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.
Last week, the Lions opened a 17-0 first-quarter lead against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then proceeded to allow 35 unanswered points and lose 38-20.
That made the Lions 0-3 this season when leading by at least 10 points in the second quarter. But then again, they’re 0-8 when they don’t lead by at least 10 points in the second quarter.
No matter what statistical category you want to come up with and research, the Lions will be 0-and-something. And, by the middle of Thanksgiving afternoon, they’ll be 0-and-something bigger.
Tennessee Titans (-11) at Detroit Lions: Way back in November 1623, if Plymouth Colony Gov. William Bradford could have known that watching the Detroit Lions would become a Thanksgiving Day tradition, do you think he would have told everybody to just stay home? Pick: Titans 31-14.
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-12 1/2): Take one look at this matchup and tell me what you think Jerry Jones is thankful for this year. Pick: Cowboys 31-13.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles (-3): The Eagles’ injury report includes RB Brian Westbrook (knee), RB Correll Buckhalter (knee), CB Asante Samuel (neck), S Brian Dawkins (groin) and QB Donovan McNabb (ego). Pick: Eagles 28-24.
New York Giants (-3 1/2) at Washington Redskins: During a New York Daily News online chat, participants were asked whether Eli Manning is one of the NFL’s top five quarterbacks. Eighty-nine percent said yes. Later, they were asked whether they were surprised that that many voters had rated Manning among the top five. Eighty-nine percent said no. I love consistency. Pick: Giants 23-14.
Indianapolis Colts (-4 1/2) at Cleveland Browns: Romeo Crennel’s Browns team scored six — six!!! — points against the Texans last week in dropping to 4-7 in a season that opened with postseason expectations. Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou going next season? Pick: Colts 27-13.
Baltimore Ravens (-7) at Cincinnati Bengals: Last week, the Bengals became the first AFC team to be eliminated from playoff contention. At least they were first at something. Pick: Ravens 21-10.
Miami Dolphins at St. Louis Rams (no line): Five games behind the first-place Cardinals with five games remaining, the Rams no longer control their own destiny. Pick: Dolphins 23-7.
San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills (-7): The 49ers ran six plays Sunday from the Cowboys’ 5-yard line or closer and failed to gain even one yard on all six. Interim coach Mike Singletary said Monday that offensive coordinator Mike Martz would have picked different plays if given a second chance. That’s why they’re high-paid coaches and the rest of us have to pay to get in. Pick: Bills 24-20.
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers (-3): Combined, these teams allowed 96 points last week. Perhaps they should combine their defenses to make one good one. Pick: Packers 31-23.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3 1/2): The Bucs allowed the Lions to score 17 first-quarter points last week then held them to three points the rest of the way. Saints quarterback Drew Brees will lead his team to 17 early points, then 17 more. Who dat say dey gonna stop dem Saints? Pick: Saints 34-27.
Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers (-5): Thanks to the poor quality of the AFC West, the 4-7 Chargers keep losing games and keep staying in the playoff hunt. The Chargers have been handed as many chances to hang around as Adam Jones. Like Pacman, one more slip-up and they’re gone. Pick: Chargers 31-30.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-1): Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel is making $520,000 this year. There is debate over whether New England should place its franchise tag on him at a price of about $14 million for next season. Try telling Cassel the economic forecast for the next year is bleak. Pick: Patriots 20-17.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (-3): Two teams that no one without rooting interests wants to watch. The Chiefs are 1-10. The Raiders are 3-8. This matchup is so bad that the NFL considered moving it to mid-December and calling it a bowl game. Pick: Raiders 31-21.
Denver Broncos at New York Jets (-7 1/2): For the second consecutive week, the Jets face a team leading its division. Of course, the Broncos have five more losses than the Titans did before they played the Jets. Pick: Jets 37-21.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-3): By my calculations, these teams are a combined 5-3 in must-win games this season. Here’s another one. Pick: Vikings 23-17.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-3 1/2): This week’s fearless Monday Night Football prediction: In the pregame spot from the booth, Ron Jaworski will say, “Both of these teams are 4-7 and neither expected to be where they are tonight.” And Tony Kornheiser will say, “Of course they knew, Jaws! All season long the schedule has read that these two teams would be in Houston tonight!” Pick: Texans 21-17.
Last week: 10-5-1(.656) overall, 6-9 (.400) vs. the spread. Season: 99-60-1 (.622) overall, 75-76-4 (.498) vs. the spread.