What to know for all three Thanksgiving Day NFL games: Picks, key stats and bold predictions

Sports

The Week 12 NFL schedule for the 2022 season begins with three Thanksgiving Day matchups, and we’ve got you covered with what you need to know. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game and a bold prediction for each matchup.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a game projection. ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe hands out helpful fantasy football intel as well. Finally, Seth Walder and Eric Moody give us final score picks for all three contests. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded afternoon of NFL football.

Let’s get into the full Thanksgiving Day slate, including Josh Allen against the Lions and an NFC East matchup between the Giants and Cowboys. The football-packed holiday culminates with a battle between the Patriots and Vikings. Who will take another step closer to the postseason with a win Thursday?

Jump to a matchup:
BUF-DET | NYG-DAL | NE-MIN

12:30 p.m. ET | CBS | Spread: BUF -9 (54)

What to watch for: After a 1-6 start, the red-hot Lions are trying to extend a rare three-game win streak in their first nationally televised matchup of the season. But the Bills are one of the toughest teams in the league and are already familiar with Ford Field, having just played in the Motor City after a snowstorm forced them to switch sites in Week 11. The holiday showdown could be a shootout with both teams ranked in the top six in points per game, yards per game and yards per play through 10 contests. — Eric Woodyard

Bold prediction: Bills quarterback Josh Allen will have a full get-right game, throwing for 300-plus yards and rushing for at least 50 more. After a bumpy first half against the Browns, he had a strong second-half performance in the win, completing 81.8% of his passes and throwing for 10.3 yards per attempt. The Lions’ defense has allowed the most yards per game (415.9) and per passing attempt (8.1) in the NFL. The Bills’ offense began moving in the right direction over the final two quarters Sunday, and playing the Lions will be a big opportunity for a complete performance. — Alaina Getzenberg

Stat to know: The Lions are looking for their third straight game with 30 points, which would be their longest single-season streak since 1997. A big reason they are piling up points is running back Jamaal Williams, whose 12 rushing TDs this year are the most in the NFL and the sixth-most in a single season in franchise history. Williams now has five games with multiple rushing touchdowns in 2022, tied for the most in a season by a Lions player since 1950.

Injuries: Bills | Lions

What to know for fantasy: Buffalo running back Devin Singletary has reached 15 fantasy points three times this season, and two of those instances have come in the past two weeks. He has 133 total rushing yards (66.5 per game) and three rushing TDs over his past two games. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Since 2004, Detroit is 3-11 against the spread and 0-14 outright as an underdog on Thanksgiving. Detroit’s last upset win on Thanksgiving happened in 2003 against Green Bay (+7). Read more.

Thanksgiving Day throwback: On Thanksgiving in 1997, Detroit running back Barry Sanders rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears in a 55-20 win for the Lions. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Bills 31, Lions 20
Walder’s pick: Bills 34, Lions 17
FPI prediction: BUF, 82.7% (by an average of 11.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Bills credit Buffalo community after win: ‘That was for you’Williams taking leading role during Lions’ win streak


4:30 p.m. ET | FOX | Spread: DAL -9 (44.5)

What to watch for: The Cowboys have won five straight against New York at AT&T Stadium and 11 of 12 overall against their NFC East rivals. This will be the two teams’ first Thanksgiving meeting since 1992, a 30-3 Dallas win. But the holiday has not been kind to the Cowboys of late. They have lost three straight Thanksgiving Day games, their longest such streak since dropping four in a row from 1986 to 1989. — Todd Archer

Bold prediction: Giants running back Saquon Barkley will rush for 140-plus yards to keep the game close. The shorthanded Giants will have no choice but to rely on Barkley even more than usual. It could work against a Dallas defense whose weakness is stopping the run. The Cowboys are ranked 26th in rushing defense (136.1 yards against per game), and Barkley already has two games with 30 or more carries and 140-plus yards. Make it three. — Jordan Raanan

Stat to know: No quarterback throws touchdowns at a higher rate against the blitz since the start of last season than the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott (11.4%). He has thrown 25 such touchdowns in that timeframe, most in the NFL. That could be an issue for New York on Thursday. The Giants bring the blitz at the NFL’s highest rate (43%).

Injuries: Giants | Cowboys

What to know for fantasy: Dallas running back Tony Pollard has gained 464 yards on his 61 touches over the past three games, while backfield mate Ezekiel Elliott has picked up 241 yards on his past 61 touches. Pollard also has six scrimmage touchdowns since Week 8, tied for the most in the NFL over that span with Jamaal Williams. His four straight games with 100 yards from scrimmage is also the longest active streak in the league. See Week 12 rankings.

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1:50

Stephania Bell and Field Yates break down the fantasy outputs of Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott.

Betting nugget: Since 2020, New York is 7-0 against the spread in short-rest games — and all have been with Daniel Jones as its starting quarterback. Read more.

Thanksgiving Day throwback: In 1982, Giants defensive end Lawrence Taylor intercepted Lions quarterback Gary Danielson in the fourth quarter and took it back 97 yards to the house for the go-ahead — and eventual game-winning — touchdown. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Cowboys 28, Giants 21
Walder’s pick: Cowboys 24, Giants 20
FPI prediction: DAL, 87.2% (by an average of 13.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: What does Jones need to prove to be part of the Giants’ future?Where do Cowboys’ Elliott, Pollard rank among elite RB duos?Were the Giants exposed in Week 11?Giants WR Robinson out for season with torn ACLWhat’s Chef Hoppie cooking up for Cowboys’ stars on Thanksgiving


8:20 p.m. ET | NBC | Spread: MIN -2.5 (42)

What to watch for: The Patriots have had their way with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in two matchups against him, beating his teams both times and holding him to an average of 5.0 yards per attempt — his lowest against any team he has faced in multiple games. This season, the Patriots are fielding the kind of defense that gives him trouble, too. They’re generating pressure on 34% of opponents’ dropbacks, the third-highest rate in the NFL. The Vikings will be playing without standout left tackle Christian Darrisaw (concussion), and Cousins’ QBR has dropped 60 points when under pressure in 2022. — Kevin Seifert

Bold prediction: Quarterback Mac Jones and the Patriots’ struggling red zone offense — which ranks 31st in the NFL in terms of TD percentage (12 in 28 trips, 42.9%) — will break out of a slump and score twice from inside the 20-yard line. That is an area where the Vikings have struggled to defend, as they rank last in the NFL in opponents’ touchdown percentage (20 TDs against in 28 trips, 71.4%). — Mike Reiss

Stat to know: The Patriots have allowed 17 or fewer points in all six of their wins this season (0-4 when allowing more than 17 points), and they’ve now gone two straight games without allowing a touchdown. New England has gone three straight without a TD against once before in franchise history (2018-2019), and the Vikings failed to score a touchdown in Week 11 for the first time in their past 93 games.

Injuries: Patriots | Vikings

What to know for fantasy: Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson managed just 6.3 fantasy points last week in the blowout loss to the Cowboys after clearing 15 in each of his six prior games. The last time he failed to catch five passes in a game was Week 3, and he followed that dud up with consecutive double-digit catch efforts. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Minnesota (4-5-1 ATS) and Kansas City (4-6 ATS) are the third and fourth teams in the past 20 seasons to start 8-2 or better outright but have losing records against the spread (2018 Rams, 2012 Ravens). Read more.

Thanksgiving Day throwback: In 1998, Vikings receiver Randy Moss caught three passes for 163 yards against the Cowboys — and all three went for touchdowns. Read more.

Moody’s pick: Vikings 24, Patriots 14
Walder’s pick: Vikings 27, Patriots 19
FPI prediction: MIN, 62.6% (by an average of 3.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Patriots’ punt return TD with seconds remaining stuns JetsAfter one of the worst losses ever for an 8-1 team, the Vikings’ narrative shifts againPatriots hope to ‘flip the switch’ in red zone and score more TDsJefferson, Vikings look to regroup after ’embarrassing’ loss

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