Photo above courtesy of USA Today.
“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability may have your job.” – Jim Lovell
It’s early on Thanksgiving and for the first time since my kids were born, we’re not down at the parade. Colds and runny noses have forced (this was completely my wife’s decision) us to keep the girls home. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a nice holiday cup of coffee (that may or may not include some fine bourbon) and be thankful. Every year, I write a column at this time of year about things I’m thankful for. Not this year. Here’s what I’m not thankful for…my blood pressure. I should be relaxing, smiling and enjoying the GREATEST HOLIDAY OF THE YEAR. Thanksgiving in our family is everyone together, kids playing, the men drinking, eating, napping, and watching football with a warm togetherness and heartfelt anticipation to simply see the Cowboys lose. This year, I have to wake up and mentally prepare to watch my beloved Eagles play at 12:30pm against a 3 win Lions team with the hope of saving their season. I think I’ll take a little more bourbon in my coffee, please.
The Pick: The Eagles and Lions are two boats steaming in different directions. A few weeks ago, Lions owners fired the President and GM. Since then, they’ve hired a new president, Rod Wood, and are seeing their players heighten their play significantly. You would too, if your job was on the line. Detroit started off 1 – 7 and looked to be a team in complete disarray but have rattled off back to back victories including one in Green Bay where they hadn’t won in 24 years and one against the upstart Raiders. The biggest reason? During their first 8 games, the Detroit defense was giving up over 118 yards per game on the ground. The last two games have yielded only 45 rushing yards per game.
Philadelphia’s challenge will be to run against the newly aligned Lions defensive front and they’ll have to do it again without their best player, Ryan Mathews, who will sit a second week because of a concussion. Without a running game, the Eagles are in trouble. Quarterback Sam Bradford, despite passing his concussion protocol, won’t start due to an ailing non-throwing shoulder so that means Dummy gets a second start under center. Philly’s field is limited when Dummy plays because his arm strength prohibits downfield passing outside the numbers and the much maligned offensive line will have to deal with Ezekiel Ansah who is fourth in the NFL in sacks with 8.
A lot of rumors are already swirling around Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and I can tell you that I am told per a current Eagles assistant coach that Kelly has lost his voice to about half of the locker room. All troubling signs. We’ll learn a lot about how the entire locker room feels by about 3pm on Thanksgiving. If they come out flat and despondent again, its curtains for the season. Detroit 26 Eagles 16
It’s a long weekend for the NFL’s Week 12. Here is the rest of YOUR What 2 Watch 4…
Carolina at Dallas. Can Carolina stretch their unbeaten streak to 12 games or will Tony Romo ride in on a white horse to save the Cowboys’ season?
Chicago at Green Bay. The real story here is the return of Brett Favre to Lambeau Field to see the number 4 raised in infamy. I’m not sure I’ve ever relayed my appreciation for Brett Favre. I loved the guy. One of my all-time favorite players because he, more than any I have ever seen with a lengthy career, played for fun. Every down, every game, Favre was out there having a great time. I miss him. The league needs more players like him. My eyes will be glued to this ceremony tonight.
Minnesota at Atlanta. Ok, Falcons, time to wake up. Atlanta started out a sizzling 5 – 0. Since then, they’ve dropped 4 of 5 and have several teams nipping on their heels for a wildcard spot.
Buffalo at Kansas City. The Chiefs are on the verge of turning their season around, having won 4 in a row to improve to 5 – 5 and a win on Sunday could put them in the driver’s seat for a wildcard berth.
Pittsburgh at Seattle. The Steelers have climbed to 6 – 4 and have a legitimate shot at the AFC North crown thanks to a couple Cincinnati blunders. Seattle needs a win to keep pace with a handful of other NFC teams hoping to earn a wildcard slot.
New England at Denver. If things break the Pats way, they could actually clinch the AFC East on Sunday night but it won’t be easy. The Broncos defense is hoping to have Demarcus Ware at their disposal. Ware practiced Wednesday but his return is still in doubt. This will be big test for Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler who, with a win, could cement himself as the Broncos’ starter for the rest of the season.
Check back here on Tuesday at voodoobrown.com for my weekly NFL Notes & Musings!
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