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Lions, Vikings should feast Thursday
Posted: Wednesday November 25, 1998 11:20 AM
This might be the best Thanksgiving Day doubleheader in a long, long time. Dallas, Minnesota and Pittsburgh are all vying for division titles, and no one wants to play Detroit on Turkey Day.
The first game has Pittsburgh visiting the Lions. Both teams feature young, mobile QBs in Kordell Stewart and Charlie Batch. And both have excellent wide receivers ... Johnnie Morton, Herman Moore, and Germane Crowell for Detroit, and Pittsburgh's Charles Johnson and Courtney Hawkins.
The problems for both offenses comes on pass protection. Pittsburgh right tackle Jamain Stephens has to block defensive end Robert Porcher, who has 9.5 sacks, and someone on Detroit has to handle Pittsburgh's Jason Gildon, who has eight.
Detroit is 6-3 with Barry Sanders on Thanksgiving, and in all three losses, Sanders rushed for less than 100 yards. So Pittsburgh knows what it has to do to win. But the Steelers have been an inconsistent 2-3 on the road this year, and Detroit on Thanksgiving is a different team. I like the Lions. Coach Bobby Ross knows 8-8 may get an NFC team in the playoffs and he'll have them ready.
In Dallas, injuries could be the big factor. The Cowboys have lost receiver Ernie Mills and guard Everett McIver for the year, and their injured list is starting to resemble the Patriots' in length. But no injury is more critical than that of Deion Sanders, who has a sprained big left toe. Knowing Sanders, he'll play on national TV, but the Cowboys don't have enough healthy, quality defensive backs to line up with the Viking receivers.
Troy Aikman looked great against Seattle, but once again injuries to McIver and Nate Newton leave the Cowboys thin up front against the relentless John Randle. Emmitt Smith will get his yards even though he's not 100 percent, and Michael Irvin will make his catches against an average secondary.
But I just don't think Dallas can score quick enough to stay up with the Vikings. I like Minnesota.
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