by Ryan Meehan and Coach Ryan
Thanksgiving is upon us, meaning the holidays are in full swing. So I’d like to step on my soapbox for a minute and remind everyone to please support your local businesses whenever possible. It puts money back into the community, but it’s YOUR community. It increases sales tax revenue that is used to fund projects in the places where you live. So this year, skip Amazon and go to your local bookstore. What was this article supposed to be about? That’s right…football. Time for gathering around the table and sharing some more dry tasting food for yet another year. This week there are some great games, so let’s see what’s going down…
Thanksgiving Day: Green Bay Packers (5-5) +7 at Detroit Lions (6-5) (50)
Coach: Detroit has had its chances to grab control of the NFC North, unfortunately that challenge has been met with poor play in back to back losses to the Steelers and the lowly Buccaneers. Luckily for the Lions this week brings on their yearly Thanksgiving game by welcoming a team that has shown just how important a quarterback is in the Packers. Green Bay has now gone four weeks without a win, but luckily were able to escape last week against the Vikings with the ever so exciting NFL tie. There has been semi good news out of the land of cheese when news broke that Aaron Rodgers was ahead of schedule in his return although Mike McCarthy called the chances of Rodgers returning this week “slim to none.”
With the Bears playing in Minnesota this week, you have to think that this could be the matchup that makes or break the season for the Lions. Reggie Bush and avid pizza enthusisast Nate Burleson held a players only meeting after their loss last week in an attempt to save the season. For the Lions a win against the Packers even with no Rodgers could finally put their season back on the right track, as their schedule seems manageable from here on out. The spread on the game is -7 Detroit and I think the Lions will finally come together, win big, and put the final nail in the coffin for the Packers.
Coach’s Prediction: Lions 24, Packers 16
Meehan’s Prediction: Lions 31, Packers 27
Oakland Raiders (4-7) +10.5 at Dallas Cowboys (6-5) (46.5)
Meehan: Jerryworld scheduled another blockbuster game for Turkey Day, as he brings in the Raiders this year to be the Mississippi State to his Notre Dame. The Raiders are ripe for the picking, and with a young QB in Matt McGloin on a short week, I can see Dallas making quick use of them. If they are able to pull that off, they’d be 7-5 and temporarily on top of the NFC Least with Philly hosting a dangerous Arizona team just three days later. And even though 7-5 isn’t much to bark about, you get the feeling that they don’t even deserve THAT record. Seriously, how am I supposed to sell other people on the idea that a team that’s next to last in the league in defending the pass and 30th against the run should be 2 games over .500? If you think that looks ridiculous in print, try to say it out loud without vomiting. I’m picking Dallas to cover the spread but I wouldn’t put money on it. Is Leon Lett going to be at the game?
Meehan’s Prediction: Cowboys 26, Raiders 14
Coach’s Prediction: Cowboys 30, Raiders 21
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) +2.5 at Baltimore Ravens (5-6) (40)
Meehan: I thought the whole point of NBC getting to host the Thanksgiving night game was to get a game that everybody would want to watch. But then again technically 5-6 will get you a six seed in the AFC, which is looking like the NFC of seven to none years ago. I realize that these teams are rivals and all of that good stuff, but seriously who cares? Not this guy…The truth is that one of these teams is going to back into that 6 slot, which is a crying shame. The Steelers have won 5 out of their last seven, but don’t appear to have any real stamina to boot. Baltimore looks like a team that’s just happy to get by, but with an emotionless quarterback you wouldn’t notice the difference anyway. That being said, the home team will end up having the upper hand here. I just don’t believe that the Steelers are going to continue this run because I have no reason to believe that it’s possible with that roster.
Meehan’s Prediction: Ravens 23, Steelers 20
Coach’s Prediction: Steelers 27, Ravens 24
Sunday’s Games: Denver Broncos (9-2) -4.5 at Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) (48.5)
Coach: It was predicted by First Order Historians that the Chiefs were going to have a much tougher second half of the season. What wasn’t predicted was that was going to apply to the Chiefs mascot. KC Wolf was seriously injured before the Chargers game rehearsing a zip line routine before Phillip Rivers zipped a late touchdown to give the Chiefs their second loss of the season. Unfortunately for any mascots or Chiefs player, they welcome in an angry Peyton Manning and company who is undoubtedly out for blood after blowing a 24 point lead to the Patriots last week. The last time these teams played the Broncos were able to pull away to beat the Chiefs by 10 points in Denver. I said that combined with how Kansas City reacted would tell a lot in what to look forward to in this game and I’m holding true to that. In what should be a battle between Manning and the Chiefs defense I have to to with Manning in a game that should give Denver the edge it needs to go ahead in the AFC West for what should be the rest of the year. Although I’m picking this game to be much closer than a few weeks ago I’m still going with the Broncos to win although not cover the -.4.5 point spread.
Coach’s Prediction: Broncos 27, Chiefs 24
Meehan’s Prediction: Broncos 30, Chiefs 17
Tennessee Titans (5-6) +4 at Indianapolis Colts (7-4) (44.5)
Coach: After the Colts have lost two out of their last three you get the feeling that fans in Indy are preparing to go into panic mode even though they currently sit two games up in the division. As important as a franchise quarterback is Indy is proving right now how important it is to surround that quarterback with weapons. Since Reggie Wayne went out Andrew Luck has looked like a young quarterback still adapting to life in the NFL as opposed to the unstoppable force he appeared to be following their win against the Broncos. Trent Richardson seems to be a bust and their are questions on if they will be able to do anything once they make the playoffs.
I say once they make the playoffs because as mediocre as they’ve looked lately they do play in a weak division where their closest competition comes from this Titans team sitting at 5-6. The Titans will be going into this game without safety Michael Griffin who is suspended for a hit last week against the Raiders. This should open up some space for the struggling Luck and propel the Colts to victory. The spread on the game is Indy by -4 and with the game in Indy I think the Colts should be able to cover.
Coach’s Prediction: Colts 28, Titans 17
Meehan’s Prediction: Colts 32, Titans 23
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) +7.5 at Cleveland Browns (4-7) (40)
Coach: My Browns have managed to once again shoot themselves in the foot with injuries and less than stellar quarterback play in the ongoing carousel that Cleveland fans have become accustomed to over the past decade or so. Jacksonville on the other hand has been able to to put together a little bit of momentum and win two out of three to shine a little light on what is a terrible season. At this time it is expected that the Browns will be stuck with quarterback Brandon Weeden who was able to come into the game against Pittsburgh and not just throw for a touchdown but also refrain from throwing any underhand passes. I know Weeden makes this game a lot closer than it should be but the difference here will continue to be the Browns defense who has been the strong point for the orange and brown all year. Although Weeden is a disaster I think Josh Gordon will be able to string together a few catches for big gains and should be the difference in the game. The spread on the game is -7.5 Cleveland and I’m picking the Browns to win although not cover.
Coach’s Prediction: Browns 17, Jaguars 10
Meehan’s Prediction: Jaguars 20, Browns 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) +9.5 at Carolina Panthers (8-3) (41.5)
Meehan: Although Carolina has won seven in a row, this is a potential trap game for them. Tampa has won three straight and knows the Panthers very well. But the clock is ticking for the Panthers to really secure a playoff spot by playing less than average teams like the Bucs – They still have two against the Saints to come and you know that won’t be easy. They need to blow the Bucs out here to really show New Orleans that they are for real, because by the time they take the field at the Superdome it might be too late. Nonetheless, 9.5 seems like a lot here. So I’m taking Carolina to win but not to cover that spread because it’s pure crazy talk.
Meehan’s Prediction: Panthers 26, Buccaneers 21
Coach’s Prediction: Panthers 26, Buccaneers 19
Chicago Bears (6-5) EVEN at Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1) (49.5)
Meehan: I have to go against Chicago again. Look, they lost by three touchdowns last week and in a divisional game where they face a team that is coming off of a tie they could easily lose here as well. The Vikings have had some close losses, with mathematically their closest coming last week. The Bears looked just awful against the Rams, and that’s why they aren’t a playoff team. Playoff teams don’t disappear in the fourth quarter like Chicago did against St. Louis. Jay Cutler will sit this one out, likely returning the following week. But I just don’t think that it matters…Whereas a team like Green Bay can blame their recent struggles on losing their signal caller, Chicago can’t get away with that because it’s so obvious that there are a lot of other issues at hand. And the oddsmakers are right about this one, as it has an even spread. That’s because nobody can trust the Bears, and I am leading that fight because I don’t either. Vikings win by one.
Meehan’s Prediction: Vikings 24, Bears 23
Coach’s Prediction: Bears 16, Vikings 13
Arizona Cardinals (7-4) +3 at Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) (48.5)
Coach: Two of the hotter teams as of late are the Cardinals and the surprising Eagles who combined have won seven games in a row and both look like teams that may be making a press to the playoffs. Both teams have shown flashy offense and decent defense capped off last week with the Cardinals dominating the Colts in Arizona. The Eagles are coming off a bye giving a full week to study and get ready for this massive NFC matchup. To be honest that’s what worries me about this game. The Eagles have been anything but consistent this year and are currently sitting on a record of 1-4 at home. What really worries me about this game isn’t Philly’s strong offense but their lackluster defense. A week removed from putting up 41 points against Indy and it looks like Arizona is finally getting on track with their offense. The spread on the game is -3 Philly but I’m going to go with my upset of the week as Arizona going into the elements and shocking the Eagles showing they’re for real and just how strong the NFC West is.
Coach’s Prediction: Cardinals 17, Eagles 16
Meehan’s Prediction: Cardinals 31, Eagles 22
Miami Dolphins (5-6) EVEN at New York Jets (5-6) (38.5)
Meehan: After seeing the way that the Jets played (or didn’t play) last week against Baltimore, I have a hard time believing that they can string together more than a touchdown and a field goal. And even though both of these teams are still in the dismal AFC playoff picture, neither will make it. The Dolphins are still reeling from the mess started by the Richie Incognito situation, but they are due. They may have a makeshift offensive line, but it doesn’t take a lot to beat the Jets right now.
Meehan’s Prediction: Dolphins 20, Jets 10
Coach’s Prediction: Jets 19, Dolphins 17
Atlanta Falcons (2-9) +3 at Buffalo Bills (4-7) (46)
Coach: You have to wonder just how far the Falcons are going to fall as the season slowly begins to wrap down. To this point the Falcons have yet to win a game on the road and with weather becoming a major story line in the NFL the chances of that changing is doubtful. The Falcons can’t stop a cold and with a trip to Toronto they won’t be able to stop Buffalo who is coming off a bye and should be able to put some points up this week with the return of wide receivers Steve Johnson and Robert Woods. Even though the receivers will help the Bills the difference in this game is going to be their defensive line who are tied with the Saints for the most sacks in the NFL with 37 this far. If Mario Williams is able to penetrate the Falcons offensive line it should be another long day for Matt Ryan and company who let up five sacks last week to the Saints. The spread on the game is -3 Buffalo and I think the Bills will cover. Hopefully for the Falcons they’ll be able to escape without any more injuriess specifically to Matt Ryan.
Coach’s Prediction: Bills 30, Falcons 22
Meehan’s Prediction: Falcons 25, Bills 20
St. Louis Rams (5-6) +10 at San Francisco 49ers (7-4) (42)
Meehan: Boy…Las Vegas sure does hate the “bottom half” of the NFC west, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong – San Francisco will probably win this football game, but the people who handicapped this are total losers. So let me get this straight – The Rams have scored eighty points in their last two games, beat two teams that had winning records, and they come out and get slapped as a double digit underdog the very next week? What type of sane person makes that decision? Sure the Niners came out and got down to business on Monday Night Football, but that was against Washington. And I think we can all agree that if we’re going to sit here and bag on Atlanta and Houston, the Redskins can very easily fall into the same joke trap. I got the Niners by a late field goal, but I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if St. Louis ends up winning.
Meehan’s Prediction: 49ers 23, Rams 20
Coach’s Prediction: 49ers 29, Rams 20
New England Patriots (8-3) -9 at Houston Texans (2-9) (47)
Coach: Warning First Order Historians has a blow out alert. Outside of Atlanta no team has come close to the disappointment of the Texans. This was never more apparent last week when Houston was unable to put a touchdown on the board last week at home against the Jaguars. In retrospect the Patriots are coming off their biggest win of the year in one of the most improbable comebacks of the year last week against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. You combine a team on a free fall with a confident combination of Brady and Belichick and you have to think that this game will be over by the second quarter. If there’s anything to pay attention to in this game it’s the play of running back Stevan Ridley who has lost a fumble in three straight games and whose play is coming into question. I have to think that the Pats will rely heavily on him on the early going as a test of his durability and if he’s able to not lose the ball he should have a huge game. If he has a case of the fumbles the Pats will go heavy on Brady to Gronk either way making this a painfully long day for the Texans. The spread on the game is -9.5 and although that’s a huge spread I think the Pats will go up big and hold on to cover.
Coach’s Prediction: Patriots 28, Texans 12
Meehan’s Prediction: Patriots 31, Texans 6
Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) EVEN at San Diego Chargers (5-6) (48.5)
Coach: In one of the more exciting games last week the Chargers were able to sneak out a pretty shocking win in Kansas City last week which like half the AFC kept their playoff hopes alive. Cincinnati is coming off their bye week but with the recent resurgence of the Steelers and Ravens once again find themselves in an important game to stay in control of the AFC North. For the Bengals this starts off a tough stretch of games starting this week followed by games against the Colts and Steelers. The Bengals have dropped their last two games on the road in overtime and to take care of the Chargers they are going to have to put together a complete game. The biggest challenge is going to be taking care of Phillip Rivers who continues to impress with his calm and collective play. The biggest difference I see here is the struggles of San Diego’s pass defense led by the inconstancy of safety Eric Weddle. In the Bengals last game AJ Green was shut down by Cleveland’s Joe Haden and with the bye I think this will be a return to form for Green and Dalton. The spread on the game is EVEN and I’m putting my money on the Bengals in another must win situation.
Coach’s Prediction: Bengals 33, Chargers 30
Meehan’s Prediction: Bengals 56, Chargers 24
Sunday Night Football: New York Giants (4-7) EVEN at Washington Redskins (3-8) (45.5)
Meehan: I can’t foresee the Giants being a real threat to anybody from here on out, but I really can’t see the Redskins stepping up and playing a good game. We learned from Monday night that their home crowd doesn’t do them much good, and that Robert Griffin the third may never be the leader of an NFL team. Regardless of all that you’re hearing in the press, there HAS to be a serious problem in that locker room and I’m suspect that a lot of it has to do with Griffin lacking the leadership qualities to run an NFL team. The Giants on the other hand are coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys that may very well have put them out of the playoff chase, but I have to think that they are still much better than the Redskins.
Meehan’s Prediction: Giants 24, Redskins 10
Coach’s Prediction: Giants 31, Redskins 16
Monday Night Football: New Orleans Saints (9-2) +5.5 at Seattle Seahawks (10-1) (47)
Meehan: This is the big dog daddy right here. I’ve been waiting for this one for months and hopefully it will not disappoint. Whoever wins this game will have head to head over the other should both finish with the same record, which is very possible. There is a dark cloud looming over the Seahawks because of all their substance abuse issues, but I don’t think that it will have much effect on the game as long as Thomas and Shermann are still hanging around. I did however write a joke about it…
Q: How many Seattle Seahawks secondary members does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two. One to screw in the bulb, and another to text the first guy’s dealer to tell him they’re going to be five minutes late.
I didn’t say it was a good joke. Honestly though, I have to like Seattle here because the home field advantage is just so important up there. (If you don’t think so, ask yourself why a 9-2 team is a five and a half point underdog) And although the Saints have improved on defense, remember that Seattle is third in the league in rushing and Percy Harvin is back at the wideout position. Really this is going to be Brees against the two corners, and on the other side of the ball we’re going to see how much Marshawn Lynch can run. I’m guessing that the atmosphere is going to be JUST too much for the Saints, but I can’t take Seattle to cover the spread.
Meehan’s Prediction: Seahawks 31, Saints 27
Coach’s Prediction: Seahawks 24, Saints 22
Bonus Comment of the Week:
Since you can now log on to NFL.com and vote for your favorite players for the 2014 Pro Bowl, you’ve likely heard that the game will be “unconferenced” this year. Whoop-dee-doo. Memo to the NFL: Nothing that can be done to the Pro Bowl will ever make it interesting. No rule change, no scheduling alteration, no in-game tweeting, NOTHING that they do will ever make us want to watch it. And with that being said, maybe it’s time to get rid of it. Because the earlier the league decides to make that decision, the easier it’s going to be to live with it. The longer we keep this waste of jet fuel around, the more difficult it’s going to be to pull the plug on it. It’s time for the Pro Bowl to go, and it will not be missed.
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.
Meehan and Coach Ryan