It’s hardly hyperbolic to claim that this year’s trio of Thursday games represents the best Thanksgiving slate the NFL ever has offered.
Thanks to the decision as of 2006 to add a nightcap on NFL Network and the more recent commitment to sacrifice games with great Sunday-Monday primetime potential for a captive audience that would tune in for Panthers-Colts, the chances for getting great games on Thanksgiving generally have increased.
This year, we have two potentially great ones and one that has dramatically improved in perception since Halloween. And so Rosenthal and I decided to pick the Thursday three-pack separately. Though the outcome will count in the year-to-date standings, the winner of tomorrow’s contest gets special recognition.
Especially since it’s the only chance I have to get any recognition this year when it comes to picking games.
Packers at Lions
Florio’s take: The Lions like to fall behind and then come back. The Packers have the type of defense that allows that to happen. But the Green Bay offense is good enough to hold off the charge. Get your popcorn ready. And your calculators.
Florio’s pick: Packers 48, Lions 42.
Rosenthal’s take: The Packers are great, but not 16-0 great. Detroit gives them matchup problems because they get after the quarterback and defend the pass well. Detroit dominated the Packers up front last year. The Lions’ weak run defense won’t matter because the Packers won’t test them. It’s going to be a happy Thanksgiving in the Motor City.
Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 34, Packers 31.
Dolphins at Cowboys
Florio’s take: Not long ago, this looked like a game that not even an inch of sleet and a cameo from Leon Lett could make interesting. With the two teams on a combined six-game winning streak and the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East, this could be a surprisingly good one.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 28, Dolphins 24.
Rosenthal’s take: The Dolphins aren’t your average 3-7 team. They have won the last three games by a combined score of 86-20. Matt Moore is playing at a very high level and can exact some revenge on the Cowboys for cutting him in 2007. The Cowboys aren’t an average 6-4 team either. They could be the most balanced squad in the NFC.
Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 27, Dolphins 24.
49ers at Ravens
Florio’s take: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh knows how to get the most out of his team. He also knows how to get the best of his brother. Look for both to happen on Thursday night. John Harbaugh is a very good coach, but Jim already is a great one. And that will be the difference.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 17, Ravens 10.
Rosenthal’s take: The more I watch the Ravens, the less impressed I am. The defense gives up too many big plays and can get pushed around up front. The offense is erratic drive-to-drive. San Francisco has the tougher front seven and running game. The 49ers are the team we all thought the Ravens were.
Rosenthal’s pick: 49ers 17, Ravens 14.