It’s Thanksgiving week in the NFL, which is always special for the traditions & quality matchups around the league, & for this Thanksgiving, the league may have hit a home run with the games on Thursday & a couple of key games on Sunday, which we do believe could have some serious playoff implications.
Many of the teams playing have players going up against each other that would make for a great fantasy football roster in most people’s leagues around the country, which will make for excellent ratings for the league, & emphasize the new style of TV deal that the NFL is implementing this year, giving the networks the best games, regardless of conference affiliation.
Here is our breakdown for Week 13 –
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions – 12:30 on Thanksgiving Day – FOX
The Chicago Bears & Detroit Lions have had a long standing rivalry against each other & on Thanksgiving Day, the anticipation will be at a much higher level. This will be an offensive shootout pitting top quality receivers & quarterbacks against each other.
From another level with the quarterbacks, both Jay Cutler of the Bears & Matthew Stafford of the Lions have to prove that they can get the job done on the biggest stage. By this point in the season, we at the DraftKingsMaster believe that the Lions & Bears will be in the fight for the NFC North & playoff positioning.
Both teams have gotten stronger in the offseason & of course, there will most likely be injuries at this point, but these teams realize that this is a big, must win game in order to solidify playoff positioning & to give the respective fan bases confidence that the teams are on the right path.
A big individual matchup in this game will be Calvin Johnson vs Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. Tillman has great lockdown ability & can get amazing interceptions & also strip the ball away from the offensive ballcarrier with the best in the league. Johnson has the size advantage in terms of going up for the ball against multiple players in a secondary, but with Golden Tate on the opposite side of the field this season, Johnson may see much more single coverage, which means Tillman is going to have to have amazing hand placement on Johnson & making sure that Johnson isn’t comfortable running is patented slant pattern & getting the ball at the highest points.
If Johnson gets comfortable going over the middle on the secondary or gets “basketball rebounds” from Stafford throwing it up to him, the Bears will have a long afternoon.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys – 4:30 – Thanksgiving Day – FOX
Another game where the NFL hits a massive home run. The Eagles & Cowboys are always in the NFC East hunt & this season shouldn’t be any different by the time we get to Thanksgiving.
The Philadelphia Eagles will be playing this season without playmaking WR Desean Jackson, who was cut in the offseason. Head Coach Chip Kelly will have to have shown the ability for his offense to make players better as opposed to having big time talent on the field. As it stands right now, the main playmakers that will be on the field for the Eagles will be Jeremy Maclin at receiver, Nick Foles at quarterback, Riley Cooper at receiver & LeSean McCoy at running back.
This is a comparable lineup & a group that could easily have a strong season, but until we see them in some actual games, its not going to look like a team that is a true SuperBowl contender. What happens if that offensive unit is stopped or slowed down, which the Cowboys have the strength & ability to do, even without DeMarcus Ware now. The Cowboys won’t have the best defense in the league, but if the Cowboys get pressure on Foles & McCoy & make their days frustrating, this high-tempo offense will be shut down quickly, especially with a true gamebreaker in the receiver position.
The Dallas Cowboys on offense have the same story on the big stage as each game last season & will probably have this season – quarterback in Tony Romo who will make big plays throughout the game, put up massive stats that look good in fantasy, but at the end of the day, look as though the team is just going to sputter out of control because of some kind of interception or boneheaded play.
Then you look at Dez Bryant, the man who believes in his heart that he is better than Calvin Johnson & A.J. Green from the Cincinnati Bengals, even though he cries & whines after not getting the ball & is prone to a Terrell Owens-like meltdown from time-to-time, getting upset mainly at Romo & possibly Jason Garrett for the playcalling.
The Eagles defense is just not up to par in any way, shape or form, but the Cowboys have to show up on Thanksgiving Day. If not, the usual chatter will start about Jason Garrett getting fired, guys being on the brink of losing jobs or not being starters, Romo sucks, blah, blah, blah.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:00 p.m., Thanksgiving Night – NBC
This is the first matchup since the 2013 NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers & Seattle Seahawks & the league is saving this matchup for Thanksgiving night, basically ensuring that the league will have great matchups all day long in rivalries that people will be passionate about.
The main problem with the San Francisco 49ers last season in the NFC Championship Game was the fact that the team had a hard time moving the ball on offense against the Seahawks, similar to how many teams couldn’t all season long.
The 49ers went to get an offensive answer to that problem in receiver Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills, who will be able to put more pressure on the Seahawks secondary, possibly freeing himself up for big plays or freeing up Vernon Davis or Anquan Boldin or Michael Crabtree because you can’t double and zone everyone on that offense – with the talent on offense, someone in the offense will be able to take the top off & get loose to the end zone.
The Seattle Seahawks are, of course, the defending Superbowl champions, but on the road, they were a team that was able to be had at times during the season. Russell Wilson & Marshawn Lynch on offense will be the primary targets of the 49ers defense throughout the game, especially with the absence of a big time wide receiver. Before you start talking about Doug Baldwin, Baldwin is a #2 receiver at best & will need to have another player to help out with pressure.
The Seattle Seahawks defense is still as elite as ever. Richard Sherman is still the best cornerback in the game, no matter what Arizona Cardinals DB Patrick Peterson has to say about him.
That's what I always see someone helping. Last I check a lockdown corner is when it's him and WR. pic.twitter.com/ytHQcJsZCH
— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@P2) May 23, 2014
….and Sherman’s true rebuttal………….
@RealPeterson21 wideouts regularly have career days on u. They ask u to stop them. Not let them score at will.
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) May 23, 2014
The rest of the Seattle defense is just as strong also, as Cliff Avril is a beast on the defensive line, Kam Chancellor & Earl Thomas are great in coverage & will also lay someone out. The team is just as strong now as they were last year, which makes me believe that this is the start of the preview to the NFC Championship game yet again.
New England Patriots @ Green Bay Packers – 4:25 – CBS
This game is another game where we get to see two quarterbacks – future Hall of Famers – in their prime in Aaron Rodgers & Tom Brady when the New England Patriots head to Lambeau Field for a late season matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
Both quarterbacks have had some interesting career paths. Rodgers & Brady were both drafted far too low for their output & career statistics (Rodgers in the end of the first round out of Cal, Brady in the 5th round out of Michigan). Its going to be hard to predict how many more legendary matchups these two great quarterbacks will have against each other, but this game, outside of the Xs & Os side of things, is good for young players to watch because not only are Aaron Rodgers & Tom Brady among the top 5 quarterbacks in the game, they are both true professionals in how they prepare for games & lead their teams to be successful.