One of my favorite holidays is upon us: Thanksgiving! Besides for family and great food (which everyone should enjoy even if you're not fond of your family or great food), Thanksgiving is not complete without football. This Thanksgiving, we have a very good game in the morning between two NFC North rivals fighting for playoff spots and a re-match of last year's Thanksgiving morning game: Minnesota at Detroit. The afternoon game is a bit lackluster given that the Dallas Cowboys are a former shell of themselves without Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, and Sean Lee. The LA Chargers, on the other hand, are a loaded team and nonetheless should be fun to watch. Finally, the evening game would have been a great matchup had it not been for injuries to key players for both the NY Giants and Washington Redskins. All we can hope is that these games are competitive as we enjoy these games on this gluttonous holiday and should that happen, we will be THANKFUL!
Here are our score predictions for the Turkey games.
LA Chargers 26
NY Giants 22
Here are our reasons.
The GE model has the Vikings winning by 1.4 points and Vegas has them winning by 3 but it's hard to deny Lions QB Matthew Stafford on Thanksgiving. He is a on a 4 game winning streak on this glorious holiday and his numbers on Thanksgiving are quite impressive: 61.56% completion, 317 passing yards per game, 2.14 passing TDs per game, and 90.94 QB rating. Those numbers include some duds earlier in Stafford's career when the Lions were an awful team. The Vikings pass defense is strong and considered top 10 according to most metrics. The secondary for Minnesota is arguably the best in the league after Jacksonville and the LA Chargers. Still, this is a road game for Minnesota and the Vikings simply don't play as well outside of US Bank Stadium which has quickly become one of the most daunting venues in the NFL. The Lions are a pass happy team (60-40 ratio of pass versus run) and teams that don't shy away from the pass have proven that they can light up the scoreboard against the Purple People Eaters (like the Washington Redskins two weeks ago). One key matchup to follow is Lions DB Darius Slay on Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. Slay is a lockdown corner and could very well be the MVP of this game if Diggs is a non-factor. This game should come down to the wire with so much at stake. Vikings win and they pretty much run away with the NFC North title. Lions win and things get interesting with Detroit just one game back and owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. Remember, the Lions did beat Minnesota on Minnesota's turf earlier this season by a score of 14-7. We will go with the home team here, especially as a home dog! Prediction: Detroit 24 - Minnesota 23.
Boy do we wish the Cowboys had a better team going into this game just for the sake of entertainment on turkey day. The offense was on fire from Weeks 3 - 9 and the defense was holding its own. Then the courts finally ruled in favor of the NFL with Zeke's suspension. Injuries to star players like left tackle Tyron Smith and weakside linebacker Sean Lee have not helped. It already has been announced that Lee won't play and Smith is a game-time decision. The Cowboys are just not a good team right now and with a playoff berth hanging in the balance, they can't afford to lose. The Chargers also can't afford to lose after losing so many close games at the start of the season. One can blame the recent transition from San Diego to LA. There is no sense of home field advantage at their current home stadium and I am guessing their training facilities are probably not up to the standards they are used to as they are still trying to get settled into a new home. Still, if you can start the season over again, many of us would pick the Chargers to win the AFC West since they have played well lately. The defense looks really good and the offense is stacked with talent. In fact, the big difference here between the Chargers and Cowboys is health. The Chargers go into this game with pretty much every player at full strength. Not the case with the Cowboys. How the Cowboys are favored 1 point by some books does not make any sense (GE model has the Chargers winning by 1.09 points). This game will most likely be a pick 'em and we are picking the Chargers. Prediction: LA Chargers 26 - Dallas 20.
Finally, we get an NFC East battle between the New York "football" Giants and the Washington Redskins. Both teams are beleaguered with injuries. Let's hope this game is entertaining. Otherwise the tryptophan from our turkey dinners will kick in. We have the Redskins winning this game by 5.07 points based on the GE model so getting 7.5 points from most books for the Giants is good value. Now the Giants are a terrible team. They will most likely have a top 3 pick in the NFL draft. They did lose to the 49ers after all! However, the Giants did beat Denver on the road and last week beat Kansas City as a double-digit home dog. Clearly, the Giants are still showing some resiliency. We feel the Redskins win but it won't be a blowout as the line seems to indicate. In the Redskins defense, they have had a very, very tough schedule so far. The combined record of their opponents is 64-36 and if you look at who they have played, you have to agree that their schedule has been brutal. If the Redskins were healthy, we would be fine by giving up 7.5 points but not without any of their RBs as well as any of the WRs/TEs they had hoped would be healthy. It's hard to go with a 4-6 team to win by more than a TD so we will take the points with the Giants. Prediction: Washington 27 - NY Giants 22.
We will be back on Black Friday for our predictions for the rest of the Week 12 games. Happy Thanksgiving!