It’s that time of year again to stuff yourself until you explode and of course watch football. The slot of games this year all have major implications in the race for the playoffs. The first game between the Lions and Packers is very important as the winner will have the upper hand in the very tight NFC North.Then we have the Cowboys playing the Raiders, with Dallas hoping to keep their lead in the NFC East.Lastly, the intense rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens will commence in a very imperative game, as both teams are in the running for the sixth seed in the AFC. So without further ado here are my predictions for Thursday’s games.
Lions vs. Packers: After showing promise and looking like they might take hold of the NFC North with key wins against the Cowboys and Bears, Detroit is now barely holding to the division after two straight defeats.Their rivals the Packers aren’t faring any better, as they haven’t been able to muster a win since Aaron Rodgers went down. Still, the winner of this match up will at least be tied for first in the NFC North. With Rodgers out, this game looked to be the perfect time for the Lions to exact revenge after losing the last five games against Green Bay.
However, the Packers aren’t looking like lame ducks anymore with Matt Flynn now starting at quarterback. In case you forgot the last time Flynn went up against the Lions in 2012 he put up a franchise record in yards and touchdowns (480 passing yards and six touchdowns), as Green Bay outlasted Detroit in a shootout for the ages.
Still, the Lions have a good chance at winning on turkey day, for the first time since 2003, with their high powered offense averaging 26 points a game. Although, they have to control the ball better, especially after chalking up eight turnovers during their two game losing streak. Now even though the Packers have a better chance with Flynn than they would with Scott Tolzien under center, they still have to play better on defense; specifically against the run where they were gashed by the Vikings last Sunday (232 yards). It also won’t help that their 20th ranked secondary has to go toe-to-toe with Calvin Johnson, who has been catching everything throw his way once again this season. I think when it’s all said and done Thursday the Lions will finally break their Thanksgiving Day losing streak, as their offense will be too much for the Packers defense to handle. Lions 38 Packers 31
Raiders vs. Cowboys: The Cowboys got a much needed win against their rivals in New York and are still in the driver seat to win the NFC East. Even so, they have to keep winning as the Eagles are still right in their rear view mirror. Now they face a Raiders squad that is still trying to figure out if Matt McGloin is the answer at quarterback after playing well the last two games (four touchdowns, one interception, and a 94.3 quarterback rating).
One reason for the victory against New York is that Dallas kept Dez Bryant involved, as his nine receptions almost matched what he totaled in the previous three games (10). Dallas has to do this again, as the Raiders have a tendency to get burned against the pass ( have allowed 258.1 passing yards and 21 touchdowns) and could exploit this weakness with Bryant.
Also, this is the perfect opportunity for the Dallas defense to start getting the ball rolling, as they have been giving up way too many yards (432.2 total yards) so far this season, and now play a Oakland team that struggles on offense at times (ranked 18th in total offense). To put it bluntly the Cowboys are by far the more superior team talent wise; which is the main reason I see Dallas staying on top of the NFC East as they topple Oakland in blowout fashion. Cowboys 34 Raiders 17
Steelers vs. Ravens: This game might not be hyped like previous years, but it still holds the cards to which team will keep their playoffs aspirations alive. Now both the Steelers and Ravens have had their fair share of ups and downs this season, with the latter happening the most; which makes it remarkable that they both still have a fighting chance at the playoffs. On a positive note, Big Ben has had the Steelers offense rolling (584 passing yards and six passing touchdowns the last two games) the last couple weeks, while the Ravens have been playing inspired defense.
Now if the Ravens want to win this contest, they have to get Ray Rice going against a Pittsburgh defense that is giving up 118.8 yards a game. This will be easier said than done, as Rice hasn’t been the trustworthy player of years past (only averaging 45.3 yards a game). Call it a gut feel but I think the Steelers are running on all cylinders and making a run for the playoffs. Because of this assumption, I see Pittsburgh winning another down to the wire game against their arch nemesis in Baltimore. Steelers 19 Ravens 16