Friday, November 25, 2016

NFL Thanksgiving Games Review & Week 12 Preview

Okay, so I realize that my writing routine here has been thrown a bit off ever since the election, and apologize for it. Last week, I do not believe I either reviewed the games played, nor gave my predictions for this week on time for the Thanksgiving Day games. 

So, to try and remedy that, I wrote a review of yesterday's games, followed by my predictions for this coming Sunday in the NFL Granted, it's a bit late, but better late than never, right?

Detroit 16, Minnesota 13 - A tough, close, defensive battle in the Motor City for Thanksgiving yesterday, in what was a battle for first place in the NFC North. As a result, for the first time all season, the Lions improved to 7-4 on the year, and are in sole possession of first place in the division, after handing the now 6-5 Vikings their fifth loss in a span of six games. That follows an undefeated 5-0 start for Minnesota, although that is feeling more and more like it might as well be ancient history. In terms of this season, it actually is. Sam Bradford completed 31 of 37 passes for 224 yards, with no touchdowns on one interception. Matthew Stafford completed 23 of 40 passes for 232 yards and one touchdown. Neither team had particularly great running stats, as this was mostly a defensive battle. The major difference here was that Detroit needed no last minute, come from behind heroics, instead earning a tough victory in a close game, holding onto it in the end, and claiming first place in the NFC North, and with hopes to win their first division title since the 1993 season - which was 23 years ago now! 

Dallas 31, Washington 26 - Another important divisional rivalry game yesterday, and the Dallas Cowboys brought out their rare dark jerseys, which has kind of become a thing now for Thanksgiving - kind of their new tradition. Kirk Cousins had a pretty spectacular game in a losing cause yesterday, completing 41 of 53 passes for 449 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. However, Dak Prescott was simply efficient enough to get the job done, not putting up spectacular numbers, but more than filling the role he needs for what was a far more balanced Dallas offense that did not put all of the pressure on their quarterback, as was the case with Washington. Prescott completed 17 of 24 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown, and spread the wealth considerably, as six Cowboys had catches in yesterday's game, and four of them had multiple catches. Prescott also added 39 more yards, as well as another touchdown, with his legs. Speaking of the Cowboys' running game, Ezekiel Elliott was fantastic again, pounding out 97 yards on 20 carries, with two touchdowns on the day. Behind an impressive offensive line, these two rookies, Prescott and Elliot, are really just enjoying incredible seasons, and the Cowboys are clearly benefiting. This was the 10th straight win for Dallas, marking a franchise record, as they move their record up to 10-1 in the year, which also happens to be the best mark of any team in the league. Washington drops to 6-4-1 on the season. 

Pittsburgh 28, Indianapolis 7 - Not much of a game, this one. Heading into it, this is probably right around what most people would have assumed would happened. The Steelers earned an impressive road win at Indianapolis, although it should be noted that Andrew Luck did not play for the Colts due to injury. Pittsburgh raises it's record to 6-5 on the year, as they assume sole possession of the lead in the AFC North, breaking the tie with Baltimore, at least for now. As for Indianapolis, this was yet another disappointing loss in a season where such losses have been common. They drop to 5-6 on the year, and this loss allows the Texans to potentially take a two-game lead for the AFC South division title with a win this weekend.  

Week 12 Preview: 

NY Giants (7-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-11) - As a Giants fan, this is a tough game heading into it. If the G-Men win, even if they do so convincingly, it is nothing more than what almost everyone expects. The only way that most people will raise their eyebrows after this one is if New York become the first team to lose to these Browns. The Giants have a five game winning streak going into this game, and that is the longest winning streak for them since the Super Bowl season in 2011. By all rights, they should win, but this could be a tricky one for them. Still, it would be hard to go against them going in. My pick: NY Giants

Los Angeles (4-6) at New Orleans (4-6) - The Rams have been an up and down team all season. They started off poorly, getting blown out and shut out in San Francisco. Then came an emotional win against Seattle, the first of three straight wins that had people thinking playoffs. Since then, the Rams have lost five of their last six, and are reeling. The Saints have also been quite streaky, but they are tough at home, and are in a much tighter race in their division than the Rams are in theirs. This game is being played in the Super Dome, which gives New Orleans an advantage. Plus, Dew Brees. All that adds up to what should be a Saints victory. My pick: New Orleans

Arizona (4-5-1) at Atlanta (6-4) - Like with so many teams around the league, both of these teams have had an up and down season thus far. The Cardinals came in full of swagger, and were many people's favorite Super Bowl pick for the NFC, but they have hardly looked anything like the team that went 13-3 and went into this season with high expectations. The Falcons, in the meantime, were not supposed to be particularly good, but they have played quite well, and are still in the driver's seat in the NFC South. Matt Ryan has provided solid veteran leadership, and Atlanta sees their opportunity to potentially take the division this season. This is a key game for them to win if they are going to make that happen. My pick: Atlanta

Tennessee (5-6) at Chicago (2-8) - It seems fair to say that the Titans are improving by leaps and bounds this season. Chicago, meanwhile, is going in the opposite direction, although John Fox has had them tighten up a bit in recent weeks. That makes this a tough game to call, and really, it seems like it could be anybody's game. Still, I am looking at Tennessee, and see the way Mariota is developing, and just how important it is for them to pick up this win, and I think that gives them a bit of an edge in this contest. My pick: Tennessee

Jacksonville (2-8) at Buffalo (5-5) - Let's see: the Bills are at home in cold Buffalo, and desperately trying to cling to their playoff hopes. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have suffered through yet another dismal season, and will have to adjust to the cold conditions. The Bills have a tough defense that keeps them in games, and the Jaguars...well, are a bit overmatched in this one. Barring a major letdown by Buffalo, it is hard to see how Jax takes this one. My pick: Buffalo

San Diego (4-6) at Houston (6-4) - The Texans are coming off a disappointing near win in Mexico City against the Raiders, but are back home, where they have been stellar all season. The Chargers have had an up and down kind of a season, and they will have their moments in this one. But too much is riding on this for the Texans, and they know what's at stake. They also know that they need to win every game that they can from here on out, and that is particularly true of home games. A win here gives them a two game lead in the division, with only five games to go. The Chargers, in the meantime, are too far behind the leaders of the AFC West to seriously entertain any hopes of coming back to qualify for the postseason. Still, they could always play spoiler, right? This should be a good one. My pick: Houston

San Francisco (1-9) at Miami (6-4) - Two teams heading in opposite directions meet in this particular contest. San Francisco has lost nine straight games, while Miami has won five straight, following a dismal 1-4 start. The Dolphins have a very impressive running game, arguably the best in the league right now, while the 49ers have shown a measure of toughness at times this season. Still, the Dolphins are red hot right now, and with home field to boot, that should make Miami really hard to stop come Sunday. My pick: Miami

Seattle (7-2-1) at Tampa Bay (5-5) - Another tough game for Seattle, who seem to play these kinds of games week after week. That might actually be a good sign, as it might just be toughening them up for a possible long postseason run. In any case, the Seahawks will have to visit the surprisingly resilient Buccaneers, who seem to be teetering on the edge at points, only to keep coming back with impressive wins to remain in the playoff picture. They are only one game behind Atlanta for first in the NFC South, although they are also only one game ahead of both New Orleans and Carolina, both of whom are tied for last, as well. Plus, the Bucs have shown a capacity to play some teams very tough this year. But the Seahawks have a ton of experience, and they are the better team, so I expect them to win this one in the end. My pick: Seattle

New England (8-2) at NY Jets (3-7) - I would like to say that the Jets have a real shot here. But it is hard to see how they can beat the Patriots, who clearly seem to be the superior teams, and at least seem to enter this game with most of the advantages. In fact, the only two advantages that I see Gang Green having in this contest would be home field, and the fact that they are well rested, coming off a bye week. Every other advantage seems to favor the visiting Patriots, who are slowly but surely inching their way to locking up another division title, and likely playoff bye. Hard to see how the Jets, who have not beaten a winning team yet this year, can slow the Pats down here. My pick: New England

Carolina (4-6) at Oakland (8-2) - The Raiders are gaining confidence with each passing week, as they keep winning and defying many people's low expectations for them this season. The Panthers, in the meantime, are just still trying to recover from that miserable, shocking 1-5 start. This from a team that dominated most of last season with a 15-1 record, and continuing on through to the Super Bowl, before they were finally humbled by the Denver Broncos. I've said it before and will say it again: it does not appear that they have really recovered from that loss, and have not looked the same since. Still, they have won three of their last four games, and are generally playing better. But a road win against one of the best teams so far this season will be a tall order. With yet another come from behind, tight victory, Oakland's confidence has to be soaring, and with home field advantage here, the Raiders will be tough to beat. This should be a tight one and, really, either team could win it. My pick: Oakland

Sunday Night Football - Kansas City (7-3) at Denver (7-3) - A bit battle for sole possession of second place, or possibly even a tie with Oakland for first place if the Raiders lose. The Chiefs are tough, and have shown glimpses of the form that saw them win their last 10 regular season games last year, and then shut out the Texans in Houston in the Wold Card Game, before giving the Patriots all that they could handle up in Foxboro. Still, the Broncos are the champions, this game is at Mile High, and Denver always seems to take Kansas City's lunch when it counts the most in recent seasons. I do not see any reason why that will necessarily change here. My pick: Denver

Monday Night Football - Green Bay (4-6) at Philadelphia (5-5) - Both teams have shown a lack of consistency this year, although unfortunately for the Packers, that might be changing for the worse. Green Bay came into this year expecting to be one of the elites, and most people's favorite to take the division. Early on, they were looking like those same calibur Packers, until this recent losing streak really started to derail the season. Already, it has gotten to the point where it is hard to imagine them recovering on time to make the playoffs. If they are to do it, they absolutely need this win badly just to stop the bleeding and get the playoffs back on their radar. The Eagles, in the meantime, are still fighting hard, and are still very much in the playoff picture with a win. Carson Wentz seems to clearly be developing into their quarterback of the future, and Philly is taking strides towards a brighter future. They have shown inconsitencies on a weekly basis, but with Green Bay struggling, look for them to take advantage and take this one. My pick: Philadelphia

No comments:

Post a Comment