By Ray Hamill
The NFL doesn’t always get it right when it comes to Turkey Day football, but it might have this year.
Three games will be served up on Thursday, and all three have playoff implications.
The morning affair, which gets under way at 9:30 Pacific time, is a particularly intriguing contest between the inconsistent Detroit Lions (6-5) and the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers (5-5-1), with the NFC North lead up for grabs.
Just a half a game separates the top three teams in the North (Chicago is also 6-5), and none of them appear willing – or able? – to pull away from the field.
Thursday’s game is even more important when you consider that either wild card spot is unlikely to come from the North, leaving the division crown as probably the only path to the playoffs.
Unlike in years past when the Lions were putting us to sleep long before tryptophan, they have been an exciting bunch to watch recently, finding ways to either win or lose games late, and with plenty at stake on Thursday, this should be an interesting contest.
Believe it or not, a win for the Cowboys will actually leave them a full two games above .500 and when’s the last time we could say that about America’s “most average” Team?
They do need to win to keep pace with the suddenly surging Eagles, and with Tony Romo calling the shots in the fourth quarter, you know anything can happen, one way or the other.
The Raiders’ playoff hopes are on life support after losing to Tennessee last weekend, but a win will put them right back in contention for that final AFC wild card, along with a bunch of below average 5-6 teams.
And speaking of that bunch of below average 5-6 teams, the Steelers travel to play the Ravens for the nightcap, in a matchup that has become one of the best rivalries in the league in recent years.
Both may be playing below par this season, but that won’t make the rivalry any less intense, especially with each of them in the thick of the playoff chase – they’re currently the 7 and 8 seeds in the AFC – and not yet out of the division race with an inconsistent Cincinnati Bengals (7-4).
Should be a fun day of football.