Thanksgiving Day games have been an NFL tradition since 1925. This is the 11th year since the annual doubleheader was expanded to three games — an 11-hour marathon to rival our food intake for gluttony —and the first time since 2011 that all six teams are coming off a win.
Does your family set its Thanksgiving clock around football like we do? By the start of the first game I'm sliding the turkey into the oven. By the middle of the second game I’m calling our guests to the table. By the end of the third game I have OD’d on tryptophan and am snoring loudly on the sofa.
Happy Thanksgiving all. Now let’s go eat us some football!
VIKINGS (6-4) at LIONS (6-4)
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Line: DET by 2 1/2.
Cote’s pick: MIN 23-20.
TV: 12:30 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida)
Traditional host Detroit marks its 77th holiday game, but it is Minnesota’s first since 2000, and the first time these NFC North rivals have met on Bird Day since Barry Sanders’ 1995. I get why Motown is a narrow favorite in this duel for the division lead. It isn’t just the venue. Lions have won three consecutive Thanksgiving games by a combined 119-41. The day seems to bring out the best in Matthew Stafford, who’s having a career year. The Cardiac Lions are a fortunate 6-4, though. They are first team ever to have first 10 games all decided by seven points or fewer, and they’ve trailed in the fourth quarter of all six wins including a lucky escape against Vikings three weeks ago. The luck expires here. Vikes’ superior defense will carry the day. Upset!
REDSKINS (6-3-1) at COWBOYS (9-1)
Line: DAL by 7.
Cote’s pick: DAL 30-24.
TV: 4:30 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).
Could be the Week 12 Game of the Week as a Cowboys squad with the best record in the NFL faces an NFC East rival off to its best start since 1996. Hot meets hot as Dallas hosts a Turkey Day game for the 49th time. Two big offenses on display here. Cowboys have tied a record with eight consecutive games topping 400 yards, while Redskins have twice exceeded 500. ’Boys are more consistently relentless, though, led by super rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Both could threaten the long-standing NFL Thanskgiving rookie records for passing yards (329 by Bob Waterfield, 1945) and rushing yards (157 by Abner Haynes, 1960). The venue and Dallas’ clearly superior defense tip this one, but like ’Skins getting too many points.
STEELERS (5-5) at COLTS (5-5)
Line: PIT by 8.
Cote’s pick: PIT 28-16.
TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).
Indy’s first Bird Day since 2007 and Pitt’s first since 1991 might have been more entertaining than you’d expect of two .500 teams, but erasing Andrew Luck (concussion) gut-punches Colts’ chances. He was ruled out late Wednesday and the dropoff to backup Scott Tolzien is enormous. Tolzien, whose surname sounds like a pill you take for depression, last started a game in 2013 and has thrown one pass (!) since. Simply cannot fathom Tolzien outscoring Ben Roethlisberger, who has averaged 129.1 passer rating in past three against Colts. Steelers also bring better all-round defense into matchup. Indy will honor Hall of Famers Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison at halftime. If only Colts could swap that emotion for points.