NFL Thanksgiving Day games: Schedule guide, picks, fantasy football tips, odds, injuries and more
The Week 12 NFL schedule for the 2021 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 biggest keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score picks.
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 matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe hands out helpful fantasy football insight as well. 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 an NFC North matchup between the Bears and Lions and an offensive duel between the Raiders and Cowboys. The football-packed holiday culminates with a battle between two teams currently on the playoff fringe, the Bills and Saints. Who will take another step closer to the postseason with a win on Thursday?
What to watch for: The Lions are still in search of their first victory of the season under first-year coach Dan Campbell, and they’ll be the 13th team in NFL history to enter a Thanksgiving game with a winless record. Detroit will look to feed the hot hand, with running back D’Andre Swift leading all running backs in receptions (53) and sitting second in receiving yards (420). Swift also ranks fifth among all running backs with 975 scrimmage yards. Can the Bears slow him down and find their own offense with quarterback Andy Dalton? — Eric Woodyard
Dalton will pass for three touchdowns as the Bears snap their five-game losing streak. Justin Fields is dealing with a rib injury, but Dalton has the experience to handle the quick turnaround, and he’s still good enough — Dalton threw for two touchdowns against the Ravens — to get the job done against inferior teams. Fields (when healthy) is still Chicago’s starting quarterback, but look for Dalton to light it up on Thursday. — Jeff Dickerson
Stat to know: The Bears blitzed the Ravens on 28 of 44 dropbacks last week (64%), the highest blitz rate by a team in a game this season and the highest blitz rate by the Bears in any game since ESPN began tracking it in 2006.
Injuries: Bears | Lions
What to know for fantasy: Chicago receiver Darnell Mooney saw 16 targets last week with Allen Robinson II sidelined and now ranks in the top 20 in air yards this season, ahead of elite deep-ball options such as Mike Williams and DK Metcalf. See Week 12 rankings.
Betting nugget: Seven of the past eight Detroit games have gone under the total. Read more.