Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 9:31 AM
And a Happy Thanksgiving Day to one and all as we celebrate one of America's great traditions ... and we don't mean dozing off after your turkey dinner!
Hey, it turns out that this is also a great football day with three NFL Week 12 tilts -all of 'em dripping with playoff implications -and so let's not waste another moment. Pass the pumpkin pie and let's dig in ...
Now, here's the NFL Week 12 Thanksgiving Day/Nite menu...
HOUSTON (9-1) at DETROIT (4-6) -12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Don't look now but if the season ended today the Houston Texans -who've won one playoff game in their lives -would enjoy home-field advantage right throughout the AFC post-season.
Not bad for a team that has proven it can win the low-scoring games this year (see rainy/ugly 13-6 win in Chicago two weeks ago) and the high-scoring shootouts too (see last Sunday's wild 43-37 overtime win against Jacksonville) and now we can say for certain that turn-back-the-clock WR Andre Johnson -who caught 14 balls worth 273 yards including the OT-winning 48-yarder last week -probably needs to be double-teamed again and we haven't really suggested that for the past three or four years.
If Johnson cuts it loose here against a Lions secondary that's never been in one piece this season, than Detroit's going-going-almost-gone playoff hopes will be extinguished even before Detroit's players sit down for their first serving of mashed potatoes!
Game plan for Detroit here:
Look to hit the instant "home run" against a Texans defense that gave up a slew of chunk plays last week against the Jaguars -and do keep in mind the Lions rank 1st in the NFL in passing offense (307.3 yards per game) and WR Calvin Johnson (five catches for 143 yards including a 25-yard score last week in that painful 24-20 home loss against Green Bay) can be a proverbial one-man wrecking crew if given enough openings. Just get 'em the ball already, Matthew Stafford!
P.S., the Lions don't exactly have a rich recent Turkey Day history (see our Spread Notes below).
Spread Notes -Detroit is 4-6 ATS (against the spread) this year and the Lions come into this holiday tilt off back-to-back spread setbacks versus divisional rivals Minnesota and Green Bay. Overall, the Motowners have failed to win or cover any of their last eight traditional Thanksgiving Day games and note Detroit is 33-37-2 SU (straight-up) all-time on this special holiday. On the flip side, Houston will be playing in its first-ever Thanksgiving Day game -only 1995 expansion teams Carolina and Jacksonville have never played on this holiday before -and the Texans enter this clash at 7-3 ATS this year and that includes three covers in four road tries (covers at Jacksonville, Denver and Chicago and a spread loss at the New York Jets).
WASHINGTON (4-6) at DALLAS (5-5) -4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Here's something you might not have known about "America's Team": The Dallas Cowboys can secure their first three-game winning streak since last year when a 27-24 win at Washington in Week 11 gave that 'Boys bunch a third consecutive SU win en route to a 2011-best four-game winning streak but here QB Tony Romo and mates must fare better in the red zone where Dallas scored just two TDs in five trips in last weekend's 23-20 overtime non-cover win against Cleveland plus the ground game's gotta wake up too ... or else!
Last week's numbers included 21 carries for 63 yards and sure looks like RB Felix Jones (14 totes for 43 yards against the Brownies) doesn't want to take those tough between-the-tackle hits -or are we imagining things?
On the flip side, Washington -fresh off its biggest margin-of-victory win this year with a 31-6 triumph over Philadelphia -can't reasonably expect QB Robert Griffin III to complete another 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards but it'll sure help matters if the Redskins don't commit a single turnover as was the case last weekend plus the 84 yards rushing last Sunday by "RG3" should scare the Cowboys and DC Rob Ryan who handled Carolina's dual-threat QB Cam Newton a few weeks back but now must not let Griffin beat 'em with chain-moving key third-down runs here.
From the strange-but-true department: The 'Skins have won just two NFC East road games since early in the 2008 season.
Spread Notes -Dallas is 4-6 against the odds so far this 2012 season and the Cowboys have failed to cover 11 of their last 14 head-to-head matchups against the rival Redskins while dating back to 2005. Note that the 'Boys are a cumulative 28-15-1 SU in its long Thanksgiving Day history. Meanwhile, Washington is 1-6 SU in its history on Thanksgiving Day and the 'Skins enter this NFC East showdown with a dead-even and vig-losing 5-5 spread mark on the year and that includes road covers at New Orleans, at Tampa Bay and at the NY Giants.
NEW ENGLAND (7-3) at NEW YORK JETS (4-6) -8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
This under-the-lights special at MetLife Stadium has more than a few storylines: Naturally, the one that's been getting all the "pub" this week has been the fact that the visiting/favored NE Patriots will be without TE Rob Gronkowski for the next five or six weeks after he broke his forearm on a meaningless PAT late in last Sunday's 59-24 romp over Indianapolis. The heat's been on Pats head coach Bill Belichick for even having "Gronk" out there for that extra-point but gut feeling is the injury could galvanize a team that's scored 30-or-more points on seven different occasions and did you know the Pats are 6-1 against the spread in these seven games?
If New England QB Tom Brady -who threw for 331 yards and three TDs against the Colts last weekend -needs to target a "new" favorite receiver, than check out returning TE Aaron Hernandez whose season-stats are rather modest (just 17 receptions and two TDs) thanks to various ailments but remember the Jets' defense really has major problems handling athletic tight ends and so Gronkowski's injury could turn into a boon for sidekick Hernandez here.
The Jets last weekend won their first game in some 35 calendar days -the 27-13 victory against St. Louis was a solid showing that included no turnovers by QB Mark Sanchez who completed 15-of-20 passes -but unless the troubled NYJ special teams gets a wake-up call and Sanchez steers clear of the red-zone picks here, the Patriots still have good reason to believe they'll get the clean sweep of their rivals here.
Spread Notes -New England's 6-4 versus the vig overall this season and that includes the 29-26 non-cover overtime win against the 11-point underdog J-E-T-S back in Week 7 play. Note the Patriots have notched spread wins in eight of their last 10 games at the NY Jets. On the other hand, the Jets enter this game at 5-4-1 spreadwise this season and they have split their six spread verdicts when placed in the underdog role. Go back to the start of the Rex Ryan Era in 2009 and the Jets are a collective 15-13 ATS as pups.
NFL POINTSPREAD STANDINGS (thru Week 11)
While the politicians promise...Jim Hurley delivers...
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT - THE THANKSGIVING NITE TV PREVIEW
TCU (6-4) at #16 TEXAS (8-2) -7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
These one-time rivals have not bucked heads since 2007 -a 34-13 win by 8-point home fav Texas early in that season -and so we'll see how much "bad blood" exists here for this nationally-televised tilt from the stat's capital:
One thing for sure is that the Texas Longhorns are on a roll as they zoom into this one on a four-game SU winning streak that includes a dominant 33-7 win against Iowa State back on Nov. 10th. Expect Texas QB David Ash (2,354 yards passing with 17 TDs and 5 INTs) -who has lots of ammo on his side these days -to come out chuckin' it against a TCU pass defense that ranks only 49th nationally while allowing 228 yards per game.
No doubt Gary Patterson's stop unit ain't what it used to be in recent years although the Horned Frogs do rank seventh in the country against the rush (98.4 ypg).
TCU's debut season in the Big 12 has not been anything to write home about save for that wild 39-38 double-OT win at West Virginia a couple of weeks back but the 8-point dogs could get a true "signature win" here but it only happens if Ash spits up the ball three or four times and/or TCU wide receiver Josh Boyce (56 catches and 7 TDs) exploits a Texas secondary that does like to gamble.
Spread Notes -Texas is 5-5 against the odds this year and that includes a tepid 2-3 spread log in the role of home betting favorite (with the covers coming against New Mexico and Iowa State) and note the Longhorns are a decent 6-4 spreadwise in their last 10 home finales. Meanwhile, TCU is 4-6 versus the vig this season and the Horned Frogs are just 10-15 spreadwise in their last 25 on-the-board tilts.
NOTE: Lots more College Football Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez as we feature the top Friday games -that's LSU at Arkansas, Arizona State at Arizona and more!