It’s a cliché in the NFL that ‘real’ football starts after Thanksgiving. The first teams will be eliminated from playoff contention this week, and the race for January is becoming clearer by the day.

As is tradition, Thanksgiving – or as we call it over here, Thursday – sees six teams go head to head. We’ve broken down all the key matchups, and as per usual bring you tips for this week’s biggest games.

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

Thursday 23rd Nov: 5.30pm Sky Sports Action

Minnesota’s last loss came seven weeks ago when these two teams first met. Now, the Lions are two-games behind the Vikings in the NFC North, and if they want to win the division it must start here.

The last two weeks have been laboured for Detroit, only managing to see off bad teams in the fourth quarter following sluggish starts. If they fall behind against the Vikings, it will be game over. However, on a positive note, the Lions held the Vikings to only seven points in the fist meeting. If they can repeat that they will certainly win. As always, it is hard to know which Lions we will get.

What we do know is that these two sides like to play low scoring games against each other. Over their last eight meetings, the total points under is 7-1.
With a low scoring game on the cards, I’ll roll with the dominant defence and the current hot hand and say that the Vikings take it, but this should be a fun one.

Tips:
Total points under 44.5 
Double – Minnesota Vikings to win and score over 2.5 total made field goals

Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys

Thursday 23rd Nov: 9.30pm Sky Sports Action

Despite coming off two blowout losses, the Cowboys opened as slight favourites to beat the Chargers at home. However, with key linebacker Sean Lee still out and left tackle Tyron Smith questionable, the line has moved to give the road team the slight edge.

Honestly, without Sean Lee the Cowboys defence has looked dreadful. They have played two top offences which hasn’t helped their case, but alarm bells are certainly starting to ring in Dallas.

The Cowboys’ offensive line has been beaten up, and get no respite this week against two premier pass rushers in LA’s Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Even if Smith does play, the whole line will need to be much better.

That being said, the Chargers are a team that seems to play up or down to their opponent’s level; I can’t see them blowing the Cowboys out in prime time. I’ll still take them to win, but it should certainly be a close game.

Tips:

Los Angeles winning margin 1-6 points

Total points under 47.5

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

Friday 24th Nov: 1.30am Sky Sports Action

The Giants eeked out a surprise win over the free-falling Kansas City Chiefs at the weekend, but make no mistake, this is a lost season in New York. Decimated by injuries and handicapped by questionable play calling, they are over seven-point underdogs to beat a Redskins side much better than its 4-6 record.

I don’t think there is too much to debate about the winner of this one, more a case of by how much. For my liking, I would be surprised if Kirk Cousins and company didn’t put up at least 30 points.

Washington has faced maybe the toughest schedule in the league so far, but it gets easier starting with the Giants, and I think they make a statement in front of a national audience.

Tips:

Washington Redskins total points over 26 

Washington Redskins winning margin 13-18 points 

Thanksgiving Specials:

Treble – Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Redskins all to win

Most Thanksgiving rushing yards – Melvin Gordon 

Most Thanksgiving receiving yards – Adam Thielen

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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