NFL Week 12 Theme Picks Continued: More to Be Thankful For
The Lambeau Leap
It is time to continue our week 12 NFL theme picks. After three games, my record stands at 1-1-1. The Detroit Lions could not put away the Houston Texans and lost in overtime by three points. I didn't get the half point and tied. The Washington Redskins did what Detroit should have and won outright over the Dallas Cowboys. And, as usual, I got another New York Jets game wrong.
The continuing theme this week is what every NFL city should be thankful for. On Thursday, Detroit was not thankful for the officials as a touchdown that Houston scored should not have counted. The Texans were thankful that the play could not be challenged, because Lions head coach Jim Schwartz threw the red flag before it could be reviewed upstairs.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III showed why Washington fans are thankful he is theirs. Griffin III led the Redskins to 28 second quarter points in Dallas en route to a 38-28 victory. The Cowboys are thankful that they didn't get beat worse. They were down by 25 at halftime.
The Jets, still, only have Joe Namath to be thankful for as the New England Patriots scored 35 points on them in the second quarter of a 49-19 blowout. New England scored 21 points in less than a minute.
Now, it is time to pick this weekend's games and list what each NFL city should be thankful for. As always, these picks are made strictly for fun. I do not condone gambling. Give thanks for any money that you have and do something useful with it. That is if you are not married and your wife hasn't spent it all on Black Friday.
The home teams will be in capital letters.
CINCINNATI BENGALS -8 vs. Oakland Raiders
Bengals fans are thankful that Art Modell bought the Cleveland Browns and fired head coach Paul Brown in 1963. Five years later, Brown started an AFL team in Cincinnati and they have been around for 44 years. Bengals fans showed their gratitude by naming their stadium after him.
Whether they loved or hated him, every NFL fan should be thankful for the late Raiders owner Al Davis. He is the man who changed their uniforms from black and gold to silver and black. Davis was the maverick who fought everyone and wanted nothing more than to rule the world. The AFL and NFL merged in 1970 and Davis never accepted it. He was always an AFL man. The league will never see anyone like him again.
Pittsburgh Steelers -1 vs. CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Rooney family may be the most beloved ownership group in all of sports. They are loved not only by citizens of Pittsburgh, but almost everyone associated with the NFL. Dan Rooney has been around the league his entire life and is one of the few owners who still sincerely cares about the fans.
Cleveland fans are thankful that their civic leaders fought to get a team back after Modell took the original Browns to Baltimore in 1996. Unlike the cities of Baltimore, St. Louis and Los Angeles who lost their teams and history, Cleveland made Modell leave everything behind that belonged to the Browns. The city kept its history, name and colors. After three years without a team, the new Browns began play in 1999.
Pick: Pittsburgh games are off limits. I'll be thankful if Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch makes it through the game.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -3 vs. Buffalo Bills
Though he is now with the Denver Broncos, Colts fans will always be thankful for quarterback Peyton Manning. He took a perennial loser and made them championship contenders every year. In 2006, Manning made what was once strictly college basketball country into an NFL city by leading Indianapolis to its first Super Bowl victory.
Older fans of the Bills are thankful that quarterback Jack Kemp came over from the San Diego Chargers in 1962. He led Buffalo to their only league championships as they won the AFL in 1964 and '65. Kemp was so well liked he won election as a Congressman in New York state.
Denver Broncos -10.5 vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Bronco fans are thankful that John Elway didn't want to play for the Baltimore Colts. After being drafted number one overall in 1983, Elway told Baltimore to trade him or he'd play baseball. They did. Elway went on to take Denver to five Super Bowls and win two.
The NFL as a whole is thankful for the late Lamar Hunt. He is the man who created the AFL and started the Chiefs (then Dallas Texans) in 1960. Hunt's brainchild is responsible for the Dallas Cowboys being born, the Super Bowl, the merger of 1970 (which was agreed upon in 1966) and more than one network to watch football on. Hunt was a true visionary and really does not get the credit he deserves.
Tennessee Titans -3 vs. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
As much as Lamar Hunt deserves credit for founding the AFL, Titans owner Bud Adams does as well. He is the man who Hunt first contacted about forming a league. Adams decided to take the gamble with Hunt and formed the Houston Oilers. Then he helped recruit other businessmen to join them. Adams got the leagues first major victory by signing 1959 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon away from the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL.
Jaguar fans are thankful that the league thought they were an NFL city. Jacksonville had been wooed by owners of teams in other cities as far back as the 1970's. They finally beat out the cities of Baltimore and St. Louis to get a team in 1995.
Atlanta Falcons -1 vs. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Falcon fans are thankful that owner Arthur Blank was able to right the ship quickly after former quarterback Michael Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting ring. After losing Vick in 2007, Blank had Atlanta back in the playoffs in 2008 by hiring head coach Mike Smith and drafting quarterback Matt Ryan. The Vick incident is only a memory now in Atlanta.
If there is one man that everyone who loves football should be thankful for it is former Buccaneers and Falcons running back Warrick Dunn. Dunn has put together a charity in which he buys houses, fixes them up, furnishes them and gives them away to single mothers with children. If everyone had the heart of Dunn, the world would be a better place.
CHICAGO BEARS -1 vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Bears and Vikings are thankful for George S. Halas. Halas was one of the founders of the NFL in 1920. He was not the main founder as history says, but one of them. Halas owned the Bears from their inception as the Decatur Staleys in 1919 to his death in 1983.
Along the way, Halas made Minnesota an NFL city. The Vikings were supposed to join the AFL in 1960, but Halas talked team owner Max Winter into joining the more prestigious NFL. Thus, the groundwork was laid for what became the NFC Central or black and blue division of the late 1960's and early 1970's which consisted of the Bears, Vikings, Lions and Green Bay Packers. Their games were so rough that they would be outlawed today. Today, we know this division as the NFC North and it has softened quite a bit.
Pick: BEARS (I'm assuming that quarterback Jay Cutler will play)
Baltimore Ravens -1 vs. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Ravens fans are thankful that General Manager Ozzie Newsome decided to make the move from Cleveland with Modell. Newsome played for the Browns and could have very easily said no. He did not and has built one of the model franchises in the NFL. Baltimore may not have won a Super Bowl since 2000, but are usually in the hunt for one. Newsome is the reason why.
The powder blue jersey is why we are thankful for the Chargers. Not the ones that they wear now, but those from their AFL days. There has never been a better looking jersey in pro football. It may not speak toughness, but is very cool.
Seattle Seahawks -3 vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Seahawk players are happy for their crowd known as the 12th man. They make so much noise that it unnerves the enemy. This year, the Cowboys, Patriots and Packers have lost to Seattle and the 12th man.
Fans of the Dolphins are thankful that they had Don Shula as their head coach for 26 years. In that time, Shula won more games than anyone in NFL history. He, also, gave Miami its first major sports championship by leading the Dolphins to a perfect 17-0 season in 1972. No one in the NFL had done it before nor has anyone done it since.
San Francisco 49ers -1 vs. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
San Francisco football fans are thankful that they had, arguably, the greatest quarterback of all-time in Joe Montana. He led the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories in the 1980's. Montana was so beloved that San Francisco fans rooted for him when he quarterbacked the Kansas City Chiefs against the 49ers in 1994. That is the ultimate in fan loyalty to one player.
The people of New Orleans are thankful for those who rebuilt the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina tore it apart in 2005. Things were so bad that year there was talk of moving the Saints to another city. However, the dome was functional by the fall of 2006. The Saints returned and in 2009 New Orleans won its first Super Bowl title.
ARIZONA CARDINALS -2.5 vs. St. Louis Rams
The Cardinals have represented Chicago, St. Louis and Arizona. They are the oldest team in professional football. The Cardinals began as the Morgan Athletic Club in 1898. That is not a misprint. One-hundred fourteen years later they still exist. Thanks to the Morgan A.C. for creating them.
The Rams are thankful that quarterback Kurt Warner came out of nowhere and took them to their only world's championship in 1999. Warner took St. Louis back to the Super Bowl in 2001. The Rams have gotten progressively worse since.
NEW YORK GIANTS -3 vs. Green Bay Packers
The city of Green Bay is thankful that they are the last of the small town teams. The Packers have been in existence since 1920. While cities like Dayton, Massillon, Pottsville and Frankfurt have fallen by the wayside, Green Bay continues to thrive. It is unlikely that this would be possible in any other major sport.
The Giants are thankful that the late Commissioner Pete Rozelle felt sorry for them in 1979. At that time, the Giants were so bad and in such disarray that Rozelle had to step in and right the ship. He got the Mara family to hire George Young as General Manager. Young helped build a championship team and the Giants have not been a laughingstock since.
CAROLINA PANTHERS -2.5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Eagle fans have gone more than 50 years without a championship so the man that they are thankful for is Chuck Bednarik. Along with quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, Bednarik helped lead Philadelphia to its last title in 1960. Concrete Charley did it by playing both ways in the championship game.
Someday, Panthers fans may be thankful for quarterback Cam Newton. Until then, they should be thankful for wide receiver Steve Smith. Whether Carolina is winning or losing, he has always given his best and had fun doing it. Smith may not be everyone's cup of tea, but never short changes the fans.
Hopefully, I won't short change readers by giving them bad picks. There is no way that I'll match last weeks 10-2, but hope to stay above .500.
Whatever the outcome, I'm just thankful that someone took the time to read this and hope everyone had a very nice Thanksgiving.