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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 25 November 2020

Vikings and Chargers could get their just deserts from a Thanksgiving feast of football

There are two good games on the menu for Thanksgiving 2017. And the Giants also host a game.

The Lions already have a win over the Vikings this season.
The Lions already have a win over the Vikings this season.
Image: Jeff Wheeler/PA Images

THEY DIDN’T PLAY football on the first Thanksgiving in 1621, they were too busy trying not to die to worry about what play to call on third and 33 I suppose.

Indeed, they didn’t get around to playing football on the third Thursday in November until 1934 when George A. Richards bought the Ohio Spartans and shipped them to Detroit, changing their name to the Lions.

Richards was taking a risk scheduling a game on America’s biggest holiday, but it was a sell-out, even if the Lions would lose to the Chicago Bears.

Since then — with the exception of a six-year gap to fight the Nazis between 1939 and 1944 — football has been as big a feature of Thanksgiving as eating too much turkey and fighting with relatives about politics.

But what of this year’s games?

Minnesota Vikings (-3) @ Detroit Lions – Thursday, 5.30pm

Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings Case Keenum has been surprisingly good this year. Source: Carlos Gonzalez/PA Images

Since they first played in 1961, the Vikings hold a 71-39-2 record over their NFC North rivals, but the Lions (6-4) have five wins in the last seven, including a 14-7 win in Minnesota (8-2) earlier this season.

The visitors come into this game riding a six-game win streak which means, despite three wins on the spin of their own, Detroit have failed to make any progress in the race for first place in the NFC North.

The Vikings’ problem against Detroit is always a lack of points. In their last five losses to the Lions, they’re averaging just 10.6 a game.

However, they know a win in this game will all but guarantee them a playoff spot and they have the defence to keep Matthew Stafford in check, despite the league’s highest paid player averaging nearly 32 points per game in his last three.

Verdict: Vikings to cover

LA Chargers (-1) @ Dallas Cowboys – Thursday, 9.30pm

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Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers Sean Lee has been a big loss for Dallas. Source: Max Faulkner/PA Images

You’ve probably seen the stats, Dallas (5-5) have only scored 16 total points in two games since Zeke Elliott gave up his battle against suspension, having averaged more than 32 per game in the previous five.

But this has more to do with the absence of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith — who is expected to be back for this game — than the second-year running back as quarterback Dak Prescott has taken 12 sacks over the past 120 minutes.

The Chargers (4-6), for their part, have one of the best pass rushes in the league and will look to make hay again in this one. The biggest difference between the two sides, however, will be the continued lack of Sean Lee in the Dallas defence.

Verdict: Chargers to cover

New York Giants @ Washington (-7.5) – Friday, 1.30am

NFL NEW ORLEANS SAINTS BEAT WASHINGTON REDSKINS 34-31 Washington suffered a really bad loss to the Saints last week, thanks in part to Alvin Kamara. Source: Dan Anderson/PA Images

Given the insanely competitive nature of the NFC, it’s difficult to see how Washington make the postseason after throwing away a 15-point fourth quarter lead against the Saints last weekend, a result that leaves them at 4-6.

The Giants, for their part, pulled off possibly the shock of the season when they beat the Chiefs in overtime on a blustery day in the Meadowlands to record their second win of 2017.

Sadly for NFL schedulers, there’s very little on the line in this game other than draft position next spring, but at least its the late game and nobody will blame you if you’re tucked up in bed by the time it kicks off.

Verdict: Washington to cover

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Steve O'Rourke

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