NFL Week 12 Preview: Thanksgiving football kicks off busy weekend

Redskins
"Adrian Peterson" by Keith Allison https://flickr.com/photos/keithallison/45222112314 is licensed under CC BY-SA

The NFL season is now heading into its 12th week, which is significant as it is the last time this year where there will be teams on a bye week – with every team in action during the last five weeks of the regular season.

After playing out a thriller on MNF, the Kansas City Chiefs and LA Rams will enjoy a well-earned break over the Thanksgiving festivities – which hands the Saints a chance to become the second team this season to boast a 10-1 record.

Over the course of a busy few days, three games will be played on Thanksgiving, with two perfectly slotted for UK viewers and one in the early hours of Friday morning. We’ve previewed all of the games below!

Chicago Bears (7-3) @ Detroit Lions (4-6) (Thursday, 17:30 GMT)

Entering the game as the third seed as it stands in the NFC, the Chicago Bears will be well aware that a win for the Lions, who have 37 victories on Thanksgiving (more than any other side in NFL history), could lead to the race for the playoffs being blown wide open.

A Bears loss, accompanied by wins for the Panthers and the Redskins, would put see all three teams have a 7-4 record, while also bolstering the Lions’ hopes of a spot in the wildcard round. Chicago may be without Mitch Trubisky but should be in safe hands with Chase Daniel – who has not started a game since 2014 but only has one career interception to his name.

Washington Redskins (6-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-5) (Thursday, 21:30 GMT)

The pick of the bunch this week sees the Washington Redskins travel to tackle the Dallas Cowboys in a clash that could be decisive in the NFC East. A win for the Redskins would put them in control, while a Cowboys victory would leave both teams with a 6-5 record.

With back-to-back wins, the resurgent Cowboys will be looking to utilise their home field advantage against a Redskins side who lost quarterback Alex Smith to a broken leg last week. Colt McCoy will be the one to watch, while the Cowboys will look towards Ezekiel Elliott for inspiration.

Atlanta Falcons (4-6) @ New Orleans Saints (9-1) (Friday, 01:20 GMT)

In the 100th clash between the two teams, the Saints are fighting to join the LA Rams on a 10-1 record for the season. Nine consecutive victories has left New Orleans amongst the favourites in the NFC and they should be able to extend their run against the Falcons.

However, the Falcons still have a chance of securing a spot in the postseason but a defeat here would leave them with plenty of ground to make up. The Falcons have won three of the last five games against the Saints, while each of the last seven has been decided by a margin of 10 points or less.

Oakland Raiders (2-8) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-5) (Sunday, 18:00 GMT)

Ranked amongst three teams who sit rock-bottom of the entire NFL, it has been a season to forget for the Raiders and a trip to Baltimore is likely to lead to further misery upon Jon Gruden’s side – with the latest fiasco being the fiery clash between the head coach and Derek Carr.

However, the Ravens are certainly not the perfect team as last week’s victory over the Bengals ended a three-game losing streak. Still, their record against Oakland is extremely strong – winning eight of 11 meetings, although they have lost two of the last three clashes.

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) @ Buffalo Bills (3-7) (Sunday, 18:00 GMT)

Well rested from a bye week, the Buffalo Bills will be hoping to build a run of form after sweeping aside the Jets last time out. However, the hosts still enter the game as underdogs despite the fact the Jaguars have now lost six in a row.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone led the Bills to their first winning season in a decade back in 2014 but left under a dark cloud at the end of the year. Having led the Jaguars to the playoffs last season, beating the Bills in the wildcard round, he returns to Buffalo fighting to keep his job.

Seattle Seahawks (5-5) @ Carolina Panthers (6-4) (Sunday, 18:00 GMT)

A clash that could have a huge say in who makes the playoffs in the NFC, the Seahawks travel to Carolina having won three of their last five. Currently ranked just outside the playoff picture, victory over the Panthers would leave things delicately poised heading into the final weeks of the season.

However, the hosts enter the game as slight favourites despite losing their last two and the fact that the Seahawks have won five of seven matchups in the Cam Newton era. More recent history favours the Panthers though, who have won two of the last three – including a convincing playoff victory at home in January 2016.

Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) (Sunday, 18:00 GMT)

The Battle of Ohio is set to go one of two ways for the Browns, who will either win their first game on the road since 2015 or see Cleveland suffer their 26th consecutive defeat on the road – which would equal the record set by the Lions in 2007 to 2010.

While the Bengals have not been overly impressive this season, they do still have a chance of making the playoffs. Either way, it should certainly be a high-scoring affair as the two teams are ranked 31st and 32nd in the NFL for overall yardage given up.

New England Patriots (7-3) @ New York Jets (3-7) (Sunday, 18:00 GMT)

Three things are guaranteed in life; death, taxes and the Patriots in the playoffs. Once again, New England are in the driving seat in the AFC East despite going under the radar for the majority of the campaign. Another thing that is also pretty certain is the Patriots defeating the Jets.

Since 2010, the Jets have defeated the Patriots just four times in 17 meetings and they have not beaten New England in regular time since 2010 – with their two victories since then coming in overtime. On the back of a four-game losing streak, it would take a brave man to back the Jets.

New York Giants (3-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) (Sunday, 18:00 GMT)

At the start of November, the Giants looked hapless with a record of seven defeats and just one win. Since then though, things have improved and they travel to Philadelphia on the back of victories over the 49ers and the Buccaneers – pushing themselves away from the foot of the NFL and the scrap for first pick in the 2019 draft.

Meanwhile, their NFC East rivals continue to endure a poor year. The defending champions have won just of their last six, one of which was against the Giants, and were swept aside with ease by an in-form Saints outfit last week.

San Francisco 49ers (2-8) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) (Sunday, 18:00 GMT)

Two teams enduring a campaign to forget clash in Tampa Bay this weekend, where the 49ers enter the tie ranked as the side who will have first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft as it stands. In fact, San Francisco’s problems are so deep fans may wonder if it is worth finishing rock-bottom to stand in a solid position for next season.

The Buccaneers though are certainly a side the 49ers can beat and the fact that the starting quarterbacks have thrown two or more interceptions for the last six games in a row could lead to a very good game for the 49ers defence.

Arizona Cardinals (2-8) @ Los Angeles Chargers (7-3) (Sunday, 21:05 GMT)

Suffering two defeats in a row, the Cardinals are one of three sides rooted bottom to the NFL’s overall rankings and stand as the side most likely to lose this weekend as they come up against a Chargers side that are, well, charging to the playoffs.

A narrow defeat against the Broncos last time out hurt the Chargers’ hopes of sealing a slot in the divisional round of the playoffs but they will be optimistic of returning to winning ways against an Arizona side who have only managed to defeat the 49ers this season.

Miami Dolphins (5-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (5-5) (Sunday, 21:25 GMT)

The hunt for a playoff spot in the AFC is not as tight as the NFC at the moment but that could change in the coming weeks. On Sunday, the clash between the Dolphins and the Colts, ranked as eighth and ninth seeds as it stands, could be decisive.

With four wins on the bounce, the Colts enter the game in a strong vein of form, while the Dolphins have suffered a significant decline over the course of the past six weeks – losing four of their last six, with one of those victories coming against the hapless Jets.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) @ Denver Broncos (4-6) (Sunday, 21:25 GMT)

A six-game winning streak for the Steelers is the third best in the NFL at the time of writing, which has helped to establish Pittsburgh in the driving seat in the hunt for a playoff spot. However, the Broncos possess the ability to cause an upset.

After edging past the Chargers last week, Denver will have increased confidence and the fact that the Steelers have not won on the road this season by more than one score leaves things wide open. On top of that, Pittsburgh have lost four of their last five in Denver – including each of the past three.

Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1) (Monday, 01:20 GMT)

Another clash that could have a huge say in the outcome of the playoff hunt in the NFC, Green Bay will be hoping for a victory that would put them on an equal record with their NFC North rivals and the fact that both teams lost last time out adds a further incentive to the clash.

The Packers enter the clash as underdogs and recent history is against them as they have won just once in the five meetings since 2016 – and you have to go back to November 2015 for the last time the Packers won in Minneapolis.

Tennessee Titans (5-5) @ Houston Texans (7-3) (Tuesday, 01:15 GMT)

After losing their opening three games of the season, including a loss against the Giants, the Houston Texans have been unstoppable and their seven-game winning streak is the second-best in the NFL currently, behind only the Saints.

However, the Texans’ last two wins have both been by only two points and the Titans, who have already overcome Houston once this season and beat the Patriots earlier this month, will be hopeful of a win that could be decisive in the playoff hunt.

About Josh Challies 24 Articles
Yorkshire-based Seattle Seahawks follower. Iconic Atlanta United manager on FM18. Only here so I don't get fined.