Fun with Numbers

Mike Harmon

Thanksgiving Day allows us to take pause from the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives, give thanks for what we've got and, of course, gorge ourselves and watch football. Before we get into the numbers, I'd like to offer a couple of general "thank you" lines you can pilfer if forced to speak before loading up your plate.

Here are my thanksgivings:

  • For the ability to watch an opening kickoff instead of attending the normal Thursday 1pm staff meeting, let's give thanks.
  • For the fact that your longest commute on Thursday will be the walk from your bedroom to the bathroom and to the couch, let's give thanks. (Ok, trips to/from the kitchen back to the couch will be plentiful.)
  • For the meal that takes six hours to cook and only six minutes to devour, let's give thanks.
  • For the family stories that get crazier as they're re-told each year and the generational debates about the merits of current players when compared to those of the past, let's give thanks.
  • For your sanity despite my fantasy team, led by Peyton Manning, lighting you up this week, let's give thanks.
  • And for (insert player name), who has been in my lineup and has yet to succumb to the injury bug, let's give thanks.

I'll start this week's numbers review with a couple of tidbits that you can throw out to your friends and family as you fight off the inevitable tryptophan "naptastrophe."

(Harmon Family Dictionary entry for "naptastrophe": an extended but unintended nap, caused by the ingestion of copious amounts of food.)

Detroit has won seven of its last 10 Thanksgiving Day appearances. The Lions have averaged 29.3 points per game during this stretch. Of course, new Hall of Famer Barry Sanders won't be juking on the field for them this year.

During that same stretch of time, the Lions have allowed only 21.3 points per game. Dare I suggest that they give up that amount before the gun sounds to signal the end of the first quarter against the high-flying Colts? The Colts have never played on Thanksgiving Day and want to put on an aerial display to keep their 33.9 points per game average on track.

Peyton Manning will look to continue his streak of games with four or more TD passes going. He's at four straight, averaging 318 passing yards in that period.

Lost in the unbelievable efforts of Manning and his receivers is the fact that Edgerrin James is currently second in the NFL in rushing yards after his 204-yard effort against Chicago in Week 11. He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

Drew Henson and the Dallas Cowboys will take on the Chicago Bears in the second game. Dallas is 5-5 in the past 10 years on Thanksgiving, averaging 24.4 points per game while allowing 23.9. Is it possible that the teams combine for less than 24 points this year?

The Bears were defeated by the Lions 21-17 in their last appearance in this showcase during the 1999 campaign. This year, it's personal. Thomas Jones will look to teach little brother Julius a thing or two about the pro game.

The Dolphins rolled up 40 points on the Cowboys in last year's Thanksgiving battle. Medical student Ricky Williams ran 31 times for 104 yards. Williams topped 1,000 yards for the season in that performance.

Michael Vick is averaging 64 yards per game and a robust 7.2 yards per carry. He stands 18th among all rushers in the NFL with 640 yards.

David Carr has thrown only one TD pass in three November games, a six-yard toss to RB Domanick Davis.

Daunte Culpepper will likely finish second in the arms race to Peyton Manning this year in passing touchdowns, but he is just off the pace for the highest completion percentage ever recorded in a season. Ken Anderson of the Bengals completed 70.55 percent of his attempts in 1982. Culpepper has completed 70.25 percent of his passes through 10 games this season.

Pittsburgh's stout run defense has allowed only 28 rushing yards in its last two homes games. That's the combined total for two games, meaning that Clinton Portis will have a rough go of it this week. Portis is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry.

Staying with the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger has gone big-time. He appeared on Tuesday's "Late Show with David Letterman." Big Ben was witty and polished during his appearance and then took Dave's challenge of trying to toss a football into the window of a moving NYC cab. For the true experience, the cab should have been frantically switching lanes, but that's just a minor detail. Roethlisberger tossed four footballs and failed to hit the target. So long as he keeps hitting receivers and skillfully managing the offense, I think he'll get over it.

Did you know that an estimated 17 percent of households serving up turkeys will deep-fry their bird this year? I caught that flash up on a TV screen, so I'm sorry that I can't provide the source.

Armed with its attacking style that has racked up five touchdowns, the Baltimore Ravens defense stands eighth among fantasy point scorers. The Steelers are tied for 12th with Tom Brady.

Fifty different players lining up at TE, including Mike Vrabel of the Patriots, have scored touchdowns.

With six games left on the docket, Donovan McNabb is only three TD's behind his career-high. To put things in perspective, Philadelphia wide receivers caught a total of five touchdowns all of 2003. Terrell Owens has 13 TD receptions alone through 10 games.

This week's slate serves up the battle for the No. 1 draft pick. If ever the thought of starting A.J. Feeley has crossed your mind, then this is that time. Feeley will lead the 1-9 Dolphins against the 1-9 49ers, who are surrendering just under two passing touchdowns per game.

To demonstrate how inconsistent the QB position has been for fantasy owners this season, consider that Drew Bledsoe and Aaron Brooks are tied for 12th in the league in TD passes with Ben Roethlisberger. Each QB has tossed 12 TD passes.

Let's take a look at some of the injury updates.

  • Troy Hambrick of the Cardinals was placed on IR with an injured foot. Damien Anderson was signed for the remainder of the season and will serve as the third-string back behind Emmitt Smith and Josh Scobey.
  • Jamal Lewis is in a walking boot and has officially been ruled out for Week 12. Chester Taylor will lead the battle against the Patriots.
  • Jeff Garcia has been ruled out against Cincinnati with a strained rotator cuff. Kelly Holcomb will get the start.
  • Priest Holmes will likely miss his third straight game with a strained knee. Derrick Blaylock gets another start.
  • Not that you would have been starting him, but Jay Fiedler was placed on IR with a herniated cervical disc. A.J. Feeley gets to sail this ship into the offseason.
  • After frustrating fantasy owners for much of the season due to erratic play, Matt Hasselbeck may miss another start with his deep thigh bruise. Though he hasn't been ruled out just yet, I'd be looking into other options.

Check the Inside Week 11 report for additional player injury news.

Be sure to keep an eye on the pages of Yahoo! Sports for updated injury information as the week rolls on. Here's hoping for a happy, healthy start to the holiday season and that the weather doesn't dash your travel plans or playoff hopes.