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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 7:26 PM

For several years, sports fans and bettors were stuck watching some lousy NFL games on Thanksgiving Day. The Detroit Lions stunk for several years. Sometimes Dallas would draw a disappointing opponent. If you were lucky, there was ONE game to look forward to.

Thanksgiving 2012 presents THREE potentially great NFL games to look forward to!

Houston at Detroit: The Lions are good again, and draw what might be the best team in the AFC in the early TV attraction.

Washington at Dallas: Here we have a classic rivalry spiked by the excitement of rookie star Robert Griffin III returning to the state of Texas for the first time as a professional.

New England at the NY Jets: The Jets match up well with the Pats, as they proved in a recent meeting in Foxboro. The NFL has added prime time to the Turkey Day mix…and is hoping that this will be a bonus holiday treat.

Normally on Thursday’s we preview the NFL prime time game with our favorite indicator stats. This week, we’re going to post a day early for your convenience because so many of you travel…and we’re going to run the numbers in all three Thanksgiving showdowns.

HOUSTON TEXANS at DETROIT LIONS (12:30 p.m. ET on CBS)

Las Vegas Spread: Houston by 3, total of 50.5

WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)

Houston: 9-1 (24th ranked schedule)

Detroit: 4-6 (13th ranked schedule)

Houston almost got caught napping last week vs. Jacksonville in and NFC North sandwich situation involving national TV games. Houston beat the Bears in Chicago in a Sunday Night game on NBC, and will now try to knock off Detroit in a holiday game on CBS. The Texans may not be quite as good as that record, because it’s hard to win 90% of your games in this league. They would clearly be a Super Bowl contender even if they were 8-2 against a tougher schedule. Detroit is on the verge of falling out of the NFC Wildcard race after suffering losses to Minnesota and Green Bay.

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL

Houston: +8

Detroit: -7

Big edge for the Texans, who have played very smart football this year as they grind up opponents. Detroit has a high risk/high reward offense that can look great some weeks, but like disasters in others.

OFFENSIVE STATS

Houston: 382.9 yards-per-game on 5.5 yards-per-play

Detroit: 401.7 yards-per-game on 5.7 yards-per-play

Detroit gets the nod here in terms of pure production. But, the turnover category above shows you the coast of their approach. It’s much better in this league to gain 380 yards-per-game without turnovers than it is to gain 400 yards with turnovers.

DEFENSIVE STATS

Houston: 299.2 yards-per-game on 5.0 yards-per-play

Detroit: 328.1 yards-per-game on 5.3 yards-per-play

People may have forgotten how good this Detroit defense is because the team has been a disappointment this season. We have a pair of strong defenses here, that would grade out even closer together if they had played equivalent schedules.

BEST EXPECTATION: Houston is the superior and more consistent team. But, they can be had if Detroit can avoid turnovers and exploit their experience with Thanksgiving preparation. If Detroit stays mistake-prone, they could lose by double digits.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS at DALLAS COWBOYS (4:15 p.m. on FOX)

Las Vegas Spread: Dallas by 3, total of 48

WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)

Washington: 4-6 (15th ranked schedule)

Dallas: 5-5 (4th ranked schedule)

Dallas has issues on its offensive line…but they still grade out as a playoff caliber team even though you’ve seen so many highlights of Tony Romo running for his life. If you’re .500 against a killer schedule, then you’re .600 or better against a normal schedule. Washington has played a normal schedule, and is sitting at 4-6.

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL

Washington: +10

Dallas: -9

Normally, you’d expect the rookie to self-destruct and the veteran to play clean football. Washington has been extremely conservative with RGIII, which has helped significantly in this category. They just don’t take many bad risks. Romo can be interception prone, and it only gets worse when he’s running for his life.

OFFENSIVE STATS

Washington: 379.7 yards-per-game on 6.1 yards-per-play

Dallas: 367.4 yards-per-game on 5.6 yards-per-play

Washington’s done a great job with their new offense. Those are really good numbers vs. a league average schedule when you factor in the dearth of turnovers. Dallas is like Detroit…they move the ball but shoot themselves in the foot so often that they can’t maximize the results on the scoreboard.

DEFENSIVE STATS

Washington: 383.8 yards-per-game on 5.9 yards-per-play

Dallas: 318.0 yards-per-game on 5.4 yards-per-play

Pay attention here. Dallas grades out MUCH better even though they’ve played the much tougher schedule! Washington has struggled badly all season on this side of the ball. IF they don’t pressure Romo, they might get lit up again. The Dallas defense may be poised to force punts all day if Washington stays conservative.

BEST EXPECTATION: It will come down to turnovers again. The market sees these teams as even with the early line of Dallas -3. Our indicator stats say this is ONLY true if Romo has turnover troubles. If he doesn’t, then the Cowboys should be able to express their statistical superiority.

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at NY JETS (8:20 p.m. on NBC)

Las Vegas Spread: New England by 6.5, total of 48.5

WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)

New England: 7-3 (22nd ranked schedule)

NY Jets: 4-6 (5th ranked schedule)

The media has blasted the Jets left and right, but hasn’t pointed out the killer schedule they’ve had to play. They’d be better than 4-6 against a more representative schedule…though probably not much better given the limitations of their quarterback. New England is still seen as a dominant AFC team because they run up the score when things are going well. They might only be a 6-4 team against a league average schedule.

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL

New England: +20

NY Jets: -1

Par for the course for the Patriots. Tom Brady plays clean. The defense benefits from opponents constantly being in catch-up mode. The Jets have found a way to play patiently and avoid panic against the Patriots. They’ll need to do that again to win Thursday Night.

OFFENSIVE STATS

New England: 431.9 yards-per-game on 5.8 yards-per-play

NY Jets: 301.3 yards-per-game on 4.7 yards-per-play

This is about as one-sided as its going to get in the NFL. Particularly when you factor in turnover issues. New England explodes and plays clean most of the time. The Jets are often a disaster waiting to happen, with a high risk/low reward offense that has a very poor yards-per-play number.

DEFENSIVE STATS

New England: 388.7 yards-per-game on 5.9 yards-per-play

NY Jets: 342.0 yards-per-game on 5.2 yards-per-play

The Jets can make it back on defense though. They’ve made a habit of at least slowing down Brady with this current coaching regime. And, they’ve been smart about running clock and moving the ball against this soft New England defense. Many believe the Jets should have won the first meeting in Foxboro a few weeks ago. It will be the defense that has to put them over the top in this rematch.

BEST EXPECTATION: We hate saying that each of the three games comes down to turnovers. When you have quarterbacks like Stafford, Romo, and Sanchez on the field…their volatility is typically what rules the day. Those are the men who will drive pointspread results (as two dogs and one favorite) because that’s the nature of their teams. The Lions, Cowboys, and Jets all have high impact defenses (with two of the three teams matched up against poor defenses on this day). It’s up to the quarterbacks to get the job done.

JIM HURLEY has been studying these games for weeks in preparation for his annual Turkey Shoot. Luckily we don’t have any quarterback injuries to throw a monkey wrench into the computer simulations in these games. NETWORK’S scouts and sources are in agreement. The computer simulations confirm the projections. Our Wise Guy connections in Las Vegas and offshore have added their consent. Our customers are going to get the best side or total options in these three NFL blockbusters plus TCU-Texas in the colleges when they sign up!

 You can do that right here at the website with your credit card.Or, call the office before the first kickoff Thursday to get direct personal assistance at 1-800-323-4453.

The five day feast begins Thursday…and carries right on through Monday with pro and college winners on a daily basis. Fill your cornucopias with cash (like you do EVERY YEAR) thanks to JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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