Packers and Cowboys take care of business, Giants not so much:
The Thanksgiving games were a bit of snoozers, as the Packers easily beat the Lions 34-12 in the first game. The most exciting thing for the Lions was the fact that their rookie quarterback Matt Stafford actually played yesterday. All week we heard how he wasn’t likely to play and was listed as doubtful. Then out of no where, he is throwing a touchdown to put the Lions up 7-0 in the first two minutes of the game. That was the last good thing for Stafford and Detroit, as the Packers defense really set the tone of the game. They intercepted Stafford 4 times and returned one for a touchdown at the end of the game (securing my point spread pick of Green Bay). I was not a fan of how the Lions handled the situation with Stafford this week. I mean what’s with all the injury mystery? Is Bill Belichick now on the Detroit sideline? Just be honest about the injury and be done with it. In my mind there is no reason Stafford should have been playing yesterday. This guy is supposedly the future of your franchise (jury is still out on this one), and you are having him play a meaningless game with a hurt non-throwing shoulder. The Lions have perhaps the worst offensive line in the league (though Packers, Redskins and Chiefs fans might debate that). So why are you letting your QB take that kind of pounding? What would have happened if Stafford got hit and seriously injured that shoulder and would miss next season’s training camp or preseason? I don’t know how you can let your star player go out there at anything less than 100% in a meaningless game during a short week. It was obvious that it was only a P.R. move for the fans. But come on, the game was already sold out, I think they would have understood that their ‘star’ was injured? Do the Lions think they were happy to see him throw 4 picks? This move didn’t help the team compete any better yesterday, and could have impacted team chemistry (Culpepper did not look too happy).
The Cowboys on the other hand, had no problems with their Thanksgiving Day game, as they put on an offensive show against the Raiders. Romo threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, including 100 plus yards to both Austin and Witten. Also, the Cowboys rushed for almost 200 yards on their way to a 24-7 victory. Quite an improvement over last week’s 7-6 ‘barn burner’ against the Redskins, where they managed 305 total yards (or four less than what Romo threw for yesterday). The one thing I did enjoy seeing was a couple of busts at wide receiver scoring meaningless touchdowns yesterday. Both Roy Williams of the Cowboys, and Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Raiders scored 2nd half touchdowns that had little impact on the pace of the game. Williams and Heyward-Bey (7th overall REALLY??) have been major busts since joining their respective teams. They have also both been ‘buried’ on the depth chart (even if they are starting) by their lack of opportunities on offense. In a game where 64 balls were thrown, they were targeted a combined 9 times (catching only 4 of them), that is two less targets than Austin got from the Cowboys alone.
Speaking of high powered offenses, where did New York’s go? The Giants looked awful last night, managing just over 250 yards against a Denver team, that hadn’t been able to stop anyone these last four weeks. Yesterday was a bad day for New York all around, not only did they forget to show up in Denver, but the Cowboys and Packers looked pretty good. The Cowboys win gives them a two game advantage in the NFC East over the Giants, and will be in New York next week to potentially put the division away (and it will happen if the Giants play like last night). The Packers win and Giants loss, puts Green Bay in the 5th spot in the NFC, and leaves the Giants on the outside looking in at the 7th spot. The Broncos on the other hand positioned themselves nicely to remain in the playoff hunt sitting right now in 5th spot (though that could change after Sunday). Also by showing some signs of life the complete collapse of the Broncos that seemed inevitable is now put on hold. Denver’s defense showed that they can play with anyone when they want to.