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11/21/2012
THE FIFTH QUARTER: Even these turkeys should give thanks

By A.J. JANKOWSKI

Daily News Sports Writer



It’s Thanksgiving! Time to say what you’re thankful for. For these NFL teams with losing records, there’s still plenty of reason to give thanks. OK, maybe “plenty” is a bit of a stretch.

New York Jets (4-6): Their coach always takes care of the leftovers.

Buffalo Bills (4-6): Mario Williams’ $50 million in guaranteed money can buy lots of gravy.

Miami Dolphins (4-6): November in Miami sounds nice.

Cleveland Browns (2-8): They get to face whatever quarterback mummy Pittsburgh rolls out on Sunday.

Tennessee Titans (4-6): Gave up a Hail Mary touchdown to the Lions, and still won the game.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9): If moral victories counted, they won the Super Bowl Sunday in Houston.

San Diego Chargers (4-6): Quarterback Philip Rivers hasn’t committed 44 turnovers since the start of the 2011 season. He’s only turned it over 43 times.

Oakland Raiders (3-7): They don’t have to shoot turkeys, their fans just stare at them and the birds die of fear.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-9): Hopefully the tryptophan will help their fans sleep through the rest of the season.

Washington Redskins (4-6): RGIII, duh.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-7): Only six more games with Andy Reid.

Detroit Lions (4-6): Calvin Johnson appears to have beaten the Madden Curse.

Carolina Panthers (2-8): No matter how much they are losing by, quarterback Cam Newton will still do his Superman touchdown dance. Now that’s a leader.

Arizona Cardinals (4-6): They started 4-0!

St. Louis Rams (3-6-1): Three teams with winning records lost to the 49ers; the Rams at least tied them.

And what are we thankful for here at The Fifth Quarter? Why, last week’s record, of course! Oh, and pumpkin pie.

Last week: 13-1

Overall record: 108-51-1

TEXANS (9-1) AT LIONS (4-6)

The Texans barely escaped Sunday with a win, needing every single one of Matt Schaub’s team-record 527 passing yards to beat the one-win Jaguars in overtime. On a short week, they travel to Detroit to face a Lions team that normally plays like a turkey every Thanksgiving. But not this time. This time, I think the Lions use their defense and pass-happy offense to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Detroit 24, Houston 21

REDSKINS (4-6) AT

COWBOYS (5-5)

If the Cowboys establish any sort of a rushing attack — 80 yards could do it — they win this game. Quarterback Tony Romo is 5-0 in Thanksgiving games, and he has the weapons on offense to keep it going. Washington’s quarterback gets to experience playing against Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware for the first time in his career. Good luck, rookie.

Prediction: Dallas 30, Washington 17

PATRIOTS (7-3) AT JETS (4-6)

The Patriots are without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who broke his forearm last week blocking for an extra point in a blowout win over the Colts. What he was doing on the field during the fourth quarter of a 59-24 game is a question his fantasy football owners have screamed for the past three days. However, Tom Brady is still playing, and that’s enough to get me to side with New England.

Prediction: New England 24, New York 23

TITANS (4-6) AT JAGUARS (1-9)

The Jaguars finally came to their senses and benched quarterback Blaine Gabbert for more-than-capable backup Chad Henne. The result was the then-1-8 Jaguars looking mighty dangerous against the then-8-1 Texans. Granted, they lost, but the Jaguars could use that momentum Sunday at home against the Titans.

Prediction: Jacksonville 31, Tennessee 27

BILLS (4-6) AT COLTS (6-4)

The Colts come home after a disheartening loss in New England to face another AFC East foe, the 4-6 Bills. I think Buffalo wins this because of its ability to get the ball in the hands of C.J. Spiller in space. Spiller is elusive, and can have a big day on Indy’s indoor field.

Prediction: Buffalo 28, Indianapolis 20

STEELERS (6-4) AT BROWNS (2-8)

Going against Pittsburgh’s third-string quarterback is the only way Cleveland has a shot at winning. And that’s the opportunity that presents itself, as the Steelers are forced to dust off Charlie Batch and put him under center. Unfortunately for the Browns, I see Batch managing the game; limiting turnovers and finding tight end Heath Miller down the middle.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 17, Cleveland 13

RAIDERS (3-7) AT BENGALS (5-5)

Cincy wideout A.J. Green has played himself into the conversation of best wide receiver in the game. Did you see his touchdown catch Sunday? You didn’t? Go, look it up now. I’ll wait. ... See? Isn’t that amazing? And he’s caught at least one touchdown in nine straight games. Check back next week, when I talk about how he’s caught at least one touchdown in 10 straight.

Prediction: Cincinnati 35, Oakland 21

BRONCOS (7-3) AT CHIEFS (1-9)

Peyton Manning is on a roll. The Chiefs are about to roll over. Defense can save K.C., but its offense is just offensive.

Prediction: Denver 30, Kansas City 10

SEAHAWKS (6-4) AT DOLPHINS (4-6)

Both teams have had extra time to prepare for this one. Miami lost Thursday night in Buffalo, and Seattle had a bye week. Now, the Seahawks fly across the country to face a rookie quarterback and a solid defense. I don’t think the Dolphins will allow Marshawn Lynch to get going, making it tough sledding for Russell Wilson and the passing game. A late field goal gives Miami the win.

Prediction: Miami 17, Seattle 16

FALCONS (9-1) AT BUCCANEERS (6-4)

This is an intriguing matchup. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Falcons’ light schedule, and how it could help Atlanta lock up a 15-1 or 14-2 season. Since that column, Atlanta lost and squeaked by Arizona, while the Bucs have won four in a row. None of that will matter, however, because Matt Ryan will bounce back from a lackluster showing against the Cards (0 TDs, 5 INTs) to trounce Tampa.

Prediction: Atlanta 38, Tampa Bay 28

VIKINGS (6-4) AT BEARS (7-3)

The Bears need this game badly, both for their confidence and to keep pace with Green Bay, who now leads the NFC North thanks to a tiebreaker. If Chicago just gets the ball in Matt Forte’s hands quick, it won’t have to rely on the offensive line so much. Good thing, because watching the Bears’ O-line try to stop a defensive end is like trying to stop a waterfall with a tissue.

Prediction: Chicago 17, Minnesota 10

RAVENS (8-2) AT CHARGERS (4-6)

Something I mentioned at the beginning of this column is the same thing that will doom the Chargers for the rest of the year. Quarterback Philip Rivers cannot hold onto the football. Whether he’s throwing it to the other team or getting it knocked out of his hand, the guy just can’t stop turning it over. The Ravens are as good as there is when it comes to forcing turnovers — not like Rivers needs the extra help.

Prediction: Baltimore 24, San Diego 13

RAMS (3-6-1) AT CARDINALS (4-6)

The Cardinals’ quarterback situation is a mess. Their defense made a half dozen spectacular plays last week against Atlanta, but with rookie Ryan Lindley — who? — taking a majority of the snaps at QB, the offense couldn’t do a thing. Boy, I feel sorry for Larry Fitzgerald.

Prediction: St. Louis 13, Arizona 6

49ERS (7-2-1) AT SAINTS (5-5)

San Fran QB Colin Kaepernick looked stellar filling in for injured Alex Smith in Monday night’s blowout win over the Chicago Bears. Now, head coach John Harbaugh is hinting at a quarterback controversy, and has yet to name a starter for Sunday’s game in New Orleans. The Saints, on the other hand, have no such controversy, and Drew Brees is playing at an MVP-caliber level right now. As the saying goes, “If you have two starting quarterbacks, you don’t have one.”

Prediction: New Orleans 31, San Francisco 24

PACKERS (7-3) AT GIANTS (6-4)

The Giants are reeling, and Eli Manning hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three straight games. The Packers, on the other hand, have won five straight. However, there’s just something about the Giants defense under the lights that makes me think it’ll make a play or two to completely swing momentum. Also, Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby is just 11-of-18 on field goals this year.

Prediction: New York 24, Green Bay 23

PANTHERS (2-8) AT EAGLES (3-7)

Another Monday Night Football game, and another dud. Between Monday’s Battle of the Backups, and the Chiefs/Steelers barnburner on Nov. 12 (16-13 final), these games have become an afterthought. I think Nick Foles is starting at QB for Philly? Or maybe it’s Michael Vick? Didn’t the Panthers have a great running game the past three years? What happened to that? I’m getting sleepy.

Prediction: Philadelphia 12, Carolina 10