The NFL season is nearing the homestretch, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.
The Athlon Sports Pro Football Experts Club presented by New Era gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.
Here are this week’s picks from Athlon Sports senior editor John Gworek:
Dallas at Minnesota
The Cowboys have allowed 400 or more passing yards in two of the last three games, but Sam Bradford and the Vikings haven’t even hit 300 once this season. The Minnesota defense had 16 takeaways during a 5–1 start; it has only four in five games since.
Gworek's Pick: Dallas, 24–17
Kansas City at Atlanta
The Falcons average 34.6 points at home, where they have not lost since the season opener. But they better take care of the ball: Kansas City ranks 28th in total defense but eighth in scoring defense because they force more turnovers than anyone in the NFL.
Gworek's Pick: Atlanta, 30–20
Detroit at New Orleans
The Lions are 6–2 since September despite averaging less than 300 yards of offense in those games. They take care of the ball (eight turnovers, third in the NFL) and have made big plays late in games. That may not be enough against Drew Brees and the NFL’s top offense.
Gworek's Pick: New Orleans, 31–28
Los Angeles at New England
The Rams have the NFL’s worst scoring offense and second-worst offense in terms of yardage. Rookie quarterback Jared Goff has struggled to reach 300 yards passing in his two starts — combined. Tom Brady averages 314.4 yards per game. Enough said.
Gworek's Pick: New England, 27–13
Denver at Jacksonville
The 2–9 Jaguars are rank sixth in total defense but have turned the ball over 22 times, 30th in the NFL. Denver has 20 takeaways, third in the NFL, and has the league’s best pass defense. Blake Bortles threw for just 126 yards last week against Buffalo. Could it be worse this week?
Gworek's Pick: Denver, 23–14
Houston at Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers is coming off his third-straight 300-yard game and now has 27 touchdown passes. More encouraging for the Packers was allowing just 13 points to the Eagles. Houston’s Brock Osweiler has struggled (12 TDs, 13 INTs), and it’s tough to see the Texans’ 29th-ranked offense beating Rodgers.
Gworek's Pick: Green Bay, 26–16
Philadelphia at Cincinnati
The Bengals have one win since September — and that was against winless Cleveland. The Eagles have won just twice over that same stretch, but they also faced eight straight games against teams over .500. Against a depleted Cincinnati offense missing Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green, Philly should get back on track.
Gworek's Pick: Philadelphia, 21–13
Miami at Baltimore
These teams have been piling up wins of late, but it feels like a mirage. Miami’s running game has stalled a bit, and the Ravens have the NFL’s best run defense. Baltimore is at home, where it is unbeaten, and the closest thing to a safe bet in this game is the Ravens defense.
Gworek's Pick: Baltimore, 16–14
San Francisco at Chicago
Colin Kaepernick nearly led the 49ers to a comeback win over Miami last week, and Matt Barkley sparked the Bears offense with a 300-yard day against Tennessee. But this is still an ugly matchup of teams that are 3–19 combined. Someone has to win …
Gworek's Pick: San Francisco, 23–20
Buffalo at Oakland
Both of these teams can score points — Oakland ranks fifth in the NFL, Buffalo eighth — but the Raiders are much more balanced on offense and are never out of a game. The Bills must get a lead and put their top-ranked running game to work against a soft Oakland run defense.
Gworek's Pick: Buffalo, 26–24
N.Y. Giants at Pittsburgh
The Giants keep winning, even if they never seem to do so comfortably. The Steelers have actually lost two in a row at home, but Ben Roethlisberger is much tougher to beat at Heinz Field. Neither team is especially good at stopping the pass, so Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown could both have big days.
Gworek's Pick: Pittsburgh, 28–23
Washington at Arizona
The Cardinals still have a top-10 offense and the No. 1 defense in the NFL, yet they are 20th in scoring and 11th in points allowed, leading to a 4–6–1 record. Something is not right in Arizona. The Redskins have put up more than 500 yards in three of their last four games.
Gworek's Pick: Washington, 30–26
Tampa Bay at San Diego
This game could set an NFL record for turnovers. The Chargers have 23 giveaways (last in NFL) but 23 takeaways (second). Tama is right behind with 20 takeaways (third) but also is sloppy on offense (18 turnovers, 23rd in NFL). We’ll take the Chargers at home with the Bucs having a long trip after a physical game with Seattle
Gworek's Pick: San Diego, 37–34
Carolina at Seattle
The Seahawks laid an egg at Tampa Bay in a 14–5 loss, but they are unbeaten at home. The Panthers let one slip away at Oakland and must go back and forth across the country to play a night game in the most hostile of environments.
Gworek's Pick: Seattle, 24–20
Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets
The Jets played New England tough but ultimately Ryan Fitzpatrick was again just good enough to get beat. Andrew Luck returns after a concussion kept him out of the Thanksgiving night loss to the Steelers. Indy needs this game to stay in the AFC South race.
Gworek's Pick: Indianapolis, 23–21
Week 12 Record: 12–4
Overall Record: 101–74–2