Week 13 Evansville Courier Press
Compared to you post Thanksgiving dinner, they're Michelangelo marvels. Hey, the tailback rushed four yards without breaking into a cold sweat! The wide receiver ran a slant route without spitting up stuffing! And look, the quarterback threw ugg boots clearance a screen pass! I wonder if his left arm seized into a tingly pain like mine did when I rolled off the couch in search of my fifth pecan pie sandwich!
Perhaps that's why the NFL keeps sloughing out its hardest luck franchise for an attentive, half dead audience each holiday. There can be no other explanation.
The Lions have achieved something resembling legitimacy. They boast the league's best wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, one of its better quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford and its most lovable sociopath chi hair straightener in Ndamukong Suh. Detroit also reached the playoffs in 2011.
But the Lions rank second all time in franchise losses and have never played in, much less won, a Super Bowl. Add all that in with the notoriety of being the only team to ever go 0 16 (2008), as well as a bankrupt home city where feral pitbulls outnumber humans 4 to 1, and you possess a sad, sad lot.
But wait! They have a tradition. Thursday will mark the 73rd iteration of a Lions Thanksgiving Day clash. Detroit has tallied a 33 37 2 record in those games, but has lost nine in a row while allowing 35 points per game. That should change on Thursday.
Why?: Dallas is another traditional Thanksgiving participant. And wouldn't you know it, they've done better than Detroit. The Cowboys are 28 15 all time. Meanwhile, quarterback Tony Romo is 6 1 on Natives Feel Sorry For Pilgrims Day, throwing 17 touchdowns with only six interceptions in the matchups.
But let's ditch the historical numbers. While Oakland's 4th best rushing attack will pile up numbers against a Dallas defense that couldn't stop a tortoise plodding through half frozen motor oil, a healing DeMarco Murray and a Cowboys passing attack that's desperate for a breakout after two consecutive duds should be enough to carry Dallas.
Indianapolis handily beat Seattle (10 1), Denver (9 2) and San Francisco (7 4), but lost to middling Arizona and St. Louis by a combined score of 78 19.
The Colts are like a sleeping cat that cheap oakley sunglasses shoots awake, bounds onto the kitchen table and takes a destruction defying leap at the strings on a ceiling fan. Most of the time the cat makes it, and boy is it beautiful. But sometimes the cat misses, bounces its skull off the linoleum, crashes through the sliding glass door and barrel rolls into the street, where it's rampaged by a speeding 18 wheeler driven by an obese man in an eye patch.
What was I talking about? Oh, right. The Colts. Yeah, they're going to win.
Why?: After the Jets topped the Saints in Week 9, I worried the world I knew was dead. If the Jets were good, what other long held truths would next get tossed aside? Gravity? The tides? Mark Sanchez's mustache?
But alas, order. In the past two games, New York has hacked up 7 combined turnovers while tallying 17 total points. In that span, quarterback Geno Smith went 17 45 and threw zero touchdowns against five interceptions.
The Dolphins' defense has allowed one or less passing touchdowns in each of the past five games. Miami is tied for fifth in passing touchdowns allowed.
Why?: Peyton Manning comes fresh off last week's game against New England in which he saw his team blunder away a 24 0 halftime edge. The latest reports indicate the man hasn't left his film room in days, and will likely have his Thanksgiving meal shoved one morsel at a time through an 18 shaped mail slot in the door. His wife will be upset, but that's OK. Quarterback Ma Tron 6,000 knows nothing of human emotions.
Plus, in the teams' previous clash, the Chiefs treated Manning like a museum piece. Dalton was fantastic in October, powering Cincinnati to a 4 0 record while tossing for 11 touchdowns and 1,246 yards. In November, Dalton's cumulative numbers looked a lot like the stats I compiled while playing club sport football with my arms tied behind my back and my legs severed at the knee.
Why?: Granted, New Orleans is a different team away from Ignatius J. Reilly's hometown. That said, the Saints' third best pass defense negates the Seahawks' second best air defense, turning the clash into a one on one matchup between Drew Brees (317 yards per game, 28 touchdowns) and Russell Wilson (210 yards per game, 19 touchdowns).
Plus, New Orleans can combat Seattle's edge in the running game with quick passes to human sticky ball Jimmy Graham and Super Mario star possessor Darren Sproles.