We said on Wednesday that you have to be wary of the people you invite into your home. On Thursday, the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets came to the abrupt realization that their Thanksgiving visitors were not Santa’s elves.
Week 12 in the National Football League opened on Thanksgiving Thursday with three potentially great games and we got one. But in every case, the visiting teams came out on top. Let’s take a look:
Houston 34 Detroit 31 (OT)
Arian Foster ran in from two yards out with the tying touchdown with 1:55 to play then Shayne Graham kicked a 32-yard field goal in overtime to win it. Matt Stafford went 31-of-61 for 441 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort for Detroit. Houston improved to 10-1. Lions fall to 4-7.
Washington 38 Dallas 31
Baylor product Robert Griffin III threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns as Washington built a 28-3 halftime lead and held on to improve to 5-6. Tony Romo tried to rally the Cowboys late in the game but he fell short. Romo finished 37-for-62 for 441 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw a career-long 85-yard- TD pass to Dez Bryant. Dallas had only 35 yards rushing. For Washington, Alfred Morris alone carried 24 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys fell to 5-6.
New England 49 NY Jets 19
Tom Brady went 189-for-27, 323 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Jets were awful. Stevan Ridley carried 21 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. The Pats are 8-3, the Jets are 4-7.
Now, what really happened…
In Detroit, seven donkeys in striped shirts blew the 2012 season for the Lions – with a little help from Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
Houston’s Justin Forsett carried the ball about seven yards when he was tackled by three Lions. His knee and his elbow touched the turf. And that’s when the stripe-shirted donkeys choked. Not one of them could find his whistle and ecause they all blew the call, Dorsett continued on, 81 yards, to the end zone and was handed a touchdown. But here’s where it gets really bad.
An angry Schwartz – and he admitted he lost his cool and I can’t blame him – threw the challenge flag. The trouble is, the NFL in its infinite wisdom (read: stupidity) decided that if you throw a challenge flag on an automatic review (as in all scoring plays), it becomes a 15-yard penalty and is no longer reviewable (I know, if you read it again it still won’t make any sense).
Sure, Schwartz lost his cool, but that’s like setting a guy free who robbed a store on camera simply because of a technicality. First of all, it’s a dumb rule, but the real problem isn’t the rule. The real problem is that seven guys who are highly paid professionals all missed the call. If that had happened to replacement officials, they’d have been hanged and THEN drawn and quartered.
The NFL should fire the entire crew, but then again, since the “real” officials returned, the games have not been officiated a whole lot better than they were during the reign of the replacements. NFL officiating is horrendously horrendous. Most of the time, these guys are just guessing. Every now and again they blow a call on demand. At worst, they call games like they did between Dallas and Cleveland last – is it really possible that one team can benefit from 12 penalties that result in first downs, 10 of them on third down, without an investigation?
As a result, the Lions are done and the Texans are 10-1 and there hasn’t been a peep out of the NFL.
In Dallas, Robert Griffin III proved he’s a special quarterback. And the TV announcers proved that no matter who’s calling the game, they just can’t help themselves – they are going to put on the big white boots and cheer for the Cowboys. It’s disgusting.
And at the Meadowlands, Tom Brady showed the New York Jets exactly what they need. The Jets’ Mark Sanchez went 26-for-36 for 301 yards and a touchdown and, usually, that should be good enough to win. Except a fumble, an interception and 28 Patriots points off turnovers put an end to the Jets evening.
It was ugly. Especially in the second quarter when the Patriots had the ball for a little more than two minutes and put up 35 points to take a 35-0 lead. Tim Tebow, anyone?
Say what you like about Tebow — who is currently slowed by a broken rib — but he won football games in Denver last season and coaxed a marginal team into the playoffs. He could do no worse.
In the meantime, both The Coach and The Doc were an amazing 13-1 (now both 104-56) straight up and 9-5 against the spread (now both 77-83) last week.
So it’s on to Week 12. As always, The Doc writes the actual analysis while The Coach just scarfs down Cheetos and grunts.
Oakland Raiders (3-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) Line: Bengals by 8.5.
The Bengals still are in the playoff race while former Bengal Carson Palmer and the Raiders are done, a fact the Cincinnati crowd won’t let Palmer forget. The Raiders defense is a mess, Al Davis would have fired somebody by now if he was still alive.
THE DOC: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Cleveland Browns (2-8) Line: Browns by 1
The Steelers have won 16 out of the last 17 times these two teams have met, but that was NOT with Charlie Batch behind center. The Browns defense gave Tony Romo a tough go last week, but the flat footed Batch doesn’t have the mobility to escape, and with the Steelers O-line playing poorly watch for the Browns to win at home.
THE DOC: TAKE THE BROWNS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BROWNS TO WIN AND COVER.
Buffalo Bills (4-6) at Indianapolis Colts (6-4) Line: Colts by 3.
The Colts were brought back down to Earth last week by being run over by the Patriots and now face a Bills squad that is inconsistent from week to week. The Colts always learning Andrew Luck was taking mental notes watching Tom Brady last week and will take advantage of a weak Buffalo defense.
THE DOC: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Denver Broncos (7-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) Line: Broncos by 10.5.
At least the fans paying their hard earned dough get to see Peyton Manning in this one. They need some kind of entertainment; their Chiefs are 0-5 at home. And Brady Quinn will start again which is the equivalent of throwing in the towel on the season. Broncos win big.
THE DOC: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
Tennessee Titans (4-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) Line: Titans by 3
The Titans will be rested coming off the bye week while the Jags will start Chad Henne who did look good last week against Houston…but lightning never strikes the same place twice. Watch for Chris Johnson to have a big day against the toothless Jaguars.
THE DOC: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Chicago Bears (7-3) Line: Bears by 1.
The Bears Jay Cutler figured out a way to play with a horrible O-Line, a skill that Jason Campbell obviously didn’t take note of while holding a clipboard. The Vikings had a week to rest Adrian Petersen and for Christian Ponder to study the Bears defense.
THE DOC: TAKE THE VIKINGS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN.
Atlanta Falcons (9-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4) Line: Falcons by 1.
For a 9-1 team the Falcons have been very average the last couple of weeks and have committed seven turnovers, very un-Falconlike. Both teams are 5-1 since October 1, and the Bucs seem to be getting stronger as the season goes on, but I believe the D of Atlanta led by John Abraham will rattle TB’s Josh Freeman early.
THE DOC: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
Seattle Seahawks (6-4) at Miami Dolphins (4-6) Line: Seahawks by 3
This battle between the two rookie passers should be fun to watch, as the Dolphins Ryan Tannehill will surely break hometown hero Dan Marino’s 1983 rookie passing record. Seahawks Russell Wilson does not play well away from the Space Needle, but he does have Marshawn Lynch to use. Better ground game will be Seattle’s difference.
THE DOC: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
Baltimore Ravens (8-2) at San Diego Chargers (4-6) Line: Ravens by 1.5
For some reason the Bolts’ Philip Rivers has the Ravens number with 955 passing yards in their last three games against each other. The Ravens beat up the Steelers pretty good last week and may look lightly at the Chargers. I smell upset. The Coach says: “They say this is ‘a must win’ for the Chargers. So?”
THE DOC: TAKE THE CHARGERS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER.
San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) at New Orleans Saints (5-5) Line: 49ers by 2.5
The 49ers are likely to start Colin Kaeperick again this week not because of Alex Smith’s concussion, but because Jim Harbaugh likes to piss people off. 49ers are on a short week and the Saints are marching because Drew Brees is unstoppable at home. The Coach says: “This has the potential to be a marvelous football game.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE SAINTS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN.
St. Louis Rams (3-6-1) at Arizona Cardinals (4-6) Line: Cardinals by 2.5.
Yikes. Rams have yet to win on the road and the Cardinals are set to start rookie Ryan Lindley at QB, which won’t matter much as their O-Line can’t protect anyone. The Rams did show some signs of life on the road a couple of weeks ago in San Fran before coming up lame last week at home against the Jets. This one’s a coin toss. The Coach says, “Zzzzzzzzzz…..”
THE DOC: TAKE THE RAMS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Green Bay Packers (7-3) at New York Giants (6-4) Line: Giants by 2.5.
I’m smelling another upset here… The odds are stacked against Green Bay; the Giants are coming off their bye week and the Pack are playing their second consecutive road match, but I’ll take those odds. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is 24-4 on TD’s/picks in his past seven games too. Packers avenge last year’s playoff loss. The Coach says: “Good rule of thumb, always take the best team. The Packers are the best team.
THE DOC: TAKE THE PACKERS IN AN UPSET
THE COACH: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN.
Carolina Panthers (2-8) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-7) Line: Eagles by 2.5
Carolina is horrible. The Eagles, with six consecutive losses, may be worse. Monday Night Football may have reached an all-time low. Looks like Nick Foles will get the nod at QB for Philly. When in doubt, take the home team. The Coach says: “You aren’t really going to wager on this game, are you?”
THE DOC: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.