March 4, 2024

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NFL Thanksgiving games: picks, schedule, injuries, fantasy

NFL Thanksgiving games: picks, schedule, injuries, fantasy

NFL NationespnNovember 23, 2023 at 11:55 AM ET9 min read

Barry Sanders likes what he sees from the Lions

Hall of Famer Barry Sanders talks with Pat McAfee about how this season the Lions are a true contender in the NFC.

the The NFL’s Week 12 schedule for the 2023 season kicks off with three exciting matchups on Thanksgiving, and we’ve got you covered with what you need to know. NFL Nation reporters give us the biggest keys to every game and the bold prediction for every matchup.

Plus, ESPN Stats & Info provides big stats to know and a betting plot for each game, and our Football Power Index (FPI) gets inside the numbers by game projection. Analytics writer Seth Walder picks the biggest X-factor in each game, and fantasy analyst Eric Moody provides insight into fantasy football. Finally, Walder and Moody give us final score picks for all three matches. Everything you need to know is here in one place to help you get ready for Thursday afternoon’s NFL football game.

Jump to the match:
GB-DET | sh-dal | SF-SEA

4:30 PM ET | CBS | Spread: D-11 (48.5)

Story worth watching: The Cowboys have won four of the past five and the Chiefs have lost four of the past five. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has a 9-2 record against Washington with 19 touchdown passes and four interceptions, and he has beaten the Chiefs twice on Thanksgiving (2016, 2018) while throwing three touchdown passes and zero picks. Consider that he’s been leading the NFL in QBR since Week 4 (76.6), and Prescott is ready to keep his hot streak going. But keep in mind that he’s also 3-3 on vacation with nine touchdown throws and five interceptions during his career. — Todd Archer

Bold predictions: Dallas receiver CeeDee Lamb would have three gains of 20-plus yards en route to a 140-yard day and two against Washington. The Leaders’ defense is tied for the most passes allowed in the NFL of 20 or more yards (43), while the Cowboys’ offense ranks fifth in gaining 20+ yards through the air (41 completions). Lamb leads the NFL with 22 such receptions. — John Kim

Statistics to know: Leaders midfielder Sam Howell has been sacked a league-high 51 times this season. More bad news for Washington? The Cowboys have applied pressure on a league-high 39% of opponent’s turnovers.

Match factor X: Cowboys cornerback Darron Bland. He’s tied for an NFL record with four picks and now goes against the somewhat erratic Howell. This – and Dallas’ Week 18 game against Washington – may be Bland’s best chances to break the record. — Valder

Injuries: Leaders | Cowboys

What to know about imagination: The Chiefs’ defense gives up the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. In six games against the Leaders, Lamb averaged seven goals and 11.7 fantasy points. It’s very likely that Lamb will exceed the per-game averages on Thanksgiving. See Week 12 rankings. — Moody

Betting block: Since the 1970 merger, the Cowboys are 12-0 outright and 9-3 ATS as a double-digit favorite on Thanksgiving. However, the Leaders are 6-1 ATS as underdogs this season, including 5-0 ATS as underdogs on the road. Read more.

Can Sam Howell be trusted in fantasy against the Cowboys?

Eric Moody has Sam Howell as the low-profile QB1 in fantasy this week, despite his tough matchup against the Cowboys.

Moody’s Choice: Cowboys 34, Leaders 31
Walder’s choice: Cowboys 34, Leaders 20
FPI Forecast: D, 85.1% (average of 13.9 points)

Thanksgiving throwback: In 1974, backup quarterback Clint Longley came in for an injured Roger Staubach with the Cowboys trailing Washington 16-3. Longley rallied Dallas to victory, completing 11 passes for 203 yards. The comeback was capped off with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds left, and the extra point kick gave the Cowboys a 24-23 win. Read more.

Match must read: Reeling leaders face toughest task after Giants loss… After defeating the Panthers, the Cowboys’ focus turns to the leaders


8:20 PM ET | nbc | Spread: SF -7 (43.5)

Story worth watching: Even at full strength, the Seahawks will be busy facing an outmatched 49ers team that beat them three times last season by a score of 89-43. This game became even more difficult when quarterback Geno Smith and linebacker Kenneth Walker III suffered injuries on Sunday. Pete Carroll is optimistic that Smith can play through the triceps bruise, but Walker’s status is more up in the air after he suffered an oblique strain and did not play after the opening series. Seattle will turn to rookie second-round pick Zach Charbonnet as RB1 in Walker’s absence (and Drew Lock under center if Smith can’t go). – Brady Henderson

Bold predictions: Niners defensive end Nick Boza will have the third three-sack game of his career. Seattle has been forced to use a rotating crew of offensive linemen due to injuries, and despite their improved health, Bosa and San Francisco’s defensive line has found a rhythm since Chase Young’s arrival a few weeks ago. In a short week with some healthy uncertainty about the Seahawks’ offense, this could be the week where some of Bosa’s many pressures (27 this season) turn into sacks. – Nick Wagner

Statistics to know: San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy has thrown three touchdown passes in each of his past two games. The last 49ers player to have three or more passing TDs in three straight games was Jeff Garcia in 2001. Oh, and Purdy is 5-0 with nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions against divisional opponents in his career, including the playoffs.

Match factor X: Seahawks quarterback Bobby Wagner. He ranks fourth in run stop win rate (41.5%) as a linebacker, and no team has a higher designed run rate this season than the 49ers. — Valder

Injuries: 49ers | Seahawks

What to know about imagination: The 49ers are heavily favored on the road against a Seahawks team that gives up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs, which sets up Christian McCaffrey for a huge performance. But tight end George Kittle can also put up big numbers. He has collected 13 receptions, 274 yards and two touchdowns in his past two visits to Seattle. See Week 12 rankings. — Moody

Betting block: The 49ers are 7-0-1 ATS in divisional games this season — but are 1-4 ATS in their past five games overall. Read more.

Moody’s Choice: 49ers 35, Seahawks 17
Walder’s choice: 49ers 26, Seahawks 23
FPI Forecast: 6th, 73.2% (average of 8.3 points)

Thanksgiving throwback: The Seahawks and 49ers met on Thanksgiving in 2014, with the Seahawks winning 19-3. Running back Marshawn Lynch took 20 carries for 104 yards, and cornerback Richard Sherman hauled in two interceptions. Read more.

Match must read: A three-game stretch could determine the 49ers’ playoff fate… Carroll believes Smith will play Thursday… Hufanga has torn her ACL

Early game on Thanksgiving

12:30 PM ET | Fox | Spread: Det -7.5 (46.5)

Story worth watching: In Detroit, Thanksgiving and football go together like peanut butter and jelly, dating back to when the Lions hosted their first-ever game on Thanksgiving Day in 1934. But they haven’t had much success lately — they haven’t won on Thanksgiving since 2016. Now the Packers will head to town to try to ease the Lions’ hype train, having won two of their past three games. But Green Bay has lost four straight games to the Lions in its second-longest streak in franchise history. — Eric Woodyard

Bold predictions: The Lions will not select Packers quarterback Jordan Love. They picked it up twice in their Week 4 meeting, and have had interceptions in two of their past three games. Love hasn’t had consecutive games without an interception since Weeks 1-2, but that could change. He didn’t throw any Sunday against the Chargers in what was perhaps his most intense game of the season. Look for him to keep that momentum going against Detroit, which is tied for 17th in the NFL with eight defensive interceptions. -Rob Demovsky

Statistics to know: Lions quarterback Jared Goff had plenty of success against the Packers, posting a 5-1 regular season record against Green Bay. That’s tied for the third-best winning percentage by a starting QB against the Packers since 1950, trailing only Jim McMahon and Bobby Laine.

Match factor X: Packers cornerback Kisan Nixon. He’s Green Bay’s slot corner, which means he’ll attract a lot of receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and tight end Sam LaPorta. These are the two most important pass rushers to stop if the Packers are going to slow down the Lions’ passing attack. — Valder

Injuries: Packers | the black

What to know about imagination: Jayden Reed leads all Packers wide receivers in receiving yards (463) and scored a 32-yard rushing touchdown against the Chargers on Sunday. With running back Aaron Jones out with a knee injury, Reed could play a Deebo Samuel-like role with the Packers. He ranked among the top 20 wide receivers with 3.1 fantasy points per touch. See Week 12 rankings. — Moody

Betting block: The Lions are 11-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 12 games in the division. Read more.

Moody’s Choice: Lions 34, Packers 21
Walder’s choice: Lions 30, Packers 20
FPI Forecast: DET, 64% (average of 4.8 points)

Thanksgiving throwback: This is the first matchup between the Packers and Lions on Thanksgiving Day since 2013, but these NFC North foes are no stranger to meeting on Turkey Day. This will be the 22nd time Detroit and Green Bay have met on Thanksgiving Day, the most ever for the franchises. The Lions are 12-8-1 in their last 21 games. Read more.

Match must read: Love made a statement in Packers’ win over Chargers…Williams finally felt like “part of the herd” in Detroit

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