Welcome to a special edition of my NFL picks. I will only be doing the Thanksgiving Day games today but I will also be going a little more in depth with them. I’m going to do my best to watch every second of all three, but I will likely be in a food coma by the Chargers-Cowboys game. So with that, let’s get picking.
Minnesota Vikings (8-2) vs Detroit Lions (6-4)
Quarterbacks: Case Keenum vs Matthew Stafford
Injury Report: Nobody of major concern is officially inactive, however defensive ends Brian Robison of the Vikings and Ziggy Ansah of the Lions are questionable. Robison will probably play, he was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. Ansah will also likely play, but he was limited all week.
The Vikings haven’t lost since October 1st…against the Lions. Detroit won that defensive slugfest 14-7 and Case Keenum struggled, completing 16 of 30 passes for 219 yards and no touchdowns. Matthew Stafford wasn’t much better, however. He completed just 19 of 31 for 209 yards and no touchdowns. Both teams had relatively effective ground games, however, as Lions runningback Ameer Abdullah got 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Dalvin Cook for the Vikings got 66 yards on 13 carries, however he tore his ACL and is out for the season. The duo of LaTavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have picked up the slack nicely since then, however. Both teams are totally different since this game. Case Keenum is playing the best football of his career right now and that has helped Adam Thielen have big-time success as well. The Lions have gotten contributions from all over the place at receiver. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones have been excellent this season and they’ve also gotten contributions from Theo Riddick out of the backfield, TJ Jones, and rookie Kenny Golladay, who is finally healthy again. Last week the Vikings convincingly beat up on an extremely talented Rams team while the Lions won after Chicago badly missed a last second field goal. The Lions just claimed Dwight Freeney off waivers from the Seahawks. I can’t imagine him having too much of an impact in this one, if any at all given the fact that he won’t even have 24 hours to learn the playbook. The Lions won this Thanksgiving matchup last year, but I’m going to give the edge to the Vikings this year. They’re too hot right now and they look like one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
Projected Score: Vikings 27 Lions 24
Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) vs Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
Quarterbacks: Philip Rivers vs Dak Prescott
Injury Report: Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee is the only player already considered to be out as of this writing, however Dallas is still without suspended runningback Ezekiel Elliott. Tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are both questionable and were limited participants in practice, as is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Nobody major seems to be in danger of missing this game for the Chargers.
Boy have the Cowboys been a mess since Zeke’s suspension was finally enforced. They’ve scored a grand total of 16 points in the two games without their star back. But I’m going to go on a limb and say that the Cowboys miss Tyron Smith more. He’s questionable for this game and his availability will be a huge deciding factor if the Cowboys have any chance at winning. They missed his absence horribly against the Falcons, as evidenced by Adrian Clayborn’s six sacks. The Eagles also had some success against the Cowboys’ offensive line. Rookie Derek Barnett had two sacks and Brandon Graham and Timmy Jernigan also got past the otherwise all-world offensive line. Dallas has some health issues and it could come back to bite them, especially against a Chargers team that has to feel on top of the world right now. The Chargers were the team that victimized Bills rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman for 5(!) first half interceptions as they blew out Buffalo 54-24. If Tyron Smith can’t go, the Chargers will have a field day with this offensive line and Dak Prescott will be running for his life. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are both in the top 7 in the NFL in sacks and it wouldn’t surprise me if defensive coordinator Gus Bradley blitzed on most downs to take advantage of this weakened line. I’m going to give the edge to the Chargers here. The Cowboys just have too many issues working against them right now and even if Tyron Smith is able to go, I can’t imagine him being nearly as effective as he usually is.
Projected Score: Chargers 28 Cowboys 20
New York Giants (2-8) vs Washington Redskins (4-6)
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning vs Kirk Cousins
Injury Report: Giants Offensive linemen DJ Fluker and Justin Pugh are out as well as linebacker BJ Goodson. Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Sterling Shepard are all questionable, however they were able to play in their victory against the Chiefs on Sunday. The Redskins placed swiss army knife Chris Thompson on IR with a broken fibula. That’s going to hurt not only the Redskins, but my fantasy team. Terrelle Pryor was also placed on IR, however he hadn’t been contributing like the Redskins hoped when they signed him away from the Browns. Tight end Jordan Reed is also out, but that’s been an issue for the Redskins all season and isn’t anything new. Vernon Davis has been stepping up in his absence. Offensive linemen Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff are listed as questionable, so that could be a potential issue for the Redskins
Welp, I’m going to eat shit for this segment of last week’s picks:
As many of you probably know, the Giants ended up beating the Chiefs 12-9 in overtime. So if any Giants fans out there want to harass me online, you have every right to do so. Defensively the Giants were really impressive against the Chiefs. The weather did play a factor, as it was cold and very windy all game, which definitely aids the defense. When the Giants are playing hard, their defense is as tough as any in football. It also helps when Janoris Jenkins is actually trying, which he was last week. If he puts forth the effort he did against the Chiefs, then Redskins receivers will have a hard time getting open. Josh Doctson has been very inconsistent for the Redskins but when he’s on, he makes some fantastic catches. Jamison Crowder is the top option for the Redskins, who are suddenly very depleted on offense. Defensively they’re actually one of the healthier teams in the league. They did lose rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen for the season and he had been playing very well in a rotational role, but the rest of the line has really stepped up in his absence. I’m actually going to give the edge to the Giants this week. Like the Cowboys, the Redskins are dealing with a bunch of injuries to key players right now and the Giants are coming off a big momentum swing. Plus, I feel like I owe it to Giants fans after that disaster from Sunday.
Projected Score: Giants 19 Redskins 14
Those are my picks for Thanksgiving. There won’t be a blog on Friday, as I will be spending the day with family and won’t have time for it. Fear not, my weekend picks will be posted as scheduled. Have a happy Thanksgiving everybody!