Both teams are coming off strange games on Sunday, the Texans nearly lost to the 1-8 Jaguars and needed nearly a full overtime to get the comeback win, while the Lions slipped and blew a lead to the Packers. It has been nine years since the Lions have won on Thanksgiving and they are due, this team has been a disappointment all season and they need something to salvage the season. The Texans may be 9-1, but after that game Sunday, the short week will take its toll and lead to a loss.
RGIII returns to Texas as the Cowboys host the Redskins in a traditional Thanksgiving divisional showdown. This game is the ultimate surprise dish on the Turkey Day menu. Both teams are so up and down, you never know what exactly you are going to get. You know Robert Griffin III will make a highlight reel, and Tony Romo will make a mistake, the Cowboys were very lucky to beat the lowly Browns, and if their offensive line struggle again this week, the Cowboys will not win. The Cowboys line problems will be the difference as the Redskins win.
This years Thanksgiving slate gives you everything, Cowboys representing the frontiersmen, Texans representing the homestead, the Redskins are the Native Americans, the Lions represent the beast of hunger, while the Patriots are the Pilgrims. So what do the Jets bring? Comic relief as the clowns of the NFL, despite their win over the sorry Rams the Jets are still a joke with the confused quarterback rotation between Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. The Patriots come in and look to roll up the score as the Meadowlands turns into a house of horrors for the home team.
The Bears may in fact be in big trouble as their offensive woes have begun to take its toll on the defense. The Bears have just one reliable receiver, Matt Forte has been ordinary and their line is terrible, as QB Jay Cutler is beat up and with the Vikings pass rush he is not going to be in a hurry to return. In fact when asked to do his ABC’s in a concussion test, Culter said, “AZDE Don’t Play me, Jared Allen is going to hurt me” No matter who is at quarterback for the Bears if their line can’t protect them the Bears will lose, especially when the Vikings have a big game from Adrian Peterson.
The Bengals offense is finding an extra gear as they try to get back in playoff position and over .500. The Raiders secondary should be called the toast squad, because they get burnt on every play. Add to the fact the Raiders never win road games with an early kickoff and it spells nothing but bad news for the Silver and Black. The most interesting note about this game is the return of Carson Palmer to Cincinnati, expect a chorus of boos as Palmer tries to hard and has another interception filled game.
The Browns must be kicking themselves over their loss in Dallas last weekend, as they had every opportunity to win the game, but lost in overtime. The Steelers meanwhile in hideous stripped uniforms lost a quarterback for the second straight week. The Browns are not a very good team, but they tend to give the Steelers all they can handle every time they play. The Browns front line defense has played well and Trent Richardson has had flashes. With the Steelers down to a third string quarterback and beat up all over the field the Browns have a chance to lay a hurt to their playoff chances which they will do.
Despite the ugliness of their 59-24 loss to the Patriots, the Colts had a good showing especially QB Andrew Luck, who minus a few mistakes could have had a chance to match Tom Brady blow for blow. The Bills are not a strong road team and the Colts have been strong at home all season. Look for the Colts to bounce back and stay right in the thick of the Wild Card hunt as Andrew Luck leads the way again.
The Jaguars played their best game of the year last week but still came up short losing to the Texans in overtime. The Titans coming off a bye still have some faint playoff hopes. Helping to drive the Titans is the resurgence of RB Chris Johnson, who has some big games in the second quarter of the season. The Jaguars will be using backup Quarterback Chad Henne the rest of the season, and I believe last week to be a fluke, and this week we will see the real Jaguars have trouble to get across midfield as the Titans win easily.
The Chiefs came into the season expecting to challenge for the AFC West, but they have been a complete bust as their defense has been terrible and QB Matt Cassel has failed. At 1-9, they have only held the lead in regulation once, as they have found themselves out of most games by the end of the first half. Against the red hot Broncos it is hard to imagine that will change.
The Dolphins have hit a wall, losing their last three games. However, coming home and with a few extra days off after playing on Thursday last week. The Seahawks are also coming in fresh off a bye week, but that may not be a good thing. How can this team respond will only be known after kickoff. The issue is that the game is as far away from Seattle as possible. At home the Seahawks are beasts, but on the road they are a little easier to handle. I sense an upset coming in this one.
There may not be a hotter team in the NFL than the Buccaneers who are suddenly in the playoff picture after four straight wins. Last week’s win was especially thrilling as they needed to rally from down 11 late in the fourth quarter to stun the Panthers in overtime. The Flacons meanwhile improved to 9-1 despite a hideous game that saw them commit six turnovers, including five interceptions from QB Matt Ryan. I see another big day from Doug Martin as the Buccaneers sail to 7-4.
Palmer and win a shootout at home.
This is the last stand for Norv Turner, as the Chargers playoff hopes flicker at 4-6. However, if anybody knows the Chargers under Norv is that they always tease their fans and make a run late in the season. That run begins here against the Ravens; the Chargers seem to have the Ravens number beating them at home last December in their late season run. Additionally the Ravens are in the old sandwich game, as they are coming off a hard fought win over the Steelers last week, and by schedule’s quirk they again face the Steelers next week.
This one is going to be ugly. The type of ugly that comes with the remainder of the turkey carcass after the feast on Thursday is over, the ugly that comes when crowds rush into Wal-Mart and start to brawl over the latest gadgets and toys marked down 80% for just ten minutes. Last week the Cardinals forced six turnovers in Atlanta, the Rams have a penchant for turning the ball over themselves, look for Sam Bradford to be as giving as Matt Ryan as the Cardinals win for the first time since Week 4.
Last year these two teams staged one of the most thrilling playoff games in recent history, the Saints have been looking for revenge ever since, as the news of bounties broke shortly after the game. The Saints and 49ers did not like each other to begin with and now at the Superdome the stage is set for another classic. The 49ers defense is solid, but Drew Brees can get that ball out and down the field fast, especially at home. This one will be thrilling, but in the end the Saints continue their role and make it over .500 for the first time all season by getting some sweet revenge on the 49ers.
Last year the Giants in the middle of their November struggles faced the Packers who were unbeaten and came out with a strong performance despite losing by a field goal. The game was a solid moral victory that helped the Giants turn things around, where they would upset the Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl. This year, coming off a bye week the reeling Giants do it again, this time they win and get their season back on track. Look for Eli Manning to quiet the critics who have begun to question his talents after three straight bad games.
When ESPN saw this game early in the season they envisioned two teams battling for the playoffs, with exciting quarterbacks. Both teams are disasters and ready for widespread changes. The Panthers have Cam Newton, who needs to finish the season strong as he has had a miserable sophomore season after a record setting rookie season. The Eagles meantime are mentally decorating the Christmas tree and sitting on the beach as they know Coach Andy Reid is on the way out the door. This one will be ugly as the boos rain down and the Eagles quitting another one just after kickoff.