The six teams slated to do battle on Thanksgiving are a combined 42-18. That’s the best winning record of Thanksgiving Day participants since 1975 (28-120, back when only four teams played on the annual holiday). The safe thing would be to go with the team with the best record in each matchup, but there are some underlying factors that could contradict such expectations. Four teams are division leaders, one is ridding itself of a perception that has plagued it forever and the last team of the bunch, record wise, resides in the basement of its division, but is climbing out of its cellar in the form of a three-game winning streak.
Saddle up football fans, the fixings for Thanksgiving 2011 will carry some unexpected tastes. Here we go:
Lions over Packers– Call the ’72 Miami Dolphins and get the bubbly ready ’cause another team will bite the dust in trying to capture the NFL’s second, complete undefeated season. Green Bay’s “bend-but-don’t-break” defense gives up points and Detroit’s offense is third in points per game. Besides, Green Bay’s offensive line is in for a true test against the Motor City’s defensive line.
Dolphins over Cowboys– While a 3-7 mark is nothing to celebrate, Miami is playing in a way where you can legitimately argue it’s the best under .500 team out there today. The ‘Phins also have the 7th best rush defense to date, which could cause problems for the surging DeMarco Murray.
Ravens over 49ers– You beat Pittsburgh, sweeping the season series, then in the ensuing games, you lose to Jacksonville and Seattle respectively? If nothing else, I’ve learned that Baltimore plays to the level of its competition. With that said, I’ll take John to win the Harbaugh Bowl.
Falcons over Vikings– Even though Atlanta has not looked to part in terms of being every analysts’ “Sexy Super Bowl Pick”, it should get past a Minnesota team trying to find its way. If Adrian Peterson was playing, I’d take the upset.
Panthers over Colts– Is this season any sign of things to come for Manning-less Colts teams? For the front office’s sake, hopefully not.
Texans over Jaguars– Houston continues its journey towards its first ever division crown.
Bills over Jets– I just don’t believe in Mark Sanchez.
Buccaneers over Titans– What has happened to Tampa Bay between last year’s 10-6 mark and now?
Raiders over Bears– Just as Jay Cutler was going in an upward direction, his thumb gets broken.
Patriots over Eagles– New England’s elevated morale could be key in confirming Philly’s unexpected end to its 2011 season.
Chargers over Broncos– San Diego, with all its talent, can’t lose six straight…can it?
Steelers over Chiefs– Kansas City will go from one primetime embarrassment to another.
How will I be treated this week on the heels of a 12-2 outing in week 12? Let’s find out, shall we?
By Antoine Hoffman