Thanksgiving Three-Game Preview
Week 12 is here, and that means we have three Thanksgiving Day matchups. Keeping with the tradition of Thanksgiving I would like to say that I’m thankful to Gridiron Experts for allowing me the opportunity to bring you folks Thursday Night Football previews each week.
I’m equally thankful that you take a moment to read them and I hope you enjoy them. I hope you can all find something to be thankful for and with that being said, let’s get to the matchup previews!
Vikings at Lions
Spread: Lions -2.5 | Game Total: 42
The early game on Thanksgiving is usually a lackluster one. The Lions are often playing poorly, and some other team just waltzes in and has their way with them. This year is different as both the Lions and the visiting Vikings are tied for first in the NFC North. The Lions are 2.5 point favorites with an over under of 43.
The Vikings defied all odds in the early part of this season as they overcame injuries and began the year 5-0. After their bye in week six, the Vikings did a complete 180 as they dropped their next four games. It wasn’t until last week when they were able to stop the bleeding by beating the Cardinals 30-24. The Vikings have had just one game all season long with 100 yards or more of rushing so it will be up to Sam Bradford and the passing attack to keep pace with a Lions team that has only finished a game with less than twenty points three times. Bradford’s numbers may not be the flashiest among his position, but he has been effective. He has thrown for a touchdown in every game he has played in and has just two interceptions. His favorite target has been Stefon Diggs who is averaging 12 targets over his last four games. The Vikings have allowed the third fewest yards per game (306.9) and it will be interesting to see how Mike Zimmer plans to slow down the Lions offense.
My Prediction: Lions 23 Vikings 17
Fantasy Thoughts and Tips:
If you’re in two-quarterback formats, I think Sam Bradford could be a sneaky start as the Lions have allowed the fourth most points to opposing quarterbacks. Stafford is start worthy just as he has been all season. Both defenses are in the top 12 of allowing points to the tight end so I would start both Rudolph and Ebron. The Lions pass catchers have been too inconsistent for my blood, but if I had to start one, it would be Golden Tate over Marvin Jones. I like Theo Riddick in this matchup who is expected to play despite nursing an ankle injury. I especially like him in PPR formats as he hauled in 8 receptions last week. Stefon Diggs is the only Vikings wide receiver I would be looking to start, and I’ll do everything I can not to start a Vikings running back.
Redskins @ Cowboys
Spread: Cowboys -7 | Game Total: 51.5
The Redskins are coming off of a win against the Packers as Kirk Cousins threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns. Hauling in 102 of those passing yards was Jamison Crowder. It was his third hundred yard output in his last four games. One of the biggest stars of last week was running back Robert Kelley as he was able to rush for three touchdowns. He is also averaging five yards per carry this season so it should make for an interesting matchup against a Cowboy defense that is one of the best against the rush. Crowder and Kelley haven’t been the only source of offensive production as they have six players with 30 passing targets or more. Last week, Jordan Reed put together 79 yards receiving on five receptions and will continue to see targets. Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson was able to play last week as he continues to battle a shoulder injury and his fellow receiver Pierre Garcon is coming off of his first 100 yard receiving performance since week three of 2014.
The Dallas Cowboys have a 29-18-1 record on Thanksgiving Day and will go for their tenth win in a row. Dak Prescott reaffirmed Romo’s selfless comments when he threw for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns against a Ravens defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards. The Dak attack isn’t the only phenomena taking the league by storm as Ezekiel Elliot has been carving up defenses. Last week, Elliot was three yards shy of his sixth hundred yard rushing performance this year. He will deal with the Redskins this week who have allowed the 11th most rushing yards in the league. Dez Bryant has had more touchdowns (7) against the Redskins than any other team and has been getting back in the swing of things lately. Over the last two weeks, he has been able to put together 196 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns. I believe this game will be the highest scoring game on Thanksgiving Day and the Cowboys will continue to roll on.
My Prediction: Cowboys 34 Redskins 31
Fantasy Thoughts and Tips:
This game will undoubtedly be the most fantasy friendly of the day. You should be starting both quarterbacks and both starting running backs. Dez Bryant should be starting for you, and in PPR formats I would look to play Beasley as he hasn’t had less than six targets in a game since week 5. Jason Witten is a solid option to start as the Redskins have allowed over 700 yards receiving and five touchdowns to the tight end. As far as Redskin pass catchers, I would continue to ride the hot hand in Crowder and I also like Garcon in deeper leagues. If Jackson’s shoulder is good to go, I consider him start-worthy and obviously Jordan Reed is a no brainer. Again, this is the most fantasy friendly game of the day. Load up your plate!
Steelers @ Colts
Spread: Steelers -8.5 | Game Total: 48
The last game will have the Steelers visiting the Colts. This was expected to be a high-scoring affair until the news came down that Andrew Luck was stuck in concussion protocol. With his involvement in doubt, the Colts may find themselves playing catch up. As of this writing, the Steelers are favored by 9 with an over under of 47.5.
The Steelers need to win here as they are tied with the Ravens for first in the AFC North. Last week they were able to snap a four-game losing streak at the expense of the Browns but it still wasn’t their best performance. Ben Roethlisberger had his lowest passing yard (167) performance since 2013 as well as no passing touchdowns. He will look to turn things around with the help of his playmakers LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown as they are both leading the way in receptions for the Steelers. Look for Eli Rogers to get back on track this week after having just 62 yards receiving over the last two weeks. If the Steelers were looking to get their groove back on offense, this is the matchup that they want as the Colts are allowing the 7th most points on a per game basis with 27.3.
The Colts are just one game back of the division-leading Texans and may have some trouble keeping up without Andrew Luck. As previously mentioned, Luck is in concussion protocol and is not expected to play. This will open the door for Scott Tolzien to start for just the third time in his career. Expect the Colts offense to look different and for Frank Gore to be more involved. The ageless running back is just 358 rushing yards away from 1,000 on the season and will go up against a Steeler defense that is allowing an average of 95.7 rushing yards per game. Look for tight end Jack Doyle to see an increase in targets from last week as he could turn out to be a safety valve for Tolzien. Ultimately I think the loss of Luck for a week will be too much to endure for the Colts offense.
My Prediction: Steelers 34 Colts 16
Fantasy Thoughts and Tips:
Have a fun and safe Thanksgiving everybody!