NFL Thanksgiving Football Picks: Favorites Should Prevail

By Mark Donatiello

There’s nothing like Thanksgiving Football.  As we gather with our families and enjoy a feast with our loved ones, the NFL provides a full day of exciting games to respectfully keep us from our in-laws.  This year’s slate features two divisional rivalries and an exciting inter-conference battle.

The Houston Texans visit a legitimate Detroit Lions team to open the action.  Next, Dallas Cowboys host the Washington Redskins in a game that could have a great impact on the NFC East.  The nightcap features a rematch between the New England Patriots and New York Jets after their first meeting went to overtimes.  I couldn’t be more excited about this yea’rs games.


The Detroit Lions have come a long way since their winless season.  They’re relevant in football again, led by a high-powered offense and one of coaching’s most motivational figures.  The Detroit Lions believe in themselves and can stand toe-to-toe with anyone.  Unfortunately, this roster simply has too many holes to reliably compete with the Houston Texans.

With Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson on the same field to open Thanksgiving festivities, the early afternoon game features two of the best receivers in football.  What separates these two dynamic passing attacks is the lack of balance the Detroit Lions have offensively.  Detroit cannot match the production of Arian Foster, and it will leave them one-dimensional.

On the other side of the ball, the Texans have a consistent defense with few holes.  The Detroit Lions have a weak secondary and depend on an elite pass rush to hide their shortcomings.  I expect the rushing game of the Texans to slow down a Lions pass rush, opening the field vertically and keeping the offense balanced.

Texans 38 – Lions 21


The second game of the Thanksgiving Day lineup features an NFC East rivalry that could decide the division. The New York Giants face the Green Bay Packers later in the week, and a Cowboys win coupled with a Giants loss puts the NFC East at a deadlock.  This is a must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys, but the Washington Redskins are just as desperate and just as motivated.

This game will come down to whether the Dallas Cowboys can overcome their struggles at home in order to continue their success on Thanksgiving Day.  Dallas is 28-15-1 on Thanksgiving Day, but they’ve struggled in their new stadium overall and will need to play well against a dynamic Washington Redskins team.

The Redskins are led by Robert Griffin III, but the rookie quarterback will have his hands full with a top-ten Dallas Cowboys defense.  The Cowboys offense is loaded at the skill positions, and if they play a crisp game they’ll win at home.  Since Tony Romo took over in 2006, the Dallas Cowboys are 5-1 on Thanksgiving Day.

Cowboys 28 – Redskins 24


The New York Jets played the Patriots close earlier this year, but were done in by a Mark Sanchez turnover in overtime.  Since then, the New England Patriots are playing their best football of the year.  The Pats have won four in a row, while the Jets are coming off a convincing win.  I expect the Patriots’ focus to be the difference maker here.

Injuries have derailed the Jets season and they don’t match up well in this one.  A wounded secondary faces Tom Brady, and the defense is struggling to generate an effective amount of pressure.  The New England Patriots run a balanced offense, ranking in the top five in both rushing and passing yards per game.  I don’t think the Jets have the personnel to slow them down.

On the other side of the ball, the Jets lack weapons.  I would feel bad for Mark Sanchez if I didn’t love Tim Tebow so much (and honestly, could he really do any worse than Sanchez in this miserable offense?).  The receivers fail to get open, the rushing game doesn’t open up the defense, and the line is abysmal.  As mediocre as the Pats are defensively, I think they have enough to handle the Jets.

Patriots 39 – Jets 20

In the end, the lines look juicy and the favorites appear to have significant advantages in each game.  While Thursdays tend to favor the home team, I expect the Texans and Patriots to overpower their opposition and win on the road.  The Dallas Cowboys could be in first place with a win, and I expect them to play well from start to finish.  Either way, it should be an exciting day of football. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


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