I always say it’s a good Thanksgiving when you go 2-1 against the spread. After the Bears pick-sixed a cover in the early game, I was 1-0 and feeling good about myself. And before you whine about my being lucky, remember the first Lions TD that came on a fourth-down conversion that was deflected miraculously to a Lions player for the first down. (There are no good beats, only bad ones.)
So you can imagine how aghast I was when the Redskins failed to cover a 7.5-point spread by half a point, despite a missed PAT, one of Colt McCoy’s picks occurring with the defender blatantly grabbing his receiver’s jersey before the ball arrived and an uncalled personal foul after the Cowboys defender jarred the ball loose from Jordan Reed on fourth down inside the 10 to end the game. Thanks for nothing.
Thanksgiving is but one day of the year, and Friday morning, I was set to be thankful for a 2-1 yet with the Falcons plus 13.5. Surely, as great as the Saints have been, especially at home, that line was out of whack for a division rival that’s loaded with offensive talent. But I naively assumed Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley would not fumble inside the five and of course, when the cover looked plausible, a tipped ball at the line wouldn’t turn into an easy pick. The Falcons too failed by half a point, and I had the 1-2 Thanksgiving I hoped to avoid. Next year, give me food poisoning, permanent family rifts – anything but another losing day against the spread.
• Matt Ryan had a decent fantasy day – 377 yards (8.0 YPA), two TDs and one pick, but he lost a soul-crushing fumble inside the five and took six sacks. He also ran for 16 yards, leading the team in rushing.
• Julio Jones (14-11-147) had his typical day despite not extending his three-game scoring streak. Calvin Ridley (13-8-93-1) had a big day but lost a cover-crushing fumble at the one and Mohamed Sanu went 4-4-74. Tevin Coleman was stuffed (eight carries for six yards), but caught three short passes, including one in the end zone. The Judge, Ito Smith, we found out, was actually named after Judge Ito, but had four carries for zero yards.
• Drew Brees didn’t have to work very hard – only 22 attempts (7.8 YPA) and 171 yards – for four TDs, one pick and one sack. He spread the ball around too, so no receiver, including Michael Thomas, saw more than six targets, four catches or 45 yards. In fact, someone named Dan Arnold led the team with a 6-4-45-1 line.
• Both Alvin Kamara (14-for-89) and Mark Ingram (11-for-52) ran well, but neither got into the end zone. In fact a parade of randoms (Arnold, Tommylee Lewis, Austin Carr and Keith Kirkwood) were the TD scorers for the Saints.
• Colt McCoy and the Redskins moved the ball better than I thought they would, but the three picks offset the 268 yards (7.1 YPA) and two TDs. McCoy also took three sacks and rushed for 28 yards.
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• Adrian Peterson, who left the game near the end of the half with a shoulder injury and returned in the third quarter, had a modest 12 carries for 35 yards, and yielded the goal-line TD to Kapri Bibbs (3-17-1.) Jordan Reed (8-6-75) again saw more work with McCoy than Alex Smith, and Vernon Davis (4-2-73-1) was the second leading receiver. Josh Doctson (10-6-66) led the team in targets.
• Dak Prescott had a monster game – 289 passing yards (9.3 YPA), two TDs, no picks and 18 rushing yards and a rushing score. He was actually even better than the numbers indicate as he should have been sacked for a loss on his rushing TD, and he converted a couple Cam-Newton-esque third-downs where he made accurate throws while being taken down in the offensive backfield.
• People mocked the Cowboys for giving up a first-round pick for Amari Cooper (9-8-180-2), but it looks like it won’t be an early first rounder, and Cooper, still only 24, is exactly what they were missing if they hope to take their contention seriously. No one else on the Cowboys had more than 25 yards receiving.
• Ezekiel Elliott had his usual 26 for 121 and a score, but now he’s also catching passes (6-5-22.) That puts him in the No. 2 overall discussion even in PPR alongside Saquon Barkley.
• Chase Daniel did the caretaking for which he was hired about as well as anyone could have asked – 230 yards (6.2 YPA), two TDs, no picks and four sacks. I thought he’d be more mobile, but he looked Eli Manning slow on some of his scrambles.
• Jordan Howard (seven carries for 13 yards) will have a big game one of these days, but it’ll almost certainly be on your bench. Tarik Cohen (3-for-14, 8-7-45-1) is the far more reliable producer.
• Taylor Gabriel (8-7-49) led Bears receivers, while Allen Robinson (4-2-37), Anthony Miller (4-3-41) and Trey Burton (7-4-28) all had bit parts. Burton who dropped a pass, lost a fumble and got called for a penalty had a particularly poor game.
• Matthew Stafford’s subpar year continued – 236 yards (6.2 YPA), two picks, two sacks and no TDs.) Jim Bob Cooter’s dink and dunk offense works better with Golden Tate around for yards after the catch and Marvin Jones to occasionally stretch the field. Instead Kenny Golladay (8-5-90) did his part, Theo Riddick (7-7-48) chipped in, but that was about it. Bruce Ellington (7-6-28) wasn’t advancing the cause much.
• LeGarrette Blount (19-88-2, 1-1-15) had a surprisingly strong game against a tough defense in Kerryon Johnson’s absence, showing he still has some burst at 247 pounds and nearly 32-years of age. But he was the team’s lone bright spot.