Happy Thanksgiving everyone! COVID-19 has apparently postponed all but one game that was scheduled to take place on Thanksgiving Day, as the Steelers-Ravens game will now take place on Sunday afternoon. The Jets are the first team eliminated from playoff contention (no shock) and the Steelers have a chance to be the first team to clinch a playoff berth this weekend. Time to see what Thanksgiving and NFL Sunday may give us:
Houston Texans @ Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving @ 12:30pm): When the Lions and Texans last played each other on Thanksgiving in 2012, Caldwell failed to prevent a Justin Forsett TD from being called back with replay views looking different back then. Back to the present: the Texans finally get a win other than Jacksonville with a quality win over New England, while the Lions got shutout by PJ Walker’s McCaffrey-less Panthers. With the Texans looking like answers are starting to come and injuries expected to affect Detroit again, Stafford could struggle again as the Texans find their fourth win on Thanksgiving.
PREDICTION: Texans win 31-23
Washington Football Team @ Dallas Cowboys (Thanksgiving @ 4:30pm): Over the past few years, the Cowboys are shown to do better against their divisional rivals on Thanksgiving than other opponents with the Chargers, Bills, and Panthers as prime examples. Washington smothered Dallas last time at FedEx Field, even with Kyle Allen and Andy Dalton starting at QB. With Alex Smith in and coming off a win against a Bengals team that lost Joe Burrow for the year due to injury, a win and series sweep like this in Arlington will keep them well in NFC East contention. The Cowboys are coming off a huge win over Minnesota with Dalton’s return, but if Washington does what they did last time, which could look likely except for Smith, they appear to have the offense and defense to upset Cowboys’ fans.
PREDICTION: Washington wins 27-20
Las Vegas Raiders @ Atlanta Falcons (1pm): Despite a loss at home on SNF, the Raiders stayed hot while still proving why they were able to be the Chiefs’ only loss this season as of now. They head to Atlanta against a Falcons team that either looks good or doesn’t. With a fully-stacked offense for Derek Carr, a shootout can happen with Carr’s Renfrow and Ruggs and Ryan’s Jones and Ridley. The Raiders look more tough offensively and will stay in playoff contention with a win.
PREDICTION: Raiders win 37-27
Los Angeles Chargers @ Buffalo Bills (1pm): Every Buffalo fan is happy from losses assessed to the rest of the AFC East last week, giving Buffalo a one-game lead for first place in the division over Miami. They face a Chargers team coming off a close win against a winless Jets team. Herbert has a better chance to win ROTY with Burrow out for the rest of the season, but facing a Bills’ defense getting Josh Norman could hinder his performance enough for Josh Allen to stay in the MVP race and get the Bills one step closer towards a playoff berth.
PREDICTION: Bills win 34-24
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (1pm): AFC South rematch expected at Indianapolis as Ryan Tannehill and Phillip Rivers are coming off quality wins against first-round bye playoff teams from last season. The winner will assume first place in the AFC South for the time being, and after what the Colts did to Tennessee last time, their offense could once again prove to be a huge factor as Rivers is once again with a possible playoff team.
PREDICTION: Colts win 28-24
New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals (1pm): With Joe Burrow out for the rest of the season, people can hardly imagine the Bengals winning any more games. With a serious bug dealt to them offensively, it creates more trouble with the Giants starting to trend as they stay well in the mix in the NFC East race. After back-to-back wins over divisional opponents and key defensive players coming off IR, the defense can put more more pressure on Brandon Allen, who is the projected starting QB for the Bengals and Joe Mixon still out on IR. The Giants can see their offense improving if Daniel Jones starts to get consistent.
PREDICTION: Giants win 28-17
Carolina Panthers @ Minnesota Vikings (1pm): Cousins and the Vikings tasted bitter defeat after giving up a game-winning TD at home to Dallas, while Bridgewater is slated to return but McCaffrey ain’t. The Panthers looked terrific with their shutout win over the Lions, but the Vikings’ defense, when healthy enough, can shock people, the same way they shocked the Packers. Hosting again and Dalvin Cook able to stay healthy after a vicious hit last week, the Vikings can return to the win column and stave off elimination.
PREDICTION: Vikings win 30-23
Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots (1pm): The road team has won these last two meetings thanks to missed field goals. Don’t expect that to happen this time with Kyler Murray looking to run around more after he couldn’t at Seattle last week. The Patriots’ loss to Houston has done more damage to their playoff streak and could hurt them again if their defense cannot contain Murray and the high-powered Cardinals’ offense.
PREDICTION: Cardinals win 31-27
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (1pm): After the last few weeks were successful for the Dolphins, Tua had trouble offensively and could not lead Miami past the Broncos’ defense to the tie the lead in the AFC East. They will look past it against a Jets team that still has yet to win a game and has officially been eliminated from the playoffs. Flacco has started to look smooth offensively, but Sam Darnold may be returning. Regardless, the Dolphins’ defense remains in the mix for being one of the best in the league, and can limit whoever is starting for the Jets this week and keep them both winless and at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft order.
PREDICTION: Dolphins win 27-16
Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1pm): It’s all or nothing for the Jaguars to stave off elimination themselves, but are faced with another QB change as Mike Glennon will be the starting QB for the Jags this Sunday. The Browns are once again without Myles Garrett, but after a strong defensive performance against Carson Wentz and the Eagles, the Browns can see both the offense and defense lifting them over Glennon and put their playoff hopes to rest.
PREDICTION: Browns win 26-17
New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos (4:05pm): The Saints were able to find a decent win over their rival Falcons despite Drew Brees injured and Taysom Hill stepping up in his absence. The Broncos’ defense will be important in an effort to limit the Brees-less Saints’ offense that still has Kamara and Thomas. It will competitive in Mile High, but the Saints may barely pull through to remain on top in both the NFC and NFC South.
PREDICTION: Saints win 27-24
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams (4:05pm): The Rams found a huge way to make Brady look old, and not the good way for him as they pull back into first place in the NFC West over the Seahawks. The 49ers are still suffering from injury losses that has kept Jimmy G and George Kittle out still. They will once again not be playing at SoFi Stadium, and with the Rams still tough defensively, the Rams can avenge their SNF loss against the 49ers.
PREDICTION: Rams win 31-20
Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:25pm): The Chiefs continue to surge with Mahomes behind center as the Buccaneers may actually be starting to fall, unless Brady can conquer that statement again. However, the Buccaneers’ defense would be lucky to contain the Chiefs’ offense if they themselves do well offensively. Even at home, Kansas City can still bring down Tampa Bay in a nice shootout.
PREDICTION: Chiefs win 34-28
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers (SNF @ 8:20pm): The Bears have dropped four straight with 3 of them one-score losses as they prepare for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Before dropping four straight, people thought this would be quite a prime-time matchup to watch, but now it may not be good enough. The Packers can rebound from their OT loss to Indianapolis by sizing up a decent Bears’ defense that still has some trouble at offense with Nick Foles injured.
PREDICTION: Packers win 30-20
Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles (MNF @ 8:15pm): The Eagles being in first place in their division at 3-6-1 is very odd with a wide-open division race. Facing a Seattle team that is very decent is gonna hurt them more as they face back-to-back losses against the Giants and Browns. Playing Russell Wilson will be too much for the Eagles, and even with a chance at an upset in an NFC Wild Card rematch, the Seahawks are too good right now to let Philadelphia stand in their way.
PREDICTION: Seahawks wins 34-17
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Tuesday @ 8pm): After being postponed from Thanksgiving to Sunday to Tuesday, the AFC North rivalry will commence at Heinz Field. The Steelers were able to remain perfect after defeating the Ravens in Baltimore, taking advantage of the weaknesses that’s starting to pile up for them. Without Lamar Jackson leading the offense due to COVID-19, this huge hole for Baltimore may give Big Ben what he needs to be right on the cusp of a playoff berth.
PREDICTION: Steelers win 30-27