The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen gets you ready for the slate of Thanksgiving games by making his picks.
Green Bay (6-4) at Detroit (2-8)
12:30 (EST) FOX
Current Line: Packers -11
As with any short week in the NFL, injuries take center stage. In Detroit, both QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson are banged up. Stafford is expected to be a game-time decision, and although we all want to see the rookie play, I don’t think the game plan will be altered much if we do see backup QB Daunte Culpepper in the lineup. Expect the Lions to take some deep shots down the field early—testing this Packers secondary without Al Harris—hoping to get a big play that allows them to head into halftime with a chance to make adjustments to win this game. But, even in saying that, I like the Packers matchup with Aaron Rodgers against a very average Lions secondary that should produce enough points to take over this game by the start of the fourth quarter—when Ford Field should begin to empty out. We would all like to see the Lions match up with the Packers, but it isn’t going to happen. I like Green Bay as the Packers move to 7-4 and continue their playoff push.
Packers 33 Lions 17
Oakland (3-7) at Dallas (7-3)
4:15 (EST) CBS
Current Line: Cowboys -13 ½
The Raiders were able to upset the Bengals last week because they made plays in crucial situations and had a quarterback, Bruce Gradkowski, who was prepared and ready to carry out the game plan. The Raiders have talent—that has never been a question—but the problem has always lied in their execution. And with JaMarcus Russell on the bench, this team can operate with more fluidity as an offense. But, can they pull off another win in Dallas? The Cowboys didn’t have the big play last week, and against a solid front four in Oakland, Romo will have to deliver the ball with pressure in his face. Jason Witten did practice yesterday, and having him in the lineup will be big for the Cowboys. But this game comes down to the Cowboys’ ability to run the ball in the fourth quarter—which they do as they hold off Gradkowski and the new-look Raiders.
Cowboys 24 Raiders 16
NY Giants (6-4) at Denver (6-4)
8:15 (EST) NFL Network
Current Line: Giants -6 ½
Denver has been brought back down to earth with this four-game losing streak, and its defense under Mike Nolan—which at one point was the top-ranked unit in the league—is having issues stopping the run and getting off the field. The last two weeks the Denver defense was carved up by both Washington and San Diego on the ground, and with the Giants coming into town, I don’t expect that to change. With RB Ahmad Bradshaw out for New York, look for Brandon Jacobs to have a 20-plus carry night and get over the 100-yard mark. But, the Broncos will be able to make plays against a Giants secondary that was exposed last week against the Falcons and has not been productive for the majority of the ’09 season. I like the matchup of Brandon Marshall outside of the numbers, and if Kyle Orton is back on the field, Denver will be able to produce points—although it won’t be enough. In a game that turns into a second half shootout, I like the Giants on the road.
Giants 27 Broncos 23
Have a great Thanksgiving.
Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41
To read more about the Lions on Thanksgiving, check out this article from Bleacher Report.
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