Even though Thanksgiving is going to look different around the country this year, at least we still have the NFL to give us a small semblance of normalcy.
The first two games of the day might leave a little to be desired since they feature four teams with losing records, but at least the nightcap should give us a hotly contested rivalry that always finds ways to deliver.
Houston Texans (-3) v. Detroit Lions - 12:30 PM EST - CBS
Houston enters Thursday's game having won two of their last three games. Last week the Texans beat the New England Patriots 27-20, giving Houston their first win this year against a team other than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Deshaun Watson passed for 344 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots, giving Watson his fifth 300-yard passing game of the season. What Watson has been doing well lately for Houston is taking care of the football, as he hasn't thrown an interception in five straight games.
Since staging a fourth quarter comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit hasn't seen much go right. The Lions have lost three of four games, and they are dealing with injuries to many of their key players on the offensive side of the football. D'Andre Swift, Kenny Golladay, and Danny Amendola all missed last week's 20-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers. If that wasn't tough enough to swallow, Matthew Stafford is playing with an injured thumb, while T.J. Hockenson was a limited participant in practice earlier this week because of a shoulder injury.
These two teams are trending in opposite directions. Houston looks to have found some rhythm after firing head coach Bill O'Brien, while Detroit is limping towards the finish line in what could be Matt Patricia's final season with the Lions. Normally I'd have a little more faith in Detroit to show up on Thanksgiving, but the Lions are just too banged up right now. After seeing what Carolina was able to do without Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey, Watson and the Houston offense shouldn't have trouble moving the football on Detroit.
Houston 28, Detroit 17
Washington Football Team v. Dallas Cowboys (-3) - 4:30 PM EST - FOX
Both Washington and Dallas have seen their quarterbacks suffer brutal injuries this year. Dak Prescott was lost for the season when he was injured in the first half of a 37-34 Dallas win over the New York Giants. The Cowboys had lost four straight games prior to Sunday's 31-28 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The offense of the Cowboys looked much improved with Andy Dalton back at quarterback after Dalton missed the previous two games for the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott had his best game of the season against the Vikings, notching his first 100-yard rushing game of the year.
One of the best stories of the NFL season has been the return of Alex Smith to the field. After Dwayne Haskins was benched, Washington named Kyle Allen their starting quarterback, but the Allen experiment didn't last two long, as the Texas A&M product suffered a gruesome leg injury against the Giants. Smith at least can give Washington some veteran stability at quarterback as the team tries to figure out what the future of the position will hold for the team.
Even though Washington did win on Sunday, they did so against a Cincinnati team that was dealing with the loss of Joe Burrow in the third quarter. Not only is Dallas getting healthier and improving on defense, the offense of the Cowboys is starting to find a little rhythm. Dalton and Dallas are able to get a little revenge on a Washington team that knocked Dalton out of the game in last month's 25-3 win by the Football Team.
Dallas 31, Washington 21
Baltimore Ravens v. Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) - Sunday 11/29
On Wednesday afternoon the NFL decided to move Thursday night's Baltimore-Pittsburgh game to Sunday because of a number of positive COVID-19 tests within the Baltimore organization.
How quickly the Ravens have fallen. After looking like one of the favorites in the AFC, Baltimore has lost three of four games, falling to third place in the AFC North. As if that wasn't enough to deal with, it looks like the Ravens are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. Overall Baltimore has had four players and five staffers test positive, with the biggest names of the group being running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins.
Compared to the Ravens, Pittsburgh has to feel like they are on easy street. After narrowly defeating Dallas a few weeks ago, the Steelers took care of business against Cincinnati and Jacksonville the last two weeks. Pittsburgh is still struggling to find a running game, but that hasn't been much of a problem with Ben Roethlisberger finding Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool through the air.
How shorthanded is Baltimore going to be for this game? We might not know until close to kickoff. Even if the list of players held out for the game doesn't grow, the Ravens are going to have a really tough time running the football, which will put even more pressure on Lamar Jackson, who has been less than impressive recently. Pittsburgh is just playing too well right now to consider back a Baltimore team on the road that is dealing with a lot on and off the field.
Pittsburgh 34, Baltimore 23
Sunday's NFL Playoff action featured six teams who don't like each other at all.
All these games were played between teams who had played each other at least once during the regular season. If you thought those games in the regular season were intense, Sunday's playoff matchups upped the stakes even more.
The Chicago Bears even replicated a dubious feat from their regular season matchup, as one of their wide receiver Anthony Miller was ejected after throwing a punch at C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The New Orleans cornerback also got into the head of Chicago wide receiver Javon Wims in the November matchup, causing Wims to get ejected in that game after he threw a punch at Gardner-Johnson.
The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs has passed, and we're now down to the remaining four teams that are vying for a Super Bowl championship this season.
HOW ‘BOUT THOSE CHIEEEEFS?!?!? https://t.co/rWt2MIdoP2— Kansas City Chiefs (@Kansas City Chiefs)1610995798.0
As the NFL postseason got underway last week, it became clear we need to make some halftime adjustments with our picks this week.
The Ravens were an easy cover for us, especially once Lamer found his groove and the grooves in Tennessee's D. Throw in a few head scratching punts by Mike Vrabel and that does the trick.
Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs came up two catches short for us with three targets left on the table. It was always going to be tough to get that many grabs, but it was worth a few bucks just to see what would happen.
Please, please, please remind me never to bet unders. I haven't hit one all year and yet the siren's song calls me to shore. I maintain this is the best one I bet all year. The pick 6 and DK Metcalf bomb in the second quarter killed after the best start imaginable. After 15 minutes, we had a combined score of 3, 15 minutes of game time later? 30. Bananas.
Then I don't really know what else to say about Pittsburgh losing to Baker Mayfield and co. that hasn't already been said. I just have to edit my list of completely impossible things to put, "Snowing in the Sahara desert," and "Taylor Swift ever getting back together with Jake Gyllenhaal" above "The Browns beating the Steelers in the playoffs."