Happy Thanksgiving! If you are as anxiety ridden as myself, you almost need some action on these games to get through the potential of spending hours upon hours with extended family. I wasn’t initially planning on handicapping these games, but in the Holiday spirit, I figured I’d give everyone a sweat.
Game 1: Minnesota @ Detroit
- A classic NFC North matchup featuring two puzzling squads. The lions have trailed late in every game they’ve won… huh? How is that even possible? The Vikings looked like NFC champs, then looked like the Browns, now appear somewhere in between. Stefon Diggs is almost certainly out, yet the Vikings appear to be taking all the sharp money. Ticket counts are 2×1 in favor of Detroit, but cash is either very heavy on the Vikes, or someone’s calculator is broken at the Wynn. I think the only real value in this game is Minnesota 1st It’s a flip to be tied at that stage of the game, so I’ll gladly take the point. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing Detroit, and we’ll have a few hours of 1-0 before dinner is served.
Game 2: Skins @ Cowboys
- The main course is clearly Dallas vs Washington. If you’re like me, you’ll eat fast, and stow some leftovers for halftime of the 3rd This game is pretty much the best the NFL has to offer. These teams are very different philosophically. The redskins have become much more of a gap-scheme oriented offense under Jay Gruden (who deserves a ton of credit, what a job he’s done) while the Cowboys are almost exclusively zone-scheme based. From what I’ve seen on tape, the Redskins have been able to hold up on defense really well vs zone teams (probably due to their size, and frequency of which they stunt), while they have struggled big time with gap schemes. If you watched some of the Pittsburgh-Washington Monday night game earlier this season, the Skins’ linebackers had ‘dear in the headlights’ all night vs counter and power (gap-scheme runs with pulling action). Now that I’ve confused you, (and myself) I’m going to bet that Dallas won’t change who they are. I don’t blame them – they are 9-1 after all. This being said, teams like New England are masterful at completely basing scheme on opponent weakness, another reason why Bill Belichick is the GOAT. I think a failure, or lack of willingness to adapt, is fairly exploitable. For this reason, I’ll take the Skins and the points. If the guards start pulling and Zeke goes to the spoon, we’re dead.
Game 3: Steelers @ Colts
- The nightcap lost all its luster when Luck went down. I still feel however, that a 7pt line shift is excessive. The value here is with the Colts and the points. I watched Tolzien a lot in college – he’s more than competent and a heck of a leader. Let’s hope the Steelers continue to underachieve and we can book a winner heading into rivalry week in college football!
For Pat’s Week 13 College Picks (61-27 this season), click here