Friday, April 18, 2014
TEXANS (9-1) at LIONS (4-6), 12:30 p.m.
Outlook: Our happy Bird Day kicks off with Texans trying to return to form after last week's overtime escape against Jacksonville and Lions trying to shake a disappointing season and also end an eight-game Thanksgiving losing streak. Detroit has played 73 of these; you'd think they'd have it figured out by now. The Battle of Johnson & Johnson is an interesting sidelight here, with Motown's Calvin J. leading the NFL with 1,117 receiving yards and Houston's Andre J. coming off that crazy 273-yard game. I give Detroit a medium upset shot but think Houston just has too much balance (50.1 percent run, 49.9 pass) and also see a big defensive bounce-back that will force Lions into turnovers.
Prediction: Texans, 31-24
REDSKINS (4-6) at COWBOYS (5-5), 4:15 p.m.
Outlook: Upset! Yeah, I might be crazy. Or maybe it's the Wild Turkey talking. I know Tony Romo is 5-0 on Thanksgiving entering this middle game. I know Washington is missing a few defensive starters. Also know the Boys are 6-0 vs. Skins all time on this holiday. Now here's what I think: Romo will be hamstrung by his running back injuries. Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris give D.C. better balance to attack. And Redskins will be pumped for their first T-Day game since 2002 and also are due some luck in this NFC East rivalry after losing three straight by a combined eight points. Sometimes you just saddle up a hunch, you know? Television: FOX
Prediction: Redskins, 24-23
PATRIOTS (7-3) at JETS (4-6), 8:20 p.m.
Outlook: Tom Brady last week put up his fifth career 50-point game. Only long-ago Chief Len Dawson (six) has had more. Injured TE Rob Gronkowski is a huge loss for Pats, yes, but Brady still has plenty left to outscore a modest Jets offense. Also think a New England defense leading the AFC in takeaways (27) will remind Mark Sanchez he's mistake-prone. Only concern here is that intangibles favor the Jets in this prime-timer. Rex Ryan lost to the Patriots in OT in October and has lost 9 of 12 at home to Bill Belichick. Rex would sell his soul to win this, but the presumption he has a soul left to sell is too big a risk. Talent trumps want. Television: NBC
Prediction: Patriots, 27-17
-- Ron Cote, Miami Herald