Well, here we are at Thanksgiving week, ready to throw down some good food with great people, watch some football and pause to thank the Lord that we can do all of these things this year, after so much tumult all around us. Speaking of tumult and turkeys, there’s plenty of both in the league this week. The Jets are probably realizing they do NOT have their QB of the future (more on that turkey later), we finally DO know who the Packers are this year (gobble..), Da Bears are likely done, with Fields’ injured shoulder (doesn’t this happen to ALL qb’s who rely first on running?), and the Vikings CAN be stopped … literally. I recovered a bit this week at 9-5 (good, not great), and am tied with NFL Network’s Nick Shook at 59%. Here’s the picks.
Bills at Lions – Thursday is always my nemesis in picking, as the short week skews everything. This is the first of 3 Thursday games, so I’m prepared to be unpleasantly surprised, like when Aunt Florence shows up unannounced for Thanksgiving and keeps complaining about the food, the noise, and her gout. The Lions have been making noise lately, as they finally found a 2-way game plan. The Bills had to work to hold off the likes of Cleveland in a ‘no man’s land’ home game in Detroit. One thing I think we can be assured of is that this game won’t be the turkey on Thursday, as the spirited Lions give Buffalo all they can handle from the kid’s table. Bill’s narrowly win the wishbone tug.
Giants at Cowboys – Here’s your turkey. Dallas so completely erased the Vikes last week that it qualifies as a statement game, while Big Blue got thumped coming and going by the upstart Lions. This is another statement game, as Dallas can sound the alarm in Philly that the NFC East is very much in play, and NY ain’t one of the players anymore. Cowboys feast on a healthy slab of Big Apple pie.
Patriots at Vikings – Here’s your turkey seconds. Minnesota is still purple from the beating Dallas laid on them Sunday, and I expect them to be in a Purple rage and ready to mash some potatoes Thursday. Speaking of potatoes, in comes New England, fresh off the weakest offensive performance in years. While the Pats defense is stingier than a rusty door hinge, there’s no way Belichick is going to beat this team with Folk’s leg. Patriots get stuffed and roasted by hungry Norsemen. Purple Rage, Purple Rage…..
Broncos at Panthers – Speaking of turkeys, Sam Darnold has been announced as the starter this week, as Wilks attempts to find out what he can make from bad leftovers, and what is going out in the trash. Trouble with the Panther quarterbacks is that they pass the cranberry sauce better than the football. Denver’s offense is as cold as yesterday’s gravy, and Mel Gordon got a one-way bus ticket out of town for his butterfingers. Seems like throwing away one flat tire when you have four others, but he was pretty bad this year coughing up the pig. Either team could win THIS pig of a game … but I think Darn Old Darnold is good for a couple pick-6’s. Ponies purloin poor passes to prevent the Panthers from prevailing.
Buccaneers at Browns – Brady’s battered Bucs bounce Brissett’s bruised Browns. Tampa isn’t the team they were a year ago by a long shot … on either side of the ball, but they should be able to limit Chubb to under a hunder and hand Jacoby an L on his last game under center before DeShaun ‘Savior’ Watson returns next week. Brissett deserves a better end, as he has given everything this year to this perennial Ohio disappointment. No pumpkin pie for Stefanski’s pumpkinheads.
Ravens at Jaguars – Jacksonville enters well-rested to face one of the grittiest division leaders. Baltimore doesn’t win BY a lot but they do win a lot. The Jags have improved at stopping the run and moving the ball, as well as keeping Flowing Follicles Lawrence from falling forward. This should be a fun game to watch, as one of the greats takes on one of the gonna-be greats. Evans’ return tips the table in Harbaugh’s favor. Birds eat the cats AGAIN this week.
Texans at Dolphins – Biden pardoned the White House turkeys this week, but there is nobody to pardon the Terrible Texans as they go to the slaughter. Lovie’s plan to bolster his flagging team is to bench Davis Mills, as if he’s responsible for the debacle that is Houston. Tua Takinyouova and his band of daring Dolphins are atop the AFC East – and will remain there again this week.
Bears at Jets – The Jets got stifled again last week by the Patriots, getting Zach Wilson benched. Wilson’s adolescent looks apparently extend to his personality as well, angering his teammates with immature comments and blame shifting for a loss in which he went 9/22 for 77 yards, and failing to throw to a wide-open receiver he was looking directly at in a game where a single touchdown determined the winner. Mike White takes the snaps this week, and whether or not Fields can play, I’ll take a ferocious Jets defense over anything Chicago can come up with. Gang Green Bean casserole knocks the stuffing out of the bad news Bears.
Bengals at Titans – This is going to be a showdown. Cincy is showing depth, grinding out a tough win in Pittsburgh without Joe Mixon or Ja’Marr Chase. Tennessee has been Titanic this year, finding ways to win when things aren’t going their way. The Bengal bookends of Henderson & Hubbard will keep things warm in Tannehill’s pocket, while Joe tries to keep from Burrowing under Tennessee’s sack pressure. Will Cincy’s run defense hold up better than Vrabel’s pass defense? Something tells me the Titans will be sipping Tennessee victory whiskey after this feast.
Falcons at Commanders – Got some bad news for Atlanta…the red-hot Washington Heinickes just got their Tasmanian devil Chase Young back after a year of injury recovery. He’s still Young, and he still loves to Chase QBs down and swallow them whole. Ron Rivera’s club is figuring it out at the right time in a competitive division where all four teams have winning records. Atlanta’s division has NO winning records, so while everything is literally up for grabs, nobody seems to know how to grab it. Pitts is broken, and so are dirty bird dreams. Put another W on Washington’s helmets.
Chargers at Cardinals – This is a week for overcooked birds, and the Cardinals’ timer popped out weeks ago. Whether Murray or the Real McCoy plays this week, Arizona just comes up short in too many categories. LA has been stubborn and resourceful under a slew of tough absences this season, and Herbert has delivered on his promise to carry the team during times like these. Allen is back making a difference again, and the Bolts are going to leave Kingsbury needing Alka-Seltzer after this one. Plop plop, fizz fizz….
Raiders at Seahawks – Is Vegas finally starting to wake up? This game will be a chance to prove that all that talent is starting to coalesce into something…or not. We know what Seattle is by now, with Geno’s sparkling stats and a defense that is beginning to emerge from the shadows. Does Vegas have the chips to double down and knock off a leader like the Squawks? They probably do…but I’m not ready to believe just yet. Hawks rock.
Rams at Chiefs – The Yams are colder than yesterday’s tv dinner, and less appetizing. Last year this was considered THE Super Bowl matchup (until Cincy upset those considerations). This year bears no resemblance to last, for the reigning champs bear no resemblance to themselves a year ago. Chiefs break with tradition and serve roasted Lamb this Thanksgiving.
Saints at Niners – The Saints are coming to dinner in San Fran…and they are going to leave hungry. They don’t play the run well, and the Niners can pound it inside or out. They can fling it as well, and if that’s not enough, the league’s #1 defense will slam the door in your face. Let’s keep it simple; Red & Gold will fold Black & Gold in a way that is beautiful to behold.
Packers at Eagles – Here’s a cold turkey sandwich on Sunday Night. Philly has no discernible weaknesses, and Green Bay has no discernible strengths this season. The Eagles may have been less than amazing on offense the last two weeks, but that’s not likely to be a trend. Nobody serves Cheese at Thanksgiving anyway. Pack cracks while Eagles soar.
Steelers at Colts – What are these two teams this year? Both clubs are looking for an identity they can rally and build around. Matt Ryan has not risen to the promise of a fresh start, instead looking like the last resort. Kenny Pick-it is 220 pounds of raw clay waiting to be shaped into something good. No idea which of these clubs is going to rise to the moment Monday night, but on paper the Colts are the more complete team…which doesn’t mean much on any given Monday. Still, I will go with the averages here, especially since the Colts are so very…average. Horseshoes hold off the hardhats.
Enjoy the games, and a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
-Pigskin Pundit (Nathan Clark)