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Wednesday, November 23, 2005 

Quick Slants - Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Tomorrow features two interesting games, and the potential of an "instant classic" as Denver visits Dallas. Let's dive in for a closer look...

Atlanta (6-4) at Detroit (4-6), 12:30ET, FOX

The first game of the day could be a turkey, but if you're eating early (and I suggest you do - more time for dessert and seconds) you won't care. The Falcons have lost back-to-back home games to Green Bay and Tampa Bay, and are probably happy to be on the road after last week's horror show. Atlanta showed some poise in coming back from a 13-0 second quarter deficit, but Tampa tied the game with 1:55 left and Matt Bryant kicked a game-winning field goal for the Bucs with 42 seconds left after Michael Vick was stripped by Derrick Brooks. Vick had actually had a decent game, throwing for over 300 yards, but Atlanta is now a game behind Carolina and Tampa Bay. Oddly enough, the Falcons have yet to play the Panthers this season, and will travel to Carolina next week. Then Atlanta finishes up the season with back-to-back games against both of these divisional rivals.

That said, Atlanta should win this game, since Detroit is in free fall. Dallas held the ball for over 36 minutes on Sunday by rushing for 149 yards (Bledsoe only threw for 110). That sounds just like the Atlanta game plan for this week.

Denver (8-2) at Dallas (7-3), 4:15ET, CBS

While your idea of dessert whips up visions of pumpkin pie and chocolate chip cookies, this game is the perfect second (or third, or fourth) course of the day. There are a lot of subplots. Two Super Bowl-winning coaches (Shanahan, Parcells), two quarterbacks trying to resurrect their careers (Plummer, Bledsoe, to different degrees), and two divison leaders sprinting for the playoffs.

Both teams are coming off lopsided wins last week, but Dallas should have an emotional edge since they are at home and need the game a lot more than Denver. The Cowboys are tied with the Giants (who have a tough game Sunday at Seattle) in the NFC East while Denver has a two game lead in the AFC West. Plus, Dallas has a very tough schedule the rest of the way (second-toughest) while Denver will play against a .500 slate of opponents. Denver is in the driver's seat for the #2 seed in the AFC, but that normally isn't much motivation for an NFL team. I'll be interested in seeing if Jake Plummer can continue his error-free play against a quality Dallas defense, and the battle of the running backs should also be good. Mike Anderson is once again running well, while Dallas may have found a 1-2 punch during Julius Jones absence with the strong running of Marion Barber.

Hope you have a great day!

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