The signs of the holidays are all around, the turkey is getting stuffed, and stores are filled with Christmas decorations and one flat screen 62 inch TV sold at huge discounts for customers to fight over. In the NFL the Lions are heading into hibernation with two straight losses and no touchdowns in eight quarters. To be fair the Lions did play the two top teams on the road, and coming home for Thanksgiving they have a must win against a bad Bears team they should be able to beat and alleviate fans worry of another late season collapse at least for one week.
This might be one of the best Thanksgiving games in years, as the NFC East is up for grabs with both teams holding record of 8-3. The Cowboys have played better away from Jerry’s World, suffering three losses at home already. The Eagles defense has been bad as of late, and they have had a tendency to turn the ball over; doing that against the Cowboys will be disastrous. The Cowboys offensive line continues to impress, DeMarco Murray will have a big game and when you get down to it Turkey Day has not been good to Mark Sanchez who will always be remembered for the butt fumble.
A rematch of the NFC Championship Games sees both teams coming in at 7-4 and needing a win just to stay in the playoff picture. While a loss won’t finish either team it will seriously put them behind the eight ball. The Seahawks had one of their most impressive wins last week, holding the Cardinals to three points at home. While this game is in Santa Clara, the 49ers have not been strong at home and have been sluggish in primetime games. Too many mistakes and Colin Kaepernick being unable to make the big play will help the Seahawks squeeze by and continue what they hope is a late season surge.
The Chargers may have won their last two games, to get somewhat back on track. However, both games were at home against weaker teams and the Chargers did not play well in either game. Early starts have been a nightmare for the Chargers, who in their last game at 1:00 on the East Coast lost 37-0. The Ravens look to be getting stronger with Justin Forsett coming off a big Monday Night Game. With a more balance offense and the Chargers not firing on all cylinders, the Ravens are the clear choice at home.
It was snow problem in Detroit last week for the Bills, as they plowed the Jets 38-3. The Browns are in the thick of a tight race in the AFC North, but have looked shaky as of late as they beat the Falcons despite two interceptions in the final five minutes from Brian Hoyer, do that in Buffalo and the Browns won’t stand a chance. The Bills got a solid defense and the Browns don’t match up well against teams with live defenses, this looks like a win for the Bills as they actually get to play this one on the planet Hoth aka Orchard Park.
Some 2-9 teams are comically bad, some are just tragically bad, the Tennessee Titans are the worst of all they are boringly bad. They just don’t have much positive going on, they have gone through three quarterbacks, have not been good on defense and have not had much in the running game. While the Texans coming off a disappointing loss has to return to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the Texans defense led by J.J. Watt will be able to roll all over the Titans at home.
It was the debate of the 2012 NFL Draft, who will be the best quarterback Ryan Luck or Robert Griffin III. RGIII may have been the better quarterback that first year as he was named rookie of the year, but ever since it has not even been close as both have gone in opposite directions. Luck is on the verge of being one of the best in the NFL, and Griffin is on his way to bustville. For this game RGIII will be riding the pine watching Luck move the ball easily against the Redskins and get a big home win.
Before he became Coach of the Giants, and won two Super Bowls, Tom Coughlin was the man in Jacksonville, quickly turning an expansion team into a contender. Since he left Jacksonville, it has been all downhill for the Jags. As for Coughlin it could be the end in New York as the Giants will miss the playoffs again, and at 3-8 it may be time for a change. After a heartbreaking loss at home to the Cowboys, the Giants may be ripe for the pickings, despite their 1-10 record the Jaguars have occasionally shown signs of life. The Giants defense has been terrible as of late and could be just what Blake Bortles need to get a second win.
These teams each have seven losses, one team is looking toward the future, the other is in the playoff chase. The team looking toward the future is the Vikings, who played well in a loss to the Packers last week. The Panthers, meanwhile have been terrible since starting the season 2-0. Cam Newton has been off all season, as the Panthers lack of a reliable receiving corps and a rib injury has held him back. The Panthers defense has also struggled since Greg Hardy was told to go home. Look for Teddy Bridgewater to continue to give the Panthers defense fits and earn a solid home win for the Vikings.
The Steelers play in the AFC North a division in which each team is 7-4 or better, the Saints are tied for first with a 4-7 record in the pathetic NFC South. Head to head the AFC North is 10-1-1 against the NFC South this season, stunningly the lone win was the Buccaneers winning in Heinz Field. The Saints by all rights should be the best team, but they may be the most disappointing. Drew Brees has looked ordinary and their defense has been flat out terrible. With the Steelers rested off a bye it has all the makings of black and yellow blow out.
It is hard to believe that it has been two decades since both teams left Los Angeles behind, and left the second largest television market without a NFL team. By comparison, Baltimore only missed the NFL for 12 years, between the Colts and Ravens. Houston six years between the Oilers and Texans, St. Louis seven years before the Rams replaced the Cardinals, and Oakland was without the Raiders for 13 years. Now rumors have both considering returning to LA, while the Los Angeles rather not see the Raiders mess return the Rams have been somewhat different beating each of last year’s Super Bowl teams. In a battle of former LA residents it is the Rams they want to return and the Rams who will win Sunday.
The Buccaneers have been bad no matter where they have played, but somehow they have been even worse at home, losing their first five games at Raymond James Stadium. The Bengals may be up and down, but at 7-3-1 they are still in front of the AFC North. The Buccaneers defense is soft, and can be picked apart at times. While Andy Dalton is prone to mistakes, Tampa does not have the personnel to make the Bengals pay. Look for the Bengals to win this game easily.
The Cardinals came back to earth a bit last week, losing to the Seahawks 20-3. The Cardinals were due for a loss after starting 9-1 and sustaining as many injuries as they have. Drew Stanton may be good enough at quarterback, with the Cardinals solid defense. However, if he does not have Larry Fitzgerald the Cardinals are in big trouble. Fitzgerald was a game time decision last week, and may be questionable again in Atlanta. The Falcons may be in first place in name only but they tend to play well at home. I sense them getting just offense enough to win by a Field Goal.
The two hottest teams in the NFL meet in what many believe is a preview of Super Bowl XLIX. The Patriots are getting strong play everywhere during their seven game winning streak and have beaten some of the best teams along the way. However, winning in Lambeau Field will be a tall order, since the Packers offense is just as red hot. This has all the makings of game in which the team with the ball last will win. I expect big numbers from both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady as the Packers get the home field edge and the win.
Things could not have gone worse for the Chiefs last week as they lost on Thursday Night to the previously winless Raiders. A few days later they lost Eric Berry for the season, with what may be a cancerous mass found on his chest. The Chiefs may be motivated by Berry’s situation, but the Broncos have mastered the Chiefs time and time again. After sleepwalking the past few weeks the Broncos seemed to find their swagger in the second half against the Dolphins. Look for Peyton Manning to have another primetime explosion as the Broncos begin to pull away in the AFC West.
The Jets have been an unmitigated disaster this season, suffering an embarrassing 38-3 loss to a team that for half the week could not practice last week. Geno Smith came back on the field and it was more of the same. At 6-5 the Dolphins can still go either way, four of five losses have come against top flight teams. The Dolphins have had some injuries to their defense, but as bad as the Jets have been they may not matter. Ryan Tannehill is showing signs he may be in fact the quarterback of the future and for the Dolphins to stay in the playoff race they must take care of business in the four games they will be favored in beginning on Monday Night.