Greg Cote's Thanksgiving Day NFL picks

©Miami Herald

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images North America/TNS

The year 2020 has been a gruesome challenge, with an ongoing deadly pandemic, racial injustice spawning national protests and a people bitterly divided over politics. If we’re saying grace on Thursday, it could be a quick one. Then again, if you and your loved ones have your health, and if you have managed to tough through this year with your sense of optimism intact, perhaps you have more to be thankful for than ever before.

Maybe a day of football, food and (socially distanced) family will help.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Now on to our Turkey Day picks!




TEXANS (3-7) at LIONS (4-6)

Line: HOU by 2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: HOU 30-20.

TV: 12:30 p.m. Thursday, CBS.

The NFL’s Thanksgiving action opens with Detroit hosting its 81st holiday game dating to 1934. Alas, in a 20-0 loss to Carolina last week the Lions played like willing pallbearers to coach Matt Patricia’s time in Motown; like a team that doesn’t much care anymore. Houston, by contrast, is clawing back from an 0-4 start with improved defense lately and with continued strong play by QB Deshaun Watson. I would give Detroit a much better upset shot if RB D’Andre Swift and WR Kenny Golladay were healthy, but both entered the short week iffy to be ready. Teams with records like these are inherently erratic and unpredictable, so no outcome would surprise, but Houston has won eight of past nine as road favorites, while Detroit has lost eight in a row as a home dog. Those trends, and each team’s recent form, shapes this pick with some confidence.



Line: DAL by 3.

Cote’s pick: WAS 24-23.

TV: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Fox.

Dallas plays its 53rd Bird Day game since 1966 and hosts its 43rd in a row. And this is the first time in that long holiday run that a matchup of two 3-7 teams is for first place in the NFC East. Let’s listen, bemused, as the Fox announcers try to sell this as a high-stakes battle instead of proof positive of the depths of the world’s worst division. Trends point to a happy Jerry Jones up there in the suite. Dallas has won eight consecutive division games; Washington has lost six in a row on the road including 0-4 this year. And Cowboys’ defense has been better the past month or so (albeit from a starting point of awful). So why am I feeling an upset? The No-Names’ D is stout and will bother Andy Dalton, and Washers’ tepid offense has gotten a boost from comeback kid Alex Smith. Past five games for WAS have been two wins and three losses by seven total points. Upset! (Hey, why do you think they call it gambling?).


RAVENS at STEELERS rescheduled to Sunday

The NFL announced Wednesday that the Baltimore (6-4) at Pittsburgh (10-0) game originally set for Thursday night has been rescheduled to Sunday afternoon related to this week’s COVID outbreak within Ravens organization. Our pick for that game will now be included with other Week 12 selections appearing online Thursday and in print Friday.


©2020 Miami Herald