Pigskin Picks by Andy Iskoe |
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend kicks off with a trio of games on Turkey Day, starting with the winless Detroit Lions hosting now once beaten Tennessee.
The Lions will test the extraordinary performance of double-digit NFL dogs which now stand at 17-2 ATS versus the closing Las Vegas Hilton line. Last week’s lone double digit dog, Cincinnati, failed to cover at Pittsburgh.
San Francisco, a 10-point dog most of the week, closed at plus 9½ in its 35-22 loss at Dallas, a line that existed for about 24 hours leading up to kickoff.
Seattle will also test the double-digit success rate on Thursday. The Seahawks are nearly two touchdown underdogs at Dallas.
It would not be surprising if double-digit favorites fare well over the final five weeks of the season. Those favorites are usually playing against teams out of contention and have shown enough strength to be so heavily favored.
If you’ve not been riding the double-digit dog train since early in the season, this may not be the best time to jump aboard. Extreme results tend to bounce the other way over the course of the season. That lofty 17-2 record could well end on the order of 20-10 – still a nice profit but not for those who started to play those dogs midseason.
The season is more than two thirds complete and as such divisional standings, Wild Card possibilities and tiebreakers take on real meaning over the final five weeks.
What was not even considered a remote possibility during August now presents itself as very realistic. Back in 2000 baseball produced a World Series between both New York teams, the Yankees and Mets.
Now, there exists the possibility of a Jets versus Giants Super Bowl.
At 10-1 the Giants have a two-game lead with five to play for the top seed in the NFC. At 8-3 the Jets have won five in a row and are tied with Pittsburgh for the No. 2-seed in the AFC.
Happy Thanksgiving Day as we assess the 16 games to be played over the holiday weekend:
Titans -11 at Lions (44): Wow. How much worse can it get for Detroit after blowing yet another early double-digit lead. Tennessee is off its first loss and looking to bounce back. However laying double digits on the road, even against the woeful Lions, is asking too much. Let’s instead rely on Tennessee’s outstanding defense. UNDER.
Seahawks +13 at Cowboys (47): Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck was not sharp in his second start after returning from injury and it gets no better for him with a short week of practice. Dallas has fared well on Thanksgiving over the years and is playing with need as the route to the playoffs likely rests on earning a Wild Card. COWBOYS.
Cards +3 at Eagles (NT): Many folks have questioned coach Andy Reid’s decision to bench QB Donovan McNabb at halftime of last week’s game in Baltimore despite trailing 10-7. Philly is showing signs of panicking, yet catch Arizona off last week’s first home loss and traveling east. EAGLES.
Broncos +8 at Jets (47½): The Jets have a potent offense that should exploit the Broncos’ vulnerable defense. Denver should also be able to put up points, making this a potential shootout. Off an embarrassing home loss to Oakland, the Broncos should play well. Denver has won their last two road games straight up as underdogs. BRONCOS.
49ers +7 at Bills (42½): Buffalo found its offense in blasting Kansas City 54-31, ending a 4 game losing streak. The ground game is back after rushing for 186 and 171 yards the past two weeks. The Niners are another West Coast team heading east and have lost all three non divisional road games by double digits. BILLS.
Saints +4½ at Bucs (NT): Tampa Bay has won three straight and 5-of-6 despite a drop off in their ground game. The Bucs have the better defense and should control the tempo. Tampa is a perfect 5-0 at home with each win by at least 6. UNDER.
Panthers +3 at Packers (NT): Both teams have been scoring well of late with the Panthers tallying 27 points or more in four of their last five games and Green Bay doing the same prior to Monday night. Neither team has been putting up big defensive stats over the past month. OVER.
Giants -3 at Redskins (41): Washington’s defense has been stout, not allowed more than 24 points in any game. These teams opened the season with a 16-7 Giants win and this rematch should be similarly low scoring. Both defenses are excellent against the run, each allowing less than 90 yards per game. UNDER.
Dolphins -8 at Rams (43½): St. Louis has been outscored 143-35 over its last 4. Miami has managed well with QB Chad Pennington and has generally played solid defense. Chicago went into St. Louis and won by 24 – the Rams’ eighth loss by at least 17 points. DOLPHINS.
Ravens -7 at Bengals (36½): The Ravens dominated Cincy to open the season, but only won 17-10. Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled to lead the offense. Yet Baltimore is a far weaker team on the road. BENGALS.
Colts -4½ at Browns (46½): Indy has won four straight, but each has been by six points or less. Cleveland is a competitive 4-4 in its last eight. The Colts defense may again be without Bob Sanders. BROWNS.
Falcons +5 at Chargers (49): Falcons are on the road for the first time in a month following three home games. The Chargers have beaten playoff contenders New England and the Jets at home by double digits so the capability exists. CHARGERS.
Steelers +1 at Patriots (40): QB Matt Cassel became the first New England QB to pass for over 400 yards in consecutive games last week. Pittsburgh has been off on offense as QB Ben Roethlisberger deals with a hurt shoulder. PATS.
Chiefs +3 at Raiders (41): KC’s leagues worst defense was torched for 462 yards and 54 points by the Bills. Oakland won the earlier meeting 23-8, rushing for 300 yards. The ground game has gone over 145 yards twice in the last thee games. Still, these teams have played under games in 6 of their last 7. UNDER.
Bears +3½ at Vikings (41½): Chicago won a wild 48-41 game when the teams met in Chicago in mid October. Minnesota has rushed for over 120 yards in five of their last six games. Chicago is playing its third straight road game. The Vikes are playing with tiebreaker need. VIKINGS.
Jaguars +3 at Texans (48½): Besides San Diego, no team has been more disappointing than the Jags. Rumors of dissention and questions about coach Jack del Rio’s ability to control his team have also contributed. Houston will be up for a rare Monday show. TEXANS.