Darnell's Week 12 Thankful Thursday Breakdown
Good morning, afternoon, evening. We have a three game NFL slate on Thankful Thursday! Each year, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys always play on this day. This is a fantastic day for football. The 12:30 EST kickoff is perfect to quench the thirst for football action. Generally, there is a small break in between each game to give you a chance to recoup and refresh before the next. The last game ends around 11:30 at night which is a perfect ending to a full day of football. Today, we will go over the games so you can be more informed leading into Thursday.
Houston Texans (-3) @ Detroit Lions (51)
The Houston Texans will take their 11th ranked offense into Detroit to take on the fifth worse defense in the NFL. The Detroit Lions’ biggest weakness is covering wide receivers. They are bottom three in the NFL. Despite Houston’s poor record, they have the seventh best receiving corps in the NFL. The Texans’ offensive line has a pass blocking advantage against the Lions’ front seven so Deshaun Watson should have time to find his guys. Two of his receivers, Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills left the game against the New England Patriots. Cobb is likely to be put on the injured reserve list. He will miss Thursday’s game for sure. Kenny Stills is questionable. I expected to see more Keke Coutee in this game. Houston is not the only team that suffered injuries leading up to this game. The Lions were brutalized with injuries Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and it truly showed on the field. Deandre Swift sat out because of concussion protocol, leaving and old Adrian Peterson and a bad Keryon Johnson to handle the duties at running back. Swift is ranked 27th among running backs according to PFF. His backups are ranked 49th and 63rd in the league. This led to a tremendous drop-off in the quality of the run game. Kenny Golladay is a top 15 receiver and Danny Amedola is in the top 50. With these two out, Matt Stafford had to throw to the 71st and 81st ranked wide receivers. When you combine this with Stafford’s right thumb injury, you could see a mile away that they would struggle, even against a terrible Panther’s defense. So far, Swift is on track to play if he clears his final concussion test, and Stafford is expected to start. I am not sure if he will be 100% because a thumb injury on a quarterback can only be bad. We aren’t clear if Golladay or Amedola will suit up, but for the Lions’ sake we hope so. If either of these teams expects to make a miracle run at a playoff spot, they must start Thursday.
Washington Football Team (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys (46.5)
One of the most famous NFL rivalries will continue in this Thanksgiving matchup. This game features the teams that combine for the most different starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season. Alex Smith will continue his comeback by trying to take control of the division lead with a win on the road. Washington has a bottom ten offense, but a top ten defense. It appears that they stay in games by limiting their opponents. Their problem is that they are offensively challenged themselves. Smith is their third starting quarterback this season. One thing that has remained a constant is the rookie talent on this team. Antonio Gibson is a top ten running back according to PFF. He did not practice, but it appears to be just resting because of the short week. This isn’t any indication that he is injured but anytime someone is questionable, it is wise to keep an eye on it. Terry McLaurin is ranked 11th out of all wide receivers. If Alex Smith can firmly establish himself, he should be able to utilize this talent and propel his team to the top of the division. The Dallas Cowboys have utilized four different starting quarterbacks this season. Andy Dalton appears to be the best of their backups. The offense just seems to click like a decent offense when he is in, as shown against the Minnesota Vikings. Dalton threw for three touchdowns, and Ezekiel Elliot ran for over 100 yards. They defeated a Vikings team that although bad, people think highly of them. The Cowboys’ skill players seem to be healthy and ready for a division battle that should be hotly contested. The main question is if Washington’s bad offense will be able to take advantage of Dallas’ bad defense. The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants will certainly be watching to find out.
Baltimore Ravens (+4.5) @Pittsburgh Steelers (45)Hay
We move over to the AFC to look into another very famous division rivalry. The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have battled each other close for over two decades. Pittsburgh has already defeated Baltimore this season so Baltimore will be looking to make up for that loss. With the Ravens being 6-4, they also need this victory in order to keep up with the Cleveland Browns and other teams in wildcard contention. The Steelers have moved to a pass-heavy offense this season. They have the quarterback and wide receivers to be able to accomplish this style of offense. Chase Claypool, Dionte Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster are all in the top 60 of wide receivers. Because the Ravens rank in the bottom ten in pass rush, Ben Roethlisberger should have a decent amount of time to find his talented wide receivers. The Ravens have had some problems to start the week. Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins are ruled out of Thursday’s game because of positive COVID-19 tests. This will force Gus Edwards to take on the lead role in the backfield. He is actually rated slightly ahead of Dobbins, so I don’t think there is a drop-off in quality of player. The problem lies is that Baltimore likes to use a lot of running backs, and having two of them out will cause changes in their offense. I hate to call a game a must-win, but if Baltimore wants to continue controlling their destiny, they will need to win. Either the Tennessee Titans or Indianapolis Colts will get their eighth win on the season. Baltimore doesn’t want to fall behind too many teams for the wildcard race.
Betting tip of the week: You can’t lose money if you don’t bet. If you feel like you can’t get on a side that you truly like, pass on the game. There is nothing worse than losing a bet that you didn’t even like to begin with. I’ve been there. There will be more games. I promise!