Time to give thanks

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Canadians realize their holiday has come and gone but American Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to appreciate a few things south of the border.

Thanks to the NFL for giving Canadian football fans something other than the NBA to watch while the NHL lockout continues.

Thanks to Ricky Williams for showing Canadian youngsters drugs impair the decision-making process.

Thanks to Terrell Owens for taking the time to come up with a different celebration for all 13 of your touchdowns so far this season.

And finally, thanks to ABC and Monday Night Football for snatching annoying broadcaster John Madden away from FOX so we don't have to suffer through another one of his Thanksgiving 'Turducken' rants or see him circle sweat stains on hefty Cowboys players' pants.

Here are the rest of this week's picks.

* BALTIMORE +7 AT NEW ENGLAND: The Patriots are tough to beat at home and even the formidable Ravens defence has trouble with the five-wide formation. Patriots 24, Ravens 16.

* PHILADELPHIA -7 AT N.Y. GIANTS: Eli Manning and Tiki Barber may have to put up phenomenal numbers for New York to keep pace with Philadelphia. Eagles 33, Giants 20.

* WASHINGTON +10 1/2 AT PITTSBURGH: The Steelers battled to a win against the Bengals last week and should pull off another close one at home against the Redskins. Steelers 24, Redskins 20.

* CLEVELAND +5 1/2 AT CINCINNATI: Cincinnati's defence is my candidate for most improved this season. Young quarterback Carson Palmer is getting better by the game, too. Without injured Jeff Garcia's scrambling skills, the Browns offence will be lost. Bengals 27, Browns 20.

* JACKSONVILLE +6 AT MINNESOTA:

Randy Moss -- if he's as healthy as the coaching staff says he is -- has a lot of missed time to make up for. He'll do his best to catch rival receiver Terrell owens in the touchdown race. Vikings 28, Jaguars 20.

* TAMPA BAY -2 1/2 AT CAROLINA: Carolina's offence has shown signs of life over the past few weeks but the speedy Tampa Bay defence will end any hope of a second-half run by the Panthers. Buccaneers 30, Panthers 19.

* SAN DIEGO +2 1/2 AT KANSAS CITY: San Diego's turnaround this season is one of the best sports stories of the year but Kansas City has always owned the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs 24, Chargers 20.

* TENNESSEE -2 AT HOUSTON: Houston quarterback David Carr watched from the sidelines as his hero Brett Favre march the Packers to a last-second victory a week ago. This week, Carr will be doing the marching. Texans 27, Titans 26.

* NEW ORLEANS +9 1/2 AT ATLANTA: The spread might be a little high considering Atlanta stalled against New York last week after posting two quick touchdowns. But at home against one of the worst defences in the league, Mike Vick may have his best game of the season. Falcons 33, Saints 23.

* BUFFALO +5.5 AT SEATTLE: Seattle is the most inconsistent team still challenging for a division title. Buffalo's defence has become one of the best in the league and should help keep this game close. Seahawks 23, Bills 20.

* MIAMI PICK AT SAN FRANCISCO: The game of the weak goes to Miami. Unlike Ricky Williams, the Dolphins haven't quit, yet -- but the 49ers have. Dolphins 24, 49ers 21.

* ST. LOUIS +6 AT GREEN BAY: Brett Favre is going to light it up at Lambeau on his favourite night of the week during the NFL season. Packers 28, Rams 21.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

* N.Y. JETS -3 AT ARIZONA: Still no Chad Pennington for New York and they're in the desert against an Arizona defence that thrives in the heat. If coach Dennis Green allows his new starting quarterback Shawn King to air it out, this has all the makings of an upset. Cardinals 26, Jets 24.

WEEK'S BEST BET

* OAKLAND +11 AT DENVER: Denver has Oakland's number, especially at Mile High on nationally televised night games. This one could get ugly if the Raiders aren't prepared. Broncos 31, Raiders 16.

CHECK THE RECORD

Last week: 12-4 straight up; 8-5-1 against the spread. Season: 97-63 straight up; 71-79-6 ATS. Best Bet is 7-4 after the Ravens battered the 'Boys. Upset of the Week is 6-5 after the Bengals fell short against the Steelers. Best Bet and Upset picks are straight up.


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