If your team plays in the NFC North or NFC East, Thanksgiving is going to be an especially important day as the games feature three teams in the NFC North (Lions, Packers, and Bears) and two teams in the NFC East (Eagles and Dallas). Of course, if you’re an fan of the Panthers and/or the NFC South (or football in general), you’re going to want to watch the games, too, because the Panthers are going to take their undefeated team to Dallas. Let’s take a look at the Thanksgiving games.
Philadelphia (4-6) vs. Detroit (3-7)
The Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions start the day off in a matchup that is important for both teams. The Eagles are coming off a 45-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and they need a win to show they are a better team than the one that lost by 28 points to the Buccaneers. Also, Chip Kelly, who became general manager of the team in the offseason and released many talented players with proven records on the team, has to show that the offseason gambling he did the past two seasons have helped the team. Recent history suggests that he is not winning that argument right now. Is Chip Kelly on his way out of Philadelphia if he does not turn this team around now? A lot of talk about a potential separation has been encircling Philadelphia. The Lions are coming off back-to-back wins against the Packers and Raiders after going 1-7 in their first eight games. The Lions are likely out of the playoff picture, but they could also save the job of their head coach, Jim Caldwell, depending on how they finish the regular season.
Prediction: Eagles 23, Lions 20
Carolina (10-0) vs. Dallas (3-7)
The 10-0 Panthers face off against the 3-7 Dallas Cowboys who now have Tony Romo back and are coming off a 24-14 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Romo wasn’t perfect in his return, going 18-for-28 for 227 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he is certainly an upgrade from Matt Cassel. The Cowboys are still in the divisional race in the NFC East, and they could move closer to winning it if the Eagles do not win against Detroit. The Panthers, however, have won in convincing fashion over the past weeks, outscoring Tennessee and Washington by a combined score of 71-26. The Panthers rank 4th in rushing but 28th in passing yards, but they may have found their No. 1 receiver in rookie Devin Funchess, who has 14 targets, nine catches, 176 yards, and two touchdowns over the Panthers past three games. It will be interesting to see if the Panthers can improve their passing game.
Prediction: Carolina 24, Dallas 27
Chicago (4-6) vs. Green Bay (7-3)
The NFC North division rivals face off in the 8:30 game that could have major playoff implications down the road for the winner. The Packers and Vikings are tied at the top of the division at 7-3, and the Bears, who have won four out of their last seven games after going 0-3 to start the season, are three games away. The Bears need a win desperately if they are going to stay in the NFC North race. They are reportedly getting Matt Forte back after he missed three weeks with a sprained MCL, so it will interesting to see how Forte’s re-entry affects the team. The Bears went 2-1 with backup running back Jeremy Langford, who had 366 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in three games filling in for Forte, and it will be interesting to see how the Bears handle the prolific duo of running backs. The Packers need to build on the momentum earned from stopping a four-game losing streak with a 30-13 win against the Vikings last week. They started the season 6-0 but hit a rough part of the schedule and took a three-game slide. This game will make a statement telling the league if they are back on track. The two teams met in Week 1, and the Packers won, 31-23, so the advantage clearly goes to the Packers.
Prediction: Packers 34, Chicago 20
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