NFL Week 13 Preview: Thanksgiving Football, Steelers Come To New England

Sean Crowe@CroweKnowsSenior Writer INovember 26, 2008

The great thing about Thanksgiving weekend is we get an extra dose of NFL football. You sit down as a family, watch the first half of the Detroit game (no need to watch the second half), then you eat and finish in time to fall asleep watching the Cowboys game. Plus, two days off from work.

As Holidays go, it doesn’t get much better than Thanksgiving.


Am I the only one who feels cheated by the fact that I’m not going to get to see the first ever 11-0 vs. 0-11 match-up? The Titans weren’t going to go undefeated, but the least they could have done was last through Thanksgiving.

Thanks to the Titans’ loss last week, there’s absolutely no reason to watch this game. Unless you’re a fan of early-in-his-career Mike Tyson fights. Because this game is going to closely resemble some of those.


Do you think Wade Phillips realized he’d be working through every Thanksgiving dinner when he accepted the Cowboys’ head coaching job?

It’s amazing how bad of a job the NFL did putting together Thanksgiving day games this year. Dallas-Seattle has Georgia Tech-Cumberland potential.


On the one side, you have the Arizona Cardinals and their potential MVP quarterback. On the other side, you have the Philadelphia Eagles and their recently benched (then un-benched) quarterback. Should make for good TV. Unfortunately, nobody will be able to see it because it’s on the NFL Network.

As much as I’ve bashed McNabb this season, the dude has pride. I think he’s got one more great performance in him. It may be his last one in Philadelphia, but my guy tells me McNabb carries his Eagles to victory this Thursday.


New Orleans has a chance to really jumble up the NFL South standings. As inconsistent as they’ve been, they have a chance to pull within one game of first in their division this weekend.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has continued their run of boring dominance this season. They’ve somehow managed to score 77 more points than they’ve allowed, yet they don’t have a single offensive player on their team that intrigues anyone.

With all due respect to the “Defense wins championships” crowd, you still need some semblance of an offense. With or without Reggie Bush, the Buccaneers will be able to slow down the Saints. But they won’t be able to stop them altogether.

And they just don’t have enough offense to keep up…


What better way to bounce back from a tough loss to a division opponent than a trip to St. Louis to face the NFL’s version of the Washington Generals?

Channing Crowder is a talented, young player who presumably has a bright future in the NFL. But he needs to take a step back, and figure out which guys on his team he should be emulating. There are plenty of great guys on that Dolphin defense (Vonnie Holliday is a good example). Follow their examples.

Joey Porter is a piece of garbage. You emulate him, you become a similar piece of garbage.


The Giants, the number one team in this week’s Power 10, are in the middle of one of the toughest stretches I can remember. Yet, they continue to win.

The only thing the Giants have to worry about is blowing their proverbial wad now and not having anything left in the tank come playoff time. They certainly don’t have to worry about the Redskins.


I’m starting to worry a little about the Panthers. Jake Delhomme has a sore elbow and really hasn’t been great the last three weeks. Though it was nice that he finally remembered that Steve Smith was on his team last week.

Even though Green Bay is under .500 right now, they still have a more than decent shot at their division. Nobody in the NFC North scares you, and nobody is going to go on a three or four game winning streak in December. But if the Packers lose this week, they’re likely done.

Gut-check time for Aaron Rodgers. And if there’s one thing that kid has, it’s guts. The Packers will stay alive in the NFC North with an upset (?) victory over the Panthers.


Nothing is going right in Cleveland. Nothing.

They finally make the right decision and play Brady Quinn. He looks good (OK, it was Denver). Then the kid breaks his finger and has to miss the rest of the season because playing could cause permanent tendon damage.

The Colts are rolling. They control their own destiny for the top wild-card spot, and they have the easiest remaining schedule (by far) of the three AFC teams with 7-4 records (the Patriots and Ravens are the other two).

They won’t lose this week, and they might not lose again until the playoffs. If then.


The Bills proved last week that they’re not giving up yet. Dropping 54 points on anyone is impressive, even if it’s the 2008 Kansas City Chiefs.

The Bills are still alive in the AFC playoff race. While it’s not likely that they can pass the Patriots and Ravens for the final wild-card spot, or the Patriots and Jets for the AFC East, it’s not completely out of the question either.

If they lose to the 49ers (which I can’t imagine is going to happen), then it’s over.


This game is a must-win for the Baltimore Ravens. Their schedule is tough down the stretch. After the Bengals, they play Washington, Pittsburgh, at Dallas, and Jacksonville. The good news is that three of their last four games are at home. The bad news is that after the Bengals, their next three opponents have a combined record of 22-11.

If they want to keep pace with the Patriots and Colts, they need to win this game.


I bashed Donovan McNabb for losing a ton of close games a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve gotten a few emails asking why I don’t give Philip Rivers the same treatment. I mean, the Chargers have made losing close games an art form this season.

The answer is simple: Norv Turner. Norv Turner defenses collapse at the end of games. Norv Turner teams mismanage their timeouts and can’t control the clock late in close games. Norv Turner teams lose games they should win. It’s the Norv Turner way.

Figuring out who’s going to win this game is pretty simple. Matt Ryan, plus Roddy White, plus the worst pass defense in the NFL, plus Norv Turner equals an Atlanta victory.


The Patriots are thankful for many things today, not the least of which is the fact that their starting left tackle avoided a suspension for his dreadlock ripping beat down of Channing Crowder. In the list of dumb things I’ve seen Patriots players do, that one was up there.

There is no reason why the Steelers shouldn’t win this game. They’re the better team. They have the best defense in the NFL. They should be able to stop the Matt Cassel MVP train in its tracks.

But why am I not convinced that they’re going to come to New England and win?


Break up the Oakland Raiders!

Al Davis knew firing Lane Kiffin (For CAUSE, dang it! Not paying him a penny!) was the right move. Lousy Raider-haters, what do you have to say about yourselves now?? Eh??

Herm Edwards vs. Tom Cable. Good Lord. The over-under on wasted timeouts is 5 (each), on too many men on the field penalties is 3 (each), and on delay of game penalties is 6 (each).


Could this be a letdown game for the Jets? And if they have a letdown game, will they still be able to score 40 on the insanely porous Denver defense? I’m thinking Yes and Yes.

Mike Shanahan needs to fire himself as GM. The man lacks any ability to build a defense. He’s a great head coach, but his GM keeps letting him down by expecting him to make fruit salad out of the diarrhea he’s expected to send onto the field to stop the opposing offense each week.


When these two teams met on October 19th, nobody expected a shootout. But that’s exactly what we got. Almost 600 combined yards passing from Gus Frerotte and Kyle Orton to go along with four touchdown passes. 89 combined points. Unreal.

The most impressive thing about that game was Kyle Orton. He was tremendous, especially considering the fact that the Vikings were able to shutdown Matt Forte and the running game.

I think Kyle Orton’s the difference this week as well. He’s been mediocre since he returned from the ankle injury, but that ends Sunday.


How are the Jacksonville Jaguars not getting more press? Weren’t they supposed to be a Super Bowl team this season? They’re terrible. Awful. If they played in a real city, they’d be getting KILLED right now. But, luckily for them, they’re in Jacksonville and nobody’s noticed yet.

Jack Del Rio has gone from one of the best, up-and-coming head coaches in the NFL to a guy who is probably on the hot-seat this offseason. Personally, I never bought into Jack Del Rio. I’m not a fan of guys with two last names.

The winner of this game is in the driver’s seat for third place in the NFC South. Giddy up.

Don't forget to check out this week's NFL Power 10. Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend!


Sean Crowe covers the New England Patriots for and writes a bi-weekly column for

He is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at His archive can be found here.


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