It's never too early to start formulating your plans on Thanksgiving, and the NFL offered a helping hand with Thursday's official schedule release.
In keeping with tradition, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys will once again play host on Turkey Day. Their opponents, as well as the third matchup for Nov. 23, remained unknown until the league rolled out the upcoming year's regular-season slate.
Below is a brief preview for the trio of Thanksgiving games.
2017 NFL Thanksgiving Games—Nov. 23
|Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions||12:30 p.m.||Fox||Ford Field|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys||4:30 p.m.||CBS||AT&T Stadium|
|New York Giants at Washington Redskins||8:30 p.m.||NBC||FedEx Field|
You can check out the rest of the NFL schedule on NFL.com.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins safety Su'a Cravens is already looking forward to Thanksgiving:
Giants on Thanksgiving night ? Let's get it !!2017-4-20 16:51:53
The Washington Post's Master Tesfatsion noted the Redskins have played nine times on Thanksgiving, but this is the first time they'll be the home team.
The Redskins and Giants split their two head-to-head meetings in 2016. Washington drew first blood with a 29-27 Week 3 victory, and New York returned the favor with a 19-10 win in the final week of the regular season.
While the spotlight will be on the quarterback matchup between Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins, the running game may determine the outcome of Washington and New York's Thanksgiving clash.
In the Redskins' win, Matt Jones ran for 65 yards, 43 of which came on the drive resulting in Dustin Hopkins' go-ahead field goal. In the second meeting, Jones was out, and Robert Kelley went for 33 yards on 12 carries.
While Cousins is coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2016, Washington would likely struggle if he has to do it all on his own against a team that ranked fourth in passing-defense efficiency, per Football Outsiders.
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys
On paper, the Dallas Cowboys will be heavy favorites on Thanksgiving against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Cowboys went 13-3 last year and boast two of the brightest young offensive stars in the NFL: quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Chargers, meanwhile, haven't reached the playoffs since 2013 and will likely face a year of transition as they adjust to playing in their new home.
Dallas could have its hands full, though, when it welcomes Los Angeles.
The Cowboys ranked 26th in passing defense (260.4 yards per game) last year and notably lost safety Barry Church and cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Dallas Morning News' David Moore highlighted the experience the team lost this offseason:
David Moore @DavidMooreDMN
With Brandon Carr, Barry Church & J.J. Wilcox gone _ & Mo Claiborne to follow _ Cowboys have lost 224 career starts from their secondary.2017-3-16 20:29:52
The arrival of Nolan Carroll helps offset Claiborne's departure, but the secondary remains a relative area of concern for the team.
While Philip Rivers isn't getting any younger, the emergence of Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman gives the Chargers a potent aerial attack in 2017, and Los Angeles will have a healthy Keenan Allen back as well.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Few teams will be happier to see Adrian Peterson away from the Minnesota Vikings than the Detroit Lions. In 14 games against Detroit, Peterson averaged 106.4 yards per contest and scored 11 touchdowns.
The Vikings signed Latavius Murray to replace the seven-time Pro Bowler, and Minnesota will expect Murray to replicate Peterson's success against the Lions. Detroit allowed 106.3 yards a game on the ground and ranked 23rd in run-defense efficiency, per Football Outsiders.
The Green Bay Packers will likely be considered favorites to win the NFC North when the 2017 season opens.
The Lions and Vikings' head-to-head games may determine which of the division's teams are wild-card contenders. Last year, the Lions beat the Vikings 16-13 on Thanksgiving. Detroit finished one game better (9-7) than Minnesota (8-8), claiming the final wild-card spot in the NFC.