Thursday marks one of my favorite holidays of the year — Thanksgiving. Why? Well, it’s the unbeatable combination of a Thanksgiving feast and football, of course. I literally cannot wait to throw down a delicious meal — at which point I will always overeat and then hate myself for doing so, yet I continue to do this each and every holiday like the lunatic that I am — and watch the games.
Originally just two NFL games on Thanksgiving Day, the league expanded that to three contests a handful of years ago.
Some years are better than others as far as matchups, especially with Detroit and Dallas traditionally playing each year. But this year, I think on paper at least, appears to be a better than average slate of turkey day games.
We’ll start with the 12:30 p.m. game on CBS that has Buffalo facing off against Detroit. The Bills already just played in Detroit on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns since “Snowpocalypse 2022” blasted Orchard Park, NY and dumped 80 (I repeat, EIGHTY) inches of lake-effect snow over the course of a few days, with 66 inches of that being in a 24-hour span. So while that snow game could’ve been one of the craziest scenes in football history, I completely get why the game was moved since it was the safest thing to do.
After dropping two straight in what folks were calling a Josh Allen “slump,” the Bills took down Cleveland, 31-23 on Sunday. Meanwhile Detroit, historically awful and out of the running by this time of the year, has reeled off three straight wins and now sit at a respectable 4-6 as they dominated a 6-2 New York Giants team, 31-18.
With Detroit playing well and Buffalo struggling a bit more than they had early in the year, I think this one has the potential to be a great contest. But I do think the Bills will overpower the Lions, so I’ll say Bills 34, Lions 24.
Speaking of the Giants, they’ll have to try and rebound in the second game against the Dallas Cowboys — it’s set for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff on FOX. As the saying goes, “How ‘bout them Cowboys?!” Dallas went into Minnesota on Sunday and absolutely decimated an 8-1 Vikings team by a 40-3 final. Typically you don’t see NFL games that could’ve had our local high school football mercy rule clock implemented — especially against the team tied with the best record in the league — but that’s what happened on Sunday.
Tony Pollard ran wild on the Vikings with 80 yards and “added” 109 receiving yards and two scores on six receptions while Dak Prescott was 22-of-25 for 276 yards and two scores. Penn State alum Micah Parsons continues to be a monster on defense as the Cowboys more than avenged its loss to Green Bay the week prior.
I won’t be surprised if Dallas does this again to the G-Men, especially with rookie wideout Wan’Dale Robinson done for the year with a torn ACL after notching his first 100-yard effort of his career Sunday. That leaves New York with a wide receiver core of Darius Slayton, Kenny Golladay and Ritchie James. This also does not bode well for Saquon Barkley and the run game since its opponents will more than likely load up the box on them now and try to shut him down like Detroit did. With that said, Dallas 31, New York 13.
The nightcap at 8:30 p.m. on NBC (yes, everyone, this one isn’t on Amazon Prime and you can watch it on actual cable TV) features New England against Minnesota.
We’ve already said how bad Minnesota was, scoring just three points against Dallas last week. But the Patriots also technically scored just three points offensively, except they escaped with a 10-3 win over the New York Jets via an 84-yard punt return TD by Marcus Jones with five seconds left.
The whole “1 p.m. Kirk Cousins” thing was in full effect as for that 4 p.m. kickoff with Dallas, he was 12-of-23 for 105 yards with no scores, no interceptions and a lost fumble. That’s two whole fantasy points in standard leagues. Yikes.
New England benefitted by playing good defense, although it’s my opinion that Zach Wilson is not “the guy” for the Jets at QB. He officially clinched that for me when asked in his post game press conference if he felt he let his defense down.
“No,” Wilson said.
Wilson was 9-of-22 for 77 yards as the Jets had two, count ‘em, TWO, total yards of offense in seven possessions in the second half. But yeah sure, you didn’t let them down at all.
I think with the offensive struggles with both New England and Minnesota on Sunday, things probably won’t change overnight for Thursday. I do, however, think Minnesota is the better team and that’ll be a wake-up call for them, so I’ll go Minnesota 20, New England 17.
I was below .500 last week with a 4-6 record. That’ll drop my overall to 52-48 as we cling on to a winning record ...
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars. Lawrence’s sophomore campaign is turning out to be a rebound year with 13 TDs and just six INTs thus far. It’s a good matchup against the Baltimore Ravens this week as he’s likely going to be one of the top streaming matchups in fantasy for those with bye week QBs.
George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers. The Georgia rookie has statistically surpassed Diontae Johnson as the team’s top wideout. I feel that’s also in part because Johnson draws the better coverage, but still, Pickens is producing. Look for that to continue on Monday night against the Colts.
Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans. Another rookie WR makes this list as the 18th overall pick this year had 111 yards on seven receptions Sunday against Green Bay. Burks and the Titans will take on a Bengals team that just allowed fellow rookie Pickens to rack up 83 yards and a TD.
Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, Miami Dolphins. Wilson and Raheem Mostert are essentially in a timeshare as head coach Mike McDaniel had the duo in San Francisco when he was the offensive coordinator there. Miami had a bye last week but Wilson racked up 119 yards and a TD on 17 carries two weeks ago. And with the Dolphins playing a one-win Texans team this Sunday, you know they’ll be focused on the run game again.
Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans Saints. While Taysom Hill was the trendy Saints “tight end” play, it’s the former Nittany Lion and Oregon Beaver that switched from WR to TE that’s been the better producer. He’s scored five TDs in the past five games, which if your name isn’t Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews, that’s great TE production in the fantasy world.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings. Ol’ Kirk is not playing a 1 p.m. game and has a 10-18 record in primetime games. Nope, not playing him this week.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evans has just two 100-yard efforts this season. I think that number stays at two against Cleveland, especially after they established rookie Rachaad White in the running game prior to its bye week.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts. Like Evans, Pittman also has just two 100-yard efforts in 10 games this year. It’s a decent matchup against the Steelers on Monday night, but dare I say that I think the Pittsburgh secondary is getting better.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys. I don’t know why, but Dallas seems to think Elliott is still the featured back. He should be playing second fiddle to Pollard, which is what I think will finally happen against the Giants Thursday.
TJ Hockenson, TE, Minnesota Vikings. Hockenson isn’t necessarily a bad play this week. I just think with Cousins potentially struggling that it’ll also de-value TJ. That being said, I’m sure I’ll reverse jinx him and he’ll score three TDs.
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Tyler Kolesar is a sports writer at the Courier Express and Tri-County Weekend newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.