Turkey Day is upon us! That means ample food, drunken relatives and the true start of holiday shopping season. Oh yeah, there is also three games of exciting NFL action. I will offer my opinions on those games and will back Friday for picks on the rest of the week’s action. Happy Thanksgiving!
Odds provided by Bovada.lv.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions -7 Total: 50
The NFC North is still firmly up for grabs and this game will do a lot to determine the division crown. The Lions welcome the Packers to Ford Field in this Thanksgiving showdown.
Green Bay is winless in their last four games, including last week’s 26-26 tie against Minnesota. The loss of Aaron Rodgers has been massive, but the defense has been terrible, as well. They have allowed over 400 yards per game in the past four games.
Detroit has been hurting themselves the past two games, losing back-to-back to contests and committing eight turnovers in the two games combined. The Lions outgained the Buccaneers 2 to 1 in yardage last week but lost 24-21 due to an onslaught of turnovers. Defensively, the Lions have been strong against the run but have struggled mightily against the pass.
Both of these defenses are terrible, which in my opinion gives the edge to the Lions. This line may have been worse (for Lions backers) if Detroit got the win last week so considering that a blessing in disguise. I can’t see any reason why the Lions will not put up 30 or so points against this horrible defense, especially at Ford Field.
The Packers will do their best to exploit Detroit’s poor secondary but I am not sure it will be enough. With Matt Flynn at QB, they will look to establish the run early which will be difficult against the Lions tough defensive front. Though Detroit lacks a decent secondary, their pass rush is excellent. Matt Flynn has shown over his short career that he does not perform well under duress. I think Detroit dominates in this one.
Pick: Lions -7(EVEN)
Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys -9 Total: 47
This is the only inter-conference game on the schedule today, but it should be a compelling one despite the large number.
Oakland’s playoff hopes have probably run dry after last week’s last second loss to the Tennessee Titans 23-19, which dropped them to 4-7 on the season. Matt McGloin has taken the quarterback position away from Terrelle Pryor for the time being and has done a decent job leading the offense in three games. He has thrown four touchdowns and just one interception in three games, but has yet to lead the Raiders to a win.
Dallas came off their bye to dispatch the New York Giants at home last week 24-21. The Cowboys blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter but kicked a game winning field goal with time expiring. The offense has been strong all year long but sometimes relies too heavily on the passing game. On the flip side, Dallas’ defense gives up the most yards per game at 432.2 and was gashed by the Giants’ run game last week, surrendering 202 yards on the ground.
While the Cowboys are supremely talented from an offensive standpoint, their defense is the reason why they are 6-5 on the year and not 8-3 or 7-4. Their weakness is the run and that is an area the Raiders will attack from the start, especially with a rookie quarterback behind center. Oakland is excellent at running the ball with Rashad Jennings and will also get Darren McFadden back this week.
There is always the potential of the Cowboys running up the score quickly and forcing Oakland to come from behind, but I think the Raiders will be able to run effectively against Dallas and should be able to control the clock. I think Oakland keeps this one within single digits.
Pick: Raiders +9(-120)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens -3 Total: 41
This AFC North battle projects to be the lowest scoring game of the day with a total of 41 and there is no love lost between these two teams. This one should be a typical AFC North slugfest as both of these teams are still on the fringe of the playoff picture.
They both sport identical records at 6-5 with Pittsburgh winning the first leg of their season series in September at Heinz Field. The Steelers won that game 19-16.
After a poor start to the season, Pittsburgh has turned it on as of late. They are in the midst of a three game win streak in which they are averaging 29 points per contest. The Steelers beat the Browns and Brandon Weeden into submission in last week’s 27-11 victory at Cleveland. They forced two turnovers and notched a season-high five sacks in the win.
The Ravens have been heading in the opposite direction. Baltimore has won just two out of their last five games but did put up a dominant showing against the Jets this past weekend. The Ravens harassed rookie quarterback Geno Smith all day long, forcing him into the one of the worst days of his young career in the 19-3 victory.
Home field advantage means a lot in these games, but I think Pittsburgh still has the edge in this game. Their no-huddle offense has been unstoppable the past few weeks, and the one area Baltimore’s defense is especially weak is in coverage. Still, these games so often come to a field goal either way, so it is a tough sell for either side. My reasoning is just that Flacco and the Ravens have consistently unperformed this year and won’t have much hope to win if they get behind. I think Pittsburgh gets an early lead in this game and never relinquishes it.
Pick: Steelers +3(-125)
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