That’s right ladies and gentlemen! We’ve come upon the part of the season where the NFL begins to flex it’s television muscle and consumes the majority of the weekend viewing schedule. It’s the time when the league has arguably the most intrigue with numerous games affecting one another and no pesky college football to compete for any meaningful ratings until January. So we’ll kick off our trifecta of pre-Sunday matchups with another Thursday night football affair, albeit one with the least intrigue yet or even of the three games in the buildup to Sunday.
We promised when we started TSO to provide complete coverage, like it or not, which means sometimes we might not always enjoy the matchup as much as others, but the games will be played and we will cover them.
Thursday, December 14th, 2017
Thursday Night Football
Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts
The 4 and 9 Denver Broncos head to Lucas Oil to take on the 3 and 10 Indianapolis Colts. I repeat. The 4 win and 9 loss Denver Broncos head to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the 3 win and 10 loss Indianapolis Colts. In primetime. I repeat. In primetime.
That is all.
Oh, that’s right, we still have to struggle to preview and pick this game. Denver’s defense is still solid, as they displayed last Sunday. There. That’s all the nice stuff I can put in here and it’s the holidays so I don’t wanna curse about how awful this game is going to be. The Trevor Siemian led Broncos will attempt to out-duel, nay, not out-stink the Jacoby Brissett led Colts. The rushing attacks don’t get much better as both teams insist on featuring the inferior athletes as the number ones. Yeah, that’s right. We said it! C.J. Anderson and Frank Gore don’t deserve to be their respective teams number one running backs. DeVontae Booker and Marlon Mack are both far superior talents at this point in their budding careers. Just add it to the plethora of reasons this game is going to lead to more head slapping than hand clapping.
We have one last reason if you can bear it. The receivers in this game are some of the best in the league. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, T.Y. Hilton, and Donte Moncrief have all had stretches of top numbers in the game at the wide receiver position. The problem Thursday, however, is that those aforementioned “top numbers” were done with much better signal callers under center. Those four have to hope to catch passes in their vicinity thrown from Siemian and Brissett as opposed to Manning and Luck. Colts have home field advantage, but not much else going for them. In a game of who cares and evaluate what you have to rebuild for 2018 we’ll take the Broncos to win and cover (-2.5).
Saturday, December 16th, 2017
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
NFC North division rivalry with playoff implications. Now we’re talking! The Lions must win to remain in the hunt for a final wild card spot, and the Bears would love nothing more to build on their win last week and play spoiler to their division foe. Stafford is another week removed from his injured finger, which should help his ability to swing it around the yard. The Bears stepped up in a big way defeating the Bengals and Mitchell Trubisky showed some of the mobility and smart decision making that made him the top pick in the 2017 draft.
The Bears will need more of that good play from their rookie to QB to hang close in this one. Stafford will undoubtedly connect with Marvin Lewis, Golden Tate, and possibly his rookie, Kenny Golladay. The Bears will need to run effectively with Jordan Howard and utilize Tarik Cohen out of the backfield as a pass catcher. Even with Chicago’s good defense, they won’t have enough in the tank to take down the playoff hungry Lions at home. Lions win but we’ll take the Bears with the points (+5.5).
Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
The most intriguing game of the weekend may be Saturday night. The division leading Kansas City Chiefs host the red hot and streaking Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs just rebounded from a recent skid with a big division win against the Oakland Raiders. Now Kansas City will have to bring their A game to slow down the red hot Chargers. Kansas City looked much more like the Chiefs from the first half of the season against Oakland, and their ability to finally get Kareem Hunt going again was impressive. They’ll need more of Hunt and Tyreek Hill in this one.
The Chargers, well, what do you tell a team that hasn’t lost in over four weeks? Their last loss? An overtime loss to the Jaguars. Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen are on a roll unlike any other this season and if that continues any team will be hard pressed to keep pace. In week 13 Allen became the first wide receiver in the history of the NFL to record three consecutive games of 10 or more catches and 100 or more yards receiving. Rivers and Allen have developed a chemistry unmatched in the NFL. Did we mention that LA has Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry, and rookie speedster Austin Ekeler? Oh, and some guy named Gates…
The offense has been great for the Chargers, but they’ve been winning on the back of their dominant defense. Joey Bosa is making a late season push for defensive player of the year, and Melvin Ingram is still a game wrecker in the middle of the field. Not to mention Casey Hayward, who will undoubtedly draw coverage on Tyreek Hill. The real key for LA will be if they choose to sit Ingram back and smother Travis Kelce, or trail Hunt out of the backfield. We think following Hunt would be a mistake and create a mismatch for KC to exploit all day long. Here’s to hoping Anthony Lynn is smarter than that.
This is going to come as a bit of a shock. Or maybe not if you check the Vegas line, but still…knocking off the Chiefs at home, in Arrowhead, the greatest home field advantage in the NFL, is impressive none-the-less. And that is how far the Chargers have come from losing their first four games to open the season. Los Angeles is the better team and they’ll prove it for the first time in a long time Saturday night in primetime. For all of the flack and grief Philip Rivers gets, he’s remained steady and righted this ship after what was shaping up to be a disaster of a second straight season. Kudos to the wily old vet for doing his damndest to keep his team in the hunt and give them a fighter’s chance down the stretch. Chargers win and cover, upsetting the AFC West apple cart and turning the division standings on its head from the beginning of the season (-1).
Thank you for reading! We appreciate all of the support and taking time out of your holiday season to like, love, and share the TSO goodness! Please check back for our full preview in a couple of days!