Be Thankful For Football!!

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Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and spend time with wonderful people that you love. You always remember being young and seeing familiar faces. You remember spending close Thursdays in November with such special people like Grandpa John Madden, Uncle Brett Favre and cousin Barry Sanders. There’s even that one family member that always comes over even though they weren’t invited. You know the one I mean. That one that everyone claims to like but really nobody can stand them. Yes that one, the Dallas Cowboys. Thanksgiving is all about football, turkey, football, stuffing, football, beer and of course football.
Three games will follow viewings of the Macy’s parade and “March Of The Wooden Soldiers”. The traditional teams of Detroit, Dallas and Green Bay will be in action with all three vying for a division title. All three games on the schedule will feature evenly matched teams and should provide close contests and intriguing. must-watch tv. After all, what else are you going to do…help in the kitchen?
The first match of the day features the Green Bay Packers traveling to Detroit to take on the Lions. With no Aaron Rodgers the Pack have dropped four straight. The Lions haven’t been much better dropping their last two to inferior teams in Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. When I said these teams were evenly matched I was not joking. Green Bay is averaging 25.8 points a game while the Lions average 26. The Pack are giving up 24.1 points a game while Detroit has surrendered 25.2 a game. Matt Flynn was named the starter for this game and he (and all Packer fans really) have to hoping for a repeat of his last performance against the Lions. You all remember that fateful day back in 2012 when he set Green Bay records with 480 passing yards and six touchdowns. The Pack are going to need every bit of offense from him as they’ve fallen from averaging 30.3 points with Rodgers to putting up only 18 a game without him. From the Lions standpoint they are clearly happy to have number two receiver Nate Burleson back in the lineup. Last week he caught 7 balls for 77 yards and a touchdown in his return. Matt Stafford will need all the weapons he can get if he finally wishes to beat Green Bay. Stafford in 0-6 all-time against the Packers. He may have the right time to do it as the cheese heads rank 20th against the pass giving up 235 yards a game through the air. While Green Bay has won the last five meeting by a combined score of 145-105 the loss of Rodgers seems too much to overcome against a high a prolific offense and I don’t see them keeping up. The Lions win game one of the day 34-27.
Oakland takes on Dallas in the cream game. I’ve come to call the second game of the day the cream game because it’s sandwiched between the other two like the cream in an Oreo cookie. Something new I’m trying out, we’ll see how it flies. Anyway, back to the game. If Oakland wants to pull an upset they need to establish their running game. I know people like high scores and passes but Oakland has a great opportunity to do damage on the ground. Rashad Jennings has over 100 all-purpose yards in four straight games. Couple that with Dallas allowing 200+ rushing yards on the ground in back-to-back games and Jennings could be in for a huge game. The Raiders also get Darren McFadden back after he missed three games with a hamstring injury. It’s a good bet Oakland will try to exploit holes in the Cowboys run defense with the absence of linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant. If the run game isn’t working Dallas will surely focus n stopping Raiders receiver Rod Streater who has seemed to become a favorite of QB Matt McGloin. In both of the starts by McGloin he has thrown to Streater 17 times. Rod has hauled in 11 catches for 177 yards and has a score. Denarious Moore is expected to be out for this game. In his two starts McGloin has thrown four TDs and only one interception. He’ll need to keep mistake free if the Raiders want to have a chance. Dallas has a lot to play for. They are above .500 and tied for the NFC East lead. They will certainly do themselves good with a win here put some space between themselves and the rest of the division. They haven’t been good running the ball this year ranking only 29th with 79.7 yards per game. Still, with this one being at home and being motivated to win a division that is in their control I expect the Cowboys to pull this one out 27-24.
After all the food is gone and you sit on the couch with your pants unbuttoned a’ la Homer Simpson you get to watch the Steelers take on the Ravens. These two always play each other tough and if it’s anything like the week 7 meeting we are all in for some good Thanksgiving dessert. In that contest the Ravens held Ben Roethlisberger to only 160 yards passing and one score. More damage was done on the ground as Le’Veon Bell picked up 93 yards on 19 carries and propelled the Steelers to the 19-16 victory. Pittsburgh is hot right now winning their last three games. Antonio Brown is coming off an amazing performance in which he gained 92 yards through the air against the best shutdown corner in the league, Joe Haden. Even Big Ben has been playing Pro Bowl caliber ball with 11 touchdowns to only three picks in his last four games. The Ravens will need Ray Rice to come up big in this one. That hasn’t been the case this season though. While Rice did gain 131 yards against the Bears two games ago he needed 25 carries to do so. Last week against the Jets he touched the ball only 16 times on the ground and it equaled only 30 yards. Rice is in line for his worst season since 2008, his rookie year. He played in only 13 games that season with 4 starts and only 107 carries. He would finish with 454 yards. Ray has topped 50 rushing yards only twice this season and it will be a hard task doing so against Pittsburgh. The Steelers held Cleveland last week to a mere 55 yards on the ground. With both teams in the wild card race I look to Pitt winning this one on the road. The hotter team is victorious 23-20.
I’m not going to go the sentimental route here and end this with a list of everything I’m thankful for this year. Good health, two loving and wonderful sons, a steady job, close family and friends, yada…yada…yada. This year I’m thankful for two of my fantasy teams being in the playoffs and a third being in the hunt. Hey, like I said earlier, Thanksgiving is all about football!!!

P.S. Happy Hanukkah/Chanukah to all my Jewish brethren!!

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