Thanksgiving Predictions

24 11 2011

Thanksgiving is one of America’s biggest holidays and what better way of spending it than a triple bill of football?

Week 12 of the NFL season sees some interesting match ups and a couple that could decide the fate of a few team’s years.

Green Bay Packers (10-0) vs Detroit Lions (7-3)

Possibly a game that lot of people have been waiting to see for a long time. The league’s ‘MVP to be’ Aaron Rodgers up against the ugliest team on the block at the moment, the Detroit Lions.

Why do I call Aaron Rodgers the league ‘MVP to be’? Simple.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers in action.

Look at his stats, 3,168 passing yards for 31 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions? Are you kidding me? Rodgers, just like his team, are on a massive high at the moment and nobody is going to stop them . . . or can they?

The Lions have been one of the leagues surprise packages this year. After a stale period in their history and a few outstanding draft choices, they are most definitely on the up.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is finally fit and healthy which means that they now have somebody who can throw the ball to Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson. Eleven touchdowns in eleven games is some going and as of yet, nobody has been able to shut Johnson down.

That task  this week falls to the Packers defense who are having an indifferent season. Last year they were a beast that couldn’t be contained when pass rushing the offense but the dominance of Clay Matthews has not been what it was, which going into the playoffs could be a concern.

The Lions defence on the other hand, while not posting high on the rankings, have grabbed all the headlines this season and especially second year starter, Ndamukong Suh. Labelled the leagues dirtiest player by almost everyone, Suh has become one of the most feared defensive lineman around. Don’t get me wrong, he has the talent to pull off most assignments and regularly does but his vicious streak (ripping opponents helmets off) and big mouth (taunting injured players) is starting to draw attention.

Add the small factor that both teams have a chance of playoffs to the mix and you have one tasty game in prospect.

Prediction:  Green Bay Packers 24 17 Detroit Lions

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Miami Dolphins (3-7) vs Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

Miami make the trip to Cowboys Stadium on the back of three wins out of three. That sounds great but if you look at the fact that before those wins, they hadn’t won a game all season you say ‘Wow, that’s epic, but what is going on?’

Quarterback Chad Henne was placed on Injured Reserve… Again, so in came Matt Moore to replace him. Correct, I could also hear the groans coming out of Miami from my home in Stoke-on-Trent, but somehow, after a shaky start, Moore has galvanised the franchise and led them on this amazing journey.

Obviously with the likes of the Pats, Jets and Bills who they beat just last week in their division, the Dolphins will not be going to the playoffs this term but what they can do if they continue this form is save the job of their head coach Tony Sparano who has held the position since 2008.

Down in Dallas things are looking good for the first time in a long while. Billed as the great underachievers in recent years, the Cowboys go into this game in search of an illusive playoff spot but it won’t be easy with the Giants and resurgent Eagles following closely behind in on of the most intriguing divisions around.

Quarterback Tony Romo has had more than his fair share of critics this season with many questioning if he is the one who can lead the most supported franchise in the NFL to the big time, with most coming up with a negative answer. Yet in recent weeks, Romo has found his horse and stirrups and is riding the Dallas wave with a smile on his face instead of a grimace for a change.

Key to Dallas’ fortunes on Thanksgiving will be how they can handle to running skills of Reggie Bush. This season hasn’t been his finest after his move from New Orleans but it is no coincidence that his upgrade in form has resulted in Miami’s recent revival.

Reggie Bush breaking through the Bengals defence

Tough one to call but I’ll go with John and Clint.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 31 17 Miami Dolphins

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San Francisco 49ers (9-1) vs Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

Jim versus John in the first ‘Harbaugh Bowl’ on Thanksgiving, what a coincidence.

From growing up together at home to coaching against each other in the National Football League, it has been some journey for these brothers. The big question though is, who the hell is their father going to support?

John Harbaugh - Baltimore Ravens head coach

Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers make the trip to Baltimore in a season which has been unbelievable for them. Not only do they somehow have nine wins but they have done this with the same quarterback that has been a problem for them since they drafted him first overall in 2005 . . . the same year Green Bay picked up Aaron Rodgers, remember him?

Alex Smith has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards so far this year and is on course to beat his previous best of 2,890 which he set in 2006. One reason why he has had the success this year is due to defences having to keep a very close eye on running back Frank Gore.

Gore has had a cracking year so far, racking up 870 yards. These numbers might not seem huge but when you look at what runs Gore makes, you’ll see how impressive they are. Gore is a power runner, he doesn’t bother with the flash runs to the sideline and trying to dance his way to the end zone, no, he goes straight down the middle, through the trenches and out the other side. Not spectacular but when it all comes together, it is quite a site.

John and his Ravens team have been somewhat of an enigma so far this year. Beating their fiercest rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers twice would normally mean a great season was in prospect but that have stumbled to the rest of their victories and lost to teams that they should have beaten.

Running back Ray Rice has crossed the line for 8 touchdowns this year which is a career high. The great Ray Lewis has been as instrumental as always in that famous Baltimore defence and if they are going to fulfill their potential this season then they will need both to be fit all year.

Without question this is the hardest game to call this week and it could all come down to which brother knows the other siblings mind more.

I’ll go with John on this one.

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 14 17 Baltimore Ravens




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