[Editor’s note: this piece was written before Thursday, but a SNAFU delayed it from being published until today.]
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!…except the Detroit Lions, who have been the turkeys of Thanksgiving since Barry Sanders punched his timecard for the last time.
But hey, I don’t want to dwell on the sour cranberries of this wonderful holiday when there is so many delicious offerings on the NFL’s table. We’re all ravin’ about Baltimore, and the joyful uniqueness with which Alexander the Great plays football. His verve for the game is reminiscent (too early to use that word?) of the way MVP Mahomes plays…and if you think back (sadly) to just a few years ago, the way a young and likeable Colin Kaepernick played, back when football was important to him.
Ah well, memories. I went a respectable 11-3 last week, and stand at 107-68 to date. Here’s the picks, and pass the stuffing!
Bears at Lions – This game is a frozen turkey, worse than Aunt Mildred’s mashed turnip surprise. Detroit is starting a QB who has never taken an NFL snap. Chicago is pissed that their defense is first-rate while their offense has cost them the playoffs…again. Angry teams play well. Roasted Lion is on the menu in this stinker. Bring your Rolaids.
Bills at Cowboys – Dallas needs a rebound win, after drowning in New England. Problem is, they are facing another stout defense with Buffalo, on a short week. No rest for ‘Murica’s Team. I think the Bills can beat Dallas, and I will enjoy watching the veins in Jerry Jones’ forehead bulge as his coach struggles again. Buffalo stampedes over Cowboys
Saints at Falcons – Respect to Atlanta, who stuffed the Saints last time out in the Big Easy. That Falcons pass rush is a rush to watch, as they got home to Brees all afternoon. Sean Payton will have an answer for that pressure, and I expect New Orleans to return to form by giving Alvin the Camaro more touches and inserting some play-options to keep the Peachtree D honest. Saints hood the Falcons.
Eagles at Dolphins – I like the moxie Miami has shown lately, but Philly has more weapons and a reason to play. True to form, Eagles eat fish.
Titans at Colts – Wow, a scrap to remain in the hunt in this tight division. O Tannehill has sparkled, and O Henry has galloped for Tennessee. Colts are the Replacements this season, with Brissett picking up Luck’s fallen mantle and Jonathan Williams lugging the leather after Marlon ‘Mack Truck’ went down. Heck, even Coach Reich is a replacement, for original choice McDaniels. In a supertight game, I’m leaning to Henry having a huge day. Titans break the Colts.
Redskins at Panthers – Paging Duane Haskins? Please come back to the stadium. What a blemish on a nice win. Won’t matter this week, he’s not getting any victory selfies after Carolina steamrolls this team back into obscurity. Haskins’ selfies this week will look like team pictures of the snarling Panther pass rush. BTW, I agree with the green-shirted fans in the stands who spelled out SELL THE TEAM for Daniel Snyder this week.
Niners at Ravens – Game of the year! All eyes on this one, in what many feel is the Superbowl preview. The two best-balanced teams are facing off. Kittle creates matchup problems for Baltimore, but that suffocating defensive backfield of the Ravens is a no-fly zone for opposing QBs. There are a million angles to analyze this game, but the Ravens have seen offenses like this before. The Niners have not. Baltimore has Buttker as well. Ravens say Nevermore in Baltimore.
Bucs at Jaguars – East meets West…Florida, that is. Tampa has more weapons, and a run defense. Sacksonville has a good pass rush, but gives up a lot of aerials. I would rather see what Minshew can do against the Jolly Rogers, but Foles is the man with the ball in his hand. I like Jameis to sting the Jags’ secondary for some big gainers, and the D to stifle Fournette. Tampa puts the clampa on the Jags.
Packers at Giants – Thankfully, a hospital game after the beatdown Green Bay suffered in San Francisco. The Packers got exposed as not the powerful team everybody thought. This game comes at the right time, because the Vikings are challenging for the division title. Pack puts the smack to Nyack.
Jets at Bengals – I’m sure Andy Dalton is sooo glad to have the ball back this week….like someone handing you chicken poop and asking for chicken salad. The Jets have discovered they like playing football, and may have something in Darnoldnucleosis. Gang Green gets gnarly with the Red Rifle and the Orange O-fers. Jets gain altitude.
Browns at Steelers – Cleveland is clawing their way out of mediocrity the latter half of this season, and the Steelers provide the emotional spark after their last acrimonious matchup. Talent will eventually tilt this game in favor of Baker and his embarrassment of offensive riches, and even without the helmet-hammerer on D, they should confustigate whichever QB Mike Tomlin chooses. Rudolph gets a red nose this week, as Orange is the new Black.
Rams at Cardinals – The Rams seem to be circling the drain, while Kyler’s Cardinals are on the rise. Even the vaunted Ram defense looked helpless against a mobile Ravens QB last week, and here comes another one. Goff is Off, can we agree? He’s terrible, putting even more pressure on Aaron Donald and the D. Rams are the better team…but so was Detroit last week. Still, I will give McVay the edge, one more time.
Chargers at Broncos – The Wrongcos have gone from Orange Crush to Orange Mush, with no passing game. The Chargers have seen Rivers make too many completions to the other jerseys, so both teams would do well to rely heavily on their ground pounders. In the end, I’ll take Keenan Allen over Brandon Allen. Bolts outrun the Ponies, literally.
Raiders at Chiefs – Oakland has looked stronger, despite the loss to the Jets, and this game represents a possible change of leadership atop the AFC West. An Oakland win ties them with KC and wipes out the Chiefs’ tie-breaker advantage. Having said that, I still believe Mahomes and Company will find small weaknesses to exploit, and win a close match.
Patriots at Texans – Houston holds a most tenuous 1-game lead in the AFC South, and New England is at 10-1. Record makes no difference to Belichick, as the Patriots may need to win out to secure home field throughout the playoffs, with Baltimore’s rise to power. NE will pressure Watson, and if Stephan Gilmore’s ‘disappearance’ of Amari Cooper was any indication, Texans fans will see Hopkins’ picture on milk cartons next week. Muskets over sixguns.
Vikings at Seahawks – Another great MNF game, for a change. The Purple Pigskinners have improved, while the Squawks’ prowess is well-established. This is a pick-em in my opinion. Minnesota’s ground attack is superb, and Cousins has stepped up his passing game all season. Carroll’s team is also playing at the highest level, beating good teams, and Wilson has elevated his game as well. My pick is the Squawks score the go-ahead with under 2 minutes left to play.
Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy the games, but enjoy the family more!
-PP (Nate Clark)