Thanksgiving for us Brits is a bit of an odd concept, its something not many or any of us really celebrate, but to our friends across the pond its a national holiday and a chance to spend a day with family. Football on thanksgiving goes back to 1876 and The University of Michigan. They became the first team in history to regularly host a thanksgiving game. The NFL adopted this tradition in 1920 under its former APFA name, 6 games were hosted that day.
As the years have gone on the NFL has developed its thanksgiving model and since 2006 three contests have regularly been held on Thanksgiving. The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are regular hosts, with the third a game picked by the NFL, normally a divisional game. This year the red hot Saints.
On to the 3 games!
Bears @ Lions
Before last years defeat against Minnesota the Lions were on a 4 game winning streak on thanksgiving, but just like last year I don’t see them winning, despite home advantage the Bears to me are just a much better. team. The Bears are 2 games ahead in the NFC North at the moment and have arguably the best defense in the NFL.
2 Weeks ago the Bears took care of business against the Lions at home and quite frankly dominated the Lions in most aspects, I don’t feel much will have changed in that time. Mitch Trubisky outplayed Stafford, the defense generated more turnovers and stops and Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller both had big days. The score really should have been larger, and perhaps would have been if Cody Parkey didn’t hit the crossbar 4 times!
The Bears have now won 4 in a row and I do expect them to make it 5 on Thursday. Trubisky should play which will be a huge boost and Detroit is set to lose Kerryon Johnson for 2 weeks, a huge miss for an already stuttering Lions offense.
Prediction: Bears by 10.
Player to Watch : Khalil Mack. What may go down as the one of the best trades in Franchise history, Khalil Mack looks like the best defensive player in the league right now, he’s doing everything he can and inspiring teammates to do likewise.
Redskins @ Cowboys
Like the Redskins last opponents from Texas, the Cowboys have yet to beat a winning team and if they have ambitions of making it the post season and removing all talk about a crisis as per earlier in the year, they need to win this game and take control of the NFC East.
The Race for this division, often the most talked about in the NFL is alive! The Cowboys offensive line is finally looking like it has in previous years, able to man handle and with Elliot they have in my opinion, still the best running back in the league.
As for the Redskins, they are a team to me, who are just mediocre, they have talent to be a playoff team yet seemingly scream 8-8. Chances are the end the year with a record better than that, of all the teams in the league the Redskins points differential on the year sits at -1. They are also the only division leaders with a negative in this metric. Adrian Peterson is defying time though and in games where he has at least 68 yards, the Redskins have won. Something worth keeping an eye on in big D.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, the close Texans defeat also likely signalled the end of Alex Smiths season, out for the year with what can only be described as a horrible injury you wouldn’t wish on your worse enemy, Colt McCoy will step up to the lead the team once again, and he actually might suit this team a little bit more, when he came into the game against the Texans they looked a little less vanilla on offense, moved the ball and came close to winning it.
Prediction: Cowboys by 1.
Player to Watch: Elliot, first of 2 buckeyes to watch for me on thanksgiving Thursday, I have a feeling if the Cowboys are to make a run for the postseason they will need him to carry them.
Falcons @ Saints
Is anyone going to stop the Saints offense, Drew Brees, (As written by James here) is having an MVP type season, the Saints offense has incredibly only punted 21 times all year and seemingly don’t believe in the brand.
It’s incredibly hard as a neutral not to love what the Saints have done on offense this year and to not declare them the most exciting team in the NFL despite the shootout we saw in LA on Monday. Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara might lead the team in the receiving and rushing categories but Drew Brees has the ability to find anyone on the field. The defense is improving and the trade for Eli Apple, while I was skeptical looks to have been the right move.
The Falcons on the other hand, are average at best, defeats to the Browns and Cowboys have shown a glaring lack of overall talent, despite Julio Jones playing some lights out football and making my favorite play of the year with his tackle to prevent an interception, they are becoming too reliant on Julio though and for that reason alone I struggle to see them winning this matchup.
Prediction: Saints by 25
Player to watch: Michael Thomas, who didn’t love his celebration against the Rams, I don’t think we will see a repeat of that but I expect for him to be heavily involved and instrumental as the Saints continue the best winning streak in the NFL.
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