Family, friends, turkey and NFL football are in play for Week 13, as the Thanksgiving holiday provides a perfect platform from which to enjoy a phenomenal slate of games.
Starting early on Thursday, there are three nationally televised games for your viewing pleasure.
The Green Bay Packers are in Detroit to get the day's action kicked off against the Lions. Then, the Oakland Raiders will take on the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, followed by a highly anticipated AFC North nightcap featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
At this point in the season, many teams have already started shifting into playoff mode. Every game carries a tremendous amount of weight as it pertains to playoff seeding, and some teams can't afford a single loss as they fight to stay in the race.
Sunday's schedule features plenty of enticing matchups as well, and the week's finale on Monday night should be a dandy, as the New Orleans Saints will be in Seattle to take on the Seahawks.
Here's a look at the entire television schedule for this week's action, followed by a closer examination of a few of the biggest games.
|THU, NOV 28||TIME (ET)||TV||LOCATION|
|Green Bay at Detroit||12:30 p.m.||Fox||Ford Field|
|Oakland at Dallas||4:30 p.m.||CBS||AT&T Stadium|
|Pittsburgh at Baltimore||8:30 p.m.||NBC||M&T Bank Stadium|
|SUN, DEC 1||TIME (ET)||TV||LOCATION|
|Jacksonville at Cleveland||1 p.m.||CBS||FirstEnergy Stadium|
|Tennessee at Indianapolis||1 p.m.||CBS||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|Chicago at Minnesota||1 p.m.||Fox||Mall of America Field|
|Miami at NY Jets||1 p.m.||CBS||MetLife Stadium|
|Arizona at Philadelphia||1 p.m.||Fox||Lincoln Financial Field|
|Tampa Bay at Carolina||1 p.m.||Fox||Bank of America Stadium|
|New England at Houston||1 p.m.||CBS||Reliant Stadium|
|Atlanta at Buffalo||4:05 p.m.||Fox||Rogers Centre|
|St. Louis at San Francisco||4:05 p.m.||Fox||Candlestick Park|
|Denver at Kansas City||4:25 p.m.||CBS||Arrowhead Stadium|
|Cincinnati at San Diego||4:25 p.m.||CBS||Qualcomm Stadium|
|NY Giants at Washington||8:30 p.m.||NBC||FedEx Field|
|MON, DEC 2||TIME (ET)||TV||LOCATION|
|New Orleans at Seattle||8:30 p.m.||ESPN||CenturyLink Field|
Green Bay at Detroit
The NFC North is still completely up for grabs with five games remaining.
The Lions have the lead over the Chicago Bears. Both teams are 6-5 so far, but the Lions are ahead because of Detroit's two wins against Chicago this year. The Packers are just one-half game behind both teams with a record of 5-5-1.
Green Bay doesn't expect Aaron Rodgers to play on Thursday. Head coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday it was "slim to none" that the quarterback would suit up, as noted by ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Packers HC Mike McCarthy said slim to none chance Aaron Rodgers plays Thanksgiving vs. Detroit.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 25, 2013
The Packers haven't won a game since Rodgers went down with his collarbone injury. Matt Flynn was able to generate some momentum late in the game against Minnesota last weekend in place of Scott Tolzien, but the Vikings have been atrocious on defense all year long.
Detroit's defensive front seven has been dominating teams up front against the run, allowing just 88 yards per game, which ranks No. 4 in the NFL. This means Eddie Lacy will likely find it difficult to carry the Packers' offense, putting pressure on Flynn to win the game with his arm.
But Flynn is no match for Matthew Stafford, who finally has Nate Burleson back.
Which team will win?
The veteran receiver made his return to the field of play last weekend against Tampa Bay after missing significant time due to a broken arm. He caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in that game.
Burleson and Calvin Johnson should both have big games against the Packers, and the Lions should roll at home, improving to 7-5 on the season and staying atop the NFC North.
Projected Score: Lions win 38-24
Arizona at Philadelphia
A month ago, both of these teams would have been considered locks to miss the playoffs, but after rattling off impressive winning streaks, both are now in position to earn postseason berths in the highly competitive NFC.
The Arizona Cardinals absolutely crushed the Indianapolis Colts last weekend for their fourth win in a row. Heading into Sunday's game, this team is breathing down San Francisco's neck for the final wild-card spot in the NFC.
The Philadelphia Eagles won three games in a row before taking last week off on a bye. At 6-5, Philly is neck and neck with Dallas for the NFC East lead.
Arizona's defense has been clicking on all cylinders lately, and this unit comes into the game with the league's second-ranked run defense. This provides a fascinating battle against Philadelphia's NFL-leading rushing attack, and it'll be interesting to see if LeSean McCoy can break through against this tough unit.
But the real battle will be between the two quarterbacks in this game.
Carson Palmer has thrown four touchdowns and zero interceptions his past two starts after throwing at least one interception in every single one of the Cardinals' first nine games. For the season, he's thrown 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions overall.
Nick Foles has only started five games this year, but he has equaled Palmer's 16 touchdowns while throwing nary an interception. He recently won the NFC's Offensive Player of the Month award for November, as noted by Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
Foles comes into the game as clearly one of the hottest players in the league, as detailed by the Eagles on Twitter and ESPN Stats & Info:
Nick Foles has 16 TD passes and 0 Int this season, tied for 2nd-most TD passes without Int to start season (2013 Peyton Manning, 20).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 26, 2013
Given the way both quarterbacks have played this season, it's hard to imagine Palmer will be the sharper of the two. With that in mind, Philly should win at home, but it won't be easy.
Projected Score: Eagles win 27-24
New Orleans at Seattle
It's hard to over-hype this clash of NFC titans.
With only one loss to Seattle's credit, the Seahawks are alone atop the NFC playoff picture and currently have the inside track for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is bad, bad news for the rest of the conference.
The Seahawks haven't lost a game at home since December of 2011, and this team has won six games in a row since getting taken down by Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium back in Week 5.
New Orleans is nipping at their heels, however, with a record of 9-2, and the winner of this game will be the top seed in the NFC for at least one week. Since neither team has lost at home this year, earning home-field advantage is a prize worth selling out for to obtain.
While both teams have the ability to put up monster points totals, this Monday Night Football showdown could easily turn into a defensive struggle. Seattle features the No. 2-ranked scoring defense in the league (16.3 points per game), while New Orleans comes in with the fourth-best in the same category (17.8).
In the end, this game will boil down to turnovers.
Seattle leads the NFC with 26 takeaways and a plus-11 turnover rate. New Orleans hasn't been nearly as dominant in this regard, owning a plus-four turnover rate with 17 forced turnovers. Combined with the crowd noise and the current winning streak at home, this is Seattle's game to lose in prime time.
Projected Score: Seahawks win 24-21
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