Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The NFL A-Jen-Da: Thanksgiving Games

Packers @ Lions: Packers
If not for the Harbowl, this would probably be the most anticipated game of the day. Ford Field will be in pandemonium, and only the bravest Packers fans will risk donning their Rogers jerseys in the city. If the Packers are to be defeated this season, this could be the game to break the amazing win streak, but I don't think it will be this game. The Lions aren't particularly strong at home, barely breaking the 500 mark at 3-2, and the Packers have been strong on the road. Looking at the stats, both teams give up about 21 points a game. However, the Packers average about 35 points a game while the Lions only average about 30. What the Packers have going for them is obviously Rogers and the unbelievable year that he's had, which has made him the forerunner for MVP. On offense, the Packers outscore the Lions in yards rushing and total passing. What works in favor of the Lions, is that they can run the ball slightly better than the Packers, and with Starks being questionable, the scale tips even farther in the Lions' favor. The Lions have a slightly better defense, but I don't think it will outperform Rogers & Co. This is going to be a close game and an interesting game, but I think the Packers will come out on top.

Dolphins @ Cowboys: Cowboys
Although the Dolphins struggled considerably more, both of these teams had their struggles to start the season. Both are now on a win streak of three games. The Dolphins seemed to have found a way to finish games now with Henne out of the picture. I remember early in the season, the Cowboys found flukey ways to pull out a victory, but their last few games have been from playing great football. While the Dolphins will put up a good fight, I think the Cowboys will prevail because they seemed to have found their stride. Romo has a 64.5% completion rate, which isn't far from Rogers's 70%. He's thrown for 2800 yards, and defending the pass isn't one of the Dolphins's strong suits. The Cowboys do have a hard time establishing their running game, but I think their passing game will more than make up for it.

49ers @ Ravens: 49ers
This is probably the most anticipated game of the week, or it is at least drummed up to be that way. Although the Ravens are the slightly superior team, I have to give this one to the 49ers. There is absolutely no sensible reason for it, but I feel that they will come out on top. Or maybe I buy into the local hype? The 9ers haven't been constantly dominating teams all year; they have had some ugly wins. What they seem to do well is play to their strengths. Alex Smith is not a superstar quarterback, and the media has railed on him since he started. What seems to have changed is Harbaugh. He's like the quarterback whisperer. It's not that Smith has become an elite QB (and if you've been watching you'd know this), but he's not making the errors that he had in the past. He's tightened up his game and has been part of the reason the 9ers have been winning. The defense has been excellent, and I think they can handle Flacco, whose stats are not all that impressive. Yes, I realize that the 9ers have an incredible record partly because of their schedule, but they did beat the Lions by playing some really great football when the Lions were still undefeated. Most people won't remember that and focus on the controversial handshake which was pretty much the only thing that anyone seemed to find newsworthy. What the 49ers also have going for them is that this is a team that has found some solidarity and unity under Harbaugh. The team bonding retreats have really paid off, and it seems to show on the field. This is a huge game for their coach, and they will do whatever it takes to bring him that win. I have a feeling they will.

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