Happy Turkey Day y'all, it's that most magical time of year again where we get to enjoy a full compliment, feast even, of football on a weeknight! Whahoo! And for the first time in quite a few years, all three games are actually pretty relevant, how about that? Let's get into it:
All Sky Sports today
5:30pm, Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
This could well be the division here today, with who ever winning being put firmly in the drivers seat and controlling their own fate for the rest of the season. Though the Packers wouldn't go clear today (because of that stupid, STUPID TIE) they would put themselves a top with a soon to be returning Aaron Rodgers to the fold, probably next week against Atlanta. Enter, Millionaire back-up QB Extraordinaire Matt Flynn. What can we expect from him? He's a curious case, going from a guy who tore up the league in his one and a half matches (including against Detroit) filling in for Rodgers two years ago, he has since been in the wilderness, having journeyed, and failed, at Seattle, Oakland AND Buffalo (with 2 of those 3 hardly containing elite competition) before returning to Green Bay to hope he can get some of that magic back. He will be in a tough spot however, with still no healthy first choice receivers and an angry Lions D who this week had some smack talk directed at them by GB guard Josh Sitton (http://tracking.si.com/2013/11/26/packers-josh-sitton-calls-lions-defense-scumbags/) and will be out for blood (not that they need an excuse). So once again, expect Eddie Lacy to do the majority of the heavy lifting.
Meanwhile on the other side, Matthew Stafford must do better than his pretty horrendous two weeks, including the frankly embarrassing loss to Tampa at home this Sunday. Megatron made a rare error to kill that game, but the Lions do need to spread the ball a bit more... who am I kidding, the guy is like 7ft, he'll get like 400 yrds today. Elsewhere, Lions need to keep Lacy quiet, which they have been good at so far this year on the ground, but today more than ever.
I'll take a narrow Lions victory at home after a hellish couple of weeks (and also, Matt Flynn) but expect it to be close (by 3)
9:30pm, Oakland Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys
The big news for this one is that Dallas WON'T play in their traditional thanksgiving throwback uniforms, as they gave been deemed unsafe by NFL Helmet regulations: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000289068/article/dallas-cowboys-plan-uniform-switch-for-thanksgiving
But this should be a decent one as Oakland, thanks to an awful AFC spread this year, are still very much alive for a wildcard spot, despite losing to Tennessee on Sunday. Matt McGloin has been impressive taking over the injured Matt Pryor, and Rashard Jennings has been running the ball like his life depended on it recently, so expect him to take advantage of a questionable rush defense today.
On the other side, Dallas are coming off an impressive comeback victory away at New York, with Tony Romo playing some of his best football of his career this year, and DeMarco Murray taking advantage of weaker D's such as this one. There almost certainly will be a fight in this one too; there's no away the combination of a recently exceptionally sulky Dez Bryant doesn't get into the dirty Raiders' mindset.
I expect in the end the Cowboys will be fairly comfortable, but the Raiders aren't pushovers and should keep it pretty close (DAL by 4-5)
1:30am, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
It is a damn shame this is the late one though in fairness only as a fan of one of the teams, it will be a supremely ugly one. Gone are the days of these defensive juggernauts squaring off, instead we have two middling to average teams who have done just enough to stay alive in a weak conference. What will be fun here is that potentially one of these great rivals can knock the other out of wildcard contention, meaning both will play hard, even if it is perhaps the lowest quality this rivalry has been at for some time.
Pittsburgh will be feeling very good going into this one, they are on a three game winning streak since being humiliated by New England, and Ben Rothlisberger has found his groove again within these games, linking up particularly well with Cotchery and Brown. The Steel Curtain is certainly not what is was, with the secondary in especially being torn up, but as long as their offense can keep them on the field they have a shot.
Baltimore meanwhile is much harder to predict. Yes, we're coming off a dominating win against the Jets, but they were so poor on Sunday that it's difficult to garner much knowledge from it. Much depends on how Joe Flacco can link up with Torrey Smith, who sees a favorable match-up against a depleted Pittsburgh secondary, and whether Ray Rice can continue the signs of life seen against Chicago a couple weeks ago. Defensively Baltimore have been good at times but are again difficult to predict, leaving them fairly middling-to-average, where they'll need to step up against an inform Steelers attack.
Overall, this should be yet another close game, with higher scoring across the board than usual for a match between these two, but i'm going to give Baltimore the slight edge at home, and because I'm biased (by 3)
And that's yer lot, are we all excited? Any fake Thansgiving plans? Gonna get all the beers and turkey sandwiches I can carry on my way home from work