By Rich Levine
Happy Turkey Day, all. Your gift from me? An early dose of NFL Picks!
No, really, I'm serious.
Hey, why are you crying?
Anyway, you know who else is crying? My imaginary bookie, who better pay up after last week's stellar 11-4 performance before I break his imaginary thumbs. But in the meantime, here are my three Thanksgiving bets.
Ill be back on Friday with the rest of the games.
The Game: New England (-7) at Detroit
If it weren't for the Cleveland game, this one would raise a flag that's redder than Rudolphs nose. Wait, crap, wrong holiday. What I mean is that I'd probably pick the Pats to lose. First of all, youve got the funky 12:30 kickoff, which might not seem like much, but can mess with the mentality of the non-traditional Thanksgiving team. In Shaun Hill, you've got an average, journeyman quarterback, but one who much like Ryan Fitzpatrick can sling the ball around the field and potentially take advantage of the still-developing Pats secondary. You've also got Calvin Johnson, a superhuman receiver capable of winning a game by himself.
Like I said, without that Cleveland wake-up call, the Pats were primed to drop this one. But they've learned their lesson. That's not to say this game will be easy; in fact I think it will still be close, but New England won't be caught asleep at the wheel when they arrive at Ford Field (pun intended); they'll go home with a win.
The Pick: Lions (7)
The Game: New Orleans (-3.5) at Dallas
Initially, the notion that Jason Garrett was "holding back" the Cowboys offense over the final few games of the Wade Phillips Era sounded preposterous. I mean, do coaches really do that at this level? Is that even possible?
With every passing week, I'm becoming more convinced that it is. It's not that the Cowboys offense has turned into the '07 Pats; after all, Jon Kitna didn't even throw for 150 yards last week. But they're taking more chances and they're far more creative. The Cowboys scored a combined 24 points in Phillips' last two games, and have 68 in the two games since.
Their season is very clearly over, but the post-Phillips momentum and Thanksgiving Day pride will carry them for one more week.
The Pick: Cowboys (3.5)
The Game: Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets (-9)
I've picked both 'dogs in the first two games, and there's no way they're going three-for-three for some reason I'm assuming I'll get the first two right, a page out of the Antoine Walker book of gambling logic.
Anyway, now that Wade Phillips and Brad Childress have finally been taken out behind the barn, we need a third coach to complete the trifecta and there's no one more deserving than Marvin Lewis (apologies to coaches Singletary, Kubiak and Fox).
A national TV blowout should do it.
The Pick: Jets (-9)
Last Week: 11-4
Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday (and, occasionally, on football holidays like today) on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33