For me, and the thousands of Canadians like me (as well as a lot of Americans too), American Thanksgiving means Football with an upper-case “F!”
Now, before I get to my picks, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favourite game from week 12: the Buccaneers at Detroit. In my column last weekend, I wrote:
I find it hard to trust the Lions anyway, but as divisional frontrunners, with so much at stake, they’re bound to screw up somehow. Winner: Buccaneers
So, did you watch the game? I did, and I loved every exquisite minute of it. I know that I said that the Lions would find a way to screw up, but I couldn’t have imagined it would be so epic. Matt Stafford threw 4 INTs (including a deadly pick-6 at the end of the first half), and the Lions also had a punt blocked and a weird fumble in the 4th quarter to basically hand the game to the Bucs. Tampa let them hang around, though, refusing to put them away, missing two field goals in the 4th, and allowing Detroit one last drive to tie or win it. And down the field went the Lions, moving into field goal range, but still hoping to keep the drive alive by converting a long 3rd down. So there’s Stafford, under pressure, backpedaling, throwing up a prayer (like he’s done so many times before) to the unstoppable Megatron… and… HE MAKES THE CATCH FOR THE FIRST DOWN!!!
Then he fumbles. The best receiver in the NFL fumbles.
The Detroit Lions.
There’s probably not a team in the league I like to root against more. I’ve written about it many times before. Their head coach is dumb, and possibly mentally unbalanced (apparently I’m not the only one who has negative opinions of the guy). Their defensive coordinator is a jerk, and he presides over a collection of the most undisciplined players in the league. And, not to belabour the point (anyone who reads me regularly should know what I think), Ndamukong Suh is a legitimately dangerous individual who may very well have some sort of personality disorder.
The Detroit Lions. There’s no love. I’m not kidding.
Which brings us to:
Packers at Lions
It’s week 13, and the Detroit Lions are the very embodiment of that number; bad luck for themselves, and bad luck for any player who runs afoul of their idiotic defensive front four. Hell, they even have a player, Nate Burleson, who wears number 13. Here they are, with another chance to seize control over the NFC North, against a Green Bay team without Aaron Rodgers. I’m not worried about the Packers’ ability to move the ball on offence; Matt Flynn proved last week that he’s still a capable QB, and he’s back in a familiar system where he has had success in the past. Also, Green Bay’s wonderful rookie RB Eddie Lacy has had an impressive campaign thus far. I’m a bit more worried about Green Bay’s ability to stop the Lions’ offence, especially Calvin Johnson. On paper, this looks like a Detroit victory. I’m basing this pick a bit on hope and a bit on expectation. I hope that the Packers can hang around long enough to get Rodgers back, because it would be a shame to have the league’s best QB sitting at home during the playoffs. I expect the Lions to screw up. Is it too much to ask them to do it so epically three weeks in a row (I didn’t forget the Steelers’ fiasco)? Probably. Still… Winner: Packers
Raiders at Cowboys
I have much less to say about this game. The Cowboys, for all their struggles, are clearly the better team, are playing at home, and are in the thick of the NFC East race. Winner: Cowboys
Steelers at Ravens
Baltimore wins at home, loses on the road. That’s been the pattern. However, with a rivalry like Steelers/Ravens, you can toss that out the window. The Ravens’ offence is bad, particularly the running game. The Steelers, despite a bad start to the season, have turned themselves around and, though not elite, are competitive every week. Right now, Pittsburgh is the better team, and they should be able to grind out a victory to remain in the playoff picture. Winner: Steelers
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American family, friends, and readers.