November 26, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
Packers at Lions (-6 ½, 50) - 12:30 PM EST
Green Bay: 5-5-1 SU, 5-6 ATS
Detroit: 6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS
The NFC North race is turning into a battle of attrition heading into the final month of the season. The Packers looked to be the team to beat until quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a left collarbone injury four weeks, as Green Bay is winless in the month of November. Green Bay is going through quarterbacks like donuts at this point as one-time Packer Matt Flynn, re-signed last week after spending time in Oakland and Buffalo this season, came in relief for Scott Tolzien.
Flynn helped engineer a comeback as the Packers trailed the Vikings, 23-7 at home, leading Green Bay to 16 unanswered points and the game to overtime. However, both teams exchanged field goals in overtime and the contest finished in a 26-26 tie, as the Vikings cashed tickets in the underdog role. Once at 5-2, the Packers have slipped to 5-5-1, but can regain first place with a Thanksgiving victory at Detroit.
The Lions stubbed their toe in Sunday's 24-21 home defeat to the suddenly surging Buccaneers to drop their second straight game. Tampa Bay took control thanks to a pair of huge plays, an interception return for a touchdown prior to halftime and an 85-yard scoring strike from Mike Glennon to Tiquan Underwood to start the fourth quarter. Matt Stafford threw four interceptions for Detroit, who has failed to cover its last three games at Ford Field.
In the last meeting at Lambeau Field in October, Green Bay silenced Detroit's offense in a 22-9 triumph to cash as 10-point favorites. The Packers' offense put up 449 yards, including 99 on the ground from running back Eddie Lacy. The victory was the fifth in a row in the series for the Packers, while Green Bay enters Thursday's action with three victories in the last four visits to Ford Field.
Rodgers likely won't suit up for the fourth straight game, meaning Flynn will make his first start for the Packers since Week 17 of the 2011 season. In that start, Flynn faced this same Lions' squad, tossing six touchdown passes and throwing for 480 yards in a 45-41 triumph which eventually got him a nice contract with Seattle.
Raiders at Cowboys (-9 ½, 45 ½) - 4:30 PM EST
Oakland: 4-7 SU, 6-4-1 ATS
Dallas: 6-5 SU, 8-3 ATS
Just when you think the Cowboys are cooked, they pull off a huge divisional victory on the road. That was the case this past Sunday, as Dallas held off New York, 24-21 to cash outright as 2 ½-point road underdogs. The Cowboys built a 21-6 advantage before the Giants rallied for 15 unanswered points to even the game at 21-21, but Dan Bailey's 35-yard field goal at the gun gave Dallas the road triumph. Now, the Cowboys return home seeking their third consecutive victory at AT&T Stadium.
The Raiders couldn't capitalize off a road victory at Houston two weeks ago as Oakland was tripped up at home by Tennessee. The Titans won a back-and-forth affair at the Black Hole by edging the Raiders, 23-19 thanks to a Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdown pass in the closing seconds to Kendall Wright. Former Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin started for the second straight week for Oakland, throwing for 260 yards, but the Raiders held the ball for just 24 minutes.
The last time these teams met up, it happened on Thanksgiving in 2009, as the Cowboys cruised past the Raiders, 24-7 to cash as 13 ½-point home favorites. Tony Romo tossed a pair of touchdown passes, while Dallas rushed for 195 yards, even though none of the running backs who played in that game are currently on the roster.
The Cowboys have struggled in the past as a home favorite, but Dallas has turned things around this season with a 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS mark when laying points in Arlington. However, Dallas looks to turn things around against the AFC West, as the Cowboys have already lost to the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers, which actually doesn't hurt them for tiebreaker purposes in the NFC playoff hunt.
Steelers at Ravens (-3, 40 ½) - 8:30 PM EST
Pittsburgh: 5-6 SU, 5-6 ATS
Baltimore: 5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS
Following an 0-4 start, the Steelers have woken up and won five of their past seven games to forge back into the AFC playoff race. The first five spots in the AFC seem to be spoken for, but that final position is up for grabs with six teams sitting at 5-6 heading into this week's action. Pittsburgh or Baltimore can get a leg up with a win on Thursday night, as both clubs are coming off dominating performances this past week.
The Steelers' defense kept the Browns out of the end zone until the final minutes of a 27-11 rout of Cleveland on Sunday, the second divisional victory for Pittsburgh this season. Mike Tomlin's team has won and covered three straight games, but the Steelers own a 2-4 record away from Heinz Field, which includes losses to the Raiders and Vikings.
The Ravens shut down the anemic Jets' offense in a 19-3 home triumph as four-point favorites, while forcing three turnovers. Even though Baltimore reached the end zone just once, the Ravens improved to 4-1 at home, while cashing the 'under' in all five contests at M&T Bank Stadium this season.
The last four meetings between these teams have been decided by three points each, including a 19-16 victory by the Steelers last month. In fact, eight of the previous 10 matchups between these divisional rivals has seen a three-point decision, as this line sits at three heading into Thursday.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at email@example.com
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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