Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 3:00 PM
In case you didn't do the math, the NFL's three games played on Thanksgiving Day averaged a whopping 67.3 points per game - will we have such fireworks on display throughout the league here in Sunday's Week 12 games?
Hey, you gotta tune in to find out, right?
Now, here's the best NFL Week 12 Sunday offerings including the very special Sunday Night game from MetLife Stadium:
SAN FRANCISCO (7-2-1) at NEW ORLEANS (5-5) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Now that SF head coach Jim Harbaugh has gotten everyone 'round the league buzzing over his quarterback switch from a now-healthy Alex Smith to rookie Colin Kaepernick, the $64,000 question is will the lanky long-armed, long-legged kid from Nevada "reward" the Niners with a win here?
Kaepernick was sensational in last Monday Night's 32-7 never-in-doubt win against Chicago as he threw for 243 yards with two TDs and really threw some beautiful passes - see that 57-yard sideline route to WR Kyle Williams which was thrown about as good as you can chuck it!
Now, Kaepernick challenges the league's worst defense - note that New Orleans ranks 31st (or next-to-last) in pass defense while yielding some 305 yards a game while the Saints give up 158 rushing yards a game to rank 32nd and dead-last in that stat category.
The Saints are the slightest of home underdogs at press time here and keep in mind that do-it-all RB Darren Sproles (hand) is expected back for this game after missing the team's last three games.
If Saints' QB Drew Brees (NFL-best 28 TD passes) gets Sproles into the mix early, the Niners could be faced with their toughest "D" task of the year.
Spread Notes - San Francisco is 6-4 ATS (against the spread) overall this season and the 49ers are a collective 18-9-1 vig-wise under second-year head coach Harbaugh. Meanwhile, N'Orleans enters this tilt riding a three-game spread winning streak and the Saints are 12-2 ATS at home since the start of last season.
ATLANTA (9-1) at TAMPA BAY (6-4) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The NFC South could well stake the claim as the best division in football this year - no argument from the Jim Sez folks! - but right now the somewhat reeling Atlanta Falcons must prove to themselves that the first half of this year wasn't a fluke.
In Atlanta's last two outings - a 31-27 loss in New Orleans in Week 10 play and last Sunday's 23-19 nail-biter non-cover win against Arizona -- the Falcs were far from sharp as QB Matt Ryan aired five INTs a week ago (including three in the first quarter alone).
Toss into the mix the fact the Atlanta defense ranks 30th in the league against the rush (allowing 5.0 yards a carry) and now faces battering-ram rookie RB Doug Martin who has rushed for exactly 1,000 yards - and there's reason for head coach Mike Smith and Company to be concerned here against a Bucs bunch that has won/covered four games in a row ...
Did anyone say Coach of the Year Greg Schiano?
If Tampa Bay - averaging 34.8 points per game during this four-game winning streak - can get the early lead here and then let Martin bang out 25-plus rushes, then the Falcons' swoon could well continue.
Spread Notes - Atlanta's a modest 6-4 against the odds overall this season but did you know the Falcons have failed to cover seven of their last 10 head-to-head showdowns against the TB Bucs?
MINNESOTA (6-4) at CHICAGO (7-3) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Have you ever seen a whole city keep its fingers crossed? No doubt that's the deal in Chitown where the return of QB Jay Cutler (concussion) is expected but it's no lead-pipe cinch as of press time and so that could mean one more week of - ugh - Jason Campbell who was sacked six times and threw two INTs in last Monday Night's 32-7 loss at 4-point fav San Francisco.
Even Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice chimed in publicly and said, "God, I hope (he can play)," regarding Cutler who apparently doesn't have to prove his "toughness" or "manhood" anymore to the Second City folks.
The headline on the other side here is Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson who - believe it or not one year after ACL surgery - leads the NFL with 1,128 rushing yards while averaging a haughty 5.8 yards per carry. If Peterson can jab-step his way to some between-the-tackle key runs here, than Minnesota could well be sharing first place with Green Bay and Chicago at day's end.
Spread Notes - Chicago is a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5 spreadwise this 2012 season but take note that the Bears have covered five in a row in head-to-head matchups with Minny. On the flip side, the Vikings have failed to cover three-of-four road games this year and are 6-11-1 ATS away since the start of the 2010 season.
On Sunday Night, it's ...
GREEN BAY (7-3) at NEW YORK GIANTS (6-4) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
This showdown of the NFL's past two Super Bowl winners - and past two Super Bowl MVPs in Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers and NY Giants slinger Eli Manning - is getting plenty of hype ... and why not?
The Packers rock-n-roll their way into the Meadowlands on a five-game SU (straight-up) winning streak that includes a win in Houston while the Giants - off their bye - have lots of questions that must be answered but please let us not hear anything else about a so-called "tired arm" when it comes to Manning!
The two-time Supe MVP winner said all he did last week during the Giants bye was "watch movies" and so his right arm should be ready and he catches a major break with Green Bay LB Clay Matthews (hamstring) already declared out for this prime-time tilt and remember CB Charles Woodson (collarbone) also will not play here.
The real story for this game is that Giants pass rush that's been rather spotty this year against Rodgers who has been sacked a league-high 32 times. Expect the agile Rodgers to roll out a whole lot here and throw from a "moving pocket" or else DL Jason Pierre-Paul and mates could have him sampling the Jersey turf a handful or more times here.
Spread Notes - The NY Giants are now 4-5-1 versus the vig this season and note the Jints are just 15-23-1 ATS as betting favorites while dating back to the start of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, Green Bay's split its first 10 pointspread verdicts this season but the Packers are an absolutely electric 19-5 vig-wise as underdogs the past five-plus seasons (and that's a .792 winning rate).
NOTE: We wrap up NFL Week 12 action with our Monday Night Preview in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.