Welcome back, children. I'm judging by the grateful and adoring looks on most of your cherubic faces that the same most of you followed my advice last week en route to a 10-4 record. According to my research, that was the best score in the country and you all got to share in
my the glory. You're welcome.
I won't dilly-dally any further, as I know you're all anxious to see how I'm going to help you win more money. Now click through to watch me accurately predict the future.
*I'm limiting my clairvoyance to Thursday's games, for now. Check back Friday for the rest.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
There are certain things you can always count on at Thanksgiving: turkey, cousins whose names you don't know, and the Lions getting waxed at home while your dad talks politics after tuning out in the second quarter. But not this year. I mean, the turkey (yay) and the cousins (eh) will still be present, but these Lions are not your older sister's Lions. These Lions have fight, and even though they're playing the best team in the NFL, they're not likely to get run out of their own building.
I'm not usually one to give much credence to the cultural significance of games, choosing instead to focus on the accumulative talent when analyzing games, but I buy into how much this team means to the Motor City. Having the silver and blue play a Thanksgiving Day game that means more than a token appearance on national television has to seem as far-fetched to Lions fans as flying cars and decent Tyler Perry movies. Nevertheless, when they take the field today, they'll be playing for a shot at an 8-3 record and the inside track to a home playoff game. They'll be inspired, tough, driven, and most of all, talented.
Now, that won't matter much to the Packers, who are as smooth and unflappable as Bill Withers in a hammock, but it'll mean that this game is still worth watching (beyond fantasy football reasons. Go Jordy!) into the fourth quarter. The crowd will be loud, the Lions will be flyin', and Ndamukong will be Suh-plexing everyone he can get his toaster-sized hands on. It's going to be a good game, but no matter how good Matthew Stafford has been and no matter how awesome Calvin Johnson is, there's just no way Detroit keeps up with the perfection-incarnate that is Aaron Rodgers for four quarters. Don't be surprised if Detroit has a meaningful late-game possession or two, but be even less surprised when the Packers walk off the field with the win anyway. THE PICK: PACKERS
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys
These teams have faced each other on Thanksgiving before. Eighteen years ago. Remember? This game won't have the chance to come down to a game-deciding field goal attempt, though, as the Cowboys should head home to their cattle-rustlin' families with a comfortable win. Not "let Jon Kitna down out the clock while Tony Romo and Dez Bryant make Miles Austin do his shark laugh on the sidelines" comfortable, but the margin will be double-digits.
The thing is, I like the Dolphins. I think they're plucky. I think that Brandon Marshall is a stud, and I still really like Reggie Bush. I even believe, k, that Tony Sparano, k, is a good coach, alright, despite his remarkably stunted yet somehow inspiring speeches, k, and I hope, alright, that he keeps his job, k, after the season is over, alright. The team was never as bad as their 0-7 record (hell, they're +7 in point differential on the season), and it's nice to see them right their ship with a three game winning streak.
Unfortunately for 'Phins fans, there's not really any positional group on that team that is better than their Dallas counterpart. Add that this game is being played in Jerry World and I don't see many non-Leon-Lett scenarios in which Miami escapes with a victory. THE PICK: COWBOYS
San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens
This is a classic example of me struggling to dismiss my pre-season notions in favor of what I've actually seen this year. Everything in me is saying pick the Ravens. They're at home. They're better than the 49ers, everyone knows that. C'mon. And yet, if I go by what I've watched transpire this year, I think that the Niners may actually be the better team. I don't think that San Fran's record is a fluke; they've beat everyone they've supposed to and a handful of teams they shouldn't have. Every win follows the same blueprint: control the clock, run the ball, pass off of play-action, hang on to the football, and let Patrick "The K-Swiss Enforcer" Willis lead the front seven like a group of raging Huns. This team doesn't seem to get rattled, even when trailing a loaded Philadelphia team by 17 late in an East Coast morning game. They just stick to their guns* and use the same formula that helped Jim Harbaugh turn the Stanford program around in short order.
*This is a saying that I've never understood. Assuming this is a combat metaphor, why would you stop using your guns? Unless the guns themselves are actually stuck to the combatant, but that brings up an entirely different set of permutations that the author of this colloquialism undoubtedly never foresaw. Anyone?
The Ravens are, in my opinion and especially in light of the Matt Schaub injury, one of two teams to beat in the AFC, along with the New England Patriots. Sure they've lost two (arguably three) games they had no business losing, but they've won every premier game they've played and their losses can be attributed to a desertion of their bread-and-butter (five carries for Ray Rice against Seattle? Eight against Jacksonville? Really?). John Harbaugh was never the quarterback that Jim was, and I'm guessing he'd rather trade away his Batman jaw than let his brother out-coach him, too. I expect Baltimore to be the first team that forces San Francisco to abandon the run and really lean on the passing ability and decision-making of Alex Smith.
That's not to say that Alex Smith isn't capable of winning that way, I'm just not sure he can do it in Baltimore in a prime-time game. This Ravens defense has been as good as any incarnation of it since their Super Bowl team and I don't really see them getting pushed around by 'Frisco. Ultimately, I think that if Ray Lewis recovers from being broken off by Marshawn Lynch in time to play, the Ravens win. My hunch is that he does. THE PICK: RAVENS
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Here's my new favorite video