Last week I walked away unscathed after going 2-0 along with the Steelers push at +3 so that goes as a non-pick basically, but I’ll take 10-1-1 on the year, and this week I’m making six picks, three for Thursday and three for Sunday, because it’s Thanksgiving folks!
Home Team in CAPS
DALLAS COWBOYS -3 vs. Washington Redskins
Tony Romo has now gone three straight games without an interception. Just let that sink in please. Well, something has clicked with Romo lately and the Cowboy’s record is showing it with two wins in those three games; the lone loss coming in Atlanta which was a close game as well. His latest win came in come-from-behind fashion as Romo led the boys from ten down in the fourth quarter to force overtime where eventually Dan Bailey booted home the game winner. It’s pretty clear that if Romo doesn’t turn the ball over then the Cowboys will be successful, and we have hit the point in the year where Tony doesn’t lose much, November (8-1 last 9 November games). This week they face the Redskins who have the third highest turnover difference in the NFC and come off forcing three turnovers against the woeful Eagles last week. The Skins give up just under 300 yards passing per game and have holes that Romo can exploit, as well as key defenders on the mend. Already without defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, things could get more difficult to stop Romo after safety Brandon Meriweather suffered a season-ending torn right ACL last weekend. London Fletcher isn’t sure if he’ll be able to suit up either after spraining his ankle, but he has yet to miss a game in his entire 15-year career so I expect him to be in there. Robert Griffin III will go up against a stout Cowboys secondary, and I believe he will be nothing special this week. The game will come down to Alfred Morris who has been producing a good YPC lately, but not getting enough touches to make significant impact; so if Shanahan is able to manage the offense well then that will do dividends for Washington. Dez Bryant will try to have another monster game after last week’s 12 catch 145-yard performance while also finding the end zone. Dez’s potential is through the roof, but his big drawback is his mental game so after a huge game last week I see him duplicating that this week and bringing Dallas the victory. Dallas isn’t the sexy pick this week with the consensus, but I like going against the tide. With a win Dallas moves within a half game of Big Blue. This game means a lot folks.
Houston Texans -3 vs. DETROIT LIONS
The Texans clearly weren’t prepared for the Chad Henne show last week. I don’t think the rest of the world was either, but nevertheless Houston prevailed and continues to boast the best record in the AFC. Detroit squandered away another fourth quarter lead, this time to rival Green Bay at home. Leading by six in the fourth, the Lions allowed the Pack to answer twice and walk away with a four point win. Stafford struggled and completed less than half of his passes while throwing two picks. The Texans offense really came to life last week with Matt Schaub throwing for the second most yards in a game in NFL History. Andre Johnson hauled in 14 catches for a staggering 273 yards and a score, while Arian Foster and Justin Forsett combined for 136 yards on the ground. I will chalk Chad Henne gashing the Texans’ formidable defense to being prepared for Blaine Gabbert and not the backup. I don’t see Stafford being able to do much versus the Texans and expect to see Calvin Johnson doubled throughout the game the same way Brandon Marshall was two weeks ago when he faced Houston. The Lions have difficulty stopping the run which will allow Arian Foster and company to have field day and open up the passing game. The game will be close until the fourth where Houston will pull ahead for good and win by more than touchdown.
NEW YORK JETS +7 vs. New England Patriots
These two matched up about a month ago in Foxboro with many expecting a blow-out including Vegas. The Patriots favored by ten points at home jumped out to a six point halftime lead that grew to ten by the end of the third which is when many expected Gang Green to pack it in and say goodnight. Well that didn’t happen, instead Mark Sanchez instilled an improbable comeback to take the lead in Foxboro and cause New England to kick a last second field goal to force overtime where the Patriots eventually walked away with the victory. What some might forget in that game was the ball that went through Stephen Hill’s hand on 3rd and 4 with just over two minutes left on the Patriot 25 yard line. If caught, Hill would have secured a first down and put the ball in the red zone while killing more clock; instead Nick Folk tied the game at 23 on a field goal. The following kickoff was fumbled away by Dexter McCourty and recovered by the Jets. Rex Ryan played it really conservative and ran a Tebow quarterback draw (Followed by the 2 minute warning), a Joe McKnight direct snap (Followed by a Belichick Timeout), and a pass play which got Sanchez sacked for ten yards (Followed by a Belichick Timeout). Nick Folk gave the Jets a temporarily lead, but instead of trying to get a first down or touchdown the Jets used no clock and gave Tom Brady more than enough time to set up Stephen Gostkowski for a game tying field goal. If the right plays were called the Jets could have walked away with a regulation win, but they weren’t and that is what separates Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick. Coming into the night cap of Thursday’s festivities the Jets come off a strong road victory against the Rams. Sanchez played a very efficient, turnover-free game and completely 75% of his passes. The Patriots man-handled Andrew Luck’s Colts and put up 59 points to show for it. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm on the final PAT and will have to miss the next 4-6 weeks. This is a crucial injury to the Patriots because in their win over the Jets, Gronk hauled in six catches (two scores) for 78 yards. New England will have to get big days from Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Stevan Ridely in order to make up for Rob’s absence. The Pats are also hoping they get back their other super star tight end Aaron Hernandez who will be a game-time decision with an ankle injury, even though they expect him to play. The Jets have a very favorable schedule after this one and with a surprising win on Turkey Day the playoffs might not seem out of reach anymore. With the home crowd behind them in such an anticipated game between two teams that just hate each other I definitely see a close one throughout. The seven points to the home team here is way too much so I’m going with the Jets under the lights.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING ….more picks to come for the weekend