The New York Giants could run into trouble, literally, in the form of Dallas' DeMarco Murray. But New England and Denver should feel more comfortable at home according to Neil Harvey, who's here with a look at this week's live NFL games...
"The sight of an invigorated Cowboys is probably one of the last things the New York Giants would fancy right now. Especially the prospect of facing the league's top running back, DeMarco Murray, who logic dictates should be in for a monster game against what is the NFL's worst run-defense."
Detroit Lions @ New England Patriots
Sunday November 23rd, 18:00
Live on Sky Sports 2
Last week Jonas Gray took all the headlines, as he single-handedly dismantled the Indianapolis Colts with a 201 yard, four touchdown performance. The question is though, is Gray a one hit wonder - the Chesney Hawkes of the NFL? Or will he go on to become the league's U2 - a proven success.
If Gray does turn out to be the real deal, then his power running game would a vital new dimension to New England's offense. But this week will be the big test. Detroit are the best team in the league at stopping the run, giving up less than 69 yards a game on average. And it's not like New England can just turn to Tom Brady to carry the workload this time, with the Lions also ranking a very handy fifth in the NFL at stopping the pass. Detroit (7-3) are of course still beatable, as crumbling Carolina proved early on in the season. But the 24 points Cam Newton and co. put past the Lions in Week Two has yet to be surpassed - suggesting there's rarely an easy game when Detroit are involved.
The Patriots are no fools either on defense. Especially at cornerback, where Darrelle Revis will attempt to shackle Detroit's star wideout Calvin Johnson. And Johnson's record isn't great against Revis. In their two career meetings to date, Megatron was given two trips to 'Revis Island', registering just 75 receiving yards and no touchdowns during his time there. If Revis does strike again, then QB Matthew Stafford's best hope of success might be in looking for the shorter routes taken by Detroit's number two receiver Golden Tate.
Points could be difficult to come by here. If they are to come though, it's (8-2) New England who appear to have the greater weaponry. In their last two home games, they put an average of 47 points on the board in beating Chicago and Denver. Tight end Rob Gronkowski leads the team for scores this season with eight touchdowns. Close to the goal line though, there'll surely be a big temptation to see if Gray can repeat last week's magic.
The Patriots have momentum - they're on a six game winning streak. They are formidable at home - currently 14 games unbeaten in the regular season at Gillette Field. And they also have history on their side - having won their last 13 games against opponents from the NFC North. So if the Lions are to win this, they'll certainly have to do it the hard way.
New England (-6.5) to beat Detroit @ 1.804/5
New England (-3.5) to win at half time @ 1.9110/11 or better
Detroit points to be Under 20.5 @ 1.9110/11 or better
Jonas Gray to score first touchdown @ 9.008/1 or better
Jonas Gray to score anytime touchdown @ 2.001/1 or better
Miami Dolphins @ Denver Broncos
Sunday November 23rd, 21:25
Live on Sky Sports 2
It's been a tough month for Denver (7-3), with their three game road trip ending in two defeats and just the one win. Back now at Mile High, they're looking to dish out some retribution. As well as home comforts though, a big plus for the Broncos is the return of receiver Emmanuel Sanders(seven TDs) who's considerable skills will be needed if Denver are to breach the NFL's number two ranked pass-defense. Perhaps even more importantly though, Denver also hope to have tight end Julius Thomas suiting up as well. With 12 touchdowns to his name already, Thomas has amassed just one score less Broncos wideouts Sanders and Demaryius Thomas combined. Whether he starts or not makes a big difference.
It's on the ground though where the battlelines may be initially drawn. The word coming from the Broncos camp is that they will be looking to re-establish their running game on Sunday, which could mean a larger than usual number of carries for new lead-back CJ Anderson, who's impressed in his two starts to date. A lot of heat is expected to come Peyton Manning's way courtesy of a Dolphins' pass-rush that boasts the fourth most sacks in the league. Denver's plan to handle that seems to be to get Miami back on their heels worrying about the run. What could also make a difference though is the speed with which the Broncos play. At home they adopt a much higher tempo. And the difference is tangible, with the Broncos scoring on average more than 12 points per game more within the confines of their high altitude (5280 feet) fortress.
Despite all the talk of Miami's defense though, it's actually the Broncos who have the better one when it comes to stopping the run (second versus eighth). And with just three sacks less than Miami, the Broncos linebackers will have high hopes of getting their hands on Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, who's had scant protection from his offensive line this season. Sacked 25 times compared to 11 for Manning, it would seem to be the Miami quarterback who needs to be checking over his shoulder with greater regularity.
Denver (-7) to beat Miami @ 2.0621/20
Denver (-3.5) to beat Miami at halftime @ 1.9110/11 or better
CJ Anderson to score first touchdown @ 9.008/1 or better
CJ Anderson to score anytime touchdown @ 2.001/1 or better
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Monday November 24th, 01:30
Live on Channel 4
Fresh off a bye week, Dallas (7-3) should be raring to go as they look to push on towards the play-offs. And the sight of an invigorated Cowboys is probably one of the last things the New York Giants would fancy right now. Especially the prospect of facing the league's top running back, DeMarco Murray, who logic dictates should be in for a monster game against what is the NFL's worst run-defense. Cowboys gunslinger Tony Romo has also had crucial time to rest his troublesome back. And while certainly not perfect, he should be as close to operational as he has been for several weeks.
It's hard to see New York (3-7) keeping the score down here. But at the same time they look capable of putting on plenty of points themselves. The Giants have struggled with their running game in the absence of Rashard Jennings. But he looked like a new man upon his return last week and could form the focal point of his team's attack here. Meanwhile, the Giants top receiver, Odell Beckham, has been a revelation in his rookie season, proving too lively even for some of the league's most reputed cornerbacks - his handling of Seattle's Richard Sherman being a case in point. With Beckham on the field, the deep ball threat is a constant danger.
Whether Giants QB Eli Manning can keep down the number of turnovers is another matter. You never know who will turn up - Dr Eli or Mr. Manning. After losing five in a row, the Giants are in quite a funk, each week going down in a blaze of glory it seems - putting points on the board, but just not enough to win. Such was the case when these sides met in Week Seven, with Dallas winning that game 31-21. The Cowboys are (4-0) on the road and while the Giants could feasibly make this closer than last time, their three point headstart against a side coming off a bye just isn't enough to get excited about.
Dallas (-3) to beat New York Giants @ 1.804/5
Dallas (-1.5) to win at halftime @ 1.9110/11 or better
Total Points Over 47.5 @ 1.9720/21
DeMarco Murray to score first touchdown @ 6.005/1 or better
Rashard Jennings to score anytime touchdown @ 2.001/1 or better