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And the rest of Week 12

Thanksgiving’s tripleheader was mostly worthy of a long nap.

What did we learn even without much entertainment or fourth-quarter drama?

First, Joe Buck is very intrigued with anyone having anything to do with Jessica Simpson, even if Tony Romo denies it.

With or without Simpson, within a month of moving from career back-up to Dallas Cowboy starting QB, Romo is surpassing every bit of hype.

Dallas at New York Giants next weekend will be another huge stage for Romo, not to mention a game that might make the difference in the division.

But for this week, Pittsburgh plays for their season in Baltimore.

Later this afternoon and this evening, 9-1 Chicago plays their third straight East Coast game at New England and a desperate Philadelphia team with Jeff Garcia at QB is nearly in Pittsburgh’s predicament going into 9-1 Indianapolis.

Carolina (6-4) at Washington (3-7) – 1 p.m.

If it’s the last two months of the season, then Carolina must be starting to look like an entirely different team.

Last week, the Panthers ripped the normally high-scoring Rams, 15-0.

Carolina’s defense held St. Louis to 111 yards and got seven sacks.

So how many of those seven went to all-world Julius Peppers; zero, at least the Rams stopped him.

Jason Campbell played pretty well last week, but no Clinton Portis and 64 rushing yards still meant a 20-17 Tampa Bay win.

Tampa limited Washington’s running game, Carolina will probably stop it completely and then put the pass rush on Campbell.

Line – Carolina by 4

My pick – Panthers, 21-7

Cincinnati (5-5) at Cleveland (3-7) – 1 p.m.

Cleveland could have ended Pittsburgh’s season last Sunday, and nothing would have made Browns fans happier, but a super-conservative offense and Ben Roethlisberger remembering what he used to do back in 2005 meant three fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Steelers.

For Cincy, at least Chad Johnson’s happy.

He’s totaled 17 catches and 450 yards in the last two games.

That’s a record for receiving yardage in back-to-back games.

He needs 162 for the record over three games; he’ll probably get it and Cincy remains in the wild card picture.

Line – Cincinnati by 3

My pick – Bengals, 27-16

Arizona (2-8) at Minnesota (4-6) – 1 p.m.

Line – Minnesota by 6.5

My pick – Vikings, 14-13

Houston (3-7) at N. Y. Jets (5-5) – 1 p.m.

Line – Jets by 5

My pick – Jets, 23-10

Jacksonville (6-4) at Buffalo (4-6) – 1 p.m.

Jacksonville’s defense was supposed to make them one of the best teams in the AFC this season, and while they aren’t the best defense, they’re doing pretty well with what they still have to work with.

When safety Donovan Darius went down last week with an injury, and had to be put on injured reserve, that made eight Jaguar defensive players on IR and out for the season.

Still, Jacksonville’s allowed 13.7 points per game.

Just for a little balance, Byron Leftwich is also probably done for the season after ankle surgery.

Line – Jacksonville by 3

My pick – Bills, 30-17

New Orleans (6-4) at Atlanta (5-5) – 1 p.m.

Jim Mora, Sr. started a controversy this week, saying Michael Vick is basically a &uot;coach-killer.&uot;

Oh, and Jim Mora’s son is Vick’s head coach.

&uot;He’s a great athlete, my son likes him a lot, he’s a good kid. But he’s not a passer. And you need a passer at quarterback to be successful consistently in the National Football League. And he ain’t getting it done in that category,&uot; said Mora, Sr.

Mora, Jr. hasn’t said anything about it publicly other than saying he had spoken to his father, who &uot;regrets it.&uot;

&uot;I think it was inappropriate,&uot; said Vick, &uot;But, hey, when you’re commentating, I guess you’ve got a right to say what you want to say. I just keep playing football. At the same time, it’s crazy.&uot;

If Atlanta keeps losing and misses the playoffs, there will be a lot of people commentating.

Vick, Warrick Dunn and the number one rushing attack in the NFL go up against the number one passing team in the NFL.

The Saints have lost three of their last four and are now tied with Carolina for the NFC South lead.

Line – Atlanta by 3

My pick – Falcons, 24-22

Pittsburgh (4-6) at Baltimore (8-2) – 1 p.m.

Baltimore’s defense, even without Ray Lewis, was the reason for Vick’s struggles last week, and the Baltimore offense is steadily giving their defense plenty of room to work.

The Ravens have scored 21 points or more in their last five games (four wins) and Steve McNair keeps playing his best in the fourth quarter.

Roethlisberger has thrown a league-high 17 interceptions; and that’s league-high even with Big Ben missing part or all of three games.

Baltimore’s defense has a league-high 18 interceptions.

The Steelers should have lost last Sunday, they were just lucky they were playing the Browns.

Line – Baltimore by 3

My pick – Ravens, 31-9

San Francisco (5-5) at St. Louis (4-6) – 1 p.m.

In the NFC, 5-5’s good enough to right in the midst of the playoff hunt, which means, I guess, that San Francisco is in the playoff hunt.

How did that happen?

Line – St. Louis by 5

My pick – S. F. 28-21

Oakland (2-8) at San Diego (8-2) – 4 p.m.

Line – S. D. by 13.5

My pick – Chargers, 34-14

Chicago (9-1) at New England (7-3) – 4 p.m.

After the slip-and-slide problems in the Jets/Patriots game two weeks ago, which the Patriots lost by the way, Bob Kraft, owner of the Patriots and Gillette Stadium, decided that new FieldTurf (the fake, but very real grass) needed to be installed at the stadium not for next season, but for the next home game.

So in a midseason change, the Patriots traded for a new playing surface, something to help out their passing game.

The Bears can clinch their division with five games still to go if they win today.

Line – New England by 3.5

My pick – Bears, 31-21

N. Y. Giants (6-4) at Tennessee (3-7) – 4 p.m.

Line – Giants by 3

My pick – Giants, 21-10

Philadelphia (5-5) at Indianapolis (9-1) – 8:15 p.m.

It wasn’t all that long ago that A. J. Feeley played most of a regular season as the Eagles QB and led Philadelphia to a 12-4 record and a division title.

Instead of going with him though with Donovan McNabb out for the season, Jeff Garcia will get the start.

While not quite as far ahead in their division as the Bears, the Colts could still have everything settled by the time they go to Jacksonville on Dec. 10.

The other side of that is another Indy loss paired with Jacksonville winning until then could make that game mean a lot.

Line – Indy by 9

My pick – Colts, 41-17

Green Bay (4-6) at Seattle (6-4) – 8:30 p.m. Monday

For the first time since September, Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander might be playing for Seattle.

Green Bay had Brett Favre and back-up Aaron Rodgers go down hurt last week as the Patriots pummeled them, 35-0.

Favre is supposed to be ready for Monday night, Rodgers is out for the season.

The just-signed Todd Bouman is next in line if Favre can’t go.

Line – Seattle by 9

My pick – Seahawks, 23-20