If ever there was an NFL Thanksgiving to watch your tryptophan intake, this is the one.
After years of NFL matchups that were more coma-inducing than a third helping of Butterball, the league has a trio of games this year that are actually all interesting. Five of the six teams are serious playoff contenders and Detroit is on a three-game winning streak.
So, stop eating the cornbread stuffing. Pro tip: use the Krusteaz honey mix as a base if you make your own – and be careful not to overdo it with the roasted brussels sprouts – keep it simple with olive oil, sea salt, honey and bacon – because the league is serving up a big three-course meal.
Buffalo in Detroit (CBS, 12:30 p.m. ET)
Question of the Day: What does Lions coach Dan Campbell do if the Lions win their fourth straight game today?
- Strut around Ford Field like Conor McGregor?
- I walked around the locker room yelling, “Hulk Smash?”
- Run naked for Eight Mile?
Absurdity aside, the fact that the Lions are able to post their first four-game winning streak since 2016 is not just remarkable, it’s clearly possible. Unlike Thanksgivings past, when the Lions game was typically designed to provide background noise while making sure not to burn the fresh cranberry sauce. don’t do the canned stuff, the real thing is so easy – The Detroit-Buffalo game has some intrigue.
There isn’t much doubt that the 7-3 Bills are the better team and it will take a lot for the Lions defense to stop Buffalo. But Detroit has the kind of power running game (No. 10 in rushing yards per game and No. 3 in rushing touchdowns) that can slow the Bills down and keep the game close.
Additionally, the Bills have had their share of turnover problems throughout the season, including four in an overtime loss to Minnesota and two in a three-point loss to the New York Jets. As the opening game in this version of the NFL’s three-act Christmas play, it has a great chance to live up to the hype.
New York Giants at Dallas (FOX, 4:30 p.m. ET)
Logic would tell you that the Cowboys are going to win this game. It’s the same kind of logic that tells you that frying a turkey is more time efficient and tastier than roasting it (even if you use the salt and herb brine). The problem is that frying, like the idea of depending on the Cowboys, is dangerous. Super dangerous.
The Cowboys won the previous matchup when the Cooper Rush was starting for the injured Dak Prescott and are averaging 35 points in the last four games since Prescott returned. The Giants are shaky a bit, having lost two of their last three, including last Sunday against Detroit.
The Cowboys also have their backfield healthy again with the return of Ezekiel Elliott, so they have both the power and speed of Elliott and Tony Pollard. In many ways, the Cowboys could be considered a serious Super Bowl contender, while the Giants are having a nice rebound in Year 1 of Brian Daboll’s turnaround.
All of that said, Logic has never known a team led by owner Jerry Jones and his knack for distracting from the task at hand. This week, Jones has made more headlines talking about the manhunt for Odell Beckham Jr. than crediting his current roster for getting Dallas into serious contention. It’s another example of Jones jumping the gun in the pursuit of attention. It’s cool to chase OBJ, just do it quietly.
New England in Minnesota (NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET)
This game is fascinating, but not because I think either team is going to the Super Bowl. This is a great matchup of two potential playoff teams that are making big strides while also being plagued by the perennial question: “Is the quarterback good enough or do we need to get better?”
This is similar to when you realize it’s time to increase the dessert portion of your meal, from traditional pumpkin pie to pumpkin cheesecake: go with the graham cracker instead of the crumbled Oreos for the crust and use a chocolate ganache on top.
The Patriots’ defense against quarterback Kirk Cousins and first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell is particularly important. Expect Bill Belichick to do everything he can to limit Justin Jefferson, even if it means allowing some yards to Dalvin Cook. What Belichick will test is how Cousins and O’Connell can make the passing game work without Jefferson.
At the same time, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones needs to show there’s more to him than just being a precise game manager. The Vikings’ defense has holes, as Dallas demonstrated on Sunday. Jones has to start scoring points more consistently.
The other game-within-a-game element is whether O’Connell can avoid being distracted by Belichick, the man who launched O’Connell’s NFL career in 2008 when he brought him to the Patriots as Tom Brady’s backup. . Belichick has 327 wins. O’Connell has 8. That’s an intimidating difference.