As soon as the NFL schedule comes out, I scan down to find the most glorious day of the year: Thanksgiving. A day of family, good food and great football is impossible to beat in my book.
So, it should be no surprise that I've already begun analyzing these matchups.
Check out the full 2013 NFL schedule here, the Turkey Day schedule below, and then we'll break down each showdown.
2013 NFL Thanksgiving Schedule
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET
Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, 8:30 p.m. ET
Oakland Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys
Apparently, the NFL schedule makers wanted Tony Romo to rebound nicely after suffering his first Thanksgiving day loss as a starter, as the Cowboys will host the rebuilding Raiders—and I say this as a lifelong Raiders fan.
The Cowboys have made this Turkey Day game an annual tradition, and after their 38-31 loss to the Redskins last year, they are now 28-16-1 all time on Thanksgiving.
That dropped Tony Romo's Thanksgiving record as a starter to 5-1. He's been excellent in these showcase games as he has 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
It is safe to expect Romo to have another great game this year. The Raiders' defense struggled last year, and that included them being 20th in passing yards allowed and 18th in rushing yards allowed.
Now, the Raiders will look dramatically different from last year, but they almost exclusively added journeyman types as the butted up against the cap, while also trading quarterback Carson Palmer and adding Matt Flynn.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys will be looking to get back in the postseason after they lost their last two games last year to finish at 8-8. And after signing quarterback Tony Romo to a lucrative extension, the Cowboys will look very similar to last season.
Well, except for a switch to the 4-3 defense.
The Cowboys and Raiders battled on Thanksgiving in 2009. Dallas cruised to a 24-7 victory, and it isn't ludicrous to expect another easy victory this year.
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
For the past seven years, the Packers and Lions have met every other year on Thanksgiving.
This has not worked out well for the Lions. Detroit has lost nine straight on Thanksgiving, and that includes four losses to the Packers. Green Bay triumphed 27-15 in 2011, 34-12 in 2009 and 37-26 in 2007.
The Lions will hope to reverse those trends this year, but they'll have their work cut out for them.
After entering 2012 with high hopes, the Lions suffered a dismal campaign. They lost their last eight games to finish off the season at 4-12.
This was despite the league's second-ranked passing attack. However, that passing attack got little help from the running game, and an inconsistent defense.
The Packers were a solid 11th defending the pass last year, but 17th against the run.
Of course, none of this will matter if the Lions can't stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' passing attack.
The Packers were an impressive 11-5 last year, and they swept the Lions in the process. However, the games were close. Green Bay won by just a combined 11 points.
This matchup should be a blast as it should feature plenty of offense and deep-strike passing.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
What a Turkey Day nightcap! The defending Super Bowl champs against their bitter and brutal division rival: the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The battle between these two almost always produces a showcase for hard-hitting and well-played football, and there is no reason to expect anything different this year.
The Steelers will be looking to improve on last season's 8-8 campaign that saw them limp to the finish with losses in five of their last seven.
That stretch did include a split with the Ravens with each team winning by three on the road.
However, as we know, the Ravens didn't hit their full stride until the playoffs, and while they underwent a ton of change this offseason, they made smart moves and will be geared up to defend their title.
The Steelers will look to ride a defense that finished first in passing last year and second in rushing to a victory in this game, but that defense will be overwhelmed if the Steelers can't get their offense going, and a rushing attack that finished 26th last season.
Still, when these two teams meet, we can just go ahead and throw out all the stats and analysis and just enjoy a wonderful football game.
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