Thursday Night Football has helped NFL fans get through their work week all season, and the small remaining schedule for 2013 should have football fans doing everything in their power to witness each matchup.
In Week 12, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will rekindle their NFC South rivalry. After this week, though, there are several important games.
Should there be Thursday Night Football all 17 weeks of the season?
But NFL fans must enjoy the midweek spectacle now before it’s gone. After Week 15, they won’t have Thursday Night Football again until the 2014 season.
I don’t know about you, but I already miss it.
|Nov. 21||8:25 p.m.||New Orleans at Atlanta||NFL Network|
|Nov. 28||12:30 p.m.||Green Bay at Detroit||Fox|
|Nov. 28||4:30 p.m.||Oakland at Dallas||CBS|
|Nov. 28||8:30 p.m.||Pittsburgh at Baltimore||NBC|
|Dec. 5||8:25 p.m.||Houston at Jacksonville||NFL Network|
|Dec. 12||8:25 p.m.||San Diego at Denver||NFL Network|
Schedule via NFL.com
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos, Week 15
The final Thursday Night Football game of the season will be an AFC West matchup between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos. The anticipation for this heated divisional battle will reach a fever pitch as the game is featured heavily in the hype for Week 15.
As well as San Diego has played at times this season, the Chargers can’t hold a candle to the awe-inspiring offensive skill of the Broncos. Led by Peyton Manning and the most dangerous passing attack in the league, Denver will dismantle its opponent’s mediocre secondary on this national stage.
|Category (per game)||Denver Broncos||San Diego Chargers|
|Passing Yards||350.4 (first)||287.9 (fourth)|
|Rushing Yards||105.1 (20th)||111.5 (16th)|
|Passing Yards Allowed||279.1 (28th)||275.5 (27th)|
|Rushing Yards Allowed||92.7 (fourth)||113.5 (16th)|
Stats via ESPN
The Broncos haven’t been very good against the pass themselves, though, and squaring off against Philip Rivers and the talented San Diego offense will result in a closer battle than most fans might expect.
In the quarterback dual between Manning and Rivers, it will be Denver’s play-caller who steals the show and leads his team to a hard-fought victory. The Broncos could be playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs, and with this being their final regular-season home game on a short week, they'll have all the momentum to emerge with the win.
Predicted Final Score: Denver 30, San Diego 24
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, Week 13
There is no question that the aura around the AFC North battle between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens isn’t on the same level it once was when both teams were serious Super Bowl contenders, but the history in this rivalry is undeniable.
Anytime Baltimore plays Pittsburgh, fans get excited for the hard-nosed battle.
|Category (per game)||Pittsburgh Steelers||Baltimore Ravens|
|Passing Yards||266.7 (seventh)||225.3 (19th)|
|Rushing Yards||76.5 (30th)||83.2 (27th)|
|Passing Yards Allowed||215.6 (eighth)||237.2 (13th)|
|Rushing Yards Allowed||125.2 (26th)||102.7 (11th)|
Stats via ESPN
This matchup will be the culminating game on the Thanksgiving holiday, and it should provide fans with the perfect nightcap to a wonderful day of football. While neither team has developed much chemistry on offense, the familiarity between the franchises will spawn legitimate animosity.
Baltimore has failed to live up to the franchise’s high expectations on the defensive side of the ball. While it's tied for eighth in points allowed per game, it hasn't been as opportunistic with just 13 takeaways. Pittsburgh will take advantage of a decent yet vulnerable defense by controlling the clock with the team's more balanced offense.
As long as Ben Roethlisberger protects the football and running back Le'Veon Bell can find his stride, this bitter Thanksgiving divisional battle should favor the road team.
Predicted Final Score: Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 17
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, Week 13
The status of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still very much up in the air for the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. If Rodgers were to miss this matchup, it would give Detroit the opportunity it needs to shine.
|Category (per game)||Green Bay Packers||Detroit Lions|
|Passing Yards||283.1 (fifth)||310.6 (third)|
|Rushing Yards||134.3 (sixth)||103.7 (21st)|
|Passing Yards Allowed||247.1 (21st)||283.8 (30th)|
|Rushing Yards Allowed||103.8 (13th)||94.6 (fifth)|
Stats via ESPN
Since Green Bay’s quarterback suffered a broken collarbone, the Packers have faltered and failed to fill the void he left. While backup Scott Tolzien has played well, he has not lived up to the high expectations set by Rodgers.
Even if Rodgers manages to play, though, the Lions still have the talent to steal the victory.
Detroit has failed to find consistency this season on offense or defense, but the major difference-maker for the team has been Calvin Johnson. The talented wide receiver will be a coverage nightmare for Green Bay and will give the Lions the distinct advantage the team needs to win this matchup.
The Packers will play their divisional foes tough, but the Lions will pull out the hard-fought win.
Predicted Final Score: Detroit 27, Green Bay 21