Turkey Day Primer for Three NFL Games

by Vegas Writer

BUFFALO (7-3) at DETROIT (4-6): Thursday’s matchup marks the third Thanksgiving Day meeting between the Bills and Lions, with Detroit winning each of the first two contests. Thursday marks the 11th regular-season meeting between the two franchises, with Buffalo holding a 6-4-1 series advantage. In their last meeting, Week 15 of the 2018 season, quarterback Josh Allen rushed for a touchdown and threw a go-ahead 42-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the Bills’ 14-13 victory. 

Week 12 will mark Buffalo’s third appearance on Thanksgiving in the past four seasons. On November 28, 2019, the Bills defeated Dallas, 26-15, with two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) from Allen. Last year on the holiday, Allen threw four touchdown passes in Buffalo’s 31-6 win at New Orleans.

Buffalo will play its second straight game in Detroit after earning a 31-23 victory over Cleveland, as Allen threw his 21st touchdown pass of the season. Since entering the NFL in 2018, Allen has 159 career combined passing and rushing touchdowns (124 passing, 35 rushing), tied with Patrick Mahomes (159) for the third-most by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.

On defense, Buffalo linebacker Von Miller has six sacks in five road games this season and has 10.5 sacks in 12 career games on Thursday. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a career-high three tackles for loss last week and aims for his third in a row on Thanksgiving with at least half a sack and a pass defended.

In Week 11, Detroit defeated the New York Giants, 31-18, for its third-consecutive win. Running back Jamaal Williams ran for three touchdowns and became the fourth player since 2000 with multiple rushing touchdowns in at least five of his team's first 10 games of a season.

Last year on the holiday, quarterback Jared Goff completed 21 of 25 pass attempts (84%), the highest single-game completion percentage on Thanksgiving in NFL history. He has a passer rating of 100 or higher in three of his past four home starts and has two-or-more touchdown passes in eight of his past nine home games. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown led the team with seven receptions last week and has at least seven catches in six of his past seven home games.

Defensively, rookie lineman Aidan Hutchinson registered an interception and fumble recovery and became the second player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, with at least five sacks (5.5) and two interceptions (two) in his first 10 career games. Rookie safety Kerby Joseph turned in his third interception of the season and is the only rookie with at least three interceptions (three) and two forced fumbles (two).

NEW YORK GIANTS (7-3) at DALLAS (7-3): The Giants and Cowboys meet for the 121st time since 1960, with Dallas holding the all-time regular-season series advantage, 72-46-2, including wins in 10 of the past 11 meetings. The two clubs haven't met on Thanksgiving since 1992 when the Cowboys won 30-3. Thursday marks the second meeting this season between the NFC East rivals after Dallas defeated New York, 23-16, in Week 3 on Monday Night Football.

Last week, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones passed for a season-high 341 yards and had two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). He has a passer rating of 90 or higher in three of his past four road starts. Running back Saquon Barkley leads the NFC with 1,163 scrimmage yards this season and has three rushing touchdowns in four road games. He had 126 scrimmage yards (81 rushing, 45 receiving) and a rushing touchdown in the Week 3 meeting vs. Dallas and has at least 100 scrimmage yards in two of his three career games at Dallas.

On the other side of the ball, defensive lineman Leonard Williams has at least five tackles in three of his past four on the road and has 3.5 sacks in his past three games against the Cowboys. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence turned in his sixth game of the season with at least five tackles, tied for the most such games among defensive linemen in 2022.

Dallas had the biggest blowout win last week with a 40-3 defeat of the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys are the only NFC team to score at least 40 points twice this season. In five career starts on Thanksgiving, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has 1,393 yards passing and nine touchdowns (seven passing, two rushing) with a 98.4 rating. He has 21 touchdowns vs. just five interceptions for a 100.1 rating in 11 career starts against the Giants.

Running back Tony Pollard continues to impress as he comes in after registering a career-high 189 scrimmage yards (109 receiving, 80 rushing) and two touchdown receptions in Week 11, becoming the fourth player since 1990 with at least 75 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in a single game. Last year on Thanksgiving, Pollard recorded a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown, the third-longest touchdown ever scored on the holiday.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott was also active vs. Minnesota, recording his 14th-career game with two rushing touchdowns. He has 488 scrimmage yards (97.6 per game) and four rushing touchdowns in five career Thanksgiving games. Elliott has 10 touchdowns (nine rushing, one receiving) in 11 career games against the Giants and aims for his sixth in a row against New York with a touchdown.

Dallas enters this week with the league’s top-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 16.7 points per game, and leads the NFL with 42 sacks this season. The Cowboys are the only team with four players each having at least five sacks in 2022: Micah Parsons (10), Dorance Armstrong (7), DeMarcus Lawrence (6), and Dante Fowler (5). Each of the four recorded at least one sack in Week 11.

NEW ENGLAND (6-4) at MINNESOTA (8-2): New England leads the all-time series against Minnesota, 9-4, including wins in five consecutive matchups. The Patriots have scored at least 45 points in each of their past two Thanksgiving appearances (2010 and 2012) and are 3-1 on the holiday under coach Bill Belichick.

New England defeated the New York Jets, 10-3, in Week 11 as rookie defensive back Marcus Jones turned in a game-winning 84-yard punt-return touchdown with five seconds left in the contest.

Quarterback Mac Jones completed 23 of 27 pass attempts for a career-high 85.2 completion percentage last week, and has at least one touchdown pass in seven of his past eight road starts. Jones aims for his third straight without an interception. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson ranks tied for fifth among all running backs with a career-high 41 receptions this season and needs 73 scrimmage yards for his first-career 1,000-yard season.

The Patriots are the only team in the league this season to allow three points or fewer multiple times. New England enters Week 12 allowing 16.9 points per game, the fewest among all AFC teams.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins has 691 passing yards (345.5 per game) and five touchdowns against one interception for a 110.8 rating in two career Thanksgiving starts.

Linebacker Za’Darius Smith has 22 sacks in 22 career primetime games while linebacker Danielle Hunter has 6.5 sacks in six career Thursday games. Cornerback Patrick Peterson ranks third in the NFL this season with 12 passes defended. Safety Harrison Smith has a pass defended in five of his past six games and aims for his third in a row with at least six tackles.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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