The Thanksgiving holiday is all about family and spending time with the people you love, but the rise of the NFL as America's new pastime has made it a day associated with football.
Not only will Thursday feature the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos in a rematch of their Week 11 divisional battle, but three marquee games on Thursday’s holiday will also make this one of the most memorable weeks of football in a long time.
Here is the full schedule of games on Thanksgiving weekend, the predicted winners for each matchup and the three battles fans can’t afford to miss.
|Week 13 NFL Schedule and Predictions|
|Date||Time (ET)||Away Team||Home Team||Predicted Winner|
|Thursday, Nov. 28||12:30 p.m.||Green Bay Packers||Detroit Lions||Lions|
|Thursday, Nov. 28||4:30 p.m.||Oakland Raiders||Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys|
|Thursday, Nov. 28||8:30 p.m.||Pittsburgh Steelers||Baltimore Ravens||Steelers|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||1 p.m.||Jacksonville Jaguars||Cleveland Browns||Browns|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||1 p.m.||Tennessee Titans||Indianapolis Colts||Colts|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||1 p.m.||Chicago Bears||Minnesota Vikings||Bears|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||1 p.m.||Miami Dolphins||New York Jets||Dolphins|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||1 p.m.||Arizona Cardinals||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||1 p.m.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Carolina Panthers||Panthers|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||1 p.m.||New England Patriots||Houston Texans||Patriots|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||4:05 p.m.||Atlanta Falcons||Buffalo Bills||Bills|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||4:05 p.m.||St. Louis Rams||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||4:25 p.m.||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||Broncos|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||4:25 p.m.||Cincinnati Bengals||San Diego Chargers||Bengals|
|Sunday, Dec. 1||8:30 p.m.||New York Giants||Washington||Giants|
|Monday, Dec. 2||8:30 p.m.||New Orleans Saints||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks|
Denver Broncos (9-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
The Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 and walked away with a convincing victory. On Sunday, the divisional foes will square off again in a battle that will unfold similarly to the first meeting.
Peyton Manning may have struggled against New England on Sunday night, but the veteran will be able bounce back against Kansas City. In the first game between these teams, Manning threw for 323 yards and a touchdown, and his team walked away with the 27-17 victory.
The Chiefs’ biggest strength has been their defensive unit, but injuries to key players have the ferocity of the defense in question. According to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are hurt and unlikely to play against Denver.
The 41 points allowed against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday were the most given up by Kansas City this season.
Much of the focus this week will be on Manning and how he bounces back from another loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots, but Denver’s secret weapon has been its rushing attack. While Mike Klis and Joan Niesen of The Denver Post report that Knowshon Moreno is nursing an ankle injury, his 224 rushing yards against the Patriots will make the Broncos offense more balanced.
Led by the rushing attack of Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs have played well offensively and will hang points of their own on a Denver defense dealing with injuries across the depth chart.
It will not be enough to outgun the league’s top-ranked passing attack, though.
Predicted Final Score: Denver 33, Kansas City 30
New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
The New Orleans Saints were able to squeeze out a tight victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football, but with the Seattle Seahawks coming off a bye in Week 12, the Saints are heading for another tough loss.
Seattle will prove it is the class of the NFC with a dominant home victory.
New Orleans is protected from the elements in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and even sheltered on the road when the team travels to Atlanta, but the weather associated with CenturyLink Field in December will play a factor in the game plan of the high-paced Saints.
There is no doubt that the cold weather will be an issue for the pass-happy offense—not to mention the noise inside the stadium—but there is no discounting just how talented the Seahawks' defensive unit has been this season.
Against a group that ranks second in the NFL in yards allowed (293.3 per game) and third in points allowed (16.3 per game), New Orleans will have to work for every yard.
The Saints have improved defensively under coordinator Rob Ryan, but Seattle's offense has the strengths to push New Orleans to its limit. The third-ranked rushing attack makes the offense tick, but the addition of versatile wide receiver Percy Harvin will create matchup nightmares in the secondary.
While there is little doubt that New Orleans will play well in the Monday Night Football matchup, the team cannot match the firepower the Seahawks possess on both sides of the ball.
Predicted Final Score: Seattle 27, New Orleans 24
Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) at Detroit Lions (6-5)
The Green Bay Packers won the first divisional matchup against the Detroit Lions with now-injured Aaron Rodgers under center. When the two teams square off again on Thanksgiving day, the Lions will be in the driver’s seat and walk away with the win.
Instead of talking about Rodgers, the NFL will be talking about Matthew Stafford.
Stafford and the Lions are coming off two heartbreaking losses in each of the last two weeks and must bounce back against their NFC North foes. Detroit currently leads the division over the 6-5 Chicago Bears, and a win by Green Bay would cause even more confusion at the top of the standings.
With the help of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, running back Reggie Bush and the league’s third-ranked passing offense, Stafford will look to put up big points on a Green Bay defense that was gouged for over 460 yards of total offense by the lowly Minnesota Vikings in Week 12.
Detroit must win decisively Thursday. With the Bears playing the Vikings on Sunday, the Lions are under pressure to set the tone for the weekend by taking a commanding lead in the division.
Predicted Final Score: Detroit 30, Green Bay 20