Happy Thanksgiving football fans. Today, of course is the day we celebrate some religiously persecuted folks and their slow but deliberate destruction of the indigenous peoples on this continent. Or something like that. Frankly, the whole thing is a bit fuzzy. All I know is that we eat a lot of Turkey, fight with our families and get completely blitzed. Oh yeah, there is also football. Three games this year, and for the first time in a long time – they don’t suck. How about that?
There is a lot of parity in the NFL this year, which probably accounts for my 101-59 (63%) record on the year. Last week I managed to pull a 10-4 week, but plenty of people at work made me look the fool with their 12-2 picks. Whatever. This week we return to 16 games, bye weeks are finally completely over (I called them over in week 10, forgetting that there were byes in week 11.) There are so many teams at 6-4 and 5-5 that it’s hard to get a good outlook for the playoffs. Teams like the Patriots could falter, while the Bills could wake the fuck up. What about the Lions? On a decline, they bounced back last week against the Panthers. You still in their camp?
Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’m going to theme todays post, just cause I can. Since this is the most awesome NFL column on the entire internets (besides TMQ) I can do that. On a side note, I’m selling some original Xbox games. Someone buy them. On another side note, I’m not making any picks this week. Instead, I’m cooking a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, 16 different and tasty dishes, laid out on the table for you to enjoy. So grab a fork, grab some peppermint schnapps and a glass of cheap ass wine. It’s time for Thanksgiving dinner!
Turkey (White Meat)
Green Bay at Detroit Line: +7.0
The undefeated Packers roll into Motown to face off with the faltering Lions. At one point, I had predicted that both these teams would be undefeated going into this game. Wouldn’t that have been something? Well, the Lions instead decided to start losing games through interceptions and terrible penalties. Last week they seemed to turn around in the second half and scoring enough points to beat the scrappy Panthers. This week however they face off against the best offense in the league. Sure, they’ll score some points and probably early, but I don’t see them ever holding a lead or winning the game. However, this is going to be a great game on the offensive side of the ball for sure. If Stafford makes the mistakes he made last week though, expect the Packers to really run away with the game. That defense, while allowing a lot of points, is unforgiving when it comes to taking advantage of turnovers. Packers to win on the road.
Honey Baked Ham
San Francisco at Baltimore Line: -4.5
A win here would be so freaking sweet for the Niners. They are headed directly for the playoffs and an East coast win against a tough team would solidify that quest. Of course, they’ve already beaten the Lions, so they’ve had a tough test. The Ravens present a different test though, but I’m not sure what it is. The Ravens run defense has been suspect of late, and the Niners run game is the best in the league. The evolution of Crabtree and Alex Smith into a dynamic duo has been fun to watch. This game also features the match-up of Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh. Which brother will win? I think it’ll once again (for the Ravens) come down to the offense, which has sputtered lately. They came alive against the Bengals just long enough to put the game away, but fought the whole time. The Niners are much better than the Bengals and this is put up or shut up time. I think the Niners put up. Niners to win on the road. Sweet.
Miami at Dallas Line: -7.0 UPSET SPECIAL!!
As if Thanksgiving day isn’t interesting enough with the other two games, this one is mashed right in the middle. A buttery and delicious pairing that four weeks ago we wouldn’t have given one blink about. However, the Dolphins are on a three game tear, and they are looking good doing it. Last week they plastered the Bills, while the Cowboys had to take their drama to overtime to beat the Redskins. Romo looked like he does on paper and played a good game, but the defense let the Redskins stay in the game. Matt Moore is out for some revenge against the team that drafted and waived him, but I also said the Bills would revenge against the Cowboys and they got pistol whipped. The Dolphins are playing solid defense, and this is their chance to prove that they aren’t sucking for Luck. Matt Moore could do well to land himself a starting job. So I’m taking the Dolphins to mash the Cowboys, if only by a small margin. Dolphins to upset on the road.
Turkey (Dark Meat)
Chicago at Oakland, 4:05 Line: -4.5
Do no underestimate the Raiders. While they are still back and forth on defense, they are in no way a team that should be overlooked. And yeah, a 6-5 record and the Broncos biting at their heels isn’t indicative of a full playoff ready run. The offense is starting to seriously click with Carson Palmer (go figure.) Bad news for the Bears, Jay Cutler is out, probably for the rest of the season. So backup Caleb Hanie is ready to take over the reigns. But wait, what’s this? There are reports that the Bears are looking at newly release Kyle Orton. That is not a vote of confidence in the young Hanie. In fact, it’s a bit of an insult to both Hanie and Cutler. Even though Orton has a history with the Bears, it’s too late to bring in a new QB. Hanie knows the system. We’ll see how he does against the Raiders I suppose. Plus, there are other teams higher on the waiver wire that will get first crack at Orton. More on that in a second. This game is going to be a dark, violent, evil affair down there in the pit of the Colosseum. I’m taking the Raiders to prevail in the darkness.
New York at New Orleans Line: -7.0
Here’s a game that really matters this week. Both teams playoff hopes are hanging in the balance and they desperately need a win to push them towards the top. The Giants looked weird last week, taking a loss off a late fumble by Eli Manning. Not sure how he didn’t see that coming. An off week for the Saints should breathe new life into an offense that hasn’t been as explosive this year as it has been in previous years. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been good just not crazy good. The Giants pass rush and run defense is going to be the key here, which means Manning needs to sustain drives to give his defense a proper rest. I think he’ll have trouble doing that. I’m taking the Saints to win at home.
New England at Philadelphia Line: +3.0
Every meal on Thanksgiving needs a big pile of brown slop to pour on top right? For me, the gravy is the slow decline of the Eagles season after Vick got a huge contract. Yeah, they got some new life last week and Vince Young was able to pull of an improbable win that he probably shouldn’t have. However, who cares? This is about the mega love the media (save for yours truly) gave the Eagles and Vick. I’m glad they suck, cause I love being right and I haven’t liked this team from the start. Yes, McCoy is having a killer season, and he’s going to run at will against the Patriots, who prefer to allow as many points as humanly possible before scoring more points than the other team. The gravy is when the Eagles lose this game and are put away for good, way out of contention for the playoffs and then the media can shut the fuck up about this team. Patriots to win.
Cleveland at Cincinnati Line: -7.5
Gah. Who cares? The Browns suck! My Dawgs did everything they could to lose that game last week, but still won thanks to terrible play calling by Jack Del Rio and the Jags. They should have lost, they deserved to lose and keep getting minor accolades for winning. The defense has sparks of greatness and can certainly contain the run, but Haden has as many penalty yards as great plays. He’s young and makes mistakes. The running game has been crap since Hillis went out with his mystery hammy injury, though Obyganna (whatever) hasn’t been half bad. The Bengals meanwhile came real close to beating the Ravens last week and where Ponder is a good rookie who loses and Tebow is a terrible rookie who wins, Dalton is a good rookie who wins. He makes smart decisions, accurate passes and only the loss of AJ Green last week (in my estimation) kept the Bengals from winning the game. Dalton needs that deep threat. This week though, all he would need is a dog who can catch a football. Bengals to win.3
Canned Cranberry Sauce
Minnesota at Atlanta Line: -9.5
Where Tebow has his constant detractors while he is winning games, Ponder seems to have nothing but love and good happy feelings as he’s losing games. Why? Cause he’s not spouting Jesus love in the locker room after games? Or because he’s a more accurate passer? Either way, he’s still making plenty of rookie mistakes and the defense is doing all they can to keep games close. The Vikings should have beaten the Raiders last week, but didn’t. They just couldn’t keep Ponder from making some crucial errors, but hey, he’s a rookie right? Bullshit. This week they go dome to dome to play the Falcons, who had a tough go of it last week, but seemed in control the whole game. The Falcons need every win they can get if they want to beat out the Saints for the NFC South crown. I don’t think the Vikings will get in their way too much, unless Ponder suddenly turns into not a rookie. Falcons to win at home.
Carolina at Indianapolis Line: +4.0
At first I was like, “hmm, the Colts need to win one game this season right? This could be the one. Coming in after a bye week, they could be raring to go.” Then I remembered that they truly do suck major balls. The Panthers are playing well, and in the rookie QB conversation Cam Newton is right there at the top. But some serious defensive woes and his offensive line keeping him on the run have kept this team from reaching their true potential. Against the Colts though, they are going to look like gods. The Colts have failed to slow down any runners this season, so I expect Cam and Jonathan Stewart to put up huge rushing yards against the Colts. Hell, they can just run the whole game and suck up time. At least that half of the game will be fun to watch. Panthers to win on the road.
Houston at Jacksonville Line: +3.5
Just so you know, this is the last game I’m writing about this week. Yeah, some kind of order right? For the first time in, well, ever the Texans are all but assured a playoff berth at the top of the division. But they have to keep up their winning ways and hope they don’t falter with Leinart at the helm. We all thought they would when Andre Johnson went out, they didn’t. When Arian Foster was out for a while, we thought they were dead in the water again, but Tate stepped up. I think this is a well coached team that has a solid chance at winning in the first round. So this week, Leinart gets a moderately easy refresher with the Jags. They lost to the Browns last week. The Browns! They suck. Texans to win.
Washington at Seattle Line: -4.5
The Seahawks beat the Ravens. Do you remember that? While they have no chance at the playoffs, they followed that up with a whipping of the Rams. On the other side of the ball, the Redskins can’t decide who they want to hold the ball under center. That, and the fact that Shanahan still likes making dumb ass time management decisions and challenges ultimately dooms this team. Grossman played well against the Cowboys, but once again their secondary was almost nonexistent, letting Romo do whatever he wanted. Yeah, the Seahawks don’t have that kind of offense, but they do have a consistent running game and a strong run defense. I think they shut down the Redskins offense, who certainly don’t travel well, and win at home. That’s what I think.
Buffalo at NY Jets Line: -8.5
The 5-5 Bills, who have been losing like a bunch of chumps lately ride into New York (New Jersey) to meet the 5-5 Jets who have been losing like a bunch of chumps lately. There is nothing spectacular about this game. It’s a toss up as to who is going to play just good enough to win. Where the Jets defense was once undefeatable, the Bills offense was just as strong. Now, they both are looking lethargic as Sanchez and Fitzpatrick are proving they are not elite quarterbacks and probably never will be. Thanks to some clever negotiating, Fitzpatrick has his huge contract, then he started losing. The Jets running game is hurting, and the Bills running game isn’t looking any better with Jackson out this week. So that kills the play action and leaves it on the offensive lines to protect long enough for passing. I think the Bills still have a better receiver core, and will win the passing game. For that reason, I’m taking the Bills to win by a slight margin, but really, this game could go either way.
Denver at San Diego Line: -7.0
The 5-5 Denver Tebows now get a solid challenge in division rival (and also 5-5) NOrv Turner led Chargers. Of course, Norv (how does he still have a job) Turner is only getting worse as time goes on. It’s like the guy never looks at the clock. His management, coaching, of his team is getting worse. No wonder they look like they don’t want to be there. The Chargers are in a sad state of affairs these days, because they have the talent but the drive seems to be missing. Rivers is a good quarterback at heart, but he makes too many mistakes under Norv’s system. So what about the Broncos? Well, they just released Orton, pretty much saying they are putting their money behind Tebow. Elway isn’t sold, which is kind of douchey because Tebow has better stats in his first eight games than Elway had (see below inforgraphic.) No matter what you or Jake Plummer think about the guy, he’s a winner. As Tebow super fan @mbletschtold me about this game, “If he wins, I bet you Norv Turner gets fired. TEBOW!!” I’m Tebowing all over the place these days. Whipped cream baby, just not on any chicks breasts. Tebow won’t have any of that. Broncos to win on the road.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City Line: +10.5
Really though, when it comes down to it there is nothing we like more in football more than a nice old fashioned ass whipping. And here’s your ass whipping game this week. The Chiefs are floundering. Cassel is done for the season, nice waste of money there. And you want to talk about inaccurate passing? Take a look at freaking Palko. He threw three interceptions last week, and yeah, it was against the Patriots but who cares? He missed many passes, especially down the sideline. It wasn’t all about lack of protection either, the kid just isn’t ready for the big show. Against the Steelers? He’s got to be shitting in his goddamn boots. The Steelers will crush the Chiefs this weekend, into a substance resembling the gooey center of a pecan pie. Steelers to win.
Tampa Bay at Tennessee Line: -3.5
If I’m not mistaken (as I often am) Chris Johnson averaged like 1.1 yards a carry last game, really stinking up the joint. Kind of a disgrace after that huge contract he was given for the last couple of years. Consider that back pay buddy. Last week, Hasselbeck was out and Jake Locker came in and almost brought the Titans back against a tougher Falcons team. He’s about to get into the conversation about rookie QB’s. I’m not sure who is playing this weekend, though it looks like Hasselbeck will get the start. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think Locker is going to be a great quarterback. The kid is damn good and I think the Titans should just go ahead and play him this weekend, let him learn the system and get some experience. Hasselbeck is gone next year, probably retired and the Titans aren’t making the playoffs this year (though not mathematically out.) Either way, the Bucs are too inconsistent on both sides of the ball this year to really be much of a threat to anyone – save for the Packers. What happened last week was just the Packer defense challenging the offense by letting the Bucs think they had a chance. They didn’t. Titans to win at home.
Arizona at St. Louis Line: -0.0 CRAPFEST OF THE WEEK!!
Oh shit, there’s another game this week. I almost forgot this match-up because pretty much everyone in the NFL universe couldn’t give a shit about this game. Both teams are playing like shit, both teams have no chance at a winning record and both teams make the other one look that much better. Do you think the Rams can manage to protect Bradford long enough to complete a pass? How about that Skelton guy? He’s making Kolb look better day by day and vice versa. No microwave in the world could heat up this mess to make it look appetizing. Just throw out the paper plates and order a pizza. Rams to win at home.