Thanksgiving Day Special
Out of the six teams playing on Turkey Day, Houston and New England’s playoff future is in great shape. As for the other four, Dallas, Washington, Detroit and New York, Thursday’s games could very well decide the fate of their postseason hopes.
Thursday, November 22
12:30 PM ET
Houston Texans 9-1 @ Detroit Lions 4-6 – TV: CBS
Detroit’s defense has been one of the better units against the pass, but putrid against the run. Things don’t get much easier for their run defense going up against the best zone-blocking offensive line that creates running lanes for arguably the best running back in the game Arian Foster. And you can bet any money that Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had a little chat with linebacker Stephen Tulloch about having to be dynamite and fundamentally sound on wrapping Foster up instead of trying to go for the knockout blow. That’s been a big problem with Detroit’s defense in the aspect of tackling well and being overly aggressive that results in missed tackles. And Foster is the type of runner that can take full advantage of it. Pick: Texans 34, Lions 27.
4:15 PM ET
Washington Redskins 4-6 @ Dallas Cowboys 5-5 – TV: FOX
A banged up Cowboys offensive line and running game could be the perfect setting for Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to formulate a game plan to pressure Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Without DeMarco Murray (foot), the Cowboys have lost balance on offense without a solid running game and have struggled to put points on the board. Murray is expected to miss his sixth straight game as his status is doubtful. Felix Jones (knee) is questionable, but he’s expected to play and share carries with Lance Dunbar. The Redskins have done fairly well defending the run, but have struggled mightily against the pass. Dallas will try to exploit the Redskins vulnerable secondary with their extremely talented receiving core. Look for Redskins defensive coordinator
Jim Haslett to have his unit throw some zone blitzes at Romo to try to force him into turnovers. As for the Dallas defense, a nightmare trying to slow down rookie sensation Robert Griffin III will be an extreme challenge trying to contain him by keeping him in the pocket, limiting him from making big plays with his tremendous scrambling ability. Outside of these key factors, I had to do some searching into my Crystal Ball, and here’s what I see. Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offense start out on fire with the help of the defense forcing a couple of Dallas turnovers as Washington leads Dallas 24-10 at halftime. Midway through the 4th quarter, Dallas trails 31-17 facing a third and long situation. Romo connects deep with Dez Bryant cutting the Washington lead to 31-24 with 7 minutes left. DeMarcus Ware finally gets after the red hot RGIII with a sack forcing a fumble, giving Dallas the ball in good field position. Romo connects with Jason Witten to tie the game up at 31, forcing the game into overtime. In overtime, Romo, who started off the game cold as ice, hits Miles Austin on a quick slant as Austin sheds a few tacklers, taking it to the house on a 60-yard game winning score. Wow, Romo turns into Clint Longley, leading Dallas to a come from behind win in the greatest quarterback duel ever on Thanksgiving Day. How about that? Pick: Cowboys 37, Redskins 31.
8:20 PM ET
New England Patriots 7-3 @ N.Y. Jets 4-6 – TV: NBC
I like the whole rivalry part of the nightcap on Turkey Day. But this could get ugly and not be anything more than the same old Patriots moving the football up and down the field. I’m pretty sure Jets head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are thinking the same thing. They have to find ways to put points on the board, punching the football in the end zone with time consuming drives. This is a must when you play the Patriots. You have to limit Tom Brady’s opportunities with the football by keeping him off the field by eating up clock. New England’s defense is vulnerable to the pass, but the Jets lack a serious threat at receiver. Ultimately, Sparano needs to be a master-minded wizard by either throwing in Tim Tebow on a few plays, or dig deep into his back pocket for some gadget plays. What to do? What to do? Pick: Patriots 37, N.Y. Jets 21.
(REST OF PICKS TO FOLLOW OVER THE WEEKEND)
Sunday, November 25
1:00 PM ET
Minnesota Vikings 6-4 @ Chicago Bears 7-3 – TV: FOX
Oakland Raiders 3-7 @ Cincinnati Bengals 5-5 – TV: CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers 6-4 @ Cleveland Browns 2-8 – TV: CBS
Buffalo Bills 4-6 @ Indianapolis Colts 6-4 – TV: CBS
Denver Broncos 7-3 @ Kansas City Chiefs 1-9 – TV: CBS
Seattle Seahawks 6-4 @ Miami Dolphins 4-6 – TV: FOX
Atlanta Falcons 9-1 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-4 – TV: FOX
Tennessee Titans 4-6 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 1-9 – TV: CBS
4:05 PM ET
Baltimore Ravens 8-2 @ San Diego Chargers 4-6 – TV: CBS
4:25 PM ET
St. Louis Rams 3-6-1 @ Arizona Cardinals 4-6 – TV: FOX
San Francisco 49ers 7-2-1 @ New Orleans Saints 5-5 – TV: FOX
Sunday Night Football in America 8:20 PM ET – TV: NBC
Green Bay Packers 7-3 @ N.Y. Giants 6-4
Monday Night Football, November 26 8:30 PM ET – TV: ESPN
Carolina Panthers 2-8 @ Philadelphia Eagles 3-7