Thanksgiving Games Have a Lot of Playoff Implications
Watching NFL games on Thanksgiving is a tradition for most families in the United States, but this year could be even more special because fans will get to see something that hasn’t happened in 81 years. For the first time since 1935, all teams playing in the three Thanksgiving games will have a record of .500 or better. The fact that all the teams are fighting for playoff spots will also provide the top American NFL lines.
The first game on Thanksgiving is between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. Both teams are tied for the NFC north lead, so the winner will have sole possession of the division lead when this game is over, unless it ends in a tie.
According to the New York Times, the Vikings’ playoff chances will rise to 82 percent with a win over Detroit, but it will drop to 41 percent if they lose, which means that have a lot at stake in this game.
In order to win, the Vikings are going to have to figure out a way to stop Matthew Stafford, who is currently having one of the best seasons of his career.
In the afternoon game, the Washington Redskins continue their rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys, who have the best record in the NFL. Like the Vikings, the Redskins already lost a game to the Cowboys, and can’t afford another loss to their rivals.
The Redskins are currently third in the NFC East, behind the Cowboys and New York Giants. A loss will drop them back considerably. Washington currently has a 56 percent chance of making the playoffs, if they defeat Dallas, their chances will increase to 76 percent, if they lose, it drops to 46 percent.
For the Redskins to pull off the victory, they have to figure out a way to stop Ezekiel Elliot, who currently leads the league in rushing yards. In their first meeting, they were able to hold him to 83 yards, but Elliot has improved significantly since that game, and has a better feel for the game than he did then.
The Redskins will also have to figure out how to force Dak Prescott into turning the ball over, which is something he hasn’t done a lot of this season. If they can keep Prescott and Elliot in check, they will have a great chance to win the game.
The third game of the day is between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts, which pits two teams fighting for the final playoff spots in the AFC. The Steelers have the edge in this game because Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has been ruled out with a concussion, which makes things a lot easier for Pittsburgh.
A win will give Pittsburgh a 61 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a loss will reduce it to 38 percent.
With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger back behind center, the Steelers will try to take advantage of Luck’s absence and get the much needed win. However, they cannot underestimate the Colts in this one because an injury to one of their stars can even the playing field.
With so many playoff implications, expect to see some very competitive games on Thursday.