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Greg Cote’s Thanksgiving Day NFL picks

NFL Week 12 kicks off with the seventh year of a Thanksgiving Day tripleheader, which means by midnight you will be as full of football as you are of turkey. This is the week, with byes over with, that traditionally signals the start of the NFL’s stretch run to the playoffs, along with the start of your stretched waistline due to enormous seasonal weight gain. The gourge-fest that starts it is traced to the first Thanksgiving shared by Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. Coincidentally, that was also the year I started working for The Miami Herald.

TEXANS (9-1) at LIONS (4-6)

Line: HOU by 3

Cote’s pick: HOU 31-24

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

Our happy Bird Day kicks off with Texans trying to return to form after last week’s overtime escape against Jacksonville and Lions trying to shake a disappointing season and also end an eight-game Thanksgiving losing streak. Detroit has played 73 of these; you’d think they’d have it figured out by now. The Battle of Johnson & Johnson is an interesting sidelight here, with Motown’s Calvin J. leading the NFL with 1,117 receiving yards and HOU’s Andre J. coming off that crazy 273-yard game. I give Detroit a medium upset shot but think Houston just has too much balance (50.1% run, 49.9 pass) and also see a big defensive bounceback that will force Lions into turnovers. [Cote Family Timeline: As this game kicks off my turkey will be in the oven and, like many of my column ideas, be half-baked].

REDSKINS (4-6) at COWBOYS (5-5)

Line: DAL by 3.5

Cote’s pick: WAS 24-23

TV: 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Fox

Upset! Yeah, I might be crazy. Or maybe it’s the Wild Turkey talking. I know Tony Romo is 5-0 on Thanksgiving entering this middle game. I know Washington is missing a few defensive starters. Also know the Boys are 6-0 vs. Skins all time on this holiday. Now here’s what I think: Romo will be hamstrung by his running back injuries. Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris give D.C. better balance to attack. And Redskins will be pumped for their first T-Day game since 2002 and also are due some luck in this NFC East rivalry after losing three straight by combined eight points. Sometimes you just saddle up a hunch, you know? [Cote Family Timeline: As this game kicks off our crowd will just about be sitting down to dinner. We’ll all be bloated from hours of nonstop snacking but be too polite to mention it].

PATRIOTS (7-3) at JETS (4-6)

Line: NE by 6 1/2

Cote’s pick: NE 27-17

TV: 8:20 p.m. Thursday, NBC

Tom Brady last week put up his fifth career 50-point game. Only Len Dawson (six) has had more. Injured TE Rob Gronkowski is a huge loss for Pats, yes, but Brady still has plenty left to outscore a modest NYJ offense. Also think a New England defense leading the AFC in takeaways (27) will remind Mark Sanchez he’s mistake -prone. Only concern here is that intangibles favor the Planes in this prime-timer. Rex Ryan lost to Patriots in OT in October and has lost 9 of 12 at home to Bill Belichick. Rex’d sell his soul to win this, but the presumption he has a soul left to sell is too big a risk. Talent trumps want. [Cote Family Timeline: As this game kicks off my eyelids will feel like lead curtains lowered to indiscernible slits after the turkey’s Trytophan kicks in along with one too many reacquaintances with Mr. Miller].