Thanksgiving is full of easy choices. Can’t decide between apple or pumpkin? Take a slice of each. If only picking NFL games was easy as pie. This year’s trio of Thanksgiving matchups features what could be a barnburner sandwiched between an NFC North battle with playoff implications and a matchup of the NFC East’s bottom two teams. Let’s get to it.
VIKINGS (8-2) AT LIONS (6-4), 12:30 p.m.
TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Vikings by 3; O/U: 45
This should be close. Minnesota just held the Rams’ top-scoring offense to seven points. Detroit has won three straight and needs to win to have a shot at the division crown. The Lions have won four in a row on Thanksgiving, including last year’s 16-13 win over the Vikings that they stole late. Minnesota is on a six-game win streak, its last loss a 14-7 decision at home against (yep, you guessed it) the Lions in Week 4. Case Keenum is playing mistake-free football and has solid pass-catchers in Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings have done remarkably well as small favorites (0-to-3 points): In the last 20 such instances, they’re 15-5 against the spread (ATS), according to OddsShark.com. Matthew Stafford will keep this close, but in the end, Minnesota’s top-5 defense does enough for the win and cover.
The pick: Vikings
CHARGERS (4-6) AT COWBOYS (5-5), 4:30 p.m.
TV: Ch. 2; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Chargers by 2; O/U: 47.5
If you think Jerry Jones is mad now, imagine his mood if Dallas lays an egg at home for the second time in five days. The Cowboys, off 27-7 and 37-9 losses, aren’t the same team without Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee. Subtract left tackle Tyron Smith and it adds up to Dak Prescott being sacked 12 times the last two weeks. More bad news: The Chargers’ biggest strength is their pass rush, third in the NFL with 30 sacks. Smith is questionable, but even if he plays, Joey Bosa (10.5 sacks) and Melvin Ingram (8.5) are going to feast on Prescott, who is trying to avoid Dak-to-Dak-to-Dak duds. He hasn’t thrown a TD pass the last two games and was picked off three times by the Eagles. Prescott struggles again, Philip Rivers and a hungry Chargers team keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a win and Jerry Jones steams on Turkey Day.
The pick: Chargers
GIANTS (2-8) AT REDSKINS (4-6), 8:30 p.m.
TV: Ch. 4; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Redskins by 7; O/U: 44.5
Division games tend to be close, so it’s tempting to take the points here. But first, ask yourself this: Do you want to be sitting on the couch at 11 p.m. (assuming the tryptophan hasn’t set in) trying to will the Giants to a TD for the cover? Or do you want to lay the points with the home team that, when on its game, can light up the scoreboard? Washington was up 31-16 late in the fourth quarter at New Orleans on Sunday before melting down and losing in overtime. Speaking of OT, don’t make too much of the Giants’ stunner over the Chiefs, a weird 12-9 win. The Giants still are missing their top playmakers and are facing an angry team off a brutal loss. After you spend the day catching up with cousins, watch as the Giants struggle to do just that: Kirk Cousins leads the Redskins to a double-digit win.
The pick: Redskins
Bob Glauber: Lions, Cowboys, Giants
Tom Rock: Lions, Cowboys, Giants
Calvin Watkins: Vikings, Chargers, Redskins