Week 1 of any NFL season is always terrific because every franchise still has hope then. Week 17 generally is full of drama as clubs fight for playoff spots or positioning. But ask most Americans what their favorite day of the NFL regular season is each year and it’s Thanksgiving. Football and turkey and halftime naps are a match made in heaven.
Since 2006, there have been three games on the holiday, and as usual the Detroit Lions host the first one and the Dallas Cowboys the second. The Lions have been hosting Thanksgiving Day games since 1935 and the Cowboys since 1966. Other owners are envious of the national attention, but Detroit and Dallas aren’t giving those up.
Detroit is a 3-point underdog in a huge game against NFC North rival Minnesota, which leads the division by two over the Lions. The teams met Week 4 in Minneapolis and the Lions pulled off a minor 14-7 upset. Neither team reached 300 yards of offense, but Detroit dominated time of possession and didn’t turn it over, while the Vikings gave it away three times.
In an unusual twist, it’s the second straight Turkey Day game between the two. Last year, the Lions picked off a late Sam Bradford pass, and it led to a Matt Prater 40-yard field goal as time expired for a 16-13 victory. However, the road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings.
The team with the longest drought of not playing on Thanksgiving? That would be the Los Angeles Chargers, who last did it in 1969, the year before the AFL-NFL merger. The Bolts are 1-point favorites against the Cowboys in the teams’ first meeting since 2013. Dallas lost that one 30-21 in San Diego and the Cowboys’ QB that day was Tony Romo. He’ll be in the CBS broadcast booth on Thursday.
The finale is an NFC East matchup between the Giants and Redskins, with Washington hosting a Thanksgiving game for the first time. The Redskins, who are 7.5-point favorites, did play on the holiday last year and lost in Dallas.
The Giants are likely the NFL’s most disappointing team at 2-8 after winning 11 games in 2016 and reaching the playoffs. Coach Ben McAdoo surely will not be back in 2018.
Washington and New York split last year; the Giants’ shocking Week 17 upset in Maryland, when New York had nothing to play for, kept the Redskins from the playoffs. The Giants have covered six of the past eight in the series overall.
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