As the NFL rolls into Thanksgiving week, we don’t have to look far down the schedule to find one thing for which we can be thankful. In fact, by about noon today, it should be glaringly obvious: that we only have to watch the Detroit Lions once per season.
Yes, I know that's the way I began last week’s column. But I went 10-5 against the spread last week for only my second week of double-digit wins against the Vegas experts this season.
I swear, though, I'm not superstitious, even if I'm typing this column with my fingers crossed while sitting in plain view on my desk – a wooden one that I can knock on – are a four-leaf clover, a rabbit's foot and the core of an apple I just ate to keep the doctor away.
Before we get to this week’s picks, I would just like to take a moment to wish all of you reading this a happy Thanksgiving.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers (-9 1/2): This game will be broadcast in 3-D at theaters in select cities. Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations, told the Wall Street Journal that the technology will allow people to “get excited about it and see what the future holds.” As far as Raiders and Chargers fans are concerned, though, the only future stuff to get excited about is a high draft pick next year. Pick: Chargers 28-17.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears (-6 1/2): You want motivation? I'll give you motivation. The last-place Jaguars are in danger of becoming only the second team in NFL history to finish below the Houston Texans in the AFC South. Pick: Bears 23-20.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-7): Apparently, here’s what happened with Plaxico “Barney Fife” Burress. He was packing heat to protect himself in a New York City nightclub. The gun slipped down his pants. Burress tried to grab the gun, but the gun went off and Burress shot himself right in his career. Pick: Giants 27-17.
Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers (-5 1/2): If only the Texans could wear their all-red uniforms while the Packers were dressed in their yellow and green uniforms. Then we could have ketchup, mustard and pickles in the same game. Pick: Packers 34-27.
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-13 1/2): A week after defeating Cleveland 10-6, the Colts take on the NFL’s other Ohio team. That’s not exactly running the gauntlet, but it is a great way to stay in the playoff race. Pick: Colts 20-10.
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (-13 1/2): Quarterbacks Brady Quinn (finger) and Derek Anderson (knee) are done for the season. So is the Browns’ offense. Pick: Titans 20-9.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3): If it weren’t for the Chargers, Seahawks, Browns, Bengals, Colts and Jaguars, the Saints would be the biggest disappointment of the season. Pick: Falcons 28-27.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (no line): Citizens of Detroit are in an uproar – pardon the Lions-related pun – because there is speculation that the NFL may take away Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving Day game. Hey, they’re lucky they don’t take away the Lions. Pick: Vikings 30-10.
New England Patriots (-4 1/2) at Seattle Seahawks: This game originally was scheduled for Sunday night but was moved into the late afternoon slot through the NFL’s flexible scheduling policy. Outgoing Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren asked if the game could be moved to 2009 when he won’t be around. Pick: Patriots 27-14.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (-9): In their past three games, the Broncos have won at Atlanta, lost by three touchdowns at home to Oakland and doubled up on the Jets 34-17 in New Jersey. I can’t figure out the Broncos, so I’m flipping a coin for this game. There’s the toss. And the penny comes up ... heads. Now, which team was heads? Pick: Broncos 33-21.
New York Jets (-4) at San Francisco 49ers: Not to sound like Al Michaels here, but although the Jets lead the AFC East, their secondary is horrible at “covering.” Pick: Jets 24-21.
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills (-1) at Toronto: NFL officials immediately regret moving this game to Canada when the start is delayed while Rogers Centre officials scramble to locate a down marker that has a “4.” Pick: Dolphins 24-20.
Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3): After the news out of Cowboys practices this week, I can’t help but wonder whether Adam “Pacman” Jones wears his Bart Simpson pajama pants under his uniform, too. But it’s obvious that Steelers safety Troy Polamalu wears Superman pajama pants under his. Pick: Doh! – Steelers 24-20.
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-14): Did you know the Rams have reached the 20-point mark in only one game this season? Would you like to guess the opponent in that game? If it helps, here’s a hint Wheel of Fortune style: D A - - A - C O - - O Y -. Pick: Cardinals 31-13.
Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (-5): Remember when the Washington Redskins were playing better than we all thought they would, and everybody was talking about how that made the NFC East the toughest division in football? Well, the Redskins are fading and so is my opinion of the East. In fact, I did some research. Did you know that NFC East teams have only a .500 record against each other? Pick: Ravens 24-10.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-3): My fearless Monday Night Football prediction: In the pregame spot from the booth, Ron Jaworski will say, “The return from injury of running back Cadillac Williams has provided a boost to the Tampa Bay offense.” And Tony Kornheiser will say, “You're right, Jaws, but at this stage in his comeback from major knee surgery, this Cadillac has to be considered more like the STS than the Escalade.” Pick: Panthers 23-17.
Last week: 9-7 (.563) overall, 10-5 (.667) vs. the spread. Season: 116-75-1 (.607) overall, 92-90-4 (.505) vs. the spread.