Get ready to feast on some excellent football tomorrow, football fans! In the NFL's annual Thanksgiving classic, three games will be played, which has been a staple since 2006, with the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys hosting the first two games as always. This year, four out of the six teams playing, including the Cowboys, are leading their divisions, so each game will have more of that playoff vibe. Two of those teams will be playing each other in the primetime game--the resurgent San Francisco 49ers against the defensively-superpowered Baltimore Ravens.
The NFL surely didn't gobble up picking this slate of games. Here are predictions:
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET
It's safe to say that a majority of people who watch football and who will be watching this game have the Packers winning. But, if you're betting on the Packers, literally or figuratively, be careful. Although the Lions have lost three of their last five after starting the season 5-0, they're fifth in the league in pass defense and can their frontline is still among the top in the league at rushing the passer with Suh and Fairley in the middle. That combination is probably the closest formula to successfully stop Aaron Rodgers from putting on an offensive clinic, which thus opens the door for the Lions' eighth-ranked offense to put on a clinic of their own against the Packers second-to-last pass defense.
Nevertheless, the Packers still have more playmakers on defense that can salvage any offense mishaps that might occur. And, after giving up over 450 total yards to the Buccaneers on Sunday, the Packers will be sure to play as close to perfection as possible on Thanksgiving Day against their division rival. It'll be closer than you think.
FINAL SCORE: Packers 28, Lions 24
Miami Dolphins vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:15 p.m. ET
Both teams are riding three-game win streaks, but unfortunately for the Dolphins, Dallas has more to play for being tied with the New York Giants at 6-4 atop of the NFC East. And, despite Miami's stellar defensive play the last three weeks, the Cowboys, much like the Packers with their defense against the Lions' offense, have enough playmakers on offense to clear the Dolphins' defensive hurdles. Miami's offense, despite Matt Moore's great play during their streak, is still too inconsistent for a solid Cowboys defense led by linebacker Demarcus Ware, who leads the NFL with 14 sacks. Miami's defensive bread and butter is stopping the run, and it will have to do just that against Cowboys rookie running back DeMarco Murray, who's compiled an NFL-high 674 yards on the ground since week 7 against the St. Louis Rams.
The Cowboys should close out the Dolphins by at least a touchdown
FINAL SCORE: Cowboys 31, Miami 17
San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m. ET
There will be two pretty good games beforehand, but none will be like this game-Harbaugh versus Harbaugh, the first time brother will face brother in NFL history. Both the 49ers and the Ravens lead their respective divisions, the NFC West and AFC North, and each plays smash-mouth football-run first, pass second on offense and stop-the-run first, stop-the-pass second on defense. The game can almost be decided on a coin flip because the two teams are so similar, but the edge, here, goes to the Ravens, even without their premier linebacker Ray Lewis leading the defense. One, they are undefeated at home. Two, they know the importance of this game with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals riding their coattails. And three, Joe Flacco is the more seasoned quarterback.
Much like a Ravens-Steelers game, this one won't light up the scoreboard too much.
FINAL SCORE: Ravens 14, 49ers 10