Thanksgiving Day NFL Schedule 2017: Previewing Cowboys, Lions & Turkey Day Games

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18:  Dak Prescott #4 and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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

MatchupTime (ET)TVLocation
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions12:30 p.m.FoxFord Field
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys4:30 p.m.CBSAT&T Stadium
New York Giants at Washington Redskins8:30 p.m.NBCFedEx Field
Source: NFL.com

You can check out the rest of the NFL schedule on NFL.com.

 

New York Giants at Washington Redskins

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Running back Rob Kelley #32 of the Washington Redskins carries the ball against defensive tackle Damon Harrison #98 of the New York Giants in the first quarter at FedExField on January 1, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Ro
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Washington Redskins safety Su'a Cravens is already looking forward to Thanksgiving:

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

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers calling plays at the line against  the Kansas City Chiefs during a NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

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:

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

DETROIT.MI - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions directs his team against the Minnesota Vikings during second half action at Ford Field on November 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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.