SportSteem NFL Thanksgiving Preview
What’s more American than Thanksgiving and football? We’ve got an interesting slate of holiday NFL games on tap tomorrow as teams continue to jockey for playoff positioning:
Vikings (-3) @ Lions
The Vikings are sitting pretty at 8-2 and if the playoffs started tomorrow, they’d have a first-round bye. They’ve been led by Case Keenum who, out of nowhere, has played so well that a healthy Teddy Bridgewater will continue to ride the pine. But this is still a team led by its defense – a defense which held the Rams’ league-leading offense to 7 points last week. In fact, the Vikes have given up 20 points or more only twice this season.
The Lions have won three in a row and are in second place in the NFC North. As well as Minnesota has played, a win by Detroit tomorrow gets them to within 1 game in the loss column and hands them the head-to-head tiebreaker. The last time these two teams met in Week 4, Lions defense held the Vikings to 7 points and limited Case Keenum to 16/30 / 219 yards / 0 TDs. But that was before Keenum caught fire – the Lions will have their hands full tomorrow with this streaking Minnesota team. If Minnesota wins, they can put a stranglehold on the NFC North.
Chargers (-1) @ Cowboys
Say what you will about the Cowboys but they’re never dull. Jerry Jones is a master of keeping his team in the spotlight – whether for good or not-so-good reasons. While he’s personally embroiled in a dispute with Roger Goodell and threatening to sue the league, his beloved Cowboys are seeing their season slip away. Since Zeke Elliott and Tyron Smith have gone down, the offense simply can’t put points on the board (scoring a combined 16 points the last 2 weeks). Their division hopes are toast but the Cowboys can still squeeze into a wild-card spot if they right the ship soon. But it’ll be a tall task for their banged-up offensive line against an outstanding Chargers pass rush led by Joey Bosa.
In L.A., it’s been a roller-coaster season for the Chargers. Seemingly given up for dead weeks ago, the Chargers now have an outside chance at challenging for the suddenly-weak AFC West. A month ago, nobody would’ve guessed that the Chargers would be road favorites against last year’s No.1 NFC seed. But Rivers can still put up big numbers and the defense has been really good for long stretches this season. The offense exploded for 54 points last week in Buffalo (aided by 5 Nathan Peterman INTs). Despite their 4-6 record, the Chargers are two back of K.C. in the division and get another crack at them in Week 15.
Giants @ Redskins (-7.5)
It has been a disappointing season for both of these teams as the Giants have simply imploded and the Redskins have let a couple of winnable games slip through their fingers. The Eagles have sewn up the division already but Washington still has an outside shot at a wild-card berth. To keep hope alive, they need to beat the Giants tomorrow night at FedEx Field. The offense has been solid (12th in points scored) but the defense has given up the second-most points in the NFL. The ‘Skins are also playing the rest of the season without star RB Chris Thompson, who broke his leg last week.
For the G-Men, they just want this season to end (preferably with as many losses as possible). The front office is likely looking for Eli’s eventual successor. There isn’t much for them to play for at this point except pride. However, they are coming off their best win of the year – a 12-9 eyesore against the AFC-West leading Chiefs. Ben McAdoo is probably a lame duck coach and GM Jerry Reese may be on the outs as well, but you can’t accuse the players of giving up despite the 2-8 record. I’m sure they’d love nothing more than to extinguish the playoff hopes of a hated division rival on Thanksgiving.
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