The Green Bay Packers shouldn’t be optimistic about having Aaron Rodgers available for their Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions. That will probably matter a great deal.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Thursday, 12:30 PM ET
Odds: Detroit -7
Las Vegas waited to post a line on this game because of a brief period of uncertainty regarding the playing status of Green Bay superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It was acknowledged last week that Rodgers would have needed to begin practicing by Tuesday of this week if he was to be able to play against Detroit. On Monday, comments by Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy indicated that Rodgers has almost no chance of playing in this game. The Lions were then installed as seven-point favorites, and that line seems fairly reasonable. It’s true that Detroit just lost at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a 10-point favorite, but Green Bay is uniquely vulnerable in light of Rodgers’ absence. Tampa Bay was and is a team with continuity at quarterback. The same cannot be said for Green Bay and likely starting quarterback Matt Flynn on Thursday. The Lions’ defense should be able to generate a pass rush on Flynn. As long as Detroit can make Flynn uncomfortable in the pocket, it should be able to win this game by a decisive margin and cover on the betting lines.
Pick: Detroit -7
Oakland Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys
Thursday, 4:30 PM ET
Odds: Dallas -9.5
The Cowboys have to be feeling very good about themselves after winning on the road against the New York Giants. The Cowboys overcame a number of mistakes to produce a winning field goal on the game’s final play. Dallas is an inconsistent team, but the Cowboys will find it hard to mess up against an Oakland team that just lost at home to the mediocre Tennessee Titans. The Raiders have been all over the place at quarterback this season, with Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn (now with Green Bay), and Matt McGloin all trying their hand at the position. Oakland has not been able to find success or stability amidst this larger process, meaning that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo should be able to dominate this game. Dallas should be able to throw the ball for big plays against Oakland, creating a blowout on its home field in Arlington, Tex.
Pick: Dallas -9.5
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
Thursday, 8:30 PM ET
Odds: Baltimore -2.5
The Steelers and Ravens played a field goal-laden game earlier in the season, with Pittsburgh pulling out a 19-16 victory. One should expect a very similar game this time around, but the difference is that Baltimore will be playing at home. Whenever the Steelers and Ravens play, a highly physical form of football emerges. These teams loathe each other, and they try to tear each other’s limbs off. The feeling here is that Baltimore’s defense, at home, will be able to make Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger uncomfortable enough to commit a few turnovers. Baltimore will win a close one and eke it out on the point spread.
Pick: Baltimore -2.5