NFL Thursday Games Preview – Week 12, Thanksgiving Day Games
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions – 12:30 PM
In a key NFC North game, Detroit (7-3) plays host to the undefeated Packers (10-0). With an NFL-best quarterback rating of 128.8, Aaron Rodgers is the leader of Green Bay’s offensive attack, which averages a league-best 35.5 points per game. Rodgers throws to Jordy Nelson when he needs points. Nelson’s nine touchdown catches are second in the NFL to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, who has 11. With the fifth-best pass defense and a strong pass rush, the Lions’ defense matches up as well as anyone against Green Bay’s offensive strength. Detroit must get to Rodgers to slow the Packers down. Detroit’s offense averages 30.1 points per game, good for third in the NFL. The Lions’ Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson will face a Packers defense that allows 391.8 yards per game, third-worst in the league. The Lions need to capitalize on drives when they can.
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys – 4:15 PM
This battle of teams on three-game winning streaks finds Dallas (6-4) in first place in the NFC East and Miami (3-7) slowly playing its way out of a terrible season. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last three games. He is 4-0 in Thanksgiving Day starts. Romo faces an effective Dolphins’ pass rush and a Miami defense that yields just 18.6 points per game, sixth-best in the league. The Dolphins’ offense was very efficient against Buffalo last week, scoring 28 first-half points. Miami has averaged just 19.3 points per game on the season, so expect the production to level off this week. Dallas will look to pressure quarterback Matt Moore and bottle up the suddenly effective running of Reggie Bush.
San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM
Head coaching brothers Jim (San Francisco) and John (Baltimore) Harbaugh oppose each other in an inter-conference battle of division leaders on Thanksgiving night. The 49ers (9-1) allow the league’s fewest points (14.5) and rushing yards (73.9) per game. The San Francisco defense, second in the NFL with 15 interceptions, will look to force Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco into turnovers. He already has 13 this year. The Ravens (7-3) defense isn’t far behind the 49ers. Baltimore ranks third in fewest points allowed per game with 17.6. The Ravens must stop San Francisco drives from dominating time of possession and generating points. 49ers kicker David Akers leads the NFL with 102 points and 26 field goals.