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Michael Taylor 25th Nov 2009 - 17:22

Packers should be thankful for Rodgers

Us Brits may not understand the States' Thanksgiving holiday but it's unlikely any of us will complain when we see the terrific trio of NFL matches put on for our enjoyment.

Super Bowl contenders, divisional battles, number one draft picks and the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders will all be on show but which franchises will be most grateful for the mid-week feast?

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

I find it disgusting when I hear some of the bad press I hear about the job Aaron Rodgers is doing in Green Bay.

Wisconsin natives may be used to champagne after Brett Favre's 15 stint at the club but Rodgers has come in and is making one of the most average offences in the NFL look pretty decent week after week.

Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are decent targets but after that you're struggling to find many good parts in either the line or in the backfield.

Luckily though Rodgers gets the perfect opportunity to show just how well he runs the offence on Thursday when the Packers travel to the Motor City to face the pitiful Detroit Lions.

Jim Schwartz must know his defence is in trouble after seeing his side give up 37 points to Brady Quinn and the Cleveland Browns at the weekend.

Detroit may have sneaked past them in the end but giving up so many points against what I consider the worst offensive line in football is a stat that will no doubt come back to bite them on Thanksgiving.

At least Matt Stafford looks to have found his groove after failing to make a lasting impression since his massively hyped number one draft selection earlier this year.

You have to fancy a lot of scoring here with over 47.5 total points looking the best bet at 10/11 while the 11 point spread looks just about right - although if I was forced to take sides I'd be on Green Bay's at 10/11.

Oakland Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys

It's hard to not lose patience with the Cowboys as they seemingly go out of their way to wreck my multiples each week and they look poised to be just as hard to back here.

There is no doubting they look great on paper with Tony Romo being brilliant at times and Jason Witten, Roy Williams, Tashard Choice and Marion Barber all capable of delivering big numbers week after week.

However, for one reason or another, they just seem incapable of asserting any real authority on games including their most recent effort, a 7-6 victory over the Redskins.

If the offensive line gives Romo time to operate then there is absolutely no reason they can't batter the hapless Raiders but something is telling me that won't happen.

Another reason I'm taking the Raiders side of the 13.5 point spread (10/11) is the new buzz that surrounds the franchise.

Bruce Gradkowski replaced JaMarcus Russell at the weekend and he coped admirably as Oakland stunned the flying Cincinnati Bengals with a 20-17 win, while their 3-7 is much more favourable than what I was expecting at the start of the season.

I'd also be looking at less than 40 total points at 10/11 if the recent dour offensive performances of both sides are to continue.

New York Giants @ Denver Broncos

What a difference a month makes in football, or more specifically what a turnaround for the Broncos and Giants in the past four weeks.

After perfect starts it seemed post-season action was a formality for both franchises yet that idea has been well and truly dumped over recent weeks.

The Giants may have scraped past the Falcons at the weekend to snap a four game skid but they're still nowhere near close to the finished article, while Denver's problems seem even more terminal.

Josh McDaniels gave the impression of a desperate man as he threw Kyle Orton into the action at the weekend, only to see his every aspect of his team fail against an impressive looking Chargers side.

You have to say that when you're big move is putting in a lame Kyle Orton you probably don't deserve to be in with a shot of seeing more than 16 games in a season.

Nevertheless there is still much to look forward to even if it isn't quite the high profile game we were all hoping for.

Eli Manning was exceptional at the weekend, as was Mario Manningham and, if New York are to spark, they'll need to be just as good with Ahmed Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs feeling a few aches.

As for Denver I'm really struggling to draw on the positives.

Brandon Marshall and Knowshon Moreno had a far too public dispute at the weekend which throws into doubt McDaniels' command of the locker room, and if he is losing it then I just cannot see the Broncos performing here.

It's a tough one to call with the 7 point spread but I think I'd have to take the Giants at -7 (10/11) even though I feel extremely unconfident about their chances for the rest of the season.



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