Thanksgiving is a tradition like no other. It’s a time of year where families gather to feast, spend quality time with one another, buy under-priced electronics on Black Friday, and, of course, watch football. That’s right, it’s almost time for one of America’s finest traditions, and I’m not talking about Thanksgiving dinner. I’m talking about over 10 hours of NON-STOP football, and while the matchups may not be great on paper, I think all three of this year’s games have the potential to be absolutely epic. Let’s take a look at what these games have in store for us this year.
GAME 1: Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions, 1:30 on CBS
Lions Thanksgiving Day Record: 37-38, Last Win: 2016 vs. Vikings
Vikings Thanksgiving Day Record: 5-2, Last Win: 2000 vs. Cowboys
Playing in their 56th consecutive Thanksgiving game, the Lions will look to continue their 3-game win streak against a white-hot Vikings defense. Led by Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, and Erick Kendricks, this unit held Jared Goff and the Rams to 7 points (their lowest total of the season), and Case Keenum continued his breakout campaign with 280 passing yards and a touchdown toss to leading receiver Adam Thielen. Thielen has combined with Stefon Diggs to become one of the league’s most dominant, and surprising, wide receiver duos, and the two have combined for 97 catches, over 1,400 yards, and 8 TDs to lead an offense that many wrote off to begin the season. The Lions, meanwhile, are sitting pretty at 6-4, and, unsurprisingly, quarterback Matthew Stafford has been a major reason for this team’s solid campaign thus far. The signal-caller has thrown for 2,760 yards, and has thrown 19 touchdowns against just 5 interceptions. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate have been the focal point of the Lions’ receiving corps, each toting over 600 yards and combining for 9 touchdown grabs. The Lions will likely struggle to run the ball against a talented Minnesota front seven, but look for running backs Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah to make an impact in the passing game out of the backfield. That being said, the Vikings are the hottest team in the NFL right now outside of New Orleans and Philadelphia, and their punishing defense and dazzling offense has transformed them into bonafide Super Bowl contenders. Look for the Vikings to pull away late in the fourth and snap Detroit’s three-game winning streak in Thanksgiving Day games.
Minnesota beats Detroit 27-17
GAME 2: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 on FOX
Chargers on Thanksgiving: 2-1-1, Last Win: 1969 vs. Oilers
Cowboys on Thanksgiving: 30-18, Last Win: 2016 vs. Redskins
You wouldn’t believe me if I said it two weeks ago, but the hottest team heading into this mid-afternoon tilt isn’t the Dallas Cowboys...it’s the Los Angeles Chargers. The Bolts scored a whopping 54 points against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, and totaled 5 interceptions in the first half alone, making Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman’s first career start one that no one will forget (and not in a good way). Their offense wasn’t too bad either, with Philip Rivers throwing 2 touchdowns (both to Keenan Allen), and Melvin Gordon and rookie running back Austin Ekeler both scoring two touchdowns on the ground. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys fell apart on primetime against the 8-1 (now 9-1) Philadelphia Eagles, allowing 30 consecutive points in a 37-9 loss. Quarterback Dak Prescott clearly felt the loss of his star running back Ezekiel Elliott (who’s currently serving a 6-game ban for domestic abuse allegations), tossing a career-worst 3 interceptions. This game seemed like it had a ton of potential to be a thrilling contest when the games were announced prior to the season, but this one has the potential to get ugly for “Dem Boyz”. Chargers take this one in Jerry World.
Prediction: Los Angeles beats Dallas 31-16
GAME 3: New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins, 8:30 on NBC
Giants on Thanksgiving: 7-4-3, Last Win: 1982 vs. Lions
Redskins on Thanksgiving: 2-7, Last Win: 2012 vs. Cowboys
Odell Beckham, Jr. vs. Josh Norman on Thanksgiving Day? Yes, please! Oh, right. What had the potential to be a thrilling primetime duel between Beckham, Jr., the star wide receiver for the New York Giants who is out for the season with an ankle injury, and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman is now merely a fantasy. Instead we will be treated to the exciting matchup of Norman and Roger Lewis. Yay! In all seriousness, this is the worst game of this year’s Thanksgiving slate, and it’s not even close. This matchup will see a terrible Redskins defense against an anemic Giants, and a quietly potent Redskins offense against a Giants defense that, last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, actually resembled the dominant unit we saw last season when they won 11 games. Despite being 2-8, the Giants have a real shot at winning this game, and Orleans Darkwa, who had 70 rushing yards and a score last week, has a chance to go off against a porous Redskins run defense. The Redskins are in desperate need of a bounce-back win after two consecutive losses, including a heartbreaker in New Orleans this past Sunday that saw them squander a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. Kirk Cousins will need to come up big if the Redskins want to save a season that’s sinking faster than the Titanic, but I can’t see them pulling this win out, especially after their performance on Sunday and Cousins’ well-documented woes in primetime contests. Giants win a slugfest here to close out Thursday’s action.
Prediction: New York beats Washington 15-10