My weekly football picks are back, this time on Wednesday, because there are so many huge college and NFL games over this Thanksgiving weekend. I’m too excited to blabber on about anything else right now, so let’s just get to it.
College Football (Home Team in Caps)
wins this game, they’ll be the SEC East Champs. If they lose, then Missouri
wins the East. I almost sided with the Tigers, before I remembered that they
have one of the worst offenses in the SEC. Mizzou averages just 361 yards of
total offense, which is just more than what Vanderbilt averages (290), and just
below what Georgia averages
(379). The Razorbacks and that defense are probably the worst possible match up
for them right now, as Arkansas has shut out back-to-back conference opponents
(LSU and Ole Miss), and has given up only 31 points combined in games against
Alabama, Mississippi State, LSU, and Ole Miss. I think the Tigers will struggle
to score the entire game against that swarming Razorback D, allowing Florida
to play in next Saturday’s SEC Championship Game. Georgia
over #16 GEORGIA
This is the 109th meeting of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate, and the Bulldogs lead 64-39-5. Out of all the instate rivalry games this week, this one feels like there’s the least at stake, not only this year, but every year. I’m not from
or in that state, but is there really all that much “hate” between these teams,
and these fan bases? Regardless, this game is going to be a physical, pounding
football game, with lots and lots of running ( Georgia
rushes for 260.5 yards a game, 2nd in the SEC, while Georgia Tech
rushes for 327.9 yards, the best in the ACC). I think Georgia
has the physicality edge, they’re at home, and they’re just a better team than
Tech, and will prove it on Saturday. Georgia
over FLORIDA STATE Florida
As much as I’d love to pick the Gators, I’m not an idiot (at least not most of the time). Though, to be fair, there is a scenario where
could beat the ‘Noles. What if they started running the ball early in this game
like they did against Florida ,
and got out to a big early lead? We know it’s possible, because FSU has sucked
in the first half multiple times this season, before rallying to win in the
second half. Plus, you’ve got the Muschamp factor. Those players in the Gators’
locker room love that guy ( Georgia
O-lineman D.J. Humphries said he’d be carried off the field if they win on
Saturday), and they’d love nothing more than to win his last game, against
their hated instate rivals. I don’t think it will happen, because Florida
sucks on offense, meaning I’m not sure they’d be able to get out to any sort of
lead, but I don’t have much faith in FSU either. This game will be closer than
people think, but the Seminoles, like almost every game this season, will find
a way to squeak one out late. Florida
over #19 Ole Miss Mississippi State
Before the Laquon Treadwell injury, I would’ve picked the Rebels to win one of the most important and anticipated Egg Bowls of all time. But since he broke his leg, the Ole Miss offense looks completely different (they were shut out last week at
Add in Bo Wallace’s ankle injury, which could really limit him, and I have no
idea how the school in Arkansas will
be able to put enough points on the board to win. And if Oxford
does lose on Saturday, it would drop them to 4-4 in the conference, which would
be a great disappointment, considering how crazy and excited those fans were
after they won at Texas A&M, and gave Mississippi
their lone loss of the season. They would’ve had two of the most crushing and
soul sucking losses in recent memory (the LSU game, and their back-to-back
fumbles red zone fumbles late against Alabama ),
and it would be a shame that a season that started out so promising ended up
being mostly meaningless. Auburn
does win on Saturday, then I
think the playoff conversation for anyone else should be over. The flavor of the month right now seems to
who is having a nice close to the season. I don’t care. I’m creating a new
rule, right here and now; if you lose a home game by 14 or more points to a
team that won’t finish with a winning record (Virginia Tech) at any point
during the season, you shouldn’t be considered for the playoff. It’s really
that simple. Just go ahead and cross them off right now. Ohio State
over #18 WISCONSIN Minnesota
Regardless, I still think
is better team, and they’ve got the best running back in the country, Melvin
Gordon, who should win the Heisman Trophy. I expect the Badgers, who are at
home, to run the ball almost at will (like they did against Wisconsin
two weeks ago), and win by at least two touchdowns. Plus, YOU DON’T WIN AT CAMP
RANDALL (they’ve lost 3 home games the last 5 seasons). It’s that simple. Sorry
Gopher fans. It’s been a nice year. Nebraska
over #15 ALABAMA Auburn
Last year's game was one of the defining sporting events of my life, one that I will always remember, where I was, who I watched it with, and how I felt at the time. It’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. I love when games like that, with all the build up and importance in the world, deliver in a memorable, improbable, and amazing way.
’s most improbable
win ever was probably the stumble and fumble game in 1998 against
Tennessee . I don’t really remember
that one, because I was 5, but I know if something like that happened now, I’d
probably have a heart attack. And I’d even argue that Arkansas ’s
Kick Six was even more incredible and unbelievable than that one. Games like
that one are the reason we as sports fans watch a zillion games throughout our
lifetime. We hope to see incredible performances, and amazing victories, and
we’ll deal with all the blowouts, because we hope to see something we’ll never
But back to Saturday;
defense is terrible, and they’ve proven to be phonies this season (like I
thought they were). They were torched their last two SEC games by Texas A&M
(41 points) and Georgia (34), and they haven’t won a conference game since they
caught two huge breaks on those late fumbles against Ole Miss. Alabama has been
the best team in the country in the best conference (they average 485 yards per
game on offense, 2nd in the conference, and they allow the fewest
yards per game in the conference, 283.5) and I don’t expect that to change this
Other college games
over #13 ARIZONA Arizona State
This is more of a “Todd Graham, you’re a snake” pick than anything.
over OHIO STATE Michigan
Remember when this game used to be competitive, and anticipated every season? I do. The Buckeyes have won 9 of the last 10. I think it’s going to be 10 of the last 11 after Saturday.
#5 Tcu over
As much as I want
to win, so the media and playoff committee will stop stupidly putting the Horned
Frogs over Baylor in the playoff race, I don’t see it happening. Charlie Strong
has had a strong (yes, pun intended) finish to his first season though, as the
Longhorns have won 3 straight conference games by at least 17 points. I was a
little unsure about him after their early season falters (including a 41-7 loss
at home to BYU), but now, I think he’s going to do a great job there. It just
won’t materialize this week. Texas
The Tigers have physically overpowered the Aggies the last two seasons, and I think Les Miles just has the match up with the “genius” Kevin Sumlin figured out. Remember that time when everybody was rushing to proclaim the Aggies “the next great dynasty in college football” after their thrashing of South Carolina on the opening Thursday of the season? I hope those people feel real stupid right now, kind of like I feel every week when most of my picks blow up in my face. If Sumlin and the Aggies lose on Thanksgiving night, he’d have back-to-back .500 or below finishes in the SEC, and have a three year conference record of 13-11. Genius? Please.
Oregon OREGON STATE
I wish the Beavers would be a worthy opponent for the Ducks this week, but I don’t see it happening.
#21 CLEMSON over
Dabo Swinney has lost 5 straight games to Steve Spurrier, and hasn’t beaten the Gamecocks since he was the interim coach in 2008. Is this the year he gets it done? I don’t feel great about a game any time I pick Clemson, because they’ve burned their fan bases in the most debilitating way about a zillion times, but South Carolina does have one of the worst SEC defenses I’ve ever seen. They can’t lose this one, can they?
Vandy head coach Derek Mason didn’t say the word “
throughout his entire Tuesday press conference, instead referring to the Vols
as, “that school out east”. I’m not sure why he did this. Maybe it would be
cool if the Commodores weren’t 0-7 in the conference, gotten blown out 37-7 by Tennessee ,
and beat Temple Southern by one
point. I think Charleston , despite
having a Swiss Cheese offensive line, should be able to take care of business
in Tennessee this week. Nashville
All of the Thanksgiving games are awesome, and have playoff implications. Let’s run through them.
LIONS over Bears
COWBOYS over Eagles
Philly ranks 16th in rush yards allowed per game, though it is interesting to see how much their defense has struggled since Demeco Ryans went out for the year, and how tired they’ve looked as the season has gone on. Dallas hasn’t been able to pound the ball quite like they were earlier in the season, but if they can establish the run even 90% as well as they were able to in Weeks 1-7 (and I think they can), then they should win tomorrow. The biggest concern for
will be the lack of rest they’ll get. They played on Sunday night last week,
follow that up with the game tomorrow, and then play next Thursday against the
Bears (who are in the same boat). That’s 3 games in 12 days, which sounds
brutal, and probably not good for your body. But wait, I thought the NFL cared
about player safety? Whoops. Dallas
49ERS over Seahawks
This might be my favorite NFL game of the week. Both of these offenses are extremely limited (San Fran has only scored more than 30 points in one game this season, and
done it twice), but have physical, punch-you-in-the-mouth defenses. I could
easily see this game being 13-10 or 10-7, and I’d love to see that. There’s
just not enough defensive slugfests anymore, and sometimes, there’s nothing
wrong with seeing a hard hitting game that really challenges the offense. I’m
siding with the Niners simply because Seattle
just played an extremely physical game against the Cardinals, in which Russell
Wilson took shot after shot the entire game, coupled with multiple violent
collisions between Seahawk and Cardinal players. I’m just not sure their bodies
have had enough time to heal. Seattle
Now, onto the Sunday games…..
COLTS over Redskins
Remember that time when “Luck vs. RG3” was an argument? That seems like an eternity ago. Now, Colt McCoy is starting, and
might be done in Griffin . The
most damning comments about RG3? On the Michael Kay Show last week, Steve Young
said, “I’ve talked to his previous
coaches, people I really trust and admire, that know quarterbacks. He doesn’t
put the time in”. Ouch. Washington
TEXANS over Titans
Please watch this video. That’s all you need to know about this game.
Browns over BILLS
Josh Gordon is back for Cleveland, and he made his presence felt almost immediately (8 catches, 120 yards last week against Atlanta). He completely changes everything for them on offense, and he may even help Brian Hoyer look like a semicompetent quarterback again (though he did throw 3 picks on Sunday). It’s been a nice year Buffalo, but I think the run will be over on Sunday. Don’t worry, Cleveland’s will be at some point as well, and both of you guys can return to being the same old, irrelevant franchises you’ve been throughout most of your history.
Chargers over RAVENS
This one is probably a “Lose, and you’re out” game, particularly for San Diego, who has a brutal remaining schedule. The last time the Bolts flew across the country to play a 1 o’clock game, it was in Miami, and they lost 37-0. Sheesh. I’m also worried because the Chargers just put their 3rd different center on IR this season. I was going to say that the Ravens haven’t beaten a good team since Week 2, but then I remembered that San Diego hasn’t either. This pick is mostly about me just defiantly sticking by my preseason Super Bowl pick. Plus, I do think there’s a really good team somewhere in the the Chargers' locker room. They’ve just had so many injuries. They did impress me with their victory on Sunday against the feisty Rams. Have they finally turned the corner? We’ll see.
Giants over JAGUARS
I’m going to put Odell Beckham Jr.’s catch right here for you, just in case you were living under a rock somewhere and missed it, because that’s the best catch I’ve ever seen. I mean…. Wow. Beckham’s potential to make catches like that is really the only reason anyone should watch this game. Also, on a side note, I think this is going to be Tom Coughlin’s last year New York. Including this season, the G-Men will have only been to the playoffs one time in the last six seasons. I think he’s a great coach, but it might just be time for a different voice in that locker room.
Bengals over BUCCANEERS
Could Andy Dlaton find a way to blow this one? There’s no way right? It’s Tampa Bay! And how in the world are the hapless, 2-9 Bucs, only two games out of first place in the NFC South? Thank you, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Carolina, for helping to create the worst division in the history of the NFL.
RAMS over Raiders
St. Louis is so close. They’ve got one of the best head coaches in the NFL in Jeff Fisher, a physical, stout defense, and some nice skill position players. They’ve just got to find the right guy at the quarterback position, and I’m don’t think he is on the roster.
STEELERS over Saints
New Orleans is done a legitimate contender, and I have less faith in them this week than anyone. They are no longer dynamite in home games (they’ve lost 3 in the Superdome this season), and they’ve never been great in outdoor, weather affected games. The forecast for Pittsburgh on Sunday? Low 50s, and rainy. Good luck. Then again, it’s not like this loss will hurt them. Atlanta’s not winning this week either.
VIKINGS over Panthers
I created a rule for my self this season; if a team from the NFC South is playing a game outside the division, I always pick the team they’re playing. It’s worked pretty well for me so far.
Cardinals over FALCONS
Atlanta doesn’t get the East Coast, 1 o’clock Eastern Time, game against a team flying across the country from the West Coast, as the league scheduled this one for 4:05. So that hurts. Plus, I forgot to mention (and probably should’ve said this first) that the Falcons suck! So there’s that.
PACKERS over Patriots
The New England thrashing/annihilating of the entire NFL will come to an end this week in Lambeau Field. If this game was in Foxborough, I would’ve picked the Pats. It’s so rare in the NFL that we get a regular season meeting of the two hottest teams in each conference, and it’s funny how everybody counted both of these teams out early in the season (I know I did with the Packers), only to look incredibly stupid when they started destroying everyone week after week. The media is going to spin this one as a “Rodgers vs. Brady” game, but there’s so much more to it than that. Green Bay got really inventive on the defensive end when they started putting Clay Mathews in the middle to help against the run, and the results have been really impressive, except for last week. In the two weeks following that change, Green Bay held Chicago to 55 yards rushing, and Philly to just 109 on 31 carries, or just 3.5 yards per rush. They gave up 155 on the ground last week against Minnesota, which isn’t great, but they’re probably never going to be elite against the rush at any point this season. Mathews at least makes them decent in that category, which might be good enough. At least they won’t get gashed to quite the degree by Jonas Gray the way Indianapolis was two weeks ago. Then again, I do expect this to be a high scoring affair, with Green Bay coming out victorious because they’ve got better offensive weapons, and the league MVP in Rodgers, who has somehow quietly had a great season (30 TDs, 3 picks, almost 3000 yards passing with 5 games left).
Broncos over CHIEFS
I love how Denver rallied on Sunday at home against Miami, when their whole season was teetering on the edge of a knife. They took all the early body blows that the Dolphins could throw, and still stood on their feet. They were down 28-17 late in the 3rd quarter, but were able to turn it on in the 4th and score 22 points, while holding Miami scoreless in the quarter until the 1:34 mark. They, for the first time since the San Diego game in Week 8, showed that edge and unconquerable will they had in the first half of the season. Contrast that with Kansas City, who probably just played their worst game of the season, losing to the laughably bad Raiders. Granted, Kansas City had been playing really good football (they’d won 7 of 8), and Oakland was bound to win a game at some point. The most disheartening thing for the Chiefs was how the Raiders literally did everything they could to lose the game on K.C.’s final drive, only they somehow couldn’t capitalize. Still, Kansas City, despite that embarrassement, should still be a factor in the playoff race the last 5 weeks. But if Denver is back to being the Bronco team from the beginning of the season (and I think they are) they should win this game on Sunday night.
Dolphins over JETS
Finally, the Monday Night Game. Can this Jets’ season please be over? You’ve tortured us enough.
Before I go, I just want to take this time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday of the year, because there’s not a better day for eating than this one. It’s the only time the entire year that I feel fine about stuffing my face until I can no longer physically hold down anymore food. So enjoy tomorrow, and have fun over the long weekend (those of you that get one). You deserve it.