Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
I understand Thanksgiving means three games are off the slate to choose from, but how did the NFL fans get stuck with San Francisco-Arizona as the Monday Night game?
Hopefully the holiday and some really good games Sunday—Green Bay-Atlanta and Baltimore-Tampa Bay to name a couple—make up for it. And who knows, two teams like the Cardinals and 49’ers square off and create an entertaining game like the Bills and Bengals had last week.
Who do you think will win this week?
New England (8-2) at Detroit (2-8)
The Patriots pass rush and secondary have been put under scrutiny all season. They forced Peyton Manning into three interceptions, though.
Their running game also powered away for 168 yards on 34 carries (4.9 yards per carry).
The Lions rush defense is slightly better than the Colts, but the Patriots are playing too well. A lot of people are calling this a trap game for New England but the Pats, save for the Cleveland game, have been steadily growing all season long.
New England wins.
New Orleans (7-3) at Dallas (3-7)
Dallas has won two straight since Jason Garrett took over, but New Orleans is hotter. Since losing to Arizona in Week 5, the Saints have won four of their last five games (three straight), all by convincing double-digit margins.
The Cowboys rank fifth in the league in passing yards per game and Jon Kitna has been surprising the past couple weeks.
Still, not only can the Saints throw the ball (third in the NFL), but they also rank second in passing yards allowed per game.
New Orleans wins.
Cincinnati (2-8) at New York Jets (8-2)
The Jets won both the Week 17 and Wild Card playoff match-up between these two teams last year. The writing may have been on the wall as the Bengals stumble terribly through this season.
The Jets have been winning close game after close game and they are gaining a lot of confidence. The Bengals, well, confidence isn’t something paramount in that locker room.
New York wins.
Green Bay (7-3) at Atlanta (8-2)
Two teams that commit very few penalties and have the best turnover differentials in the NFC. Should be a tight matchup. Green Bay’s passing offense has the edge over Atlanta’s pass defense, but the Falcons rushing attack has the edge over the Packers rush defense.
The Falcons, however, are undefeated at home. Michael Turner could have another good day and wear out the Packers defense.
Pittsburgh (7-3) at Buffalo (2-8)
The Bills give up the most rushing yards per game, while the Steelers have the 11th most rushing yards per game, and Rashard Mendenhall is in the top 10 in the NFL in total rushing yards.
Carolina (1-9) at Cleveland (3-7)
The Panthers have lost their last four games by an average of 20 points. However, they catch a break against Cleveland who will lose Colt McCoy as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Jake Delhomme is the starter and he hasn’t played since Week 5. He’s played in two games this season, throwing four interceptions compared to one touchdown, a 55 percent completion percentage, and a miserable 48.2 quarterback rating.
It’s enough for the Panthers to eke out a victory.
Jacksonville (6-4) at New York Giants (6-4)
Two consecutive double-digit losses and things are only getting worse for the Giants.
Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith have both been ruled out for the game, leaving Eli Manning with even fewer weapons at his disposal.
Manning is second in the NFL in interceptions, and we’ve seen what he does when he tries to win the game himself.
Minnesota (3-7) at Washington (5-5)
The Vikings are hoping to capture some of the magic the Cowboys got when they fired Wade Philips by finally firing Brad Childress. This matchup certainly helps them.
Santana Moss had a big game for the ‘Skins last week, but he’s questionable this week.
Meanwhile, Washington allows 131 rushing yards per game while Minnesota averages a top ten 118.5 rushing yards per game. Adrian Peterson is second in the NFL in rushing yards.
Sure, Chris Johnson rushed for 130 yards last week and Washington still won, but Tennessee was down to their third quarterback. Brett Favre and/or Tavaris Jackson are both better options.
The Redskins are also only 2-3 at home.
Tennessee (5-5) at Houston (4-6)
The Titans have lost three straight, their starting quarterback landed on IR and is feuding with the coach (and is unwelcome at team facilities), Randy Moss has one catch in two games with the team, they’re starting rookie Rusty Smith at QB, and their offensive coordinator left the staff to seek treatment for cancer.
Kansas City (6-4) at Seattle (5-5)
The Chiefs are 2-0 against the NFC West so far this season. They are also passing the ball much better as of late, to complement their top ranked rushing game. Matt Cassel has thrown for six touchdowns and zero interceptions over the past two games and Dwayne Bowe has caught a touchdown in six consecutive games. He also has two straight games with 100-plus yards receiving and two touchdowns.
That doesn’t mean they’re strong enough to abandon the run, but they’re looking more like a complete team.
Kansas City wins.
Miami (5-5) at Oakland (5-5)
Miami had tons of injury issues last week and now Karlos Dansby and Brandon Marshall are questionable. They keep losing pieces and don’t have a strong enough team to plug guys in. They didn’t move the ball at all against the Bears, inexplicably abandoning the run.
St. Louis (4-6) at Denver (3-7)
The Rams just don’t have the weaponry to compete in high scoring games. Their wide receiver unit is pretty depleted.
Denver has been one of the best passing teams all season, although while it hasn’t resulted in many victories. If they can get out to a fast start like they did against the Chiefs, and force the Rams to pass instead of hand of to Steven Jackson, they may be able to pull this one out.
Philadelphia (7-3) at Chicago (7-3)
The Bears defense has been strong this season, particularly against the run, but Michael Vick brings a special offense to Chicago.
The Eagles play some very good defense too, though. They lost CB Ellis Hobbs for the year, but this is a complete team, and a very exciting one at that.
Philadelphia is also 4-1 on the road.
Tampa Bay (7-3) at Baltimore (7-3)
The Ravens haven’t lost at home this season, and there’s no reason that should end this weekend.
Tampa’s biggest weakness is their rush defense, so Ray Rice and Baltimore’s 13th ranked rush offense should put up some big numbers and really set up the passing game well.
San Diego (5-5) at Indianapolis (6-4)
San Diego is hot, but they are 2-4 against teams above .500 and 1-4 on the road.
It’s also tough to bet against Peyton Manning after last week’s disappointing game. You can bet he’s been reviewing the tape, thinking about what happened, and how he can rebound this weekend.
San Francisco (3-7) at Arizona (3-7)
San Francisco is not better than many teams, but the Cardinals are one.
Last week against the Chiefs, even when offensively their guys put up good numbers, they still lost by 18 points.
Frank Gore had an awful showing last week against a porous Tamp Bay defense. But he can rebound from it, and he gets another favorable match-up against the Cardinals. And the 49’ers defense has been solid this season, so they should be able to weather anything Arizona throws against them.
San Francisco wins.
Last Week: 12-4