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TNF Staff Picks: An all divison rival edition of Thanksgiving football across two days

Packers vs. Lions, Commanders vs. Cowboys and 49ers vs. Seahawks all take place on an NFC division rival flavoured Thanksgiving Thursday special with Miami Dolphins playing their AFC East rival New York Jets on Black Friday.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Welcome to Week 12 and Happy Thanksgiving, Bolts From the Blue!

It’s pretty ironic that I, an Englishman, get to write up this Thanksgiving games preview but it is one I have been looking forward to getting stuck into. The main reason I am excited about a holiday my countrymen, understandably, do not celebrate is that I welcome any reason to have a game outside of prime time slots which start at about 1:00am GMT. This is one of the best day footballing days of the year with three extra games at sensible times across Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday.

We’ll start with the early game as the Green Bay Packers made the relatively short trip over Lake Michigan to take on the Detroit Lions. This history of this matchup was flipped on its head when Dan Campbell arrived at Ford Field, having lost five times in a row before his arrival they have now won the last four under his leadership. Jared Goff is a renewed man in Ben Johnson’s offense which has been prolific this season ranking second in yards per game and sixth in points per game. The same cannot be said of the Packers with Jordan Love and Matt LaFleur, their middle of the road offense got a statistical boost after facing the morale-boosting Brandon Staley defense in Week 11 but other than that he hasn’t surpassed 300 yards a single time and their offense had scored less than 25 points since Week 1. The Packers are walking into this one wounded after losing Aaron Jones and several others to injuries last week so this only stretches the distance they need to make up to compete in this game. The outcome of this game is simple for me, division rival or not, I see the Lions as genuine title contenders and the Packers as a team that is causing themselves harm with every win as they tumble down the draft order into the league’s biggest pitfall; mediocrity. Take the Lions to win the spread with DraftKings Sportsbook at -110 but avoid an over/under bet as garbage time points in a blow out are always tricky to predict.

Next up we have the Washington Commanders taking on the Dallas Cowboys in what on the face of it should be a walkover for the home side. Dak Prescott has led his side to 148 points over the last four weeks with Mike McCarthy’s new brand of passing football pushing them to seven wins on the year. Sam Howell has impressed this season with the fifth most yards through the air however this is not a balanced team and this might not be the year they overcome their terrible record against their division rivals as the Cowboys have too much on both sides of the ball. That said an 13.5 point spread is very generous for a division game so I’ll take the Commanders to cover at -105 and the total to be over the 48.5 on offer at -110 as I see Ron Rivera unleashing Sam Howell late on to try and keep his job.

The last game on Thursday is a tasty one as the Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers in a game that is probably going to decide the NFC West. The 49ers season has been patchy on paper but when you get into the tape they have been way better than their 7-3 record. Kyle Shanahan and Brock Purdy have been back to their best over the last two weeks with walkover wins over good teams so if they carry that form into this game against a banged up Seahawks team then they will surely stretch the lead to two games and lay most doubts to rest. Geno Smith is looking like playing in this important game after leaving their Week 11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the third quarter however without some of their key offensive weapons I don’t think they have anywhere near enough juice to break down this impressive 49ers defense led by Fred Warner. I think the Niners will break past the 7-point spread at -112 and win going away in the fourth. A prop bet I like in this one Brandon Aiyuk to have over 63.5 receiving yards at -115 because he tormented Tariq Woolen on his favored left side in the NFC Wildcard game. Purdy actually missed him a couple of times which would have made the statline worse than it was and I think Shanahan is better than anyone at picking targets like this to attack early and often.

Then on Black Friday we have our first AFC game of the week when the Miami Dolphins travel up the coast to take on their AFC East rival New York Jets. This is a battle between offense and defense and this is shown by the odd pairing of a 10-point spread and a 41 point total. Tim Boyle will be starting for Robert Saleh’s Jets after he finally lost patience with Zach Wilson so it is a bit of a mystery whether he will improve this offense or not. However on the other, and more important, side of the ball I think this is a trap game for the Dolphins’ offense. They have proven to be a flat track bully and have failed to score more than 20 points against top ten defenses. I think the under is a must here at -108 and I’m even tempted enough by a strong Jets defensive showing to take the 10 point spread on offer in a low scoring battle.

Injuries to consider


Jaire Alexander, De’Vondre Campbell, AJ Dillon, Rudy Ford and Dontayvion Wicks are Questionable. Josiah Deguara is Doubtful. Aaron Jones and Darnell Savage are Out. Luke Musgrave and Emanuel Wilson have been put on Injured Reserve.


C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai have been placed on Injured Reserve. Jonah Jackson is out.


De’Jon Harris, Cody Barton and Efe Obada are on Injured Reserve. James Smith-Williams, Emmanuel Forbes and Alex Armah have been ruled out. Antonio Gibson and Khaleke Hudson are both Questionable.


Peyton Hendershot has been placed on Injured Reserve.


Aaron Banks, Spencer Burford, Samuel Womack and Robert Beal Jr. are all Questionable. Talanoa Hufanga has been placed on Injured Reserve.


Abraham Lucas and Geno Smith are Questionable. Jerrick Reed II is Out. Kenneth Walker III and Dareke Young are Doubtful.


Salvon Ahmed has been placed on Injured Reserve.


No injuries to report.

Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:

What do you think, BFTB? Are any of you placing bets across the holiday?