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2023 NFL Thanksgiving Preview

First beginning in 1934 as a marketing effort, there is not much better than football on Thanksgiving.

The event, which has consistently featured the Lions and Cowboys, has become a U.S. staple as shown by the staggering 138 million people that tuned in across the 3 games last season.

The Lions, who founded the tradition and have appeared on every Thanksgiving since, feature in the day's first matchup:

Packers (4-6) @ Lions (8-2) 12:30pm ET, Fox

The Packers and Lions have been moving in opposite directions since they met in Week 4.

After the departure of Aaron Rodgers over the offseason, the Packers finally handed the reigns to 3rd year QB and first round pick, Jordan Love. After a hot start, Love has looked more like a QB who had thrown for 600 career yards going into this season. He has an impressive arm but the at times, some suspect decision making as well.

Coming off of back to back 2 TD games, though, Love could certainly find success against this inconsistent Lions defense.

Now at 8-2, the Lions are playing in their record 85th straight Thanksgiving game.

The offense is coming off 41 and 31 point wins in which they were able to spread the ball around and utilize their various playmakers. Central to their success has been the resurgence of Jared Goff. While last season showed glimpses, 2023-24 has been a year of results for Goff and the Lions offense. Beginning with their Week 1 win over the Chiefs, it is evident that these are not the same old Lions.

The Packers had an unfortunate injury to RB Aaron Jones last week, suggesting that it'll likely be AJ Dillion's backfield this week. LB De'Vondre Campbell also did not practice on Tuesday which would be a big loss. For Detroit, on-and-off starting G, Jonah Jackson, did not participate on Monday or Tuesday but otherwise, they are largely healthy.

The Lions are a volatile yet exciting while the the Packers are more stagnant. This matchup may be closer then it appears on paper, though. With an underrated secondary and Love trending upward, the Packers could certainly keep the game close.

Pick: Lions 27-21 Packers

Commanders (4-7) @ Cowboys (7-3) 4:30pm ET, CBS

In a short span, the NFC East has evolved from one of the worst divisions in football to one of the best. With the Cowboys in incredible league and the Commanders doing some exciting things on offense, this could be a high scoring game if Sam Howell is able to keep up.

Despite the season ending injury to CB Trevon Diggs, the Cowboys are one of the best two-sided teams in the league. Offensively, WR CeeDee Lamb has already surpassed 1,000 yards receiving before Thanksgiving and Dak Prescott is undoubtedly in MVP conversations. Despite an inconsistent run game, Dallas is putting up an alarming 30.2 points per game.

Defensively, Dallas is allowing just 266 yards per game, the 2nd lowest total in the league. They've also forced 6 turnovers with 4 being pick sixes from CB DaRon Bland. The 2nd year CB tied an NFL record last week with his 4th pick six of the season and could grab another given Howell's volatility.

The Commanders sit at 4-7 in large part due to their horrendously inconsistent defense. After trading Montez Sweat and Chase Young ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, they indicated that their priority was not on this season.

Still, QB Sam Howell has done some exciting things. With an impressive throwing motion and accuracy, Howell has been able to make games exciting in unexpected moments. He leads the league in passing yards with 3,038 yards and has connected on 22 passing plays of 25+ yards. Howell gets the ball out quickly, averaging just 2.3 seconds from snap to pass but has still been sacked a league-high 51 times.

Three games, including an OT loss to the Eagles, have come within just one possession for Washington. Despite a lack of help, Howell and the offense have made games unexpectedly close, making Thursday's game rather intriguing.

Pick: Cowboys 32-24 Commanders

49ers (7-3) @ Seahawks (6-4) 8:20pm ET, NBC

The 49ers-Seahawks NFC West title race is among the most exciting story lines of the 2023 regular season.

After a hiccup, Brock Purdy and the 49ers offense is back firing. San Francisco's offense has put up 30 points in 6 of 10 games this season and has playmakers across the field.

They did lose standout safety Talanoa Hufanga to a season ending ACL injury this past week. Still, the defense is among the best in the league, allowing just 15.7 points per game.

For Seattle, injuries are a major headline heading into this game. RB Kenneth Walker is not expected to play after suffering an oblique injury last week. A tricep injury kept QB Geno Smith out of parts of last week's loss but Smith will reportedly play. This is a huge boost for Seattle and makes the game far more exciting.

Seattle's offense has not been quite as impressive as expected. They have put up a mediocre 21.7 points per game but have stayed competitive in large part due to their defense. Led by their elite secondary of Tariq Woolen, Quandre Diggs, Devon Witherspoon, and Jamal Adams, the defense has also not quite lived up to my expectations but has come up in big moments.

They will need to come up with quite a few big moments against the league's most well rounded team. The 49ers have a 1 game lead and given Seattle's challgening remaining schedule, it is a huge game for them.

Pick: 49ers 27-20 Seahawks

These 3 games have the potential to make for a very exciting day of football. Regardless, it should be a fun day of eating and wishing your fantasy team was better than it really is.

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