I am thankful that I live in a country where, as we in Nova Scotia demonstrated last week, I can participate in free elections to choose my government. I am also thankful to live in a country where a person can choose not to vote at all (even though I believe that that is wrong).
I am thankful that I have the opportunity to write this column, and I am thankful that people read and enjoy it (and sometimes give me feedback… comments always welcome… follow me on Twitter @GFHowie).
I am thankful that I have some of the best friends in the whole world. Seriously, I would stack my friends up against anyone else’s ( Some of my friends might even enjoy being stacked against others, kind of like human Jenga… who am I kidding… they would LOVE it!)
I am thankful for my two intelligent, talented, beautiful, daughters, who bring me so much joy and aggravation (but mostly joy).
And I am especially thankful for my wife. Words cannot adequately describe everything she means to me.
Now that that’s of of the way, let’s dispense with the sap. There’s football to be played.
Looking ahead, I was feeling pretty good about picking the Packers in this one, but without Clay Matthews, I’m a lot less sure. I’m counting on Aaron Rodgers and his cadre of talented receivers to come up with a superior effort against a Ravens team that has its own division race to worry about, and will be playing hard. Expect this one to still be a game in the 4th. Winner: Packers
Panthers at Vikings
I’m starting to wonder if Carolina would do better if its horrendous coaching staff were kidnapped just before kickoff. They sure have the talent on offence, but it’s being stunted by poor decision-making on the sidelines. If this ends up being a tight contest, as I expect it will, I like Adrian Peterson to carry the team on his back to victory like he did so many times last season. Peterson’s playing with a heavy heart this week, and I for one will be rooting for him. Winner: Vikings
Eagles at Buccaneers
Since I have no faith in Tampa right now, and I know that Philly can move the ball, I know which way I have to go. Winner: Eagles
Raiders at Chiefs
Though I have openly expressed my admiration for Terrelle Pryor in previous columns, he managed to impress me even more in beating the Chargers last week in a very special “NFL After Dark” presentation. Pryor’s maturation process continues this week as he faces a buzzsaw Chiefs defence in noisy KC. Pryor is in for one heck of a ride. Winner: Chiefs
Bengals at Bills
Cincy, fresh from shutting down Tom Brady, face the slightly less experienced Thad Lewis at QB for the Bills this week. Now, in a very winnable road game, is not the time for a Bengals letdown/meltdown. Winner: Bengals
Rams at Texans
Here’s the cold, hard truth: Matt Schaub’s psyche must be so fragile right now that I would not be surprised by anything at this point. Houston’s defence should be able to overwhelm Captain Checkdown (aka Sam Bradford), but, if Schaub starts throwing touchdowns to the Rams’ gambling secondary, is there a point where JJWatt and Co. start questioning just what in the hell they’re killing themselves for? I think Schaub’s threshold for benching in this game is very low. Still, I have to go with the better team, playing at home. I imagine that this is what Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak must feel like now, giving Schaub another chance. Winner: Texans
Lions at Browns
Any time you watch Detroit play, you get a real appreciation for how important Calvin Johnson is to everything they do on offence. Johnson is in phenomenal shape, plays hard, consistently wins one-on-one battles, and demands opposing defences’ constant attention. In Megatron’s absence from the lineup last week, the Detroit offence managed only 9 points against a Packers team that in previous weeks had given up 34 points to the Bengals, 20 to Washington, and 34 to the 49ers. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Johnson will either be playing hurt, or not at all, against a really good Cleveland defence. Also of note: for all his shortcomings, Browns’ QB Brandon Weeden has been really careful with the ball this season. Winner: Browns
Steelers at Jets
As much as I may dislike admitting it, that Rex Ryan sure is one hell of a coach. The Jets’ defence is playing extremely well, which takes a lot of pressure off the offence and rookie QB Geno Smith. At home, against a struggling Pittsburgh team, that’s a formula for success. Winner: Jets
Jaguars at Broncos
This game features the Jacksonville Jaguars, an NFL team, against the Denver Broncos, another NFL team. Winner: Broncos
Titans at Seahawks
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. the 12th Man. Oh, and the Seahawks are pretty good, too. Winner: Seahawks
Saints at Patriots
Here we go with the “Patriots don’t lose two in a row” crap again. With the loss of DT Vince Wilfork, the Pats are suddenly soft against the run. Subtract DT Tommy Kelly, and the Pats are potentially heading towards getting blown out at home by Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints offence. Winner: Saints
Cardinals at 49ers
Arizona’s defence is pretty decent, but on the whole, San Fran is just a better team, playing at home. Winner: 49ers
Washington at Cowboys
I know what happened when Dallas played Denver last week; two teams with so-so defences and great QBs with lots of weapons at their disposal went toe-to-toe in a thrilling display of offensive firepower. Denver won, Dallas lost. End of story. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something. Putting aside all the jibber-jabber about heartbreak and letdowns and whatnot, what we have in this game is a Cowboys team that is in first place in its division, playing at home against a Washington team with a really horrendous defence. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something. Winner: Cowboys
Colts at Chargers
Okay, I believe. I believe in the Colts. I believe in their defence. I believe in their coaching staff. I’ve always believed in Andrew Luck. I believe. Winner: Colts
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!