Thanksgiving Day NFL and College Previews

THANKSGIVING WEEK IS HERE AND THAT MEANS IT’S A FOOTBALL FEAST WITH KELSO'S TURKEY SHOOT!

We’ll get to the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day/Night sneak peek previews in a moment but let’s first examine a pair of real “turkeys” – the Green Bay Packers (4-6) and Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) truly have been playoff perennials in recent years as Cincy’s made it to the post-season five years in a row while GB’s on an even-better seven-year playoff run but both are major car wrecks as we begin the holiday week:

Cincinnati lost 16-12 as 2.5-point home favorites against Buffalo in Week 11 play and, as if losing WR A.J. Green on this second offensive play of the game (and he’s likely out for the year now) was not bad enough, the Bengals spit the bit with more ill-timed QB Andy Dalton picks and more hijinks from veteran PK Mike Nugent who missed two PATs.

Meanwhile, on Sunday night there were the Packers allowing 515 offensive yards and 42 points in an 18-point prime-time loss at Washington. Sorry, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, but we don’t need you to be an apologist for this albeit injury-racked Packers defense. They still have some “names” on board and yet the likes of LB Clay Matthews and DE Julius Peppers were MIA and no other way to slice it but say the Pack’s finished! This three-game road trip through Tennessee, Washington and Philadelphia mercifully ends next Monday night but this club’s showing lots of quit and – despite a solid passing night from QB Aaron Rodgers (351 passing yards with 3 TDs) – you get the sense that GB’s players are waving white flags with the dropped passes, fumbles and missed tackles.

Gobble, gobble guys … you’re cooked!

In NFL Week 12 action on Thanksgiving Day/Night, it’s …

MINNESOTA (6-4) at DETROIT (6-4) – 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS

It’s a fist-fight for first place in the NFC North – and an almost-instant revenge situation to boot as you’ll recall the Lions just topped the Vikings 22-16 in OT in Week 9 as the QB Matthew Stafford-to-WR Golden Tate TD fling won it for the Motowners who now go for the season sweep for the second time in three years. No doubt the Vikes feel a whole lot better about things after snapping that dreadful four-game losing skid with yesterday’s 30-24 triumph over Arizona but can the defense/special teams score for Mike Zimmer’s crew here as they did twice in that win over the Redbirds?

Spread Note – Minnesota has covered eight of its last 11 head-to-head matchups against rival Detroit.

 

WASHINGTON (6-3-1) at DALLAS (9-1) – 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox

Hard to believe that none of the Cowboys teams in the past – the ones Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson (and even Barry Switzer) coached never won nine games in a row in a regular season but that’s what this bunch did with yesterday’s 27-17 win/cover against 7-point dog Baltimore. Never mind that the Cowboys’ offense was uber-stagnant for the game’s first few possessions, the tempo/rhythm started going Dallas’ way and – presto – there it was with rookie QB Dak Prescott airing three more TDs and rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott churning out 127 offensive yards (97 rushing/30 yards receiving).

If the ‘Boys now wish to put the brooms to the ‘Skins – remember Dallas won in Landover 27-23 way back in Week 2 – than getting in the grill of hot Washington QB Kirk Cousins is a must. Cousins battled through the tricky winds last night to throw for 375 yards and 3 TDs – really, one of the better games any quarterback has played this year in the NFL – but it’s RB Robert Kelley (137 yards rushing and 3 TDs versus Green Bay) that likely holds the key here.

Spread Notes – Road teams have covered 14 of the last 21 games played in this NFC East rivalry.

 

On Thanksgiving Night, it’s …

PITTSBURGH (5-5) at INDIANAPOLIS (5-5) – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

No question the “appeal” of this game comes in the form of famous QBs Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Andrew Luck of the Colts … but get a load of this: When Pittsburgh’s defense holds opponents to 20 points or less, Mike Tomlin’s crew is 5-0 SU/ATS and when Indianapolis’ defense holds opponents to 23 points or less, the Colts are 3-0 SU/ATS.

Keep in mind that Steelers’ do-everything RB Le’Veon Bell just rushed 28 times (that’s a lot) for 146 yards and one score in Sunday’s 24-9 win/cover at Cleveland: Can he come back and get 25-plus touches here on this “short week”?

Spread Note – Pittsburgh is just 4-7-1 vig-wise away dating back to last year.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

On Thanksgiving Night, it’s …

LSU (6-4, 4-3 SEC) at TEXAS A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC) – Any sort of playoff dreams went by the boards for these Southeastern Conference crews weeks ago – but be sure this game “matters” as LSU looks to make it five consecutive years of wins/covers against the A&M Aggies who really have lost their way in recent weeks (see seven straight spread losses).

Watch to see if LSU RB Leonard Fournette plays here after “starring” in a pre-game skirmish before the Bengals lost to Florida 16-10 last weekend. Maybe this dude should have turned pro following 2015!

Spread Note – LSU and Texas A&M are a combined 5-9 against the odds in conference play this year… ugh!

11-2 With Last 13 College Best Bets

11/19…15 Units…USC (-13) 36, UCLA 14 (Won)
11/19…10 Units…Nebraska (-13) 28, Maryland 7 (Won)
11/19…10 Units…Navy (-7.5) 66, East Carolina 31 (Won)
11/18…10 Units…Memphis (-7) 34, Cincinnati 7 (Won)
11/18…10 Units…UNLV (+30.5) 25, Boise State 42 (Won)
11/18…5 Units…Parlay of Memphis & UNLV (Won)
11/16…10 Units…Ball State (+20) 19, Toledo 37 (Won)
10/16…Northern Illinois (-1) 31, Eastern Michigan 24 (Won)
11/16…5 Units…Parlay of Ball State & No. Illinois (Won)
11/15…15 Units…Ohio (+1.5) 20, Central Michigan 27 (Lost)
11/12…15 Units…Washington (-8.5) 13, USC 26 (Lost)
11/12…10 Units…10 Units…Notre Dame (-14) 44, Army 6 (Won)
11/12…10 Units…Idaho (-9) 47, Texas State 14 (Won)