Thanksgiving Weekend Football- Thanksgiving weekend on the calendar marks the transition of fall as it slowly starts to turn towards winter and also marks the official start of the Holiday Season. It also marks the the beginning of a five week home stretch for the NFL regular season as playoff scenarios are multiple and become more clearly into focus. What is particularly interesting about the 2013 season however is something that you don’t normally see around Thanksgiving Weekend. When looking at the Wild Card races it seems as if the top wild card spot or number five seed in the AFC and NFC may already be all but decided. In the AFC, it is almost as plain as day that the number five seed will either Denver or Kansas City, who ever does not win the AFC West between the two. In the NFC the number five seed looks likely to be between New Orleans and Carolina, whomever of those two does not win the NFC South. Everyone else in contention for a wild card spot is playing for a number six seed where in both conferences there are virtual long jams, more prevalent in the AFC. The race for the number six seed in both conferences will be decided as the games play out in December. The good news is that to whomever gets the sixth seed, congrats! You’ve qualified for the playoffs. The bad news is that you are on the road for the entire journey however long it may last. Whomever makes the number six seeds are going to have to be very good road warriors. Should they pull an upset in their first games, the reward in the AFC is a trip to Denver, Kansas City, or possibly New England. In the NFC, you’re heading most likely to Seattle...good luck! You’ll need that and then some.
As for the games on Thanksgiving here is what we learned; 1) The Packers without Aaron Rogers are a combination of the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans...not very good; 2) The phase "Once in a Blue Moon" can also be re-coined as "Once every Dallas Cowboys home game where they wear their Blue Jerseys (how many of us did a double take when game came on and saw those rarely if ever worn jerseys on the Cowboys). The Cowboys wore their regular Blue Jerseys at home for the first time since 1964 (not counting any throwbacks). Since Dallas won the game and basically is in control of their own destiny, including the possibility of winning the NFC and maybe getting the third seed they can no longer call the blue jersey’s cursed. They won. Though I’m not a Cowboys fan, I feel they should do that more often at least starting with late October/November home games. The Raiders showed up and gave them a game but Dallas had just a little more in the end; 3) Pittsburgh and Baltimore are one of the best rivalries on the NFL today. When you look at the games they have played against each other over the last several seasons no two teams have been more competitive against each other. The largest margin of victory between the two teams since 2008 has been seven points. That and Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin if he wants to play should just suit up. Then you can trip Jacoby Jones all day long providing you can catch up to him first. Out of the 32 NFL Head Coaches today, Tomlin looks like the one that would be most likely to be able to play if he only could, and he would probably be a factor on the field.
Kingshark Line- The Kingshark Line picked all three winners on turkey day to get Week 13 off to a 3-0 start, and a 121-60 mark overall good for a .667 winning percentage. Looking ahead to Sunday and ofcouse Monday Night there is a plethora of games that will create enough intrigue as again many will have some impact on the playoff race while a handful games are also there just to remind us that not everyone is having a great season. As the NFL enters it’s 13th week of play, last week marked the end of the bye weeks thus meaning the remaining five weeks of the regular season will be a full slate of games. Here’s how the Kingshark Line view’s the full slate that is Week 13:News:
Tampa Bay@Carolina (FOX)- The Carolina Panthers are playing arguably the best football of anyone in the NFL outside of Seattle. The Panthers have won seven straight games and actually may have a shot at winning the NFC South before it’s all said and done. The Panthers got as expected a tough challenge in Miami last Sunday before pulling out a four point win in a game that truly tested their will. Meanwhile the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knowing their playoff aspirations long evaporated awhile ago have won three in a row after dropping eight straight. The Panthers won the first meeting between these two teams rather convincingly on Halloween night. The Buccaneers are playing better football now and may give the Panthers a better game here, and Carolina should expect that. The Panthers should be ready for it too. Panthers 31 Buccaneers 23.
Tennessee@Indianapolis (CBS)- The good news for the Indianapolis Colts is that they wont see either the Cardinals or Rams again for quite awhile. However the Colts in games this year have found a way to get off to some rather bad starts. The Colts recovered in some of those games however just looked flat in others and stayed that way. This makes them hard to read at times though they should still be able to win their division handily. Meanwhile the Tennessee Titans when they last played the Colts two and a half weeks ago gave them a good game and had a big lead in the first half. However the Titans could not hang on as Indy rallied late behind QB Andrew Luck who led the way to a come from behind three point victory. Last week the Colts fell flat in Arizona while the Titans pulled out a last minute win in Oakland. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has done a good job in taking over for the injured and out for the season Jake Locker. A Colts win here should all but lock down the AFC South. A Titans win here and all of a sudden you may still have a race. Tennessee is also an outside shot for a wild card (very outside). Luck and the Colts should be able to take care of business here. The Colts will need to start showing that they in fact can take care of their business if they have any hopes of lasting very long in the AFC post season. Colts 24 Titans 20.
New England@Houston (CBS)- The Patriots travel to Houston to take on the hapless Texans. Not much has gone right for the 2-9 Texans who are in the midst of an nine game losing streak that will soon see double digits. QB Tom Brady, the Patriots offense and defense will do enough to take this game which probably won't require much. Patriots 34 Texans 10.
Chicago@Minnesota (FOX)- The Chicago Bears looked awful and played awful against the Rams in St Louis last week. Minnesota has looked awful all season. The NFC North has looked awful for most of November. Last week the Bears could do nothing right in a surprising blow out loss to the Rams. The Vikings tied Green Bay in a game that maybe in some ways showed more of the Packers short comings than that of the Vikings. The Vikings come into the game with absolutely nothing to lose and bragging rights to gain. The Vikings have total house money here as they have no pressure to win at this point. The Bears need to bring their "A-game" here otherwise it could be another long afternoon. Josh McCown has done a decent job in standing in for the injured Jay Cutler, however winning on the road is a different animal all together. Add to that this Bears team doesn’t exactly remind anyone of the 1986 team either. Upset Special Time: Vikings 24 Bears 17.
Miami@NY Jets (CBS)- The Dolphins and the NY Jets square off in a battle of two teams (out of six) that are fighting over what could by the number six seed in the AFC playoff picture. Both teams have had their ups and downs on the season and in many ways maybe mirror each other better than most others. Both teams have had games where they looked promising only to have games the following week where they have looked bad. For Miami, it’s the story of a young team that has managed despite an unfortunate off the field controversy. For the Jets it is the story of a team that is trying to save the Head Coaches job and prove they can play with anyone. The Jets have the more impressive resume here with home wins versus the Patriots and Saints. The Jets also have a few games where they have looked horrible in road losses at Cincinnati and Tennessee. The Dolphins have played most teams tough this season but just cannot seem to finish teams which may be in part due to growing pains. Geno Smith versus Ryan Tannehill honestly comes down to who has the better day. Same goes for both defenses. This game is a coin flip. Have to go with the Jets at home by a point...it’s that close. This game could go either way and I wouldn’t’ be at all shocked if Miami won either. Jets 21 Dolphins 20.
Arizona@Philadelphia (FOX)- The Cardinals take their four game winning streak to the City of Brotherly Love as they look to challenge the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are coming off a bye week and are on a three game winning steak where they discovered their quarterback in Nick Foles and learned how to use their offense. The Cardinals win steak has put them in the thick of the NFC Wild Card race as they enter the game with an impressive 7-4 mark all things considered. Last week Arizona blew out the Colts in the desert dome. The Cardinals are the one team that can win an ugly game as well as anyone in the league and actually don’t mind having to do that. The Eagles need to take advantage of their rest and find a way to keep their offense flowing, especially with division rival Dallas on a winning steak and leading the NFC East. If Carson Palmer has time to throw as he did last week, he can make things tough on the Eagles defense. Larry Fitzgerald is at the top of his game at the Cardinal offense is performing at a high level. The Eagles in their three game win steak found their offense on the heal of two bad home losses prior. If Foles can keep the Eagles offense rolling as he has in the last three games this gives Philly a better than decent shot. The Eagles however have two problems here, first they are playing a Cardinals defense that is in the top ten of the league. The second is that their defense is well in the bottom third of the league and has benefitted from oppositions that have stopped themselves. The Cardinals are the better team here though not be much, but enough. Cardinals 31 Eagles 24.
Jacksonville@Cleveland (CBS)- The Jaguars and the Browns play in a game that challenges the viewer to stay tuned for the entire three hours and change it will actually take to play this game. If the Browns win they hurt their draft position. If the Browns lose they won’t improve their draft position any. With a bruising home loss to division rival Pittsburgh last Sunday the Browns post season hopes are a blur. The Jaguars last Sunday beat the Texans in Houston. Who hasn’t? This one will as be dull and brutal at the nightfall in Cleveland. The Browns take this one because someone has too. Browns 16 Jaguars 13.
Atlanta vs Buffalo (in Toronto) (FOX)- The Falcons at 2-9 are toast. The Bills are usually toast by the time pre-season is over, sometimes by week 4. All the makings of a good game right here. With apologies to the city of Toronto, this game won’t remind anyone of last week’s Grey Cup. Bills 17 Falcons 10.
St Louis@San Francisco (FOX)- The 49ers and Rams in the 129th renewal of their long standing NFC West rivalry renews for the second time this season. The all time series is as close as one can be with the 49ers holding a slight 63-62-3 all time edge in the series. In Week 4 the 49ers dismantled the Rams 35-11 in St Louis. Since then the Rams have played overall better football despite the loss of Sam Bradford for the season. Kellen Clemens will have a difficult task in trying to engineer drives against a 49ers defense that is in the top ten in three of four defensive categories. The 49ers are also getting back wide receiver Michael Crabtree which should be a boost for their struggling passing game. The Rams defense though is nothing to sneeze at as they are capable of playing at a high level themselves. The Rams may be the underdog here however they will be a much tougher out than on Sept 26th. The 49ers get this one by a touchdown but the Rams will make them earn it. 49ers 27 Rams 20. For more information on this game please go to this link: http://goldengatereport.com/articles/49ers-and-rams-meet-again-in-week-13
Cincinnati@San Diego (CBS)- The Cincinnati Bengals have another opportunity to try and win a key game outside of the state of Ohio as they travel to the west coast to take on the San Diego Chargers. The Bengals at 7-4 are in control of their own destiny provided they can win out or at least take four of the next five. It would be helpful if nothing else to their psyche to get a game on the road in tough road environment. The Chargers are fresh off a huge road upset of the Kansas City Chiefs and are on the thick of the 5-6 log jam in the AFC in seeking out the sixth and final seed in the AFC. Chargers QB Philip Rivers is playing at a high level and can give the Bengals defense some problems all afternoon if he is on his game. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has been for the most part consistent but is still searching for that one win that will get him and his team over the hump and perhaps carry them as far as the deeper end of the post season. The game interestingly is also the first game blacked out by the NFL this year in the local market as over 6,000 tickets remained on sale before the 72 hour deadline. The Chargers ownership (The Spanos Family) if nothing else deserves lots of credit for doing whatever they can to alienate their fanbase even further. The Chargers team meanwhile just need to focus on the football. The Bengals to win must treat this like a business trip and a mission. This maybe their last chance in the regular season to do that. Bengals will struggle some but in the end find a way as the Chargers remain flat out unpredictable. Bengals 34 Chargers 27.
Denver@Kansas City (CBS)- The Broncos and Chiefs are meeting for the second time in three weeks. The Broncos are coming off of a difficult loss to New England after blowing a 24-point lead. Kansas City meanwhile is coming off of a shocking upset loss to San Diego at Arrowhead Stadium. This game is some ways maybe a playoff game of sorts. If the Broncos win they will have a sweep of the Chiefs and an inside track to the AFC West title. If the Chiefs win they will retake a one game lead over the Broncos and have a split of the season series. Both teams suffered significant injuries to their defense in their games last week with the Chiefs suffering the heavier losses. Both offenses can put points on the board with Denver being the slightly stronger group. The Broncos with a win last week would have had a huge edge going into this game. However they still enough of an edge over the Chiefs overall and can win either a shootout or a close game. The Chiefs will need to find that something extra on defense after getting totally worked last Sunday. Broncos 35 Chiefs 28.
NY Giants@Washington (NBC)- Back in April when the schedule came out NBC thought this was going to be a good game. Eli Manning vs RGIII. NBC only wishes they could flex out of this one but ESPN is not giving up their gem. The Giants loss to Dallas last Sunday all but seals their fate as an also ran while the Redskins were realistically never a factor this season. So what we have essentially here is a battle of two teams likely playing out the string. The Redskins basically barely have an offense and no defense. The Giants best them in all statical categories. Maybe Kirk Cousins could start for Washington. It wouldn’t be the worst idea. Giants 31 Redskins 13.
New Orleans@Seattle (ESPN)- This is a match up between the top two teams in the NFC. The number two Saints versus. the number one Seahawks with the winner knowing the road to the Super Bowl could very well have to go through their city as far as the NFC is concerned. The Saints have had 11 days rest which is a good thing because they will need to be well rested. The only problem is that Seattle is on 15 days rest and Century Link field will be rocking. This is the Seahawks opportunity to show a national television audience whey they may be the most feared NFC team since the Cowboys of the early 1990's. Seattle QB Russell Wilson has come a long way in a short period of time and is a quarterback that simply is the most versatile in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch is one of the best short yardage running backs in the game and simply cannot be tackled once he gets a head of steam. Robert Turban is also strong out of the backfield. Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Jermaine Kearse and now the return of Percy Harvin give Russell his pick of targets to get the ball too via the air. The Saints defense simply put will have their work cut out for them as this maybe the stiffest challenge they face all season. However the Saints are also one of the best defenses the Seahawks will face all season. On offense the Saints led by QB Drew Brees are a formidable opponent for Seattle as they bring plenty to the table. Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles lead a good ground attack while the Saints have plenty of go to guys that can go deep with Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Lance Moore. This should be an interesting game if not an entertaining one. The Saints will give this one all they got and make a game of it. If the game was in New Orleans we would probably take them by a hair. The game is in Seattle however. The Seahawks are just unbeatable at home this season and may soon be a prohibitive favorite in the NFC for the Super Bowl. Seahawks 34 Saints 24.
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*Mandatory Disclaimer: The Kingshark Line is stickily for entertainment purposes only. I have the same exact information that anyone else has and do not claim to know any more or less than the next guy. This is not to promote or encourage gambling on football or any other sport. No point spreads are played here or implied in any way. Scores are for entertainment purposes only and are only based on team trends, team reports, etc. There is no inside information given here or implied. This is just for your information and entertainment. Enjoy the games.