Week 12 Thanksgiving 10-pack

We’ve moved the Friday 10-pack to Thursday, since posting it on Thursday puts the Thanksgiving games in play for our 10 takes regarding the coming weekend of games.

I also needed to get it done early because I’ll be spending Thursday night preparing to host The Dan Patrick Show on Friday, a process which may look a lot like achieving and maintaining a turkey-induced stupor.  Primarily because that’s precisely what it will be.

1.  At least the NFL tried to give us good games on Thanksgiving.

Every year, complaints arise regarding the quality of the games played on the fourth Thursday in November.  This year, the NFL did something about it.

Though the Lions continue to have a hammerlock on the early game, the NFL picked the Patriots to be the visiting team.  (Because CBS will televise the game, the road team had to be from the AFC; this year, the choices were the Jets and the Patriots.  Either way, a quality opponent would have been pegged for the game.)

For the afternoon contest, the NFL earmarked a game that, as of April, looked to be one of the 10 best of the year — Saints at Cowboys.  Though the Cowboys’ struggles have made the game less intriguing, the NFL opted not to take advantage of its captive audience by offering up the weakest home game on the Dallas schedule.  (Then again, the Lions already were booked.)

The night game — Bengals at Jets — also looked as of April to be a potentially great game, given that the Bengals and Jets both made the playoffs in 2009.  Who knew that the Bengals would be after 10 games The 2-Ocho Show?

Short of moving Thanksgiving to September, the risk that games that looked great in April will be relevant in November applies to every NFL season.  All we can ask is that the NFL attempt to provide quality games.

Even if the Lions and Cowboys would lose their automatic home games, there’s no way of knowing that the games picked prior to the season will involve quality teams by the time the games are played.  What if the Vikings had “earned” a home game on Thanksgiving as a result of their 2009 performance?  Or the 49ers, based on the widespread belief that they’d be much improved in 2010?

In April, every season is a crapshoot.  At least the NFL has finally decided to shoot for something other than crap on Thanksgiving.

2.  Favre could thrive under Frazier.

The decision of Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier to keep brett Favre at quarterback makes sense.  Frazier will earn the job for 2011 only by winning games, and Farve at quarterback gives Frazier the best chance to do that.

The Vikings don’t need to know what Tarvaris Jackson can do; he had relevance only when a change of quarterbacks may have belped salvage a playoff berth.  And Frazier has no interest in developing Joe Webb to become the possible starter for the next regime.

So what of the notion that Favre will continue to produce more turnovers than a baker on an IV full of Red Bull?  Without former coach Brad Childress peering over Favre’s shoulder and constantly telling him what to do and what not to do, it’s entirely possible that Favre will perform better.

Even though reeling off six in a row likely won’t be enough to edge out one of the three-loss teams currently in position to take both of the wild-card spots, a strong finish to the season would partially rehab Favre’s fading legacy — and it would give Frazier a fighter’s chance at keeping the job.  Having Childress out of the picture will make if easier for Favre to just relax and play.

3.  Delhomme’s revenge.

Earlier this year, the Carolina Panthers discarded quarterback Jake Delhomme like an empty bottle of screw-top wine.  And for good reason.  Ever since the completion of the 2008 regular season, Delhomme had been playing like a guy whose Gatorade had been spiked with a full bottle of screw-top wine.

On Sunday, Delhomme will get his first start since Week One, due to Colt McCoy’s ankle sprain.  Coincidentally, that start will come against the Carolina Panthers.

So the game will provide Delhomme with a shot at redemption, a chance to prove the Panthers wrong.

Then again, given that Delhomme received a contract worth $20 million guaranteed before the 2009 season, it’s the Panthers that should be thinking about revenge.

Either way, the link gives a sliver of meaning to an otherwise meaningless game.

4.  It’s getting no easier for Mike Vick.

If the Eagles and quarterback Mike Vick struggle at Soldier Field on Sunday, it’ll be easy to blame the Sports Illustrated jinx, given that he graces the magazine’s cover this week.  But we’re not much for jinxes, unless the person to be jinxed allows himself to think that the jinx exists.

For Vick, the bigger concern should be opposing defenses studying ever bit of tape from his performances to date, building on game plans that slowed him down and trying to devise the one tactic that will shut him down and/or knock him out.

Though the Bears present the latest challenge, a pair of games against the Cowboys, a rematch with the Giants, and a date with the Vikings remain.  With each passing week, defenses will be trying even harder to be the team that solves the Vick riddle, preferably by putting him back on the injury report.

Look for the Bears, mired in a seven-quality-teams-but-only-five-spots chase for the postseason, to pull out all the stops.

5.   Monday night loser could still be alive.

Thanksgiving weekend wraps up with a Monday night game between the 49ers and Cardinals.  It presents a rare stinker on ESPN’s 2010 slate.  But it’s not as bad as it appears, if we ignore the fact that each team has a record of 3-7.

If the 5-5 Seahawks lose on Sunday against the Chiefs, the loser of Monday night’s game will remain only two games out of first place with five games to play.

Sure, the loser will be a woeful 3-8.  But if we can get past that won-loss record, the reality is that the loser can still get hot in December and steal the division and reset its record to 0-0 in the single-elimination tournament that will commence with the NFC West champion hosting a playoff game.

6.  In Atlanta, home-field advantage possibly hangs in the balance.

The game of the week undoubtedly occurs in the Georgia Dome, where the red-hot Packers take on the red-hot Falcons.

Under quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons have won 18 games and lost only one at home.  Under quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have scored a total of 76 points in consecutive games against the Cowboys and Vikings.

The Packers are more than a good offense; their defense has allowed only 10 points in three games, including the pitching of a shutout of the Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

With these two teams destined to play beyond January 2, this game will go a long way toward determining where the second game may occur.  And regardless of what happens this time around, the location of a January rematch will have a lot to do with its potential outcome.

7.  Keep an eye on Tom Brady’s foot.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has no qualms when it comes to talking about his injuries.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is more apt to talk about his hair.

And so it’s impossible to know the exact diagnosis of and prognosis for Brady’s current foot injury, which caused him to miss practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and to be listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, a rare departure from his usual designation as probable.

Sporting a defensive line that could give the Patriots flashbacks to Super Bowl XLII and a Detroit team that is otherwise irrelevant in NFL circles, it’ll be interesting to see whether these Lions use their rare national spotlight as an occasion to roar, by pouncing on Brady’s bum foot.

8.  Colts are suddenly in trouble.

If the season ended today, the Colts’ season would be over.  And while they’ll play four of their final six games at home, the Colts face the prospect of missing the playoffs — and of winning fewer than 10 games — for the first time since Jim Mora refused to use the “P” word.

The slide very well could continue on Sunday night, when the surging Chargers come to town.  The Chargers have played the Colts well in recent years, providing Indy with a consistent thorn in their side.

And while both of the quarterbacks have had to overcome injuries to their supporting cast on offense, the Chargers are getting healthy a lot faster than the Colts.  And the Chargers will have receiver Vincent Jackson back, for the first time all year.

It could spell trouble once again for the Colts.  At 6-5, the Colts would have to make like the Chargers and finish strong in order to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

9.  Bucs get their chance to impress.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have handled every team they’ve faced, with the exception of the three elite franchises they’ve played — the Steelers, Saints, and Falcons.

This weekend, the Bucs draw the Ravens.  On the road.

On paper, this is another game that Tampa should lose.  If the Bucs find a way to win, it’ll be time to take this team seriously.

Actually, it’s already time to take this team seriously.  With upcoming games against the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks, 10 wins could be in the offing.  With the Ravens, Falcons, and Saints also on the docket, victory in any one of those games will help the Bucs do the unthinkable — nailing down coach of the year honors for Raheem Morris, and possibly executive of the year recognition for Mark Dominik.  With a roster devoid of pricey veterans, the Bucs are one of the few teams that is playing like a true team.

10.  Chargers are following form, and will likely continue to do so.

After the Chargers lost five of their first seven games, we said (one or twice, or more often) that the team eventually would try to follow a slow start with a fast finish — and fail.

But the Chargers have shown that they can do it again, reeling off three wins and moving to within a game of first place in the AFC West.  And they’ll likely continue their climb to the playoffs.

Where they’ll likely lose in one of the first two rounds.

While, as mentioned above, they match up well with the Colts, the Chargers eventually would face the Patriots, Jets, Ravens, or Steelers.  And with five losses already in the standings, the Chargers will have to take their pass-first offense to an open-air stadium in the Northeast.  In the middle of January.

Moving forward, and as our friend Scott Caplan of XX 1090 in San Diego pointed out during our weekly Wednesday morning radio visit, the Chargers should redouble their efforts to figure out why they can’t win more games in September and October.  If they could emerge into November and December with a better record, they’d be able to force some of the other elite teams to San Diego in January.

Hey, at least the Chargers wouldn’t have to face a long flight home after losing.

23 responses to “Week 12 Thanksgiving 10-pack

  1. Does anyone else find the NFC West depressing? I’m not saying this as a fan of any NFC West team, but as a fan that doesn’t want to see a 6-to-7 win team in the playoffs. C’mon guys, shoot for 8-8!

  2. Im not sure who I want to lose out of the Falcons Packers game. On 1 hand the Falcons have 1 more win then the Eagles but they have already lost to them on the Other the Packers have the same record as the Eagles but they have already beaten them.

    I think Id rather have the Falcons win bc I believe it will be easier for the Eagles to have a better record over the Falcons in the last 6 weeks of the season then the Packers.

    Right now theres a 3 team race for home field advantage through out the playoffs in the NFC and I believe only 1 of these 2 teams will get a bye week once the playoff starts b/c the Eagles will get the other 1.

  3. At least the Lions are playing interesting games this year. They are keeping it close for most of them, they either fail in the last 2 minutes or the refs cheat them in the last 2 minutes. Maybe they can finish this one.

  4. ….ten (10) responses to this post…and only a mere mention of the Packers. When they systematically dissect the Falcons this Sunday, the Packers will be the lead story on every sports news service.

  5. You nailed it finally!! The Bucs are playing like a “True Team” they believe in themselves even though nobody gives them the time of day. They support their coach, their GM, the little ammount of fans who make it to games and most importantly themselves.

    As a fan I’m glad they are still very under the radar and that they are playing as a”TEAM” Totally impressed with coach Morris and the ideology put in place for this young team, can’t wait to see how the rest of the season plays out!!

  6. 2. Favre could thrive under Frazier.

    Do you mean to infer……as Lloyd Christmas would say; “So you’re saying there is a chance!”

    You think they (Vikings management) actually want to see if there is a reason to ask Favre back next year?

    Please clarify before I puke.

  7. I understand Pervy well enough to know he won’t be able to refrain from checking these posts out.

    “Hey Pervy….between me and you on a personal level…you don’t know how pleasant it is to get you and your mutual-admiration society dipwads to STFU.”

    Go get yourself a tattoo for Christmas that reads; “Maybe Next Year.” It will never go out of style.

  8. If Vick’s receivers hadn’t dropped two very good throws while they were open in the endzone, the score in the Giants/Eagles game would have been 41-17 instead of 27-17 and nobody would talk about defenses figuring out Vick. I’m not saying he isn’t vulnerable, he probably is, but I don’t see a lot of evidence that they slowed Vick down. He still completed 60 percent of his passes, didn’t throw a pick, and ran for a touchdown. And could have easily had two passing touchdowns if his receivers hadn’t suddenly gotten a case of the drops. That’s against one of the best defenses in the NFL, second in the NFL overall.

    Maybe somebody will figure out how to stop Vick, but I don’t think the Giants really got that close.

  9. A note today to all you moronic Jet fans who bust on Brady’s hair and who question his masculinity. Think back to Joe’s long hair, fur coat and pantie hose. Now this is a “man”. I bet Brady won’t be trying to kiss sport casters on the sidelines when he’s retired. Who was he trying to kiss anyway, Kevin Faulk?

  10. Most of the Chargers PlayOff loses have come in San Diego.
    09 – Jets
    08 – @ Pit
    07 – @ NE
    06 – NE
    04 – Jets
    This year the loss should involve PIT again.
    Let’s face it, the Chargers are only winning games because of QB Philip Rivers. You can not beat good, complete teams with one player. The Chargers will make the PlayOffs and lose again. If the Chargers win all of the games during the regular season, they still will lose to the Jets, the Patriots, or the Steelers.

  11. I don’t mind seeing a 6 or 7 win team in the playoffs for winning their division, but I hate it that they would then HOST a 10, 11, or 12-game winner

  12. Norv Turner knows how to do just enough to keep his job. He did it for 7 years in Washington and is doing the same in San Diego.

    Charger fans should start campaigning now for him to be fired.

  13. I agree with it all. But here’s a couple things that I wish to add:

    1. The Eagles can beat the Bears with a sub-par Mike Vick. The key to this game is actually the Eagles defense vs. the Bears offensive line. I think that Vick will get a couple of big plays and that McCoy will have a 100-yard day. I think that Vick will do just enough to win, though.

    2. The Falcons-Packers game, to me, is the game of the week. Matt Ryan is playing very well right now. I mean, he’s playing the best he’s ever played. And the Falcons looks like the NFC South Champs because they are complete. But the Packers just looks… better.

    Here’s my thought- whoever hits the other in the mouth first wins. I think they’re evenly matched. I give the game to the Falcons, though. Matt Ryan lost one game at the Georgia Dome in his career. Ryan is Superman inside the Georgia Dome.

    3. The Vikings are going to get beaten up this next game. I think that the defense will improve, but the offense still have Favre at quarterback. And let me tell you: This Favre isn’t the same guy as last year. When you reach 40, your body can change from week to week. His body is simply failing him and he’s frustrated. Me too. I wish I still had my sub-4.5-40 and can catch anything in the air. I wish I could dunk again, just one more time. But we all get old. And Brett’s old.

    4. Delhomme sucks. He always have. I can’t understand why he was in people’s conversations earlier. This guy was an easy win for the Falcons even when he was considered a good quarterback.

    5. This Thanksgiving, the only “Must-see TV” Football game is the Saints-Cowboys. I don’t like either team personally. Cowboys sucks and they have that pile-jumper, Keith Brooking on the team. As a Falcons fan, you can’t root for a guy who when they beat an injury-ridden Falcons team, he celebrated like he won the Super Bowl. (Stay Classy, Keith!) Oh, and it’s written somewhere in the Falcons fan contract that you must vehemently hate the Saints. The Saints hate the Falcons, too. It just makes the world spin correctly.

    So I actually wish that they both lose, but I am going to watch to see how different the Cowboys are under Garrett. And I want to see if anything changed since we got waayyy up into the Saints earlier in the season.

  14. I met a fairy today who granted me one wish. “I want to live forever, ” I said.

    “Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant wishes like that!”

    “Fine,” I said. “I want to die after the Vikings win the Super Bowl!”

    “You crafty bastard,” said the fairy.

  15. It is about time to give the Bucs organization a little love. The team is a real TEAM. Thats all everyone talks about here in the media is how these guys are sticking together. No super stars , no bragging just facts. Finding a way to win. The players are giving all the credit to the coaching staff and the coaches are giving it back to the players. Egos have no place on this squad.
    Let’s hope Josh Freeman can avoid Ray Lewis and pull another one out of the hat this Sunday.

  16. Why does everyone keep saying that Favre gives the Vikings the best chance to win? He’s the worst quarterback in the NFL. Tavaris Jackson may not be Johnny Unitas, but he can’t be as bad as Favre.

  17. Detroit created this “Holiday” game and no one else wanted to step up to the plate and join them until Dallas reluctantly did so with the provision that they be made a permanent host. With the exception of a few AFC teams, no one else really wanted to join the party until the TV ratings were too good to pass up and then they started clamoring for a spot at the table as a host. People want to throw these teams off and put others there but these two teams MADE this tradition so I think it’s a little silly to kick them to the curb just because you finally realized what a good thing it would be. The NFL Network has its Thanksgiving Game, though not the AFC hosting game, as it was meant to be so the others can fight over playing on that network.

    Because Dallas usually won the week after, there have been complains about the unfair advantage that they get and yet, no one is saying the same thing about the Lions, who haven’t exactly turned the next week into a winning tradition. It’s funny that these very same teams aren’t talking about any perceived advantage that they get for playing a Thursday night game on any other “Thursday” of the year.

  18. Chargers have played their worst playoff games at home after a bye.

    They actually played very well in NE when Rivers had a torn ACL and Gates and LT were injured.

    The Pats have a very bad defense this year that is masked by good coaching and QB. My hope is the Chargers make a return to NE in January and avenge their playoff losses.

  19. Detroit needs to be stripped of being awarded the Thanksgiving Game year after year. Don’t give me this crap of tradition and so forth. This team has been unwatchable for years and for them to be awarded with a nationally televised game annually isn’t fair for other teams that deserve to got the spotlight.
    Change it up NFL, you claim your league is progressive. Mixing up the Thanksgiving Day match-ups is a step in the right direction.

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