NFL Thanksgiving games: Picks, schedule, injuries, fantasy

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Friday, November 24, 2023

The Week 12 NFL schedule for the 2023 season begins with 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 game, 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.

Previewing Thursday's games

Note: Dallas beat Washington 45-10. Below is our preview of the game, which originally posted Wednesday morning.

Commanders (4-7) at Cowboys (7-3)

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 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 for Washington? 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.

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 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 loss ... After routing Panthers, Cowboys' focus turns to Commanders

Note: Green Bay beat Detroit 29-22. Below is our preview of the game, which originally posted Wednesday morning.

Packers (4-6) at Lions (8-2)

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 -- 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. He didn't throw any Sunday against the Chargers in what was perhaps his sharpest outing of the season. Look for him to keep that momentum rolling against Detroit, which 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, posting a 5-1 regular-season record against Green Bay. That's 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 the Lions' passing offense. -- Walder

Injuries: Packers | Lions

What to know for fantasy:Jayden Reed leads all Packers wide receivers in receiving yards (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:

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