The hidden side of politics

What to know for all three Thanksgiving Day NFL games: Picks, key stats and bold predictions

Reported by ESPN:

The Week 12 NFL schedule for the 2023 season begins with three great Thanksgiving Day matchups, and we have you covered with what you need to know. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game and a bold prediction for each matchup.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a game projection. Analytics writer Seth Walder picks out each matchup’s biggest X factor, and fantasy analyst Eric Moody hands out helpful fantasy football intel. Finally, Walder and Moody give us final score picks for all three games. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded Thursday afternoon of NFL football.

Jump to a matchup:

12:30 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: DET -7.5 (46.5)

Storyline to watch: In Detroit, Thanksgiving and football go hand and hand like peanut butter and jelly, going all the way back to when the Lions hosted their first-ever Thanksgiving Day game in 1934. But they haven’t had a ton of success recently on that day — they haven’t won on Thanksgiving since 2016. Now the Packers will roll into town to try to dim the Lions’ hype train, having won two of their past three games. But Green Bay has lost four in a row to the Lions for its second-longest streak in the franchise’s history. — Eric Woodyard

Bold prediction: The Lions will not pick off Packers quarterback Jordan Love. They got him twice in the Week 4 meeting, and they’ve had interceptions in two of their past three games. Love hasn’t had consecutive games without an interception since Weeks 1-2, but that could change this week. He didn’t throw any last Sunday against the Chargers in what was perhaps his sharpest outing of the season. Look for him to keep that momentum rolling against Detroit, who is tied for 17th in the NFL with eight defensive interceptions. — Rob Demovsky

Stat to know: Lions quarterback Jared Goff has found plenty of success against the Packers in his career, posting a 5-1 regular-season record against Green Bay. That’s currently tied for the third-best win percentage by a starting QB against the Packers since 1950, trailing only Jim McMahon and Bobby Layne.

Matchup X factor: Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon. He’s Green Bay’s slot corner, which means he’ll draw plenty of receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and tight end Sam LaPorta. Those are the two most important pass-catchers to stop if the Packers are going to slow down the Lions’ passing offense. — Walder

Injuries: Packers | Lions

What to know for fantasy: Jayden Reed leads all Packers wide receivers in receiving yards this season (463) and scored a 32-yard rushing touchdown against the Chargers on Sunday. With running back Aaron Jones dealing with a knee injury, Reed could take on a Deebo Samuel-like role for the Packers. He ranks among the top 20 wide receivers with 3.1 fantasy points per touch. See Week 12 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The Lions are 11-1 against the spread (ATS) in their past 12 division games. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Lions 34, Packers 21
Walder’s pick: Lions 30, Packers 20
FPI prediction: DET, 64% (by an average of 4.8 points)

Thanksgiving Day throwback: This is the first Packers-Lions matchup on Thanksgiving Day since 2013, but these NFC North foes are no strangers to meeting on Turkey Day. It will be the 22nd time Detroit and Green Bay have met on Thanksgiving Day, the most by any two franchises all-time. The Lions hold a 12-8-1 edge in the previous 21 matchups. Read more.

Matchup must-reads: Love made a statement in Packers’ win over ChargersWilliams finally feeling ‘part of the herd’ in Detroit

4:30 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: DAL -11 (48.5)

Storyline to watch: The Cowboys have won four of their past five … and the Commanders have lost four of their past five. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has a 9-2 record against Washington in his career with 19 touchdown passes and four interceptions, and he has beaten the Commanders twice on Thanksgiving (2016, 2018) while throwing three touchdown passes and zero picks. Toss in that he leads the NFL in QBR since Week 4 (76.6), and Prescott is primed to keep his hot streak rolling. But keep in mind that he is also 3-3 on the holiday with nine touchdown throws and five interceptions over his career. — Todd Archer

Bold prediction: Dallas receiver CeeDee Lamb will have three gains for 20-plus yards en route to a 140-yard, two-TD day against Washington. The Commanders’ defense is tied for the NFL’s most pass plays of 20 yards or more allowed (43), while the Cowboys’ offense ranks fifth in gaining 20-plus yards through the air (41 completions). And Lamb leads the NFL with 22 such receptions. — John Keim

Stat to know: Commanders quarterback Sam Howell has been sacked a league-high 51 times this season. More bad news? The Cowboys have generated pressure on a league-high 39% of opponent dropbacks.

Matchup X factor: Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland. He’s tied for the NFL record with four pick-sixes and is now going against the somewhat erratic Howell. This — and Dallas’ Week 18 game against Washington — are probably Bland’s best chances to break the record. — Walder

Injuries: Commanders | Cowboys

What to know for fantasy: The Commanders’ defense gives up the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. In six games against the Commanders, Lamb has averaged seven targets and 11.7 fantasy points. It is very likely that Lamb will exceed those per-game averages on Thanksgiving. See Week 12 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: Since the 1970 merger, the Cowboys are 12-0 outright and 9-3 ATS as double-digit favorites on Thanksgiving. However, the Commanders are 6-1 ATS as underdogs this season, including 5-0 ATS as road underdogs. Read more.



Can Sam Howell be trusted in fantasy against the Cowboys?

Eric Moody has Sam Howell as a low-end QB1 in fantasy this week, despite his tough matchup against the Cowboys.

Moody’s pick: Cowboys 34, Commanders 31
Walder’s pick: Cowboys 34, Commanders 20
FPI prediction: DAL, 85.1% (by an average of 13.9 points)

Thanksgiving Day throwback: In 1974, backup quarterback Clint Longley entered for an injured Roger Staubach with the Cowboys trailing Washington 16-3. Longley rallied Dallas to a victory, completing 11 passes for 203 yards. He capped off the comeback with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds left, and the extra point kick gave the Cowboys a 24-23 victory. Read more.

Matchup must-reads: Reeling Commanders face toughest stretch after Giants lossAfter routing Panthers, Cowboys’ focus turns to Commanders

8:20 p.m. ET | NBC | Spread: SF -7 (43.5)

Storyline to watch: Even at full strength, the Seahawks would have their hands full against a superior 49ers team that beat them three times last season by a combined score of 89-43. This game became even harder when quarterback Geno Smith and running back Kenneth Walker III suffered injuries on Sunday. Pete Carroll is optimistic that Smith can play through his triceps contusion, but Walker’s status is more up in the air after he suffered an oblique strain and didn’t play past the opening series. Seattle would turn to rookie second-round pick Zach Charbonnet as the RB1 in Walker’s absence (and Drew Lock under center if Smith can’t go). — Brady Henderson

Bold prediction: Niners defensive end Nick Bosa will have the third three-sack game of his career. Seattle has been forced to use a rotating cast of offensive linemen because of injuries, and though they’re getting healthier, Bosa and San Francisco’s defensive line has found a rhythm since Chase Young‘s arrival a few weeks ago. On a short week with some health uncertainty on the Seahawks’ offense, this could be the week some of Bosa’s many pressures (27 this season) turn into sacks. — Nick Wagoner

Stat to know: San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy has thrown three touchdown passes in each of his past two games. The last 49ers player with three or more passing TDs in three consecutive games was Jeff Garcia in 2001. Oh, and Purdy is 5-0 with nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions against division opponents in his career, including playoffs.

Matchup X factor: Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. He ranks fourth in run stop win rate (41.5%) as a linebacker, and no team has a higher designed run rate this season than the 49ers. — Walder

Injuries: 49ers | Seahawks

What to know for fantasy: The 49ers are heavily favored on the road against a Seahawks team that gives up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs, which sets up Christian McCaffrey for a huge performance. But tight end George Kittle could also post big numbers. He has accumulated 13 receptions, 274 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his past two visits to Seattle. See Week 12 rankings. — Moody

Betting nugget: The 49ers are 7-0-1 ATS in division games this season — but are 1-4 ATS in their past five games overall. Read more.

Moody’s pick: 49ers 35, Seahawks 17
Walder’s pick: 49ers 26, Seahawks 23
FPI prediction: SF, 73.2% (by an average of 8.3 points)

Thanksgiving Day throwback: The Seahawks and 49ers met on Thanksgiving back in 2014, with the Seahawks winning 19-3. Running back Marshawn Lynch took 20 carries for 104 yards, and cornerback Richard Sherman hauled in two interceptions. Read more.

Matchup must-reads: Three-game stretch could define 49ers’ playoff destinyCarroll believes Smith to play ThursdayHufanga has torn ACL