Thanksgiving Day was made for turkey and football. An American tradition definitely will not disappoint football fans with this year’s slate of games.
The day starts with the undefeated defending champs on the road against the Lions. The Packers will try to stay unbeaten in a hostile and rejuvenated Ford Field, after years of being irrelevant by the national holiday.
The middle Thanksgiving game presents the Miami Dolphins visiting the Dallas Cowboys. A few weeks ago, this game would not have seemed to be too entertaining but after three straight Miami wins, this will not be a freebie for Tony Romo and the Cowboys.
A family affair in Baltimore concludes the Thanksgiving lineup, with the 9-1 49er’s and the 7-3 Ravens squaring off. This is the first meeting between brothers Jim and John Harbaugh in a coveted Thanksgiving matchup.
The stars come out to shine on Thanksgiving and here are the players who should have big performances…
Widely regarded as the nastiest player in the NFL, look for Suh to make his presence felt early by Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rogers.
This could be the greatest chance an opponent has to prevent the Packers from running the table and going 16-0. Sitting at 10-0, Green Bay will enter a hostile environment with a tenacious defense to deal with.
How well the Lions can pressure Rodgers will determine the outcome of this game. Look for the Lions to throw everything in the playbook to try and contain A-Rod.
Suh brings a ferocious physical and mental approach and will try to keep Rogers on the floor more than the end zone.
Both Frank Gore and Ray Rice are the driving force behind their team’s offense. Gore and Rice have the same job in their respective offense...pound the football.
The Harbaugh brothers both like north/south running style, and they have two of the best in the league to shoulder the load.
Frank Gore’s consistency allows the 49ers defense to be so effective. The 49er’s offensive numbers do not jump off the paper, but they move the chains and go on long methodical drives.
Ray Rice is a huge weapon for the Ravens because of everything he brings to the table. Besides his ability to run, Rice has been effective in the passing game, already collecting over 500 receiving yards this season.
Look for two of the premier NFL defenses to focus on controlling the running game, which few teams have done all season.
After starting the season 0-7, the Miami Dolphins were considered to be Andrew Luck front-runners. Now they have won three games in a row going into their Thanksgiving matchup in Dallas.
During the Dolphin’s three game winning streak, Reggie Bush seems to have found his place in the offense. Bush has found the end zone four times during Miami’s recent surge.
Bush has never been afraid of the bright lights, so look for him to try and take advantage of a Cowboys defense that struggles at checking backs in the passing game.
The Dolphins have used rookie Daniel Thomas to pound the ball, but Reggie is still trying to prove he is an every down back. Miami has struggled to consistently integrate Bush in the offense, but Reggie has been the one scoring touchdowns in their latest three wins.
Watch out for the big play potential Reggie brings to the bright lights in Dallas.
Megatron loves the bright lights and will be the most focused player the Green Bay Packers have to worry about.
Ford Field will be rocking in the most relevant Thanksgiving game in a very long time.
In the Lions' Monday Night Football game earlier in the season vs. the Bears, Johnson snagged five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. Look for Matthew Stafford to throw the ball his way early and often.
If the Lions plan on handing the Packers their first loss; Calvin Johnson has got to deliver.
There should be two defenders on him all night, but look for the 6'5" physical freak of nature to shine on Thanksgiving.
The Alex Smith and Joe Flacco quarterback matchup should be interesting on Thanksgiving Day.
Sitting with a 9-1 record, the 49ers have pounded the football week after week and Smith has done a tremendous job managing the offense. For the amount of scrutiny Smith has dealt with, he has developed into a consistent passer.
Smith will not be asked to walk into Baltimore and drop 300 yards, but in order for the 49ers to walk away with a tough road win, Smith will need to make some bug plays down the stretch.
Similar to Smith and the 49ers, Joe Flacco does not have an enormous amount of pressure on him to put up jaw-dropping numbers. Ray Rice and one of the league’s best defenses allow Joe Flacco the luxury of managing a good football team.
Look for Flacco to use the play-action pass to try and create the separation between two extremely talented football teams.
With both teams looking to become elite, which quarterback will shine under the bright lights?
The 6-4 Cowboys are right in the thick of the NFC East playoff race, but they are going to need a consistent Tony Romo for the stretch run.
With some tough games left on the schedule, the Cowboys need a win at home against the Dolphins.
Constantly scrutinized, quarterback Tony Romo needs this game for his confidence. Miami has been playing well as of late, but Romo needs to assert himself early in the game to get his confidence going.
Romo has not been known to shine when the whole nation is watching, but if the Cowboys have playoff intentions, Tony Romo needs to minimize his mistakes and get a win on Thanksgiving.
How convenient for the NFL to feature two top defenses, running backs and coaches…that happen to be brothers.
First-year coach Jim Harbaugh and the 9-1 49ers visit seasoned John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens who have posted a 7-3 record.
As families across the country celebrate the most family orientated holiday, Jim and John will stand on opposite sides of the field in a straight battle on Thanksgiving.
These are two of the most physical and tenacious teams in the league and this game will be a grind.
This family affair could come down to wire and should be an entertaining Thanksgiving Day game.
For the record, do not expect John Harbaugh to let his younger brother walk away if he pulls what he did against Jim Schwartz and the Lions…