PFT’s Thanksgiving picks

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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.

93 responses to “PFT’s Thanksgiving picks

  1. Ravens will win……….49ers are overrated. they wont be able to run the ball and thus will have to put it on alex smith’s shoulders……..

  2. Ravens don’t lose at home, 23-5 under Harbaugh. As long as they don’t turn the ball over, or give up big plays on specials teams, they win. Too much for a west coast team to go east on a short week. Ravens 20 – 49ers 13.

  3. Wow, you’re both picking a west coast team traveling 3000 miles on a super short week? I have no doubt that a.) Jim will have the 49ers ready to play, and b.) the game will be a close one, but I still think the Ravens win. 20-16 is your final.

  4. Lions packers will be a great game, no matter who wins this will be the best lions Thanksgiving game since Barry sanders, a lot of points will be scored

  5. Wow… Greg… If the Lions win, you’ll be a hero, if they lose, we’ll just continue scratching our heads over that pick…

    And this is from a Detroit fan!

    If we knock Rodgers out of the game, we have a chance, but I think he carves us up otherwise. He doesn’t hold the ball long, so our rush probably won’t get there… I hope you’re right though!

  6. It just sucks rooting for my Fins to win every week knowing that with each victory another QB prospect will be gone by the time we pick in April.

    If necessary I hope our new front office will have the stones to move up and grab one of the top 4 (Luck, Jones, Barcley and Griffin).

    Teams in need: Colts, Browns, Skins, Seahawks, Denver and maybe the Jets and Chiefs.

  7. I predict Thursday night will be the 9’ers coming back to earth party. Won’t even score a touchdown against that Baltimore D.

    They’ll also be one and done come playoffs.

  8. What’s with the snow in the cowboys stadium? I know they had a small roof in Texas Stadium.. But the whole field?

  9. Not too much for this west coast team. May be a good idea to bench Ray Rice from fantasy maybe Gore too. The bigger question is will Flaaco show up to play.

  10. Rosie, since when do the Lions have a good pass defense? Have you watched their games against decent QBs? Rodgers is going to torch them for at least 4 TDs. He’ll negate the pass rush by getting the ball out in 3 steps. Look for a big game from Finley because the Lions LBs are some of the worst in the league in pass coverage.

  11. Let’s not get too carried away with praising the NFL for the selection of these games. Packers-Lions could have very well been a lopsided game when it was selected. Same for Dolphins-Cowboys. And don’t pretend that the schedule makers knew the 49ers would be a one-loss team this late in the year. In fact, back in April, scheduling Panthers-Colts probably made more sense than any of the three games we’re getting. We just got lucky.

  12. Finley better stop dropping passes. They aren’t affordable because the Packers not having Collins is probably worth two TDs for the Lions.

  13. 49ers are overrated? won @DET,@Cinci,@Philli, destroyed Tampa by 45 points, won @ WAS and beat a very good Giants football team at home.

    Oh yeah, Gore had 0 total rushing yards vs NYG, Alex won the game for the 49ers. Oh yeah also, 4th and 2, Alex throws the game winning score in a hostile DET crowd.

    I haven’t even mentioned the defense yet … BEST FRONT 7 IN THE NFL HANDS DOWN

  14. Weather forecast from hell… and snow….temps in the low 20’s…..Rosenthal has picked the Lions!

    I hope you’re right!

  15. Always considered Rosenthal a Ravens-hater. But he has been pretty fair to us this year…and as much as I hate to say it, I agree with his take. Either our D regains its early season form, or we’re not going anywhere. I expected O to be inconsistent. They’re young & still learning.

    2 reasons why Ravens may win: short week east coast trip for 49ers (unfair to them, but I’ll take it!), AND whenever you’re ready to give up on Ravens they come through. Whenever you’re ready to annoint them Kings, they fall flat. I think the former is in play this week…particularly when you see the line iopened at -5 and dropped to -3. The money is on the Niners because people don’t believe in or trust the Ravens (hard to blame them…)

  16. >Weather forecast from hell… and snow….temps in the low 20′s…..Rosenthal has picked the Lions!

    You are aware the game’s in Detroit? High of 51, partly cloudy. With a roof. Rodgers country.

  17. The Ravens defense played 78 snaps Sunday against the Bengals, the 49ers defense played only 48 snaps in dominating time of possession 3-1 against the Cards. That could be the deciding factor late in the game due to the short week. I like the 49ers by 6.

  18. The only more consistent pattern the Ravens exhibit other than losing to bad teams (Jags, Seahawks, Tennessee) is beating good ones (Pitt, Pitt, Houston, Cinci, Jets).

    Baltimore’s penchant for being an emotional team comes in handy occasionally.

  19. Im a niner fan, so i love the pick, but i do believe it could go either way, i think 7 out of 10 times san fran wins, with willis and bowman theres no doubt they can keep ray rice contained and theres a good chance flacco will play poorly, but what worries me is torrey smith over the top. Should be a great game.

  20. wow, we actually got 3 really good games this year……hopefully i dont eat too much turkey and pass out in my lazy boy and miss it….

  21. How is Jim Harbaugh already a great coach? John also took a 6-10 underachieving team loaded with talent to the playoffs his first year and won playoff games each year since? Jim’s “greatness” is measured more against Sopranos first year 11-5 division winning “greatness”. And guess who beat the Dolphins that year?

  22. Thank You Detroit Lions for being relevent. I can’t wait to watch watch an awesome game between the Packers/ Lions, so I can avoid having awkward conversations with relatives I only see once a year.

  23. Sad that you both respect what the Dolphins are doing, but are not picking them. Even though Miami D has not allowed a td in 3 straight games, I think Dallas will get a couple at the end. Dolphins win 27-20

  24. John is a good coach, but Jim is a great one? Has jim been to the playoffs every year as a Head Coach with a Rookie QB? Been to the AFC championship and have a totalt of 4 playoff wins? don’t tell me what he did in college.

    The Ravens are 7-3, just the Pats, Texans, Steelers, and Saints. I don’t get why all the other teams are better, when Ravens beat the Steelers twice and Texans aswell. And even when Ravens win this thursday it still won’t be enough..

    “They lost to seahawks” – So did the world champion saints in the wildcard game last year, NFLs are not bad, maybe two of them, but don’t ‘expect’ to win games in the NFL

    Here’s some research for the writer. Since 2000 the Ravens are 48-18 at home (best record in the NFL), under harbaugh they are 23-5 at home. Since oct. 11th 2009, they have lost 1 game at home, to the Steelers..

  25. Have been waiting for this Lions game all season. Detroit is not as good as everyone thinks and not good enough to beat the Packers. The Pack gets even for Thanksgiving 1962.

  26. The niner are for real so stop with the many times sdebunked “soft schedule crap” They have played only 2 games in the NFC west. this game will be close.

  27. As much as it pains me to say this, I think you guys are wrong about the Ravens/Niners game.

    Traveling to the east coast is rough enough, doing it on a short week makes it even more difficult.

    The Ravens can stop the run. This is going to force Alex Smith to throw the ball against a ballhawking secondary. Throw in the Ravens pass rush at home. I see a disaster coming.

    i still believe in my Niners, but not this week.

    Ravens- 27
    Niners- 13

  28. Actually I fear Rodgers scrambling ability more than his passing, which is saying something. Stafford could learn something from him, when Rodgers gets flushed and noone is open he heads upfield for yardage or goes for the endzone rather than just flinging it out of bounds. Panthers only kept it close on the Lions because of Newton’s rush scores, but that’s still a threat in this game also.

    Packers odds of going undefeated increase dramatically if they win tomorrow, IMO. I hope for a wild show but ultimately a Detroit victory.

  29. all the 9er haters out there that bring up the schedule have never even seen this team play this year. to the Faithful out there, ignore it and have a Happy Thanksgiving. 9-1, GO 9ERS !

  30. This Eagles fan thinks Rosenthal is on crack for picking the Lions. They are vastly improved, but not in the packers league. The Pack is by far the best team in football. They have the best chance to go 19-0 since the 2007 Pats…and frankly, I think a much better one than that.

  31. I like the Lions, Dolphins and Ravens tomorrow.
    The Pack are due for a loss, Romo is due for a Romo type game and the Niners are playing way above their heads this season. The Ravens will come to play.

  32. @purpereign52 says
    “Ravens will win……….49ers are overrated. they wont be able to run the ball and thus will have to put it on alex smith’s shoulders……..”

    Sounds kind of like what the Giants and their fans said. It also sounds kind of like what the Lions and their fans said. We all know how those games turned out.

  33. We’ve got a high scoring shoot out at 12:30, a battle of two streaking teams at 4:15, and a defensive battle at 8:20. Should make for some great games.

  34. Should be no problem for 49ers. Ravens arent really that good. Ya they beat the steelers. But steelers played down to them. Theyre not for real though. SF 23 BALTIMORE 16 FINAL

  35. Pack15 – your unbeatable pack was 2 points away from getting swept by the Lions less than 10 months ago. If you had a rushing game, you might be on to something but the fact is that strength versus strength bodes well for the Lions. Study up. I guarantee you that your Packers aren’t thinking that way.

  36. Judging by all the defensive responses, Raven fan is getting pretty nervous about this game.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the officials will take a niner TD off the board if it’s close like they did for you last week.

  37. The Ravens deserve some crap for their losses but lets not forget they beat the top teams in the AFC. I cant see how noone on this site gives the Ravens credit for the wins vs top teams. P.S. lets see JIM Harbaugh win a couple playoff games before we put him in canton.

  38. Hey Rosenthal,

    Every team gets at Aaron Rodgers, our Oline is awful. That is what makes how well he is playing an amazing feat. Also, no team in the NFL causes match up problems for the Packers WR’s.

  39. Lions pass defense is fifth in the league in yards and have 15 int. Teams have had big play success running the ball and on special teams but the lions d doesn’t get worn down. They are big on third down and make adjustments that allow their offense to get on the field when they are down. This won’t be won by the offenses but which defense makes more plays in a close game. Lions are more battle tested this year needing to make adjustments. Packers usually can linger and stalk panic driven offenses. Won’t be able to do that tomorrow.

  40. All 3 games are “pick ’em”.

    Packers offense is great but defense is suspect. Lions have been feast or famine but secondary will be abused if they can’t make Rodgers uncomfortable but their opportunistic defense could make for a bad day for Stafford. I expect a shootout with the Lions squeaking by.

    49ers are legit under Harbaugh. The Ravens have been inconsistent. Special teams could decide this so I give the edge to the 49ers even with the travel issue.

    Dallas has been inconsistent but have been solid lately. The Dolphins finally look like they have come together as a team. If the turnovers are even I think the Dolphins will get an upset.

  41. Really Rosenthal? Your hard-on for the Cowboys is relentless. Why exactly do you have so much faith in them? Cause they waxed the Bills, barely beat the Seahawks and Redskins? After getting waxed themselves by the Eagles?

  42. For everybody saying the ravens dont lose at home; youre missing one word…often. According to your stats theyve lost five home games. So its possible

  43. As a Saints fan I’ll be pulling for the Dolphins, Ravens, and Lions.

    Sadly I believe that none of those teams will be victorious.

  44. Whatever. The Lions are bigtime underdogs tomorrow. They have lost three of five, including two at home. The Packers have yet to be really challenged this year and they aren’t going to drop their first game in a dome on national TV. Expect them to drop the hammer tomorrow. The Giants have a much better chance of pulling off the upset next week.


    Book it.

  45. Ok, I’m fine with people picking the Ravens, but some of the Raven fans are getting a little too uppity. If you never pick your team to lose, it devalues both your opinion, and your pick if you’re correct. Also, saying the Ravens “don’t lose at home” isn’t true. They rarely lose at home; they aren’t undefeated. That being said, going west to east on a short week is pretty brutal so I’m prepared for the worst.

  46. I seriously think winning the Superbowl is the only way all the Niner doubters will finally realize that they are a very good team. Defeating the Bengals, the all world Eagles, destroying the Buccs (who beat the saints and put up a game vs the Packers), the (previously undefeated) Lions and Giants. And IF they defeat the Ravens at Baltimore, it wont change their minds. Those fans arent football fans, theyre biased fans. They only watch their team and dont appreciate what other teams around the league do. But its ok, this game will be on display for the nation to watch…Hopefully they pull out the win. Good luck to both teams.

  47. Surprised there hasn’t been a story here about 1962, when arguably the best of Lombardi’s Packer teams was 10-0, went into Detroit on Thanksgiving, and got crushed by the Lions. Of course those Packers regrouped and went on to win a world championship. I wouldn’t mind an identical outcome this season too much.
    Wish I knew how much Jennings is hurt for the Pack. They will need Finley to play up to his hype tomorrow if they’re going to win. Time to earn that new contract you want, J-Mike! Just hope the game is a good one and no one gets hurt.
    Why are 9er fans so angry? You’ve got a really good team; be happy! People aren’t showing respect? Why care? It’s better and easier to swoop in under the radar and get people when they aren’t looking for it. I have no doubt the 9ers and the Lions will be getting a lot of positive attention in the upcoming seasons. Good for all of you!
    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! God bless!

  48. Not many folks are giving the Ravens a chance except the Ravens’ fans. That’s fine. I think they prefer it that way.

    Should be exciting no matter what.

  49. only 4o points for both teams…
    our defense sucks and our offense is unstoppable…

    I’m thinking this one could go into the 50s’ point area for both offenses…

    like a 57 – 51 type game….
    man our defense sucks.

  50. explosionsauce says:Nov 23, 2011 9:57 AM
    “So many 9er haters out there. Wow. I guess this is what it’s like to be a winning team and have people hate on you. Just never felt it in the modern Internet decade.”
    or it could be the incessant.
    “Us! Us! Hey, notice us!” whiny yap we’ve been hearing from annoying niner fans that finally show support for their team after a decade…

  51. @axespray

    Agreed!!!!! I didnt even know there were niner fans anymore……now all of the sudden all the ones from the 80s i guess have jumped on there bandwagon again…….either that or they are just mostly bandwagon fans who use to like the colts until manning got hurt. Lol

  52. Well.. I think you all have it wrong…the Fins will beat the crap out of the Cowboys, just like they did last time they played on thanksgiving ..I like what John Harbaugh has done, but brother has done way more… Ravens win at home …Last but not least Packers defense shows up big and makes it easy for Rodgers and company to run up the score. RAVENS ..DOLPHINS..PACKERS… Go FINS!!

  53. the dolphins will show the nation what kind of team the cowgirls really are, and that is a overhyped team that has beaten 6 crappy teams with wins vs the skins twice, bills, rams, seahawks, and 49ers early in the year.

    i am not scared one bit for this game and i am certain the fish will beat the cowgirls tomorrow sending jerry jones home a very angry man.

    fins 34-17

  54. the 49ers will be exposed tomorrow. their defense is playing really well and i can not take that away from them, but they will go nowhere with alex smith as their starter.

    their defense maybe good, but its not a good enough defense where they can carry the team to the superbowl like the 85 bears or 2000 ravens.

  55. I disagree miamidolphins dude above.
    The niners do have a very good defense. These things dont happen by chance. Not a rushing td all year. The only team to do that. #1 in points allowed and tied for first in turnover ratio. I thin its +18. And hasnt let a single player rush for over 100 yrds on them for 31 straight games. This is a very special defense. And you sir..well…you will eat your words come this sunday.

  56. miamidolphins1 says:
    Nov 23, 2011 10:40 PM
    the 49ers will be exposed tomorrow. their defense is playing really well and i can not take that away from them, but they will go nowhere with alex smith as their starter.


    Exposed like they were going to be with the Eagles? Or Tampa? Or the Lions? Or the Giants?

    Seriously, do people just cut and paste the same comments every week? I don’t think a week has gone by without someone predicting the 49ers demise.

    I guess if you post it enough eventually it will become true, the 49ers will eventually lose again.

  57. John vs Jim is interesting subplot. Brothers are very close and John has undoubtedly been giving Jim a leg up in first NFL year. Likely has a few ideas how to beat him, if Raven’s can execute. West to East a concern, and home field on short week an advantage. Ravens need the W more so all the intangibles go to Baltimore. Slight edge, if any, but definitely pick the 9ers in a playoff rematch in SFAN I’d love to see….oops, ok, different leagues, make that the Super Bowl, I’m a Harbaugh fan.

  58. I give the new Harbaugh all the credit in the world for what he’s done.

    But the 49ers are an internet stock waiting to pop. They have been the beneficiary of a ridiculously easy schedule, coupled with playing the few legit teams at opportune times…including this week if Lewis and Ellerbee are out.

    The 49ers secondary is slow, and the Dline has feasted on weak teams. Ravens and Steelers will be a better barometer.

    When the Divisional Round is done, this team will be under the microscope, feeling the immense pressure of following up a 13-3 season with a home playoff victory. They’ll take their 2 seed to the field, Alex Smith will remember he’s Alex Smith, and The Saints will march on.

    Mark it down.

  59. A Raven’s victory is heavily dependent upon their O-line commanding the line of scrimmage. I haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere but it is the inconsistency of the O-line that has led to losses against teams that should have been beaten.

  60. I absolutely love the Ravens as underdogs, they don’t do quite as well when they are favorite. Thanks to PFT and other media outlets for not taking the Ravens seriously, you guys rock!

  61. “Should be no problem for 49ers. Ravens arent really that good. Ya they beat the steelers. But steelers played down to them.”

    The Steelers played down to the Ravens?

    Nah. The Steelers rolled into Baltimore full of themselves and got a good old fashioned azz whopping.

    You think the Steelers played down again in the second game in Pittsburgh in front of their fans?

    No excuses, Steeelers got OWNED by the Ravens!

  62. It appears as though Ravens fans think their team is as good as they were supposed to be, and that the 49ers are as bad as they were predicted to be.. haha. funny.

  63. Good game tonight between the 9ers and Ravens.

    However, bad D-lines don’t make 9 sacks.

    Good O-lines don’t allow 9 sacks. And how many times was Smith pressured?.

    Good offenses score at least 1 touchdown, no matter the caliber of the defense.

    Good teams don’t commit 97 yards of penalties.

    In other words, teams going into M&T Bank stadium shouldn’t expect the Ravens to play like patsies. Just ask the Stillers, or Bengals, or Jets, or Texans, or Cardinals (and that’s just this year).

    And for those who said that Smith would blow Flacco out with passing?
    Smith – 15 of 24 passes for 140 yards
    Flacco – 15 of 23 for 161 yards

    In other words, same number of completed passes with Flacco taking one fewer attempt, and gaining 21 more yards.

    Some blow-out of passing!

  64. There’s also no denying that San Fran drew the short end of the stick travel-wise, as little Harbaugh pointed out.

    But Cincy in week 3 with a rookie QB, a joke of a Dream Team, Detroit and Washington ain’t much. Detroit really got exposed against the real Dream Team, GB.

    The legit teams SF did play, Dallas and Balt., beat them, although they were in both games late.

    Jim Harbaugh deserves Coach of the Year unanimously. Doesn’t mean they’re not losing after the Wild Card round though.

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