By Alan Squatrito
Lions vs. Patriots
The Detroit Lions, who annually play a tough opponent on Thanksgiving Day, have lost 6 straight games on Thanksgiving. They may have to chalk up a 7th this year hosting the New England Patriots, who are coming off perhaps their best win of the year against the Colts. The Lions are going to have a tough time slowing New England down on Thursday. Danny Woodhead has been giving the Patriots an extra boost to their special teams and of course, their run game. Woodhead is a great flex start against the 26th ranked rush defense this week. The Patriots rookie TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have been keeping defenses, and fantasy owners, guessing all year long. They will continue to do so as they put up solid fantasy points and move the chains when their numbers are called. The Detroit Lions are desperate for a win and a turkey leg, but unless they heave the ball up to Calvin Johnson all day long, they don’t have a great chance of winning this game. Jahvid Best is banged up with turf toe on both feet but is still expected to play while Kevin Smith is place on injured reserve. Maurice Morris will have to carry the load against the 17th ranked rush defense but don’t be surprised if fullback Jerome Felton steals some goal line carries. The Lions are a solid home team and they do get starting defensive end Cliff Avril back but they can’t possibly keep up with the Patriots for four quarters. Expect Wes Welker and Deion Branch to contribute early and often in this game, putting up solid fantasy numbers. I see The Patriots winning this one 35-24.
Cowboys vs. Saints
I am sure Jon Kitna is licking his chops to have an opportunity to beat the Saints on Thursday, but the Saints have the second best pass defense for a good reason. This means the Cowboys better get creative if they want to give the Saints a go and I don’t think that is going to happen. Coupled with the fact that Drew Brees is playing like he was last season before he took his team to the Superbowl it is going to be hard to give Head Coach Jason Garrett his third straight win since the firing of Wade Phillips. The Saints rush defense is ranked 13th while the Cowboys rush defense is ranked 22nd. Before the season started this game looked like it was going to be one of the best games of the year but now it has potential blowout written all over it with Jon Kitna behind center. I know Kitna has been playing well but he is due to for a big letdown and Cowboys fans will once again stop their ridiculous “shot of making the playoff chances.” I think they can keep it close if their special teams play well along and Marion Barber (who is fresh) sees a bigger workload (20-25 touches). I see this game being 31-17 Saints.
Jets vs. Bengals
Another playoff team is playing a non-playoff team on Thanksgiving Day. This seems to be the theme of the day so families can spend more time with one another and not have to worry about being glued to the TV watching another nail biter. This game to me is the most interesting Thanksgiving Day game as the Bengals lost to the Jets twice last year including a devastating playoff loss at home which they were favored to win. Darrelle Revis calls Terrell Owens a slouch while Terrell fires back and says Darrelle is an average cornerback in the NFL. They may both be wondering how those false words got out of their mouths but on Thursday only one mouth is going to shut. The Jets pass defense is ranked 16th but it is a lot better than that than on paper. The Bengals secondary is one of the best in the NFL but they aren’t even close to full health with Roy Williams done for the year, Jonathan Joseph questionable with an ankle injury, Chris Crocker out indefinitely, while defensive tackle Tank Johnson and defensive end Frostee Rucker will not play on Thursday. The Jets are allowing 17 points a game to their opponents while the Bengals are allowing 26 points up to their opponents. A lot of times stats aren’t the best measure of performance and I believe the Bengals have a chance of upsetting the Jets as they want this win just as bad as they need it. The Bengals have lost 7 straight games and Head Coach Marvin Lewis is on the hot seat. Carson Palmer has been playing dreadful and they are likely to draft a quarterback next year. With that said, Carson will likely try and bring his A game. Even though I think the Jets are the best team in football I think the Bengals will be the best team Thursday night and upset the Jets on the road 23-20. If not, they will lose 23-20.