Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 11/21/11

Can you believe we’re only 3 days from Thanksgiving?

Maybe it’s the unseasonably warm weather here in Ohio, or the absence of NBA games that were supposed to have already started, or that I haven’t heard a whole lot about this year’s Black Friday mega-deals, but it sure seems like Turkey Day snuck up on me this year.

Of course if you’re reading this article, you are probably almost as excited about watching an entire day of football as you are enjoying the best (and likely biggest) meal of the whole year and the company of loved ones.

Like cooking out and baseball on July 4th, and college football (and hopefully not too much of a hangover) on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and NFL football combine to make one of the greatest days of the year for sports fans.

For the third straight year, this is the official image of Thanksgiving Day football on MSF.

So just what can we expect to see as we eat second and third helpings of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and chocolate chip cookies (my grandma’s cookies are always the perfect way to cap off the meal)?

The NFL really nailed it this year, as we have 3 great games to watch and story lines galore.  Here is everything you need to know to get ready for this year’s Thanksgiving Day NFL action.

Note: Point spread information is current as of late Sunday night.  As the lines move, we will do our best to update the article to provide the most current information possible.

NFL Football on Thanksgiving Day TV Schedule

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Game Info
  • Packers-Lions Date: Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24th
  • Packers-Lions Kickoff Time: 12:30 PM EST
  • Packers-Lions TV Network: FOX
  • Packers-Lions Announcers: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
  • Packers-Lions Point Spread: Packers -5.5
  • Packers-Lions Over/Under: 55

Packers-Lions Preview and Prediction

Remember when the only think to look forward to about watching the Lions on Thanksgiving was seeing what havoc Barry Sanders would inflict upon their opponent?  And remember when Sanders retired and everyone began lobbying for a different team to take Detroit’s place in the annual Thanksgiving slot?

The 2011 incarnation of the Lions, with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh  has shed all of those ugly memories, morphing into an offensive powerhouse with a penchant for overcoming huge leads and a mean streak on the defensive side.

Fortunately for us fans, the Lions will get to play the undefeated Packers, so the chance for a dramatic finish will be high.

The Packers looked a little less invincible this past week against Tampa Bay than they normally do, so it will be interesting to see what a short week against what is likely the toughest opponent they have faced yet this year will bring.

I expect both teams to be able to move the ball with ease, but I think the Lions will turn the ball over a couple of times and allow Green Bay to get out to a large lead.  Despite the Lions’ ability to overcome double-digit deficits, I see them falling a little short in this one.

  • Packers-Lions Spread Pick: Packers -5.5
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys
  • Dolphins-Cowboys Date: Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24th
  • Dolphins-Cowboys Kickoff Time: 4:15 PM EST
  • Dolphins-Cowboys TV Network: CBS
  • Dolphins-Cowboys Announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
  • Dolphins-Cowboys Point Spread: Cowboys -6.5
  • Dolphins-Cowboys Over/Under: 44

Cowboys-Dolphins Preview and Prediction

Just a few weeks ago, this game might have seemed like a dud,  but the Dolphins have surged to 3 straight victories, including this past week’s 35-8 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills.

Once considered the frontrunners in the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes, the Dolphins are showing signs of life and competing every week behind quarterback Matt Moore and Reggie Bush, who is starting to resemble the Reggie Bush of years past.

Dallas comes in at 6-4 and tied for the NFC East lead.  Say what you will about the Cowboys’ postseason failures and Tony Romo’s lack of clutch play, the fact is that Romo and his team are dominant in November.  In November, as a starter, Romo is 18-2 with 49 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions in his career.

The Dolphins are going to come back to earth sometime, and I expect that to be now.  On a short week, traveling to Dallas, Miami will struggle in all phases, and I see Dallas rolling over them and staying atop the NFC East.

  • Dolphins-Cowboys Spread Pick: Cowboys -6.5
San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens
  • 49ers-Ravens Date: Thanksgiving Night, Thursday, November 24th
  • 49ers-Ravens Kickoff Time: 8:20 PM EST
  • 49ers-Ravens TV Network: NFL Network
  • 49ers-Ravens Announcers: Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock
  • 49ers-Ravens Point Spread: Ravens -3
  • 49ers-Ravens Over/Under: 39
Ravens-49ers Preview and Prediction

What more can you ask for in a Thanksgiving evening game (other than for cable companies to all pick up the NFL Network)?

The Brothers Harbaugh square off against one another for the first time as NFL head coaches, with Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers, a surprising 9-1 and the runaway leader of the NFC West traveling to face John Harbaugh’s Ravens, who are tied for the AFC North lead after beating the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

These teams are built similarly, with punishing defenses (the 49ers are 1st against the run, the Ravens are 3rd) and elite, multi-purpose running backs (Frank Gore and Ray Rice).  The winner of this game will likely be the team who is able to have more success running against the other’s front 7.

Of concern for the Ravens is getting Rice consistent touches.  This season, Rice has averaged just over 14 carries per game, which for a star back is not nearly enough.  He is a valuable part of the receiving game too, with 51 receptions, but the Ravens need to find a way to establish Rice early and often.

The Ravens’ game plan lately has been a pass-heavy attack, but Joe Flacco is not Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees; he is not the type of quarterback who can give his team the best chance to win by consistently throwing over 35 times per game.

I think the 49ers will be able to run on Baltimore, especially if Ray Lewis were to miss the game (he is questionable currently with a toe injury that forced him to miss the Cincinnati game).  As long as Alex Smith is able to play conservative, mistake-free football like he has done in the first 10 games this year, I think the 49ers win.

  • 49ers-Ravens Spread Pick: 49ers +3

That’s all the information you’ll need to know to enjoy this Thanksgiving’s NFL games.  We at MSF hope you enjoy great food, family, friends, football and fun (holy alliteration!) this Thanksgiving.

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Follow me on Twitter @keithmullett

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Image credit: footballbabble.com

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