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The traditional Thanksgiving Day games at Detroit and Dallas open the NFL schedule in the final weekend of November. All 32 teams play this weekend and 15 of the 16 games have playoff implications. Quite a few division matchups are in play as well as a number of traditional rivalries.
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
The Eagles looked terrible with Sanchez at quarterback as they were smacked around by Tampa Bay. Sanchez was picked off three times. Detroit won consecutive games for the first time this season as they held Oakland to 13 points. The Lions defense has been the best part of their team. Bradford will return for the Eagles, unfortunately that won’t be enough to beat Detroit on Thanksgiving.
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys
The Romo led Cowboys ended a seven game losing streak in Miami, while Carolina rolled to 10-0. Yet the Panthers are still underdogs. They were underdogs against Seattle and Green Bay earlier in the season and that worked in their favor. Dallas plays well at home on Thanksgiving, their 29-17-1 all-time record speaks to that. Newton will continue his MVP season in the Carolina win.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
These two teams will meet for the 192nd time, the most in NFL history. Neither team resembles the team they were in the season opener won by Green Bay 31-23. The Packers snapped a three game losing streak with a win at Minnesota. Chicago lost a close contest to the Broncos at home. Chicago’s defense has been much better lately but Green Bay at home will be too much for Cutler and the Bears.
Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Both teams are coming off losses; Atlanta has lost three in a row and needs a win to stay in the playoff race. Atlanta is playing for a wildcard while the Vikings still have a shot at the NFC North title. Bridgewater was banged up by the Packers and needs to rebound with a strong performance against the Falcons. The Falcons defense continues to find ways to give away games. Minnesota adds to the Falcons woes with a win on the road.
St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati is reeling after losing two in a row; they are only two games ahead of Pittsburgh in the division. They had a solid effort against the Cardinals in Arizona, losing on a game winning field goal. St. Louis can’t settle on a quarterback or find a way to play error free football. Cincinnati’s defense should shut down the Ram’s anemic offense and end their two game skid.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans
New Orleans has a new defensive coordinator, the same personnel, however. The Saints are the league’s worst defense. Houston has won two games in a row and is tied for first place in the AFC South. Brian Hoyer is scheduled to return to the lineup for the Texans after he left the game against the Bengals. Houston stays in the division lead with the win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts
Winston is beginning to find a groove; he threw five touchdown passes in the Buccaneers 45-17 victory over the Eagles. He got some help from Doug Martin who rushed for 235 yards. Tampa Bay is 5-5 and in the hunt for an NFC wildcard spot. Indianapolis won their third game under Matt Hasselbeck. He’ll have to do the same against the Buccaneers with Luck still sidelined. Tampa Bay is playing inspired football, I like them to win on the road.
San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
At 2-8 San Diego is playing out the string and may be looking for a new head coach. The only bright spot has been the play of Philip Rivers. Jacksonville has won two games in a row and is only one game back of division leaders Houston and Indianapolis. Allen Robinson gives the Jaguars a premier receiver, Blake Bortles needs to find him more in the “red zone”. Jacksonville will win a meaningful game in late November.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is the team no one wants to play at the moment, the Chiefs are on a four game winning streak after taking apart the Chargers 33-3 last weekend. Buffalo plays excellent defense but hasn’t found an offensive formula that works. This game will be fought in the trenches with neither team possessing high-power offensive capabilities. Kansas City is a tough place to play; I like the Chiefs at home.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
Both teams are coming off a loss and a searching for consistency. New York has clouded a promising start to their season by dropping four of their last five games. Fitzpatrick has been below average at quarterback and the offense has followed suit. Miami is still looking at a wildcard spot, with a 4-6 record they are a long shot. This game should generate more buzz but it’s hard to find anything exciting about the Dolphins. New York will win a game only fans of both teams will be interested in watching.
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
What looked like a promising season for Oakland is beginning to unravel. The Raiders took a 13-9 lead into the fourth quarter against the Lions before losing 18-13. Carr continues to impress with a 99.4 passer rating. Tennessee has had 10 days to prepare for the game after losing to Jacksonville on a Thursday night. Mariota has been very effective in his rookie season with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions; he boasts a 96.1 passer rating. I feel that Oakland is the better team and wins on the road.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
The Giants hold a one game lead in the division race and this is a crucial matchup for both teams. New York defeated the Redskins 32-21 in their first meeting. The Giants are coming off a bye and Washington was mauled by the Panthers 44-16. Kirk Cousins has 10 interceptions on the season, that’s a problem for Washington. The Giants pass rush is improving and their offense has been clicking with Manning play exceptionally well all season. The Giants win on the road.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Arizona is playing as well as any team in the NFL; at 8-2 they trail only the undefeated Panthers in the NFC. They face a 49ers team that still hasn’t found an identity. Kaepernick’s long-term status with the team is unclear as is their offensive game planning. San Francisco is averaging a league low 288 yards total offense per game, while allowing 404 total yards per game on defense, a deadly combination. Palmer and the rest of the Cardinals will have a feast on Thanksgiving weekend.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks
Pittsburgh comes in healthier following the bye week and Seattle seems to be finding their stride as we enter the final stretch of the season. It will be difficult to score points because Seattle’s defense is still very good and their offense is not very good. His one might be very entertaining with the athleticism of Wilson on one side and Brown on the other. Seattle should get help from the “12th man” and win at home.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
New England got their 10th win of the season against a rugged Buffalo defense that was in Brady’s face all game. Denver should follow that model if they hope to derail the patriots run to perfection. With injuries mounting New England is the most vulnerable they’ve been all season. The Broncos certainly have the defensive personnel to get play a physical game with the Pats. Offensively the question for the Broncos is the ability of Osweiler to get better in his second start. I like the Broncos to shine on Sunday night and end the Patriots run.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Perhaps the most meaningless Monday Night Football game ever to grace the schedule; neither team has a shot at anything other than early draft picks. The one thing that was worth watching was the performance of Johnny Manziel, but his demotion resulting from a weekend binge has taken that from the contest. Baltimore will be without Flacco and Forsett for the rest of the season. Both teams face postseason shake-ups on and off the field. The Browns have the edge playing at home.