NFL Thanksgiving Day Game Previews
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
Detroit's stunning 38-37 win over the Browns last week certainly gives the Lions a measure of momentum heading into their annual Thanksgiving Day game, this time against NFC North division rival Green Bay.
After Matthew Stafford found Brandon Pettigrew for a one-yard touchdown pass on the game's final play, pandemonium reigned in Detroit, the likes of which haven't been seen since the doors opened to festival seating at the Bob Seger concert at Cobo Hall back in 1977.
"Unlike last year," says Stafford, "there's hope for a win on Thanksgiving this year. We've got two wins under our belt, and with success, to use the term loosely, fans come to expect even more. As such, Lions fans have become so demanding that they're expecting a win on Thanksgiving by the home team ."
"As you know, I made that last play with a separated shoulder. And I suffered a dislocated knee earlier this year. So do me a favor. On Thanksgiving, after the turkey's gone and it's time to tear the wishbone in two, should that wishbone break your way, put in a wish for bones remaining in their sockets."
Aaron Rodgers' mouth must be watering at the thought of facing a Detroit defense that surrendered 304 yards passing and four touchdown passes to Brady Quinn last week. Rodgers threw for 344 against the 49ers, and suffered only two sacks, a marked improvement to the protection issues he's often faced this year.
"Those offensive line issues are behind us," said Rodgers. "We've effectively removed the 'drop' from the three-, five-, and seven-step drop. This A-Rod's 'slugging' percentage is tumbling towards the Mendoza Line. No longer do my linemen worry about 'roughing the passer.' Now it's a case of 'roughing the passé.'"
With Stafford and Johnson likely to sit, or at best, play hurt, the Lions offense will suffer. And Rodgers should have his way through the air. Rodgers throws for 278 yards and three scores, and the Packers win, 34-17 .
An unlikely hero emerged in Oakland as Bruce Gradkowski, starting in place of the benched JaMarcus Russell, helped the Raiders to a 20-17 upset win over Cincinnati. Gradkowski's 29-yard pass to Louis Murphy with 33 seconds left tied the game, setting the stage for Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning field goal after a Bengal fumble.
"During this time of year," says Gradkowski, "I'm thankful for many things but mostly for the fact that Al Davis prefers white meat over dark meat. I understand that I'm likely just a temporary fill-in while JaMarcus gets his head on straight and heals his bruised ribs. No, he didn't take any vicious hits; it's the result of me nudging him in the side to wake him up in meetings. JaMarcus's study habits leave a lot to be desired. Often I've tried talking 'Xs and Os' with JaMarcus. Inevitably, he always ends up asking 'Who's move is it?' Or it results in some unwanted hugs and kisses."
With a tenuous one-game lead in the NFC East, the Cowboys have a lot to play for, and can ill-afford a let down against the 3-7 Raiders. A lackluster 7-6 win over the Redskins kept the 'Boys on top of the NFC East.
"A 7-6 win?" says Tony Romo. "I guess we won in a tiebreaker, and such an unimpressive win is sure to create a 'racket' here in Dallas. And that certainly seems to be the case with the altercation between Dave Campo and Terrence Newman. Coaches and players should never become physically involved, unless that coach is an attractive, blonde model/actress/singer. Campo and Newman crossed the line, and are guilty of a 'double fault.' Usually, no good can come of such a confrontation, but there are exceptions—Newman's shove of Campo was the best 'jam' we've ever seen from Terrence in years."
Dallas will need wins over inferior opponents to maintain their division lead, and remain on track for an early playoff exit against the Giants or Eagles. Dallas is clearly the better team, but you never know which Raiders team will show up. As they proved last week against the Bengals, sometimes the stars align, as do the liver spots on Al Davis' face, and the Raiders play with inspiration.
But not Thursday. The Dallas rush harasses Gradkowski, and Romo throws two scores to Patrick Crayton, while Roy Williams proves that Thanksgiving is not only a time for turkey legs, but "alligator arms," as well.
Dallas wins, 31-13.
New York Giants at Denver Broncos
With an overtime win over the Falcons, the Giants ended a four-game losing streak, and will now face a Denver unit reeling from their own four-game skid. Collectively, the Giants and Broncos surrendered 66 points last week, and unless their respective defenses can return to early-season form, disappointment is sure to follow.
"Last week saw me 'eating crow' after the Chargers whipped us," says Josh McDaniels. "If we, in fact, 'owned' the Chargers, then they 'repossessed' themselves. So suffice it to say I won't be talking any trash to the Giants before the game. On Thanksgiving, I plan to do nothing but 'talk turkey,' and engage the Giants in a spirited discussion over what my most glaring flaw is—being overrated or being underage."
The Giants racked up 456 yards of offense against the Falcons, but that kind of yardage will be likely harder to come by in the altitude at Mile High Stadium against a Bronco defense eager to recapture early season glory.
"Hey, we're looking for our 'mojo', too," says Tom Coughlin. "As in the case of the Broncos, it's probably locked deep inside the magic of past Super Bowl wins. For us, I'm guessing a cavity search of Plaxico Burress would turn up some of that lost 'mojo.' But I'd prefer to find it somewhere else."
With some of the Broncos bickering amongst themselves, it's time for McDaniels to "take ownership" and get their minds right, because there's obviously been a failure to communicate. Or, in simpler terms, he could just tell Marshall he needs a huge game from him.
Marshall catches eight passes for 123 yards and two scores, and the Broncos win, 24-21 .
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