Fingers on the remote control. Switch from Thursday Night Football imminent.
Thurs., December 6, 9-3 Denver Broncos at 3-9 Oakland Raiders – For fantasy eyes only
The marketing trolls at the NFL Network are working overtime to promote tonight's Thursday Night Football contest between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.
This stinker will interest only fans of the clubs and Peyton Manning fantasy owners.
When the NFL announced this schedule, it projected as two 2011 8-8 teams ready to take the next step. The promised drama was Oakland's step up in a full year with Carson Palmer and healthy Darren McFadden versus the uncertain health of Peyton Manning and his fit with Denver.
But, Manning is cruising with Denver. He is the NFL's second-ranked passer. The 9-3 Broncos locked up AFL West after a seven-game winning streak. The 3-9 Raiders missed McFadden for four weeks. Quarterback Palmer is no improvement on Jason Campbell. Oakland's no-shutdown defense is not stopping anyone.
The only drama here is whether Denver will rest starters.
Games like this will not win subscribers to NFL-N. Sadly, things get no better next week.
Thurs, December 13, 7-5 Cincinnati Bengals at 3-9 Philadelphia Eagles – Avert your eyes
The Bengals are playing for their post-season lives and have a date with the Dallas Cowboys before closing their NFC East campaign against the Eagles. Cincinnati is 2-0 against the Beast.
The Eagles put up a fight against the Cowboys, but their rookies looked like rookies and their vets looked like the pain could not end soon enough. Even Philly fans may skip this one.
After this, Thursday Night Football morphs to Saturday.
Sat., Dec 22, 11-1 Atlanta Falcons at 4-8 Detroit Lions – A passing fancy
The Lions need every edge to tackle the Falcons, but cannot take advantage of its biggest natural asset. Warm-weather, indoor Atlanta travels to warm-weather, indoor Ford Field to face fast sinking Detroit.
The Lions are a young team that does not know how to intimidate opponents. Cheap shots are not to be confused with hard-nosed football. The Lions have a tough out against the Packers, then a potential laffer against the Cardinals in Arizona.
Atlanta faces division rival Carolina and a driven New York Giants before traveling to Detroit. They lock up NFC top seed with two more wins. Their interest in this game depends on how much they need the win.
Fans hate teams resting players, unless it's their team after locking up home field advantage. If Atlanta needs this game, we will be in for a Christmas treat with Calvin Johnson, Roddy White and Julio Jones on the same field. If I had to go to the mall with my significant other, I would find the biggest big screen in the electronics department and park myself there.