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Monday, November 22, 2010

Week 12 NFL Predictions: Thanksgiving Edition

Let's hope the books are in a giving mood on Thursday.  =)  Check here for the latest odds.

UPDATE: Bonus props

Mark Sanchez 235.5 Passing Yards: OVER

L.T. 62.5 Rushing Yards: UNDER

New Orleans Saints vs Dallas Cowboys: NO -3
The Saints travel to Dallas this week to compete for the coveted Galloping Gobbler trophy on FOX.  It might be a short week for NO, but after breaking down this matchup it's not something I'm going to be too concerned about.  Also consider that this is a well-coached team with great leadership.

The Cowboys have won two in a row and while it might be a nice story for the back pages in Dallas, there still won't be a Super Bowl parade for Jerry Jones this year.  Jason Garret has brought the tough guy approach to this heartless bunch and so far they have responded.  I wouldn't like many other road teams in this spot because Dallas play hard on Thanksgiving Day.  However, with the defending champs coming to town, playing hard might be their only advantage in this one.  They'll also have a nice edge in the return game, that's not going to be enough to win the game.   All the strengths DAL have are equally matches on the other side of the ball.   NO is good against the pass and red zone/third down defense.  DAL will need to find other ways to make things happen, but that might be asking a lot of journeyman quarterback Jon Kitna.  Felix Jones might be hurting with an injury, but it won't really matter if he was healthy or not - NO don't give up a ton of yards on the ground.

The same can't be said for the Saints.  They will have a significant advantage throwing the ball.  DAL have had problems stopping the pass all year.  A new coaching system and player mindset will do little to stop Brees from having his way on Thursday.   NO do a great job protecting Brees, get a lot of points from long drives, and lead the league in third down conversions.  This isn't a team that commits a lot of penalties/turnovers either. There is a great chance Reggie Bush suits up for this game and he'll help a lot with formations.  Despite the up and down start the champs have had, this is still a well-oiled machine.  The Saints have their swagger back..  Prediction: Bank NO -3.

Patriots -1 & Jets -2.5
Revis and Ocho might be laughin it up on the basketball court, but when CIN travel to NY on Thursday the final result won't be laughin matter for the Bengals.  This is not a good spot for them to be in.  When you have to play on a very short week, attention to detail becomes paramount.  CIN don't strike me as a team that is focused and committed to winning right now.  After coming out strong against what should be an inferior BUF team last week, they simply stopped trying and let the game slip away.  There just isn't a lot to like about this matchup for CIN.  Palmer should have a little success in the air because T.O. continues to be a great story this year.  They should be able to slow down Sanchez a bit, but their secondary got decimated last week and who knows how many of them will be good to go on Thursday.   

NY should be able to do what they do to most teams - dominate the game on the ground.  Greene has had fumble issues this year and L.T. looks to be wearing down a bit, but they still run behind a great offensive line and do an equally job stopping the run. They will also have a nice edge in the return game giving them good starting field position and Sanchez should have a clean pocket long enough to find his targets.  

The NE/DET game is a tricky game on the surface.  Most people jumped all over the -7 line when it was posted, but a closer look reveals that DET might matchup better with NE than they think.  Despite the improvement in the secondary this season, NE still have problems stopping the pass, getting off the field on third down, and keeping people out of the end zone.  DET knows how to move the ball and they could put up a nice fight in this one - especially playing on national TV at home.  DET also know how to cover a game late with garbage points as they have proven to be one of the best teams in the league against the spread.   This is not a good formula if you like NE -7.   I feel much better about teasing the Pats down.   At the end of the day we are still talking about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  Even without Moss they have managed to stay near the top of the league in points from long drives.   NE usually win the turnover battle and don't take a lot of penalties.  Prediction: Bank NE -1 & NYJ -2.5.
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