NFL 

Playoff Implications on Thanksgiving slate of games

The time of year has finally come where families and friends gather around, eating copious amounts of food while watching football. Every Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions have games. In 2006, the NFL started adding a third game in primetime, with no specified teams.

The Lions started playing on Thanksgiving day back in 1935 when the team owner thought it would garner more people into the stadium. He was right and thus tradition was born. Every year since 1935, with the exception of 1941-1944 due to World War II, the Lions have been a feature game on Turkey Day.

Detroit has a Thanksgiving Day record of 36-38-2.

This year, the Lions kick off the NFL’s triple-header at 12:30 pm, EST on CBS when they host the Minnesota Vikings in a pivotal game in the NFC North.

The Vikings are 5-1 on Turkey Day.

The last time Detroit and Minnesota played on Thanksgiving was back in 1995, when the Lions won 44-38. The last time these two teams met up this season was back on November 6, where the Lions stunned the Vikings 22-16 in overtime.

In that game, Minnesota took a 16-13 lead with under a minute to play. Matthew Stafford and company, who are no strangers to coming from behind in the fourth quarter, marched his team down field to set up Matt Prater’s game-tying, 58-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

In the extra session, Stafford and the Lions won the coin toss, then proceeded to storm down the field. The game ended when Stafford found Golden Tate, who made one of the best plays of the season by tiptoeing the sideline, making two defenders miss and then spiraled into the end zone for the win.

Both teams are coming off victories in Week 11. Minnesota was able to snap a four-game skid by defeating the Arizona Cardinals 30-24. The defense and special teams played a big part in that win as it registered a pick-six and a kickoff return for the touchdown. Detroit, who was in a battle with the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, was able to pull out another victory when trailing in the fourth quarter.

Thursday’s matchup will see both teams with identical 6-4 records with the Lions holding the tiebreaker via the Week 9 win. One of these two teams will take a big step forward in the tight NFC North race.

After the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins do battle in an NFC East showdown, the Indianapolis Colts will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers in primetime at 8:30 pm, EST on NBC.

A pair of 5-5 teams will look to move a game above .500 and enhance their chances of winning their respective divisions. The Colts are looking up to the 6-4 Houston Texans in the AFC South, while Pittsburgh is tied with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North. Both divisions are weak this year and a win for either team could prove to be huge.

This game has the potential to be a shootout as the Colts rank 30th in the NFL in defense while the Steelers rank 22nd. Both teams have explosive offenses, but the Colts might not be at full strength.

Quarterback Andrew Luck suffered a concussion in the Colts 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans and is in concussion protocol. He is in jeopardy of missing this game, which will only hinder the Colts.

The other quarterback in the matchup is Ben Roethlisberger, who should have a field day with the Colts atrocious defense. Roethlisberger didn’t play all that great in Pittsburgh’s 24-9 victory over the winless Cleveland Browns, but he didn’t have to. Le’Veon Bell was the workhorse and the Steelers benefitted from facing the worst team in football to snap a four-game losing streak.

The last three meetings have been all Steelers, including a 45-10 drudging last December. This game could be much of the same if Mr. Luck is a no-go. Thanksgiving Day hasn’t treated Pittsburgh well as they are 1-6, while the Colts are 2-0-1.

The first and last games of Turkey Day will play a vital role moving down the stretch of the regular season. Both games have big playoff implications on the line. Sit back, enjoy the food, time with your family and loved ones and these two Turkey Day games.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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