NFL fans have a lot to be thankful for in Week 12 as Thanksgiving week sees a feast of football.
All 32 teams are in action and the frenzy started with three games on Thanksgiving Thursday.
A tense encounter between the Lions and the Vikings was the starter. The Lions, trailblazers of the now traditional Thanksgiving game, hosted a Vikings team who broke a four-game losing streak by beating the Cardinals in Week 11. Detroit completed the season sweep over the Vikings thanks to Matt Prater’s game-winning field-goal and sit atop of the NFC North with a 7-4 record.
The main course saw the Cowboys welcome Washington to Texas for the eighth Thanksgiving meeting between the teams since 1968. Despite the outstanding play of Washington QB Kirk Cousins, Dallas won 31-26 and extended their Thanksgiving record over Washington to 7-1. The NFC-leading Cowboys led from wire to wire and have won 10 games in a row for the first time in their 57 year history.
For desert, the inconsistent Steelers beat the Colts 28-7 to move atop of the AFC North with a 6-5 record. The Colts struggled offensively in the absence of starting QB Andrew Luck and were blown away by the Steelers offensive firepower with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for three touchdowns.
The BIG Three
(4-5-1) Cardinals @ (6-4) Falcons
Having not played in two weeks, will the Falcons be fresh or sluggish as they return to action in another Battle of Birds? QB Matt Ryan has thrown for 3,247 passing yards and 24 touchdowns and his efforts will be aided by the timely return of running back Tevin Coleman to an offence that leads the league in scoring with an average of 32 points-per-game.
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was hospitalized after the defeat to the Vikings. With Arians returning to the sideline, he will hope the Cardinals can play as dominantly as they did in 2013 when they beat Falcons 27-13, intercepting Ryan four times. Cornerback Patrick Peterson will be key in keeping Julio Jones, who has 1,105 receiving yards and five touchdowns, as quiet as possible. Kick-off 18.00
(7-2-1) Seahawks @ (5-5) Buccaneers
The Seahawks extended their winning-streak to three after beating the Eagles last week. Russell Wilson caught a touchdown pass for the first time in his career in that game, but the Seahawks can rest assured that he will stick to his day job; the 27-year-old QB has been flawless in his past three games, having not thrown an interception since October 30.
The Bucs produced a huge upset as they beat the Chiefs 19-17 last week. QB Jameis Winston delivered a rousing post-game speech and his team will need similar inspiration to overcome Seattle. Winston has thrown 10 interceptions this season and encounters a defense that has intercepted nine passes and is conceding just 17.3 points-per-game, the fewest in the league. K.O 21.05
(7-3) Chiefs @ (7-3) Broncos
The Broncos have not been in action in a fortnight, their last game the thrilling 25-23 win over the Saints. This game sees the return to fitness of cornerback Aqib Talib who bolsters the teams greatest strength – the pass defense which is conceding just 194 yards-per-game.
Last week’s loss broke the Chiefs five-game winning streak which began on October 16. Their past three games have been close contests with Kansas City winning by five, winning by three and losing by two. QB Alex Smith has been poor in those games, throwing for only two touchdowns in that span. K.O 01.30 Mon, 28 Nov
Things to look out for in Week 12
The streak, the superstar and the skid:
(7-3) Giants @ (0-11) Browns
Will the Browns win? It looks unlikely as they welcome a Giants team who have won five in a row. Expect New York to move to 8-3 by Sunday night as the Browns search for a win extends to a thirteenth week. K.O 18.00
(3-6-1) Bengals @ (5-5) Ravens
Can the Bengals win without A.J. Green? The superstar receiver is joined by running back Giovani Bernard on the injured list. The loss of two important playmakers could mean Bengals QB Andy Dalton has too much to do to overcome a strong Ravens defense. K.O 18.00
(4-6) Packers @ (5-5) Eagles
Can the Packers catch a break? Usually amongst the league leaders this time of year, the Packers find themselves behind the Lions and Vikings in the NFC North. With Aaron Rodgers throwing for three touchdown’s last week, will the Packers break their four-game losing streak? Don’t be so certain – the Eagles are unbeaten at home and the Packers have won only one of their five away games. K.O 01.30 Tue, 29 Nov
Thursday 24 November
(6-5) Vikings 13 – 16 (7-4) Lions
(6-4-1) Washington 26 – 31 (10-1) Cowboys
(6-5) Steelers 28 – 7 (5-6) Colts
Sunday 27 November
(4-6) Rams @ (4-6) Saints
(5-6) Titans @ (2-8) Bears
(4-6) Chargers @ (6-4) Texans
(2-8) Jaguars @ (5-5) Bills
(1-9) 49ers @ (6-4) Dolphins
(8-2) Patriots @ (3-7) Jets
(4-6) Panthers @ (8-2) Raiders