What to watch for on Thanksgiving

On a day where many will be focused on spending time with family and stuffing their faces full of food, it will also be a day filled with football to tide fans over.

Following a weekend full of chaos that saw four division leaders lose, there’s sure to be plenty of drama to follow the rest of the way out and it might start sooner than you’d think.

Bears at Lions

Woof! What a matchup to kick off Thanksgiving Day! The bright spot is that hopefully, most people will be sitting down to eat during this game, and rightfully so. There won’t be much football missed, especially with Bears’ quarterback Justin Fields being held out due to a ribs injury sustained in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens’. Jared Goff’s status for the contest has also been up in the air due to an oblique injury.

So you’re looking at a potential Andy Dalton vs Tim Boyle matchup. This game has no future implications as the two teams are a combined 0-9-1 in their last 10 games.

Potential bright spots for each team reside in their backfields. David Montgomery failed to really get going on the ground against a loaded Ravens’ front seven. He will have an opportunity to “get right” as he takes on a Lions’ defense that’s surrendering the second-most yards per game on the ground in the NFL. They’ve allowed a 100-yard rusher in five games this season, including Montgomery, who took 23 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first matchup.

D’Andre Swift has been one of the lone stars on a Lions’ offense that has lacked any real motivation this season. After losing their franchise quarterback when they traded Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles, there was bound to be a learning curve with former top overall pick Jared Goff at the helm. Swift has turned 190 touches in 975 total yards and six touchdowns, showing his effectiveness running and receiving out of the backfield.

If you don’t have a dog in the fight and like rooting for the underdog, you might as well root for the Lions at Ford Field as they look to obtain the first win of the Dan Campbell era on Thursday.

Raiders at Cowboys

Both teams are coming off disappointing outings in Week 11. The Bengals had their way with the Raiders on Sunday. Joe Mixon had his way on the ground, rushing for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns. Darren Waller was a lone bright spot for the Las Vegas offense, as they still struggled to get the run game going with Jacobs and Drake. The Cowboys went into Arrowhead Sunday leading the league in total yards per game. The Chiefs’ defense continued their strong four-game stretch where they have held their opponents to less than 20 points. Prescott was sacked five times and CeeDee Lamb was knocked out with an injury right before halftime.

That will be a storyline coming into the midday matchup on Thanksgiving. Amari Cooper will likely stay on the reserve/COVID-19 list and be forced to miss the game. Lamb will have to enter concussion protocol and will have to undergo testing before being cleared to play Thursday.

This matchup will be much more entertaining than the first one. The Raiders at one point were 5-2 and leading the AFC West. Fast forward three games and they’re now tied for last place with the Broncos after dropping three straight.

One thing player to keep an eye on in the black and silver will be Darren Waller. Waller started his season off quick, drawing 26 targets through two games. Since then, he’s come back down to earth while still averaging 12 yards per catch. Look for Derek Carr to use Waller as his safety blanket while trying to pick apart a skilled Dallas secondary.

On the other side, the Cowboys will look to use this game to bounce back from last week’s embarrassing loss against Kansas City. Dak Prescott and the entire Dallas offense will look to exploit a Las Vegas defense that has given up 30+ points in back-to-back games.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are two players to keep an eye on in this one. As the Raiders’ defense has surrendered 1,335 yards on the ground so far this season. Look for this matchup to steer them in the right direction as the Cowboys continue to set the pace for the NFC East.

Bills at Saints

Another matchup with two teams looking to prove something after pour outings in Week 11. Jonathan Taylor had his way in Buffalo on Sunday. Propelling his team and fantasy managers everywhere to victory behind his Colts’ franchise-record setting five touchdowns.

Trevor Siemian tried his best to attempt a Drew Brees-style comeback on Sunday. But at the end of the day, Miles Sanders, Jalen Hurts, and Jordan Howard were too much on the ground for them to handle. As they ran all over the New Orleans defense, racking up 242 yards and three touchdowns.

After both teams surrendered huge games on the ground in their Week 11 losses, they will look to put those games behind them through the air on Thanksgiving. As of Tuesday night, both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were held out of practice for the Saints, potentially opening the door for undrafted free agent Tony Jones to receive a bulk of the carries.

Josh Allen will look to bounce back after another tough outing. The 2020 NFL MVP runner-up has had a rough stretch of games recently. In his past three games, he’s thrown five interceptions and been sacked seven times. The Bills as a whole have been struggling against teams that have a record over .500. Their rest of season outlook doesn’t get much brighter, but their matchup with the Saints could be a turning point in their season.

Look for the New Orleans defense to continue to apply pressure to Josh Allen throughout the ball game and force him into making bad decisions. Marshon Lattimore should line up against Stefon Diggs, which will be the matchup to watch in this game.