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6 reasons to watch Chargers vs. Cowboys on Thanksgiving

Records! Playoff implications! Personalities, oh the personalities! The Chargers vs. Cowboys has everything you need for a Thanksgiving treat.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The second of the three Thanksgiving games is always the best. It comes after you’ve settled in with family, maybe got your Turkey Bowl out of the way, and waiting to stuff your face at dinner.

With kickoff at 4:30 p.m. ET, it’s the perfect time to either sit down to eat or even cram in one more football game before feasting.

And in that prime spot, as usual, are the Dallas Cowboys, who will face the Los Angeles Chargers. For the Cowboys, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition that dates back to 1966, but for the Chargers, it’s the first appearance on the holiday since 1969.

Here’s why you should tune in:

There are playoff stakes.

Neither team has a winning record, so you may scoff at the idea that the Cowboys or Chargers have a shot. But it’s desperation time for both. The winner may be able to put together a run.

Even at 4-6, the Chargers are just one game out of the second Wild Card spot in the AFC, behind the 5-5 Ravens and 5-5 Bills. Considering that: A) The Chargers already have a win over the Bills, and B) Neither the Ravens nor Bills are that good, Los Angeles has a real shot if it improves to 5-6.

The Cowboys have the better record at 5-5 but a tougher road in the ultra competitive NFC. The Panthers and Seahawks currently own the two NFC Wild Card berths, and the Lions sit just ahead of the Cowboys with a 6-4 record. Pick up a loss, and Dallas can probably kiss its chances goodbye. Get a win, and hopes are still alive.

The Cowboys are Thanksgiving tradition.

Every year, it’s the Lions and the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Detroit’s tradition goes back a little further, but Dallas has been more successful.

Entering game No. 50, the Cowboys have a 30-18-1 record all-time on the holiday and can improve a winning percentage that is already tops among the teams that have played at least 10 times on Thanksgiving.

Watching the Cowboys on the holiday is just tradition now.

For the Chargers, this is the first Thanksgiving game since 1969. The 48-year gap between appearances on Turkey Day is the longest of any team and probably won’t ever be topped now that there are three games, although the Rams haven’t played one since 1975.

Jason Witten can set a Thanksgiving record.

The Cowboys’ tight end has been around since 2003 and can notch another accomplishment if he gets just 26 yards receiving Thursday. That would put him at 835 career yards on Thanksgiving, ahead of Herman Moore for the most all-time on the holiday.

He already owns the record for receptions on Thanksgiving with 73 — a full 18 more than Calvin Johnson, who sits in second place at 55.

The Chargers usually give you thrillers.

Last week, Los Angeles blew out the Bills, 54-24. That’s out of the ordinary for a team that usually plays nailbiters on a weekly basis.

Seven of the team’s 10 games this year were decided by one score — four came down to game-winning or game-tying field goal attempts. Two of those kicks were no good for the Chargers, one was made by Nick Novak, and one was hit by former Chargers kicker Josh Lambo, who now kicks for the Jaguars.

That’s just good drama.

Last season, 13 of the Chargers’ 16 games were decided by one score. To compare, the Cowboys had nine of 16 games that close.

Jerry Jones is fighting with Roger Goodell.

He’s actually fighting his fellow owners over Goodell’s contract. Jones wants the deal to be more incentive based, i.e. the better the NFL does, the more the commissioner makes. He also wants all 32 owners to get final approval of the deal instead of the six owners on the compensation committee.

He was threatening to sue but has since dropped that. Jones isn’t giving up, though. He sees himself as something like a de facto committee, probably because he’s pushed the NFL to do what he wants it to in the past, either by furious lobbying (e.g. getting the Rams to L.A. and the Raiders to Las Vegas) or fighting it out in court (like when he sued and won to cut his own deals with sponsors).

If you’re curious about the timing of all this, Jones didn’t start his crusade until Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott got a six-game suspension for domestic violence back in August.

Both Elliott’s suspension and Jones’ fight with Goodell are bound to come up during the game.

The Chargers’ pass rush against the Cowboys offensive line is going to be fun.

You might not know it, but the Chargers have one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Together, they have a total of 19 sacks. Bosa is looking for his seventh consecutive game with a sack. Ingram returned a fumble for a touchdown last week.

Dallas started the season with one of the best offensive lines in the game, but injuries have taken a toll lately. Left tackle Tyron Smith missed the last two games with a groin injury. During that two-game stretch, quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked 12 times. He also tossed a trio of picks last week in the face of a relentless Eagles pass rush and had the worst game of his career by any measure.

Smith was back at practice this week, but as of Wednesday afternoon, his status for this week’s game was questionable. If he can’t play, look for Bosa and Ingram to make it another long day for Prescott. If he can play, it should be one of the better player matchups of the week.


Between the Chargers’ cardiac finishes this season and the Cowboys’ ongoing circus, not to mention a do-or-die game for both teams, this game will be an entertaining way to spend Thanksgiving afternoon.


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