Thanksgiving Day is generally a good benchmark in the NFL season. By this time, we usually have a really good idea as to who the "haves" and the "have nots" are, and the teams that are on the outside at this juncture usually have to go on a huge run if they want to get into the postseason.
This Thanksgiving should be no different, and it starts right away with the Vikings and the Lions. Should Minnesota knock Detroit off at Ford Field to start the week, it will basically have won the NFC North as the Eagles effectively won the NFC East by beating the Cowboys last NFL Sunday night. The Lions, though, can pull within one game in the division and hold the tiebreaker with the series sweep of the Vikes by holding serve at home.
The Lions and Vikings opened up at a pick 'em, as did the Chargers and Cowboys. Dallas and L.A. are two teams that are fighting on the outside of the playoffs at the moment and are going to need to turn things around in a hurry just to get into the show. The Chargers did the job last week against Buffalo. The Cowboys? Not so much. Dallas has been clocked badly in two games against Atlanta and Philadelphia playing without Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott, and it looks absolutely nothing like a postseason team.
The biggest game of the week is in the 4:25 p.m. ET hour on Sunday. The Saints and Rams are both sitting at the top of their respective divisions, and both still have their sights set on division titles and a chance at a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. The loser of this game is going to have an incredibly tough time for the rest of the season and could even legitimately fall out of the playoff race in the incredibly top-heavy NFC.
There are also several teams that are involved in de facto elimination games. It's going to be really hard to see either Denver or Oakland getting off the mat from yet another loss to make the playoffs while on Monday Night Football, the Texans and Ravens will engage in what could be an elimination game in the crowded AFC.
Week 12 also features the biggest point spread of the season. The white hot Patriots are laying 17 against the Dolphins, the eighth time New England has been favored by at least 17 points in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.
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Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, Ford Field – 12:30 p.m. ET ( FOX )
Opening Line: Pick 'Em, O/U 44.5
Preview: For the second consecutive season, the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions are going to be playing against each other on Thanksgiving Day. This year's game carries a ton on the line with the Lions likely being the only team left that can stop the Vikes from capturing the NFC North title and the bye in the first round of the NFC playoffs that will likely come with it. Continue...
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium – 4:30 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Pick 'Em, O/U 47.5
Preview: The Los Angeles Chargers haven't played on Thanksgiving Day since 1969. They're going to end that nearly five-decade long absence from the premier holiday games on Thursday when they pay a visit to the slumping Dallas Cowboys, a team in flat out desperation mode at this point with just six games left to play in the season. Continue...
New York Giants at Washington Redskins, FedEx Field - 8:30 p.m. ET ( NBC )
Opening Line: Redskins -7.5, O/U 44.5
Preview: When the powers that be decided that the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins were going to play against each other on Thanksgiving night, they had to envision a game that meant a ton in the NFC East and in the NFC playoff chase in general. Instead, what they picked up was a dog of a game with two teams that are very likely effectively eliminated from postseason contention. Continue...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium – 1 p.m. ET ( FOX )
Opening Line: Falcons -6.5
Preview: With the Atlanta Falcons playing in one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL, this Week 12 tilt against the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers is filled with playoff ramifications for the defending NFC champs. Making the job all the more tough is the fact that a confident bunch of Buccaneers will invade “Hotlanta” after tallying a pair of triumphs over the last two weeks. You can bet your bottom dollar Atlanta comes to play with it falling as chalk the last two times it hosted this rivalry. Continue...
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, Paul Brown Stadium - 1 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Bengals -9, O/U 38
Preview: The Cleveland Browns are the last remaining team in the NFL with a big fat goose egg sitting next to “W” in their win-loss record. It’s a sad state of affairs for this franchise with all the moves made be it in free agency and the NFL Draft over the last five years. The Cincinnati Bengals will look to avoid the embarrassment of allowing them to tally that win in Week 12 when the AFC North rivals collide for the second and final time in the regular season. Continue...
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium - 1 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Colts -3
Preview: After getting their salads tossed by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football, the Tennessee Titans still find themselves in an excellent position to at the very least challenge for the AFC South title. In order to do that, Mike Mularkey’s squad must close this two-game road trip out with a win. Standing in their way of doing so in Week 12 will be a rested Indianapolis Colts squad that enters this tilt losers in four of their last five games. Continue...
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium - 1 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Chiefs -6
Preview: Two teams coming off ugly losses are set to collide in Week 12 when Sean McDermott ’s Buffalo Bills close their two-game roady out at Arrowhead Stadium where a pissed off bunch of Kansas City Chiefs will await. Andy Reid normally gets his squad up to play following a bye week, but that was hardly the case in the Big Apple. Expect a much different team to take the field as it looks to pump the brakes on their second two-game losing streak of the season. Continue...
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium - 1 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Patriots -17, O/U 47
Preview: The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots are currently going in completely different directions heading into the division rival’s first meeting of the season. The Fins enter Week 12 losers of four straight, while the Pats haven’t dropped a game since shockingly falling at home to the Carolina Panthers in an exhilarating October 1 shootout. Because of it, the reigning Super Bowl champions are installed gargantuan 17-point favorites for the first time in this rivalry. Continue...
Carolina Panthers at New York Jets, MetLife Stadium - 1 p.m. ET ( FOX )
Opening Line: Panthers -3
Preview: The New York Jets will be out to play spoiler in Week 12 when they return home to battle a Carolina Panthers outfit riding a three game win streak both straight up and against the spread. Had New Orleans not found a way to come back and snag a victory from the jaws of defeat against the Redskins, Riverboat Ron Rivera’s squad would have pulled even with the Saints atop the AFC South standings making next week’s clash in the bayou as big as it gets. Continue...
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field - 1 p.m. ET ( FOX )
Opening Line: Eagles -13, O/U 44
Preview: Owners of the best record in the league both straight up and against the spread, the Philadelphia Eagles return home to the comforts of the Linc where a boisterous crowd will no doubt await. Up next on the docket is a Chicago Bears squad that gave the Detroit Lions all they could handle, but in true John Fox fashion, the game tying field goal was missed at the gun propelling the team to a third straight defeat. Continue...
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams, L.A. Memorial Coliseum – 4:05 p.m. ET ( FOX )
Opening Line: Rams -2.5, O/U 53.5
Preview: Raise your hand of you expected this Week 12 tilt between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams to have such an enormous impact on the NFC playoff chase. If it’s up, you’re a bold-faced liar! Regardless, Drew Brees and the Saints invade Tinseltown off their dramatic come-from-behind win at home against the Redskins, while the Rams return home with their tails between their legs after getting served up a big helping of humble pie by the Minnesota Vikings. Continue...
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium – 4:05 p.m. ET ( FOX )
Opening Line: Seahawks -7, O/U 43
Preview: The Seattle Seahawks are no longer the dominant force they once were in the NFC. Just last season, they closed as 11.5-point favorites in their road trip to Levi’s Stadium. The Week 12 betting line saw them open as 7-point favorites against the same San Francisco 49ers squad they held to an average of 9.7 points in their last three trips to the Bay. While decided favorites to win a ninth straight over their division rivals, there’s more uncertainty now than there’s been in quite some time. Continue...
Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals, University of Phoenix Stadium – 4:25 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Jaguars -5, O/U 38
Preview: Blaine Gabbert in his season debut under center for the Arizona Cardinals last week against the Houston Texans. The caliber of opposition is set to get a whole lot tougher in Week 12 when the squad returns home to oppose a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that leads the league in yards allowed, points scored, and sacks. Good luck mimicking last week’s effort against Calais Campbell and company who will no doubt be out to flex their muscles against a much lesser opponent. Continue...
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders, O.co Coliseum – 4:25 p.m. ET ( CBS )
Opening Line: Raiders -3
Preview: Two of the league’s biggest disappointments are set to engage in Week 12 gridiron warfare when the struggling Denver Broncos invade the “Black Hole” looking to vent some frustration upon an Oakland Raiders outfit that just got embarrassed in Mexico City by the defending champs. These AFC West rivals have split their season rivalry the previous two season, and already played to an ugly 16-10 final won by Denver back in Week 4 in a game Derek Carr broke his back. Continue...
Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field - 8:30 p.m. ET ( NBC )
Opening Line: Steelers -13.5, O/U 41.5
Preview: A couple months ago, the NBC executives had to believe they were going to have a Sunday Night Football contest to remember the Sunday after Thanksgiving between Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. Instead, what they have is a game that very well could be a lopsided mess between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Continue...
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium – 8:30 p.m. ET ( ESPN )
Opening Line: Ravens -7, O/U 38
Preview: The Houston Texans have really turned the corner as a franchise, but a rash of injuries have wrecked this 2017 season. The injury bug is what is making this game against the Baltimore Ravens feel like a complete and utter impossibility. Continue...
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