The NFL is set to embark on its most anticipated Thanksgiving Day slate of games in years, as five of the six teams will enter their games with a winning record on the holiday. Three of the teams playing are considered Super Bowl contenders while all six teams still remain as players in the conference playoff races.
The longest winning streak in the NFC belongs to the Detroit Lions (4-6), who host the Buffalo Bills (7-3) in the early afternoon appetizer. The late afternoon main course features the New York Giants (7-3) and Dallas Cowboys (7-3) continuing their NFC East rivalry while the evening dessert pins the New England Patriots (6-4) against the Minnesota Vikings (8-2).
A feast of exciting games that will alter the playoff races are upon us. What better way to celebrate the holiday than having a few bold predictions to spice up the meal. Here are some bold predictions from each of the three Thanksgiving Day games.
Bills at Lions
Both teams score 30 points: The Bills and Lions are two of the three teams that have scored 30-plus points in a game five times this season (Kansas City Chiefs is the other). Why can't these teams engage in a shootout where the team that gets the ball last wins?
The Lions are eighth in the NFL in points per game (25.0) and sixth in yards per game (366.6), while their 15 rushing touchdowns are third in the league. Detroit has scored 31 points in each of its last two games and is on a three-game win streak. The crowd will be fired up to watch an offense that can actually put points on the board, even if the Lions are facing a top-five scoring defense in the Bills (17.4 PPG).
The Bills have one of the league's top offenses, scoring on seven straight possessions heading into this matchup. The Lions defense will also help matters, allowing 410.5 points per game over the last two games. Detroit also allows the most points per game (28.2), yards per game (415.9), points per possession (2.57), and yards per possession (40.0) in the NFL.
This game has the makings of a shootout.
Jamaal Williams passes Barry Sanders franchise mark: Williams leads the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns this season and has five games which he scored multiple rushing touchdowns (including a career-high three in Sunday's win over the Giants). No Lions player has ever had six games with multiple rushing touchdowns in a season.
Williams will be the first player in Detroit's storied history to accomplish the feat, even though the Bills have only allowed seven rushing touchdowns on the year. Detroit will make sure Williams gets the ball in goal-to-go situations, giving him the opportunity to get six points on the board.
Williams is tied with Sanders for the most games in a season with multiple rushing touchdowns for the Lions (five). He breaks that mark on Thanksgiving.
Giants at Cowboys
Saquon Barkley runs for 150 yards: This is a tall task for Barkley, but not one he can't handle after rushing 15 times for 22 yards last week. The Giants running back is due for a big game, especially against a run defense that allows 136.1 yards per game (26th in NFL) and 4.7 yards per carry (27th in NFL).
New York has to go to Barkley in order to keep the game close, along with limiting the Cowboys' offensive possessions. Even with all the Giants injuries on the offensive line, Barkley can still handle a heavy workload and continue improving upon his 953 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per carry mark.
Barkley has rushed for 150-plus yards twice in 2022. He'll get his third such performance on Thanksgiving.
Micah Parsons gets multiple sacks: Parsons dominated the Giants in the first meeting this year, despite not recording a sack on the stat sheet. He had six pressures and made his presence felt on the defensive line, setting up his teammates for five sacks against a Giants offensive line that had no answers for the pass rush.
Parsons gets his opportunity to line up against whoever plays right tackle for the Giants. Evan Neal (knee) was limited in practice this week, while Tyre Phillips (neck) also was limited. Whoever starts will have their hands full against Parsons, who has 49 pressures and 10 sacks on the year.
Parsons is coming off his fifth multi-sack game of the year. He'll get his sixth and add to his already impressive sack total, while constantly being in the backfield throughout the game.
Patriots at Vikings
Matt Judon has career day against Vikings offensive line: The stage is set for Judon -- the NFL's sack leader -- to have a monster day getting to the quarterback. Christian Darrisaw is still in concussion protocol, which leaves the Vikings in significant trouble on the offensive line.
Minnesota allowed 20 pressures in the loss to Dallas last week -- and only two were by Darrisaw. Blake Brandel allowed two sacks and four pressures filling in for Darrisaw, showcasing how valuable the left tackle has been for the offensive line. Ed Ingram has allowed eight sacks and 38 pressures at right guard, already a bad matchup for the Vikings if Judon goes inside. Brian O'Neill (three sacks allowed, 16 pressures) has been better, but Minnesota isn't the same up front when Darrisaw isn't on the field.
Judon has a career-high 13 sacks to go with 47 pressures and 21 quarterback hits this season. He's had a three-sack game already this year (which is a career-high) and he can get three sacks again against Minnesota. After Thursday, the chase may be on for the single-season sack record (22.5).
Justin Jefferson is held to under 50 receiving yards again: Hard to envision Jefferson struggling in consecutive games again, but the All-Pro wide receiver has actually been shut down in back-to-back games already this year. Jefferson is facing a Patriots defense that allows the fewest first downs in the NFL along with ranking fourth in pass yards allowed (188.3).
New England has allowed just 87 passing yards over the last two games, but the Patriots defense will face a much tougher test in Jefferson. While the Patriots don't have an elite cornerback, Jonathan Jones is making his way towards entering that conversation.
Jefferson will have his hands full with Jones on Thanksgiving. The Vikings will have to find another option in the passing game, as the Patriots defense won't allow him to take over a game like he usually does.