It’s the time of year to give thanks. I’m thankful for having a great dad, someone who has always had my back even when I didn’t deserve it. I’m thankful for my smoking hot and ultraintelligent fiancee. I’m thankful for my dog most of the time. I love getting to hang out at the golf course every summer surrounded by truly weird and interesting golfers.
I’m thankful to be working with the SoHi basketball team this winter (although my group of freshmen may not be so thankful once they learn what a Sweet 16 is — hey, winning ain’t easy, just ask the Oakland Raiders). I’m thankful to turkeys for sacrificing their lives for my stomach’s enjoyment. I’m thankful the Seahawks won last week, and would really appreciate a similar showing Thursday night.
Finally, I’m thankful to the Clarion for putting my random thoughts about weird things in the paper every week. Really, there’s too much to mention!
I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend and gains about 10 satisfying pounds! The column’s mark improved to 96-79-1 after we survived last week’s chaos with an 8-7 record.
@ Detroit Lions -7
Thanksgiving Day kicks off with a traditional matchup between NFC North foes. Detroit is the better team, but mysteriously the Lions offense has really sputtered this season. The Bears are weak along the offensive line, but if Jay Cutler gets time in the pocket Chicago should be able to move the ball. I’ve been wrong on the Bears all season, but I don’t see the Lions scoring enough points to cover a touchdown spread. Lions win 24-20
@ DALLAS COWBOYS -3.5
A pair of 8-3 teams square off in Big D when the Eagles travel to the Lone Star State to face the Cowboys. This matchup really comes down to one thing. Do you trust Mark Sanchez? It’s hard to wrap your brain around siding with Sanchez after years of watching him throw the ball to the opposition as a member of the New York Jets. Sanchez has been better in Philly but I just can’t bring myself to backing Sanchez. My memories tell me at some point Sanchez will do something stupid and cost the team, and Dallas has the firepower on offense to capitalize on his mistakes.
@ San Francisco 49ers -1
OK. … Deep breath. Not even the tryptophan in a turkey will get me to nap through this one! If you’re a Seahawks fan there are two games a year that matter more than the rest, and it’s the two matchups with the 49ers. There is no love lost between these rivals on the field and things will be particularly scrappy this week with so much riding on the outcome. Both teams are 7-4 and likely need to reach 11 wins to qualify for the playoffs. Obviously a loss would be crippling at this stage. Its Super Bowl champs vs. NFC title game chumps. Give me the champs! Seahawks win 21-17
@ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -10
The Native Americans finally made the leap and dropped Robert Griffin III from the starting lineup. Unfortunately, if you’re a Native American fan, the team is turning to Colt McCoy to lead the war party into Indy to face Andrew Luck and the Colts. Maybe McCoy gives the Redskins a spark but it’s just hard to imagine the backup passer keeping pace on the scoreboard with Luck and the high-flying Colts pass offense. The Redskins made the right move with Griffin, but it will take years, not a week, to recover from the mess (and loss of draft picks) that RG3 created. Colts win 38-17
@ Houston Texans -6.5
Houston has another problem! After replacing average quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with the younger, stronger armed Ryan Mallett, the team must turn back to the Harvard graduate after Mallett suffered an injury last week against the Bengals. Can Fitzpatrick use his immense intelligence to solve the Titans defensive riddle? You would think so. The Titans are terrible at preventing their opponents from scoring. I suspect the Texans offense will struggle, however, making a 6.5 cover a half point too much. Texans win 23-17
@ BUFFALO BILLS -2.5
I didn’t think it would happen in my life time. The Cleveland Browns will reach 8-4 with a victory on Sunday. Giving the team twice as many wins as losses on the year. Anyone human under 35 years old would agree this is unfathomable. I’m certain the feat violates multiple laws of physics. Consequently, I’m siding with the home team, and unless Albert Einstein was a dummy, I like my chances. Bills win 28-17
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
@ Baltimore Ravens -6
Thanksgiving weekend is the gift that keeps on giving. The 7-4 Ravens host the 7-4 Chargers in a game with gigantic playoff implications. Baltimore has the point differential of a title contender, but a loss to San Diego would leave the Ravens hoping to sneak into the postseason. The Charges have lost some voltage since the team opened the year 5-1. Philip Rivers is nursing an injury and the team is dealing with a number of ailments on the offensive line providing the Ravens with a decided advantage, but with so much on the line, this contest should come down to the final possession. Ravens win 24-21
NEW YORK GIANTS
@ Jacksonville Jags +3
Giants coach Tom Coughlin will immediately retire if New York loses to the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend. It’s been a brutal year for the Blue Men Group, but surely the season has already reached its nadir. Jacksonville can ill afford a win to keep pace with the Oakland Raiders in the race for the No. 1 overall draft choice next year. A game that New York can’t lose and Jacksonville can’t win favors the road side. Giants win 30-14
@ Tampa Bay Bucs +4
Red flag! It’s seems impossible that 7-3-1 Bengals team would only be a four-point favorite in Tampa vs. the 2-9 Bucs. It’s always a concern when you know Vegas is going to get hammered on one side of the line. Nobody will bet the Bucs and that’s good reason for you to do so. They’re not hanging new chandeliers from casino ceilings every week because the house is losing money. Call me gullible, I’m still sticking with the Bengals. Bengals win 28-17
@ ST. LOUIS RAMS -7
How in the world did the Oakland Raiders defeat the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs last week? If you ever wanted proof that anything is possible, there you go. St. Louis blew a great chance to earn victory in San Diego last week when ancient passer Shaun Hill threw the football to the wrong team near the goal line with a minute remaining. As long as St. Louis doesn’t have a brutal beat hangover this is game the Rams will win comfortably. Remember, Oakland is in a tight race with Jacksonville for next year’s top draft pick. Rams win 27-9
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
@ Pittsburgh Steelers -4.5
The Saints are an enigma. There is all kinds of talent on that roster, but it hasn’t translated to performance on the football field. New Orleans stinks. Pittsburgh is one of four teams at 7-4 or better in the AFC North. Realistically, the Steelers can’t drop such a winnable game this late in the year and keep hopes of winning the division alive. Steelers win 35-28
@ MINNESOTA VIKINGS -2.5
Cam Newton has been missing in action for over a month and with the Panthers season all but over I wouldn’t anticipate a return to prominence this year. Minnesota has been equally anemic offensively, but I like the direction in which coach Mike Zimmer has the team headed. The Vikings are competitive and seem to be improving week after week. A matchup of two teams with unsightly records favors the Purple People Eaters. Vikings win 24-13
@ Atlanta Falcons +3
Two birds will enter, only one can emerge victorious! The Desert Bats finally returned to earth last week dropping a game in Seattle against the Seahawks. Arizona will have every opportunity to bounce back against the NFC South-leading Falcons. The Falcons would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today. Isn’t that crazy? Atlanta is 4-7! They’re terrible! If nothing else I’m rooting for a six-win team to win a division for the first time in NFL history. Cardinals win 30-20
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
@ Green Bay Packers -3
This is Thanksgiving weekend’s football version of pumpkin pie. Can you think of anything more to be thankful for than the inaugural showdown between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady? Me neither. Tom Terrific has already displayed his mastery over longtime nemesis Peyton Manning this season. Now Brady looks to give Rodgers, the quarterback many believe will take the throne as the league’s best after Manning and Brady retire, a lesson in humility. As good as Green Bay has been there is something special about this New England team. You almost sense that Brady and Darth Belichick have gone all-in on this season, making one last run at a fourth championship, and cementing Brady’s place as Manning’s superior. Patriots win 35-31
@ Kansas City Chiefs +2.5
This is the most vulnerable the Broncos have been since Peyton Manning joined the team three seasons ago. Can Kansas City find the chinks in Manning’s armor? The Chiefs were on an unbelievable roll until losing last week in Oakland. What if the Chiefs miss the playoffs by one game with a loss to the Raiders on their record? Ouch, talk about a long offseason. I’m still siding with the Broncos anytime I can get them for less than a touchdown. Broncos win 34-27
@ New York Jets -6.5
I no longer acknowledge the Jets existence… Dolphins win 30-0