Titans/Patriots Under 44.5