It’s the time of year again when we are fortunate enough to reunite with our friends and families, drink egg nog, eat sugar cookies, and sit ‘round the yule log. This is why Jesus and the Hunchback of Notre Dame invented football. So here’s a quick rundown of everything that will help distract you from your little nephew choking to death on the batteries from his new Tickle-me-Elmo.
Panthers @ Steelers(-13.5)
Great scheduling job, NFL! I will go on record as stating that I am completely against these Thursday games. The teams always play like crap, the crowds suck, and Joe Theismann is involved. To make matters worse, every game this year has sucked except for Ravens-Falcons, which was one of the worst produced televised sporting events I have ever seen. The trend continues with this total turd of a matchup. The Panthers are a bottom 3 team playing on the road against a top 5 team in the Steelers. However, there is a small chance that this one could get interesting. The Steelers line is absolute garbage which means there is always a chance Roethlisberger could get hurt. The Panthers don’t have much of a pass rush, though they really don’t have much of anything these days. Troy Polamalu is out and (here comes some very thoughtful and original analysis) the Steelers defense really isn’t the same without him. I’m tempted to take the big number here, but the Steelers are coming off a loss and the Panthers have Jimmy Clausen. Lay the points and take the home team.
Cowboys @ Cardinals(+6.5)
If I’m on the Cowboys, I seriously consider a lawsuit against the NFL. Games on Thanksgiving AND Christmas? WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO SEE MY FAMILY AND PASS OUT DRUNK ON THE COUCH??? Maybe going to sunny Phoenix will make up for it. Anyway, this game sucks too. At least the Cowboys can be entertaining. They are 4-2 since firing Wade Phillips, with both losses by 3 points to two very good teams in the Saints and Eagles. They throw it around a lot and don’t play defense, as evidenced by Rex Grossman’s 4 TD’s against them last week. That’s usually a formula for entertaining football. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are exciting in a different way. They don’t do anything well. NOTHING. 31st in passing, 30th in rushing, and 23rd and 30th in the respective defenses. They start rookie John Skelton at QB, their third different starter this year. At this point, they’d be better off with the skeleton of Kurt Warner(ha!). Take the Cowboys.
Jets @ Bears(-1.5)
I pray to everything in this world that good and holy that this game comes down to the Jets needing a short 4th down conversion. I can hear it now, “All Rex Ryan needs now is a foot and the Jets will win.” I really can’t even get into this whole foot fetish thing because it is just too amazing and I don’t want to write too much, so let’s focus on football. Mark Sanchez sucks. Shocking, I know. Ladanian Tomlinson wore down and sucks now. Shocking, again. Anyway, the Bears are the biggest frauds in the league and they suck too. Take the Jets.
Colts @ Raiders(+3.5)
This could be really, really awesome. The Colts need this one badly and the Raiders are the type of team that would like nothing more than to crush the hopes and dreams of Peyton Manning. Oakland has the league’s best running game with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, but the Colts are fresh off shutting down another strong running team in the Jaguars. The Colts have the best passing game in the league but are without Austin Collie, who is soon to be without his brain, and the Raiders are strong against the pass. I’m really not going to try to joke too much about this game because of how excited I am for it. There’s a decent chance the Colts could come out and just blow their doors off, but the Raiders are at home and their fans are going to be extra-insane. Take the Bad Guys.
Giants @ Packers(-2.5)
There are two ways the Giants can go from here. Band together, get mad, and refuse to have their team and season defined by a punt return, or get frustrated and pack it in. Going on the road against Aaron Rodgers and the speedy Green Bay receivers will not help. I like the Giants pass rush here against the shaky Green Bay OL, but I like Green Bay more. Take the Pack.
Saints @ Falcons(-2.5)
Technically not the weekend, but who cares, it’s a big game. Who set this line? How are the Falcons not bigger favorites. They haven’t lost at home since they traded Brett Favre, or something like that. I just needed to work Brett Favre in somewhere. Whatever, I’m running out of steam. Take the Falcons.