11/25/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Turkey. Pumpkin pie. Family. And football. It's a Thanksgiving tradition, and this year the NFL serves up a 3 course meal with 6 NFC teams in action. Three are trying to salvage their seasons, one is trying to stay undefeated, and 2 more meet in a key NFC North matchup. So here's a look at this year's NFL Thanksgiving Day games.
Philadelphia at Detroit 12:30pm
Two teams trending in different directions meet in this Thanksgiving kickoff. The Lions come in having won their past two games, after having dropped 7 of their first 8. The Eagles have lost 3 of their past 4 games, and if there was a most disappointing team category through the first 12 weeks of the season, the 4 and 6 Eagles would be it after high pre season expectations. But even though they're below .500, Philadelphia is just 1 game out of first place in the NFC East. The Eagles are hoping Sam Bradford will be cleared to play, as the Eagles have dropped back to back games in his absence. They also are hoping their run defense will show up. Tampa Bay gouged the Eagles for 283 yards on the ground in last week's loss, and Philadelphia has allowed an opposing running back to rush for over 100 yards in 3 of their past 4 games. The Lions may be the remedy they need, as Detroit is averaging an NFL worst 71.1 yards per game rushing. Detroit is has won 35 times, lost 38, and tied twice on turkey day. Philadelphia is a perfect 6 and 0 all time on Thanksgiving. The Eagles have also won 7 of the past 8 meetings between these teams.
Carolina at Dallas 4:30pm
At 10 and 0, Carolina is one of the last two undefeated teams left in the NFL. With Tony Romo under center, the Cowboys are undefeated as well. Dallas is 3 and 0 in games Romo has started, but went 0 and 7 when he was out of the lineup. Despite their record, the Cowboys are still just 2 games out of first place in the NFC East. Romo and the Cowboys will have a stiff challenge in front of them against the Panthers defense, which is one of the best in the NFL. Carolina leads the league in takeaways, is 3rd in sacks, and ranks in the top 5 in scoring and total defense as well. Defensive end Charles Johnson is also expected to make his season debut for the Panthers after being activated from short term IR. The Cowboys defense will be the next to try to stop Cam Newton, who is having an MVP worthy season so far in 2015. Newton has thrown for 2,283 yards and 20 TD's this season while rushing for 6 more. This game also marks the first meeting between controversial defensive lineman Greg Hardy and his former team in Carolina. The Cowboys have won the past 9 meetings between these teams, including 4 in a row in Dallas.
Chicago at Green Bay 8:30pm
After a big division win over Minnesota last weekend, the Packers tied the Vikings for first place in the NFC North. At 4 and 6 and after a disappointing home loss to Denver, the Bears are fighting to stay in the playoff hunt. The good news for the Bears is starting RB Matt Forte and starting WR Alshon Jeffery are expected to play after both missed last week's loss.. Rookie Jeremy Langford has stepped up in Forte's absence, rushing for 170 yards and scoring 5 TD's over the past 3 games. Eddie Lacy returned for the Packers in the win over the Vikings, rushing for 100 yards for the first time this season. He'll face a Chicago defense that's worst in the NFL, allowing 123.7 yards per game on average. The Bears will also have to slow down Aaron Rodgers, who's passed for 2,482 yards and 23 touchdowns with just 3 interceptions, which is tied for lowest in the NFL. This is the 2nd meeting of the season between these teams, with Green Bay winning the first game back in Week 1 by the score of 31 to 23. Rodgers threw 3 TD passes in the win, while Forte rushed for 141 yards in a losing effort. Green Bay will retire Brett Favre's jersey and induct him into their Hall of Fame at halftime of the game.
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