The NFL’s three-game Thanksgiving slate not only offers some of the biggest stars in the league, but also critical matchups that could have serious playoff implications in the final weeks of the season. Fans of the NFC North, NFC East and NFC West will be treated to three top notch games that pit serious rivals against each other.
Let’s take a look at each matchup, including what Las Vegas thinks will be the outcome and some predictions, as well as TV information.
Bears at Lions
Detroit and Chicago have switched trajectories of late. The 7-4 Lions lost consecutive games for the first time this season after a punishing 34-9 letdown against New England last week, while the 5-6 Bears have kept their postseason hopes alive with two straight wins and 21 points scored in each game. The Lions still own one of the top three defenses in the NFL, but specifically need more from an offense that hasn’t put together a touchdown drive in eight consecutive quarters. Six of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s 10 interceptions on the season have come in the last five games, while top receiver Calvin Johnson been held to nine catches for 117 yards during the current losing streak.
Chicago bested both Minnesota and Tampa Bay by a score of 21-13 the last two weeks to move to 5-6 on the season. The Bears are two games back of the last wild card spot in the NFC, but a win over Detroit could put them right back in the race. Quarterback Jay Cutler also has struggled with interceptions, with 12 on the year, but running back Matt Forte has been a revelation during the winning streak, accounting for 287 total yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
Start Time: 12:30 PM ET
TV Channel: CBS
Point Spread: Detroit -7
Over/Under: 47.5 points
Prediction: Detroit over Chicago, 24-21
Eagles at Cowboys
The early lead in the NFC East is on the line between Dallas and Philadelphia, as they meet for the first time this season. Both own 8-3 records, but the Eagles are currently in first place due to a better 2-0 record against division foes compared to the Cowboys 2-1 mark. Both squads also own a top 10 offense in the NFL, and will send out some of the most dynamic players in the league.
Dallas is led by NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray, who’s gained 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns this season, blowing away all other running backs. Containing Murray could prove a problem for the Eagles, but receiver Dez Bryant is likely more worrisome. Bryant’s tied for first among all receivers with 10 touchdowns this season, and quarterback Tony Romo has shaken off his back injury and is yet to throw an interception in the last three games.
On the other side, Philadelphia has put the offense in quarterback Mark Sanchez’s hands for the last month, and the former USC star has largely flourished despite six interceptions. He’s completed 62.3 percent of his attempts for 1,187 yards and seven touchdowns for a 2-1 record as a starter.
Sanchez’s emergence has also benefited running back LeSean McCoy, who’s gained 100 or more yards in two games during Sanchez’s run. McCoy started the season slow with one touchdown through the first eight games, but has since scored twice in the last three weeks and punished Tennessee for a season-high 130 yards off 21 attempts in Week 12.
Start Time: 4:30 PM ET
TV Channel: FOX
Point Spread: Dallas -3
Over/Under: 55.5 points
Prediction: Dallas over Philadelphia, 30-23
Seahawks at 49ers
Thanksgiving marks the first time these two sides have met since last season’s NFC Conference Championship, a contest Seattle claimed 23-17 en route to the franchises’s first Super Bowl title. Once again both teams own one of the top ranked defenses in the NFL with Seattle No. 1 in total defense allowing 296.8 yards and 19.8 points per game, and San Francisco right behind at No. 2 surrendering 300.1 yards and 20.5 points.
Yet even with such an incredible defense that hasn’t completely worked top lineman Aldon Smith back into the fold, and winners of three straight, San Francisco needs this victory more than Seattle. Each side sits at 7-4, but Seattle is presently in second place in the division and holds the final wild card spot in the NFC due to the 49ers 1-2 record in the division. Another NFC West loss could dash San Francisco’s chances of a fourth straight postseason appearance.
Start Time: 8:30 PM ET
TV Channel: NBC
Point Spread: San Francisco -1
Over/Under: 39.5 points
Prediction: San Francisco over Seattle, 20-13