"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

THANKSGIVING DAY COLLEGE AND NFL PREDICTIONS

Turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and ... FOOTBALL! Now that's what Thanksgiving is all about. There are two college and three NFL games on the slate today and tonight. And believe it or not, all have implications on the postseason, whether it's to get eligible for a bowl game or to stay in contention for a playoff berth. Well, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! Here are the picks.

College:

Ole Miss (7 - 4) 30 @ Mississippi State (5 - 6) 21: Mississippi State is playing for a bowl berth and Ole Miss will be playing to get a big rivalry win in the SEC West and grab a victory in the Egg Bowl. My question: What does the winning team get? A dozen eggs? Are they scrambled, over easy or even hard boiled? I mean really, the Egg Bowl? Anyway, back to the game. Ole Miss has had a very good season, losing only to the elite teams in the SEC while pulling off upsets of Texas and LSU. They have a ton of talent and are maybe a year or two away from contending in the conference. Mississippi State, against a very similar schedule, has not fared as well. Missouri was able to stop Ole Miss last week, but Mississippi State isn't close to the Tigers on either side of the ball. I'll put all of my eggs in the Ole Miss basket today.

Texas Tech (7 - 4) 27 @ Texas (7 - 3) 35: Texas Tech had the wheels come off an undefeated season when they hit the meat of their schedule. They haven't won a game since beating West Virginia way back on October 19. In those four losses, they gave up an average of over 50 points per game. Texas saw their six game win streak ended by what we now know is a very talented Oklahoma State team in their last game. The Red Raiders will go to Austin down, and the Longhorns should take them out tonight. Texas is still in contention in the Big 12 and have a lot more to play for, potentially including their coach's job, than Texas Tech. The conference is still a race, primarily because of Oklahoma's unexpected loss to West Virginia earlier in the season. For the Cowboys to win the Big 12, they will need to get by Oklahoma next week. If they don't, it opens up a number of scenarios for three other teams to win the league title. In some cases, I think the lack of a conference championship game is terrific. This is one of those cases.  Look for Texas to bring it big and enter next week's big showdown with Baylor with something significant to play for.

NFL:

Green Bay (5 - 5 - 1) 27 @ Detroit (6 - 5) 30: Matt Flynn will start at QB for the Packers as they try to surpass the Lions in the NFC North, where every team is struggling. Flynn is serviceable in the absence of Aaron Rodgers, but Green Bay is not even close to what they are when Rodgers is in the lineup. Meanwhile, the Lions have succeeded in losing their last two games, both of which they should have and could have won. Instead, they find themselves in a dogfight with the Packers and the Bears for the division lead, one that will probably go down to the final weekend of the season. The Lions just have too much talent offensively to have fallen the last couple of weeks. And Green Bay has gone 0 - 3 - 1 since Rodgers went down. In the first game between these two, the Pack dominated in a 22 - 9 win at Lambeau Field. This time, however, they have to travel to Detroit on a short week without their Pro Bowl QB. Something has to give, as neither of these teams has a win in its last two games. I'll go with the home team on Thanksgiving, but only because someone has to win...or do they?

Oakland (4 - 7) 24 @ Dallas (6 -5) 27: The Cowboys are difficult to predict, as are the Raiders. But Dallas has more talent and generally plays well through November. But Oakland runs the ball very well, McFadden will be in the Raider lineup and Terrell Pryor can also run on the Cowboys. It has pretty much come down to a race between Dallas and Philadelphia in the NFC East, so Dallas knows this is its best chance in a while to win the division. Although I think they're perfectly capable of stubbing their toe today, it's unlikely as they play Thanksgiving host to Oakland on a short week. The keys to the game will be for Dallas QB Tony Romo to keep from turning the ball over and for their defense to at least contain, if not stop, the Raider running game. If the Cowboys get behind and Romo is forced to make plays, they could be in trouble since Oakland has the ability to control the ball and shorten the game. In the end, I'll take Dallas to hold off the Raiders.

Pittsburgh (5 - 6) 23 @ Baltimore (5 - 6) 17: After falling to 2 - 6 and seemingly out of the playoff race, the Steelers have rebounded with three victories in a row, putting themselves into position to challenge for the AFC North title. The Ravens have relied totally on their defense in an up and down season following their Super Bowl title. QB Joe Flacco has been abysmal, completing less than 60% of his passes while throwing for 14 TD's and the same number of interceptions. I think the Steelers are rounding into form, while the Ravens continue to sputter on offense. In their previous meeting, Pittsburgh eeked out a 19 - 16 win. Since then, Pittsburgh has raised their game to another level, while the Ravens have stayed about the same. Even on the road in a short week, I'll take the Steelers to prevail in a dogfight.