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NFL's Week 12 Thanksgiving Previews!


Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson & Pat Pryor

Chicago Bears (7-3) vs. Detroit Lions (4-6)

Preview

Two weeks ago, the Detroit Lions faced off against the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field. The Bears got up 26-0 in the second quarter and eventually beat the Lions 34-22. Chicago’s defense manhandled Detroit and QB Matt Stafford, sacking him 6 times, and causing 3 turnovers. This week’s Thanksgiving matchup should be no different, as the Bears currently rank 5th in sacks, 2nd in yards, and 4th in points allowed. At the same time, the Lions offense is missing their #1 rusher in Kerryon Johnson, their best offensive lineman in T.J. Lang, and quite possibly veteran WR Marvin Jones. Chicago’s QB Mitchell Trubisky is dealing with a shoulder injury suffered against the Vikings on Sunday night, and could also be unavailable. Regardless, Matt Nagy’s play calling has had much more to do with the team’s offensive success than Trubisky. Expect the Bears to continue to dominate the NFC North no matter who’s under center.


Players to watch

With or without Chase Daniel as the signal caller, the Bears will lean heavily on the run against a Lions’ defense that’s allowing 125 yards per game on the ground. Expect Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard to see an increased workload on Thanksgiving. Matt Stafford took a beating two weeks ago and that was without Khalil Mack lined up opposite of him. The Lions will need to get the ball out fast and use Theo Riddick in the passing game as much as possible if they hope to have any success against the new age monster of the midway. Kenny Golladay has been a tremendous deep threat and red zone receiver for Detroit but needs time for his routes to develop. Time Stafford won’t have against a surging Bears pass rush.


Keys to the game

Chicago Bears

Get after Matt Stafford

Bottle up Theo Riddick

Run the ball 25-30 times

Win the turnover battle


Detroit Lions

Double team Khalil Mack

Get the ball of Stafford's hands QUICK

Limit Chicago's big plays on offense


Injury list

Chicago Bears

Mitchell Trubisky, QB - Shoulder (Doubtful)

Aaron Lynch, LB - Concussion (Out)

Adam Shaheen, TE - Concussion (Out)


Detroit Lions

Kerryon Johnson, RB - Shoulder (Out)

Marvin Jones, WR- Knee (Out)

Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Shoulder (Questionable)

Bruce Ellington, WR - Back (Questionable)

Damon Harrison, DT - Shoulder (Questionable)

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB - Neck (Questionable)

Michael Roberts, TE - Shoulder (Questionable)

A'Shawn Robinson, DT - Ankle (Questionable)

Darius Slay, CB - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Bears, D/ST (CHI)

Kenny Golladay, WR (DET)

Theo Riddick, RB (DET)

Tarik Cohen, RB (CHI)

Jordan Howard, RB (CHI)


Prediction

The Bears defense is going to torment Matt Stafford similar to their week 10 matchup, if not worse. The Lions are banged up offensively, while the Bears defense just got done torturing Kirk Cousins and the Viking on Sunday Night Football. Without Kerryon Johnson, the Lions will need stellar performances from both LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick, but that’s easier said than done against the #1 ranked rush defense. If Mitchell Trubisky is a no go, Chase Daniels will just need to manage the game and win the turnover battle to take home the W. Barring a Motor City miracle, I can’t see how the Lions pulls this off.


Final Score: Bears 23, Lions 13


Written by: Jack Bourgeois



Washington Redskins (6-4) vs. Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

Preview

The Cowboys and Redskins come into this classic Thanksgiving Day match up with what feels like opposite levels of hope and momentum, though you wouldn't know it based off their records. Washington comes to town as the division leader at 6-4 and they (currently) hold the tie-breaker against Dallas thanks to a 20-17 head-to-head victory back in week 8. However, despite being in a good position right now, it feels as though their season hangs in the balance after the very unfortunate season-ending injury to Alex Smith on Sunday against the Texans. Dallas, on the contrary, has appeared to change the course of their own season after consecutive road wins at Philadelphia and Atlanta, improving to 5-5 with the opportunity to take the division lead with a win over Washington on Thursday.


Players to watch

Ezekiel Elliott, who is currently second in the league in rushing, has averaged 194 total yards the last two weeks (including 6.6 YPC). He's also been used more in the passing game during this stretch (13 receptions for over 100 yards) putting more pressure on the Redskins defense to stop him in more ways than one. When these teams met earlier in the year, Washington held Elliott to his season-low 33 yards on 15 carries. Amari Cooper's presence on the offense has appeared to open up opportunities underneath for Elliott and Cole Beasley. With Josh Norman expected to be on Cooper for most of the game, expect Beasley to be a key factor for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense. As for the Redskins, Colt McCoy is set to take over the starting role after filling in admirably once Smith left the game, orchestrating a double-digit comeback that gave Washington a late lead before losing in the end, 23-21. McCoy and Jay Gruden will need to find a way to put points on the board against the 10th ranked passing defense (8th overall). Don't forget about Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 99 yards previously against the Cowboys.


Keys to the game

Washington Redskins

Contain Elliott (under 100 yards)

Force (and score off of) turnovers

Score early and play with a lead


Dallas Cowboys

Convert in the redzone (TDs over FGs)

Feed Zeke, regardless of the score

Protect Dak/Get the ball out quick


Injury list

Washington Redskins

Chris Thompson, RB - Rib (Out)

Jamison Crowder, WR - Ankle(Questionable)

Anthony Bergstrom, G - Knee (Questionable)

Quinton Dunbar, CB - Shin (Questionable)

Samaje Perine, RB - Calf (Questionable)

Trent Williams, T- Thumb (Questionable)


Dallas Cowboys

Tavon Austin, WR - Groin (Out)

David Irving, DE - Ankle (Out)

Sean Lee, LB - Hamstring (Out)

Adam Redmond, G - Concussion (Out)

Geoffrey Swaim, TE - Wrist (Out)

Joe Thomas, WR - Foot (Questionable)

Antwaun Woods, WR - Concussion (Questionable)

Taco Charlton, WR - Shoulder (Questionable)

Maliek Collins, WR - Knee (Questionable)

Zach Martin, WR - Knee (Questionable)

Tyron Smith, T - Neck (Questionable)

Connor Williams, G - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Ezekiel Elliott, RB (DAL)

Adrian Peterson, RB (WAS)

Cole Beasley, WR (DAL)

Jordan Reed, TE (WAS)

Amari Cooper, WR (DAL)

Prediction

Divisional games at this point in the season are always tougher to predict that they appear. Nobody expected Dallas to go on the road and beat the Eagles two weeks ago. Now it's Washington that has their backs against the wall, on the road, with a backup quarterback and a plethora of other injuries on offense. Two strong defenses should make for a slow start, but expect that to change as each offense gradually gets more aggressive throughout the game. With the NFC East lead on the line, Elliott and Beasley find enough ways to move the chains down the stretch to secure a key home win and the outright division lead at the 3/4 mark of the season.

Final Score: Cowboys 23, Redskins 20


Written by: Greg Lehr



Atlanta Falcons (4-6) vs. New Orleans Saints (9-1)

Preview

To cap off Thanksgiving the NFL decided to give everyone a classic NFC South divisional matchup between the Falcons and Saints. Atlanta is on a 2-game losing streak and one more loss would pretty much seal their fate from missing the playoffs. New Orleans looks unstoppable on offense but will need to keep up their efforts so they can eventually grab the #1 seed in the NFC. The Falcons have been getting ran all over and if they want to make the upset happen then they will need to contain the running back tandem from the Big Easy. The Saints have scored 40+ points over the past 3 games and with another fast start then they should be on their way to a 10-1 record.


Players to watch

If Atlanta wants to keep up with the Saints then they need to feed the trio of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu to put up some yards against the weaker part of New Orleans’ defense. While feeding their receivers, it would be important to try to get a running game going with Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith so they can try to control the clock and keep the Saints offense off the field. Drew Brees will be looking to continue his MVP campaign and should be able to as the Falcons defense is banged-up. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram should have a field day as Atlanta has one of the worst run defenses over the past couple of months.


Keys to the game

Atlanta Falcons

Contain Kamara and Ingram

Control the clock

No costly turnovers


New Orleans Saints

Don’t let Atlanta get out to a fast start

Feed Kamara and Ingram

Don’t let Julio go off


Injury list

Atlanta Falcons

Deion Jones, LB - Foot (Out)


New Orleans Saints

Tre'Quan Smith, WR - Foot (Questionable)

Marcus Davenport, Edge - Toe (Questionable)

Terron Armstead, T - Pectoral (Out)



Top 5 Fantasy Players

Alvin Kamara, RB (NO)

Julio Jones, WR (ATL)

Michael Thomas, WR (NO)

Drew Brees, QB (NO)

Matt Ryan, QB (ATL)

Prediction

If Atlanta can get out to a fast start then they could make this a fun NFC South shootout matchup. But, the Saints are rolling, they are playing in the Superdome, so once they get out to a lead they won’t look back to see how the Falcons doing. Atlanta may keep it interesting in the 1st half but once it gets to the 2nd half, Sean Payton will make the adjustments to open things up even more and New Orleans will keep their pace towards the #1 seed in the NFC.


Final Score: Saints 35, Falcons 21


Written by: Cody Manning

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