Somewhere during dinner prayers this year squeezed between the desert troops and U.S. economic relief we owe a short acknowledgement to the NFL schedule-maker.
Oh dear NFL: Please continue planning meaningful games with high fan appeal on Thanksgiving offering much more than pure betting interest. And could you also offer FREE THANKSGIVING NFL NETWORK TOTAL ACCESS for the needy and poor?
The Lions actually play a holiday home game with much more than a prize turkey and covering the spread at stake. And “America’s Team” is tied for first place in the NFC East playing a Miami Dolphins squad riding a three game winning streak. Too bad they’re “Out of Luck” disappointing their fans. The Brothers Harbaugh will make league history in the finale. Who would ever predict the Ravens and 49ers possibly have a longshot chance of meeting again in this year’s Super Bowl?
Green Bay -6.5 /56 at Detroit (12:30 PM ET on FOX)
With a strong wild card slot on the line, Ford Field will be rocking and giving Lions fans something truly meaningful to root for. Combine that with some recent nasty Packer beatings on Thanksgiving, no one in blue will have to look hard for any incentive.
On the field it’s a different story. So hard to bet against the Pack at full strength until they have a number one playoff spot locked-up. While playing their worst game of the season last week against Tampa Bay, Aaron Rodgers still effortlessly lit up the Bucs defense. This is a division game, a big national television game and therefore Green Bay shouldn’t fall asleep while pursuing a secondary goal of an undefeated season.
Lion’s backers likely threw in the towel last Sunday, being down 24-7 to the Panthers as a 6 point favorite, only to celebrate while crushing Carolina in the second half to cover. You won’t see that happen very often. An inspirational finish in College Football but a red flag in the pros.
As for the point total, Mr. Linesmaker doesn’t put up 56 to 57 points by accident. The highest number of the NFL season thus far. This surely won’t be a 20-17 game. The drama might be deciding the total in the final two minutes but don’t expect any easy cover going under.
PICK: A very slight nod to the PACKERS -6. A more confident play OVER 56
Miami at Dallas -7 / 44 (4:15 PM ET on CBS)
No truth to the rumor Leon Lett will toss the opening kick-off coin to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the NFL’s Top Ten blunders of all time. I’m still regurgitating pumpkin pie remembering my Cowboys bet as Leon came crashing down in the snow after the blocked field goal. The Fins converted another chance, a win and a cover over the Boys. That held up in Cowpokes lure until Tony Romo botched the snap in the Seahawks playoff game.
OK, can’t change yesterday. The Dolphins are going nowhere this year despite three wins over bad teams and the Cowboys are in first place after three wins over bad teams. So what does that mean and who is going to cover?
A very competitive game and a very difficult case ATS to make either way.
While Romo has looked sharp at times, the Cowboys still have a bunch of key injured players and a few playing hurt on both sides of the ball. Third round pick DeMarco Murray could be a real find to complement their passing offense. When healthy, the Cowboys can compete with anyone. Will they ever find a decent kicking game in their history? An area they’ve overlooked for thirty years.
A bizarre situation for the Dolphins, who in reality would be helping themselves by losing to acquire the starting quarterback they desperately need. Keep winning and they lose out, selecting perhaps the second or third college QB choice available.
The reality is no professional football players slacks it, especially with a national TV audience watching. Miami has been playing proud defense in November but look for that trend to falter here. The Cowboys at home offer much more of a challenge than the Chiefs, Redskins and Bills. Starting quarterback Matt Moore is an average back-up, who has might have earned a permanent back-up job for next year with Chad Henne hurt.
PICK: Cowboys – 7
San Francisco at Baltimore -3 / 39 (8:20 PM ET on NFL Network)
Shame on the evil NFL that only paid subscribers will have the privilege of watching the Harbaugh brothers lead their teams onto the field. On a quiet holiday evening, we would have likely seen one of the largest TV audiences ever for a regular season game.
As the Packers may prove this year, you can “win em’ all” but surely you can’t “cover em’ all” according to wagering logic and statistics. The 49ers haven’t lost a game to the spread this year and this may be their greatest challenge in Baltimore. Along with the Steelers, the Ravens are known as the league’s toughest team at home and need this game to keep pace in their division.
The big intangible is which Joe Flacco will show up? The guy who looked dazed a month ago in Jacksonville or the hero known to fire up pin-point bombs on occasion. Fortunately, he’s had reliable Ray Rice to bail out a mediocre at best season thus far. On defense, the Ravens are the NFL’s BEST but likely minus Hall Of Famer Ray Lewis again on Thursday night. Look for Ray to be screaming at his teammates all night from the sidelines.
Kudos to Alex Smith of the Niners. No doubt Jim Harbaugh has been the difference in bringing out his confidence and ability this season. Also wondering when RB Frank Gore will get his due, the NFL’s most underrated player.
San Francisco’s success and likely cemented number two playoff spot bye is more due to their defense, which was coming around last year. Give some credit to departed coach Mike Singletary plus super tackler Patrick Willis, a great leader and motivator. Perhaps for the first time in their existence the 49ers have a Pro Bowl kicker in David Akers, a great acquisition from the Eagles.
This adds up to a game too tough to call. Without red zone turnovers look for a very low scoring game and a much better Under opportunity.
PICK: UNDER 39