NFL Thanksgiving 2017: Game previews, predictions

NFL fans and bettors will be able to feast on three games this Thanksgiving.
Three games will be played on Thanksgiving this season. (Photo: Getty Images)

Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Detroit Lions 

 

The Vikings hope to turn the tables on Thanksgiving Day after a 14-7 loss to the Lions on Oct. 1 in which they atypically committed three turnovers. Minnesota hasn’t lost a game since (6-0) and has covered in each of their last five contests. 

 

The Lions have had a hard time going toe-to-toe with the cream of the NFL crop since beating the Vikings. Prior to their current three-game winning streak over the Packers, Browns and Bears, Detroit dropped three straight to the Panthers, Saints and Steelers. Ameer Abdullah rushed for 94 yards against Minnesota (second in rushing defense) on Oct. 1 but that may not happen again as he hasn’t sniffed that number in six games since. Matt Stafford struggled in his last clash with the Vikings (154 yards passing) and may do so again if his rushing attack can’t keep the opposition honest. That could lead to plenty of sacks for the Vikings’ vicious pass rush (27 sacks), who face the league’s third-worst offensive line. 

 

Meanwhile, the unheralded Vikings offense draws a favorable matchup with the Lions’ 23rd-ranked defense. Minnesota’s balanced attack, led by running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon and bolstered by a well-protected Case Keenum (Minnesota’s O-line has allowed just 10 sacks all year, best in the NFL), has recorded no fewer than 350 yards in each of its last five games. Bet on the Vikings to carve up Detroit as this week’s best bet. 

 

The pick: Vikings -3 

 

Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys (E) 

The Cowboys have been trounced in back-to-back weeks and draw a tough matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday afternoon. 

Dak Prescott has been rendered ineffective without left tackle Tyron Smith protecting his blind spot. Smith likely will not be 100% even if he does play on Thanksgiving, which could spell trouble for Prescott as he faces the NFL’s third-ranked pass rush. The Cowboys have been getting ground gains in two weeks without Ezekiel Elliott and face the Chargers’ league-worst run-stopping unit. But they need to be able to pass the ball effectively. 

L.A. has covered in five of their last six tilts after making mincemeat of Nathan Peterman and the Bills on Sunday. Philip Rivers should be able to pick apart a Dallas defense that has sorely missed linebacker Sean Lee and safety Jeff Heath. 

The pick: Chargers E 

 

New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-7.5) 

The Redskins have been victims of a ridiculously tough schedule of late. But finally, they get some relief facing the bottom-feeding Giants.

New York’s defense showed they still had some fire in them on Sunday as they smothered the fading Chiefs but will have to deal with Kirk Cousins, who’s hit the 300-yard mark in two-straight contests. Cousins should have plenty of time to find his targets downfield against the moribund Giants’ pass rush, which is tied for last in the league with just 14 sacks. New York’s defense has also allowed the seventh-most yards per play, which makes Washington’s offense that much more dangerous. 

The Redskins’ defense has been porous of late, but Eli Manning and company are not what they once were. Lay the points with Washington. 

The pick: Redskins -7.5 

 
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