After a relatively mundane first portion of the 2022 NFL season, a key milestone is upon us. Football is a Thanksgiving staple and within the season, marks the 2/3 point where those around the playoff line begin to set themselves apart and imposters become evident.
In a season where teams have struggled to emerge and MVP candidates are not widespread, we look to events like the Thanksgiving triple-header for excitement.
While it is not the most exciting slate on paper, Thursday could be a very interesting day of football.
Bills @ Lions 11:30 AM CT CBS
With another Thanksgiving comes the fun of watching the Detroit Lions. The Lions are playing in their 83rd Thanksgiving game, the most in NFL history.
Thursday kicks off with the Bills traveling to Detroit for the second straight week after they were forced to play the Browns in Detroit due to blizzard conditions in Buffalo in Week 11.
Despite a 4-6 record, the Lions season has not been nearly as poor as their record suggests. Their losses against the Eagles, Vikings, and Dolphins came by a combined 10 points and they are coming off 3 straight wins including 2 over divisional opponents.
Detriot's offense is capable of a very good performance which gives me optimism about this matchup. Despite trading TJ Hockenson to the Vikings ahead of the trade deadlines, the Lions have weapons like Amon Ra St-Brown, D'Andre Swift, and freshly activated off IR, 2022 12th overall pick, Jameson Williams. Williams' NFL debut is certainly one to watch given his incredible explosiveness in college.
Detroit's 2022 #2 overall pick, Aidan Hutchinson, has been among the few bright spots on defense. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 11 after becoming the first player in over 30 years with at least 5 sacks and 2 interceptions in his first 10 career games.
The league's second place team in points per game, the Bills 7-3 record is a bit of a surprise. While still good, the losses came from struggling to put away games late in the second half. Their offense is electric as the Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs duo has been the best in the league this season and Buffalo has developed a pretty good run game as well.
Pick: Bills 31-21
3 Pick Parlay (+160):
Stefon Diggs anytime touchdown scorer (-175)
Josh Allen over 249.5 passing yards (-240)
Buffalo Bills +0.5 (-425)
Giants @ Cowboys: 3:30 pm Fox
The Cowboys have played in all but 2 Thanksgiving games since 1966 after the team followed the Lions in asking for a Thanksgiving game to boost the team's national recognition.
The Giants have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 seasons and have greatly outperformed the majority of preseason expectations. New Head Coach Brian Daboll has completely changed the culture in New York has prioritized sound defense and a good run game.
Giants' QB Daniel Jones has made big strides under Daboll and has done a far better job of taking care of the ball. Also integral to the offenses' major improvements, RB Saquon Barkley is not only back, but looks as explosive as he has in his 5 year NFL career.
The Cowboys and Giants combine for an impressive 14-6 record in the strong NFC East. A laughing stock in recent seasons, every team in the NFC East now has a winning record and is in a playoff position.
I remain steadfast that the Cowboys are capable of winning the NFC in 2022. They have one of the most exciting defenses in the league spearheaded by DPOTY candidate Micah Parsons and are coming off an electric 40-3 win over the 8-2 Vikings.
Offensively, Dak Prescott has looked better as the season has progressed, his chemistry with CeeDee Lamb is building, and the duo of Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliot make for a dangerous rushing attack.
Pick: Cowboys 29-10
2 Pick Parlay (+135)
Dak Prescott Over 10 Rushing Yards (-155)
CeeDee Lamb Over 59.5 Receiving Yards (-155)
Patriots @ Vikings 7:20 pm NBC
The Patriots are battling in an extremely tight AFC East and are dragged down by inconsistency on offense.
2nd year QB Mac Jones has had some growing pains in New England, highlighted by his 4-7 TD to INT ratio. In typical Patriots fashion, though, they are more than capable of competing with Minnesota. With a great ground game lead by Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris, they can dominate time of possession and manage the game.
Defensively, the Patriots have been outstanding. Led by LB Matthew Judon who leads the league with 13 sacks, New England has surrendered the second fewest points per game in the league.
Well rounded on both sides of the ball, the Vikings are dominating the NFC North. Minnesota's offense is driven by QB Kirk Cousins and his connection with WR Justin Jefferson. Undoubtedly, there will be talks about Cousins' inability to perform in prime time but a home game may help him put those rumors to bed.
Pick: Vikings 25-24
4 Pick Parlay (+125)
Rhamondre Stevenson 3+ Receptions (-475)
Kirk Cousins Over 199.5 Passing yards (-380)
Adam Thielen over 29.5 Receiving Yards (-265)
Hunter Henry over 4.5 Receiving Yards (-750)