Happy Thanksgiving! This is the only Thursday of the year where NFL games don’t feel like JV games so it doesn’t actually feel like a chore to watch the games. I had another in a long line of mediocre picks last week going 7-7 both SU and ATS. The yearly record is now 109-67 and 90-86…
Packers (+5.5) over LIONS– Both teams are in a bit of a swoon right now. Green Bay at least has an excuse with Aaron Rodgers injured while Detroit I just don’t think knew how to handle expectations. Instead of walking away with the division Detroit has allowed by the Packers and Bears to remain in it. Green Bay is now on their 4th string QB as newly signed Matt Flynn looks to create magic like he did a few seasons back. Flynn holds big cap charges from two teams and small charges from another two, so he certainly gets around.
These two teams do not like each other so I would expect some tempers to flare. The game probably comes down to how well Flynn can handle the pressure from the Lions front line and how locked in Matt Stafford gets on Calvin Johnson. Though Megatron is a beast, sometimes Stafford is so over-reliant that it can lead to turnovers. I have less faith in the Lions and their coaching staff being prepared this week even with the QB situation in Green Bay. Packers late by a FG. Packers 27 Lions 24
COWBOYS (-9.5) over Raiders– The line in this game is a little high as the Raiders are always a game team, but Dallas seems to play much more effectively at home and they should be riding high after defeating the New York Giants last week. I don’t think anyone watching the Cowboys thinks they are a Super Bowl team right now, but they are a playoff caliber team and an NFC playoff caliber team is far greater than most AFC teams.
The Raiders are a collection of older hanging on veterans and unheralded rookies. They play hard which is a testament to the job their coaching staff has done this year but the secondary fell apart against the Titans and Ryan Fitzpatrick at the end of last week’s game and Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are a different level than what the Titans offer. It’s hard to imagine them being able to score points with the Dallas offense. They may try to take a page from the Giants book and run over the Cowboys which may keep the Cowboys offense off the field, but even still I don’t think they have enough to pull off an upset. Cowboys 30 Raiders 17
Steelers (+2.5) over RAVENS– This will be a playoff elimination game between two teams that have a great rivalry. Baltimore should be the favorite to get that last playoff spot in the NFL but the Steelers I think are more capable of putting together a good string of games and knocking off a decent opponent than the Ravens. The Ravens offense has pretty much stagnated this year. Despite significant money tied up in Joe Flacco and Ray Rice neither has performed. Both have been hurt by the play of the Ravens line but I’d be more worried about Rice than Flacco. Flacco still throws some great passes down the field and isn’t that far off from his regular season norms. He’s like an even higher paid version of Eli Manning. Rice might be finished.
When Pittsburgh gets their passing game humming they can be difficult to stop and they have three capable receivers to try to outwork the Ravens secondary tonight. The key to the game might be S Troy Polamalu finding a way to turn back the clock and break up some plays deep from Flacco. I see this as a very close game and I think either team could win with one break going their way. Ravens usually get a boost from being home so I’ll take them for the win, but not the cover. Ravens 21 Steelers 20
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.