Thanksgiving week is one of the greatest weeks of the year for football fans because in addition to having a full day of NFL action on Sunday, there’s also three back-to-back games on Thursday to help you avoid talking to your family.
Bears vs. Lions, Washington vs. Cowboys, and Falcons vs. Saints were the Thanksgiving games this year, all division matchups. The Bears and Saints won and built on their first place leads in their respective divisions, but Washington lost and as such lost its lead to the Cowboys in the NFC East. In terms of their records, the two NFC East teams are tied, but the Cowboys’ 3-1 division record is better than Washington’s at 2-1. If the season ended this week, the Cowboys would win the division title.
Washington played with backup quarterback Colt McCoy at quarterback following Alex Smith’s season-ending leg injury. The Bears also played with a backup; for Chicago it was Chase Daniel filling in for Mitchell Trubisky, who’s been having shoulder issues following last Sunday night’s game against the Vikings.
The 9-1 Saints were slowed down offensively against the Falcons, at least compared to what we’ve seen from them in recent weeks, but they still beat Matt Ryan’s squad with relative ease at home in New Orleans.
The other primetime games this week are also division matchups as the Packers travel to Minnesota play the Vikings on Sunday Night Football and the Titans head to Houston to face the Texans on Monday Night Football.
The Packers and Vikings are both looking to get back on track after last week’s losses to the Seahawks and Bears, respectively. The Vikings are currently in solid position to make the playoffs, but must keep winning to hold off the Seahawks ... and Packers.
The Texans are in first place in the AFC East and built on their division lead with a win over the Titans on Monday Night Football. The Texans are the first team in NFL history to win eight straight games after an 0-3 start, according to Elias. Their eight game winning streak is also be the longest in Texans history. Pretty impressive for Deshaun Watson and Co. after many counted them out before the quarter mark of the season.
Odds and expert picks
All of our expert game pickers went with the Cowboys and Saints to win, though the coin flip went with both Washington and the Falcons. Everyone went with the Patriots over the Jets and only the coin choice the Cardinals over the Chargers. Get all of our Week 12 picks here.
Records on the line
Coming into Sunday, the Colts ranked second in the NFL with only 10 sacks allowed this season and had not given up a sack in five consecutive games. On Sunday against the Dolphins, the Colts could have become the fourth team to allow zero sacks in six consecutive games within a single season since 1963 when team sacks became an official statistic. The teams with the most consecutive games without allowing a sack in a season since 1963 are the Dolphins (1988, 12), Washington (1991, 8), and the Dolphins (1989, 7). Unfortunately for Luck and the Colts, he was sacked once by Cameron Wake. But, the Colts probably don’t care as they won their fifth-straight game and helped their playoff chances. Andrew Luck also made history with his eighth-straight game throwing at least three touchdown passes. He’s now tied with Peyton Manning (eight consecutive games in 2004) for the second-longest streak of consecutive games with at least three touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history. Only Tom Brady (10 games in 2011) has experienced a longer streak in a single season.
On the other side of the equation, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers recorded a sack last week and has 158.5 sacks during his 17-year NFL career. With two sacks on Sunday against the Seahawks, Peppers would have surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Greene (160 sacks) for the third-most sacks since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic. Peppers didn’t get a sack though and finished the game with just one tackle in the Panthers’ loss to the Seahawks.
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans leads Tampa Bay in receiving yards this season. Evans needed 43 yards on Sunday against the 49ers to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (six consecutive seasons) and A.J. Green (five consecutive seasons) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first five seasons. Evans finished the game with 116 yards on six catches and joined that elusive club.
The Vikings were back on Sunday Night Football for the second week in a row and again played one of their NFC North rivals. This time, they won when facing the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay quarterback entered the game having thrown 26 touchdowns against zero interceptions for a 115.6 passer rating in his past 10 games against the NFC North. Rodgers needed three touchdown passes without an interception to have the most consecutive touchdowns without an interception by a player against any division since 2002. He only got one touchdown, but was not intercepted, so he’ll look to continue the streak in his next division game, which comes in Week 15 against the Bears.
The Browns trolled the Bengals all game long and made it incredibly fun to watch for everyone other than Cincinnati fans. Baker Mayfield finished with 258 passing yards, four touchdowns, and a 143.9 passer rating. Meanwhile, Andy Dalton injured his thumb for the second time in four years and Jeff Driskel had to fill in for him in the second half of what turned into a big Browns win.
In a rematch of one of last year’s Wild Card playoff games, the Bills beat the Jaguars in a dramatic game that included two players getting ejected. Here’s everything to know about the fight that saw Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson kicked out of the game. Before the Jaguars lost, Jalen Ramsey was having fun calling everyone trash.
Philip Rivers dominated in the Chargers’ 45-10 win over the Cardinals. The game got so out of hand, that the Chargers actually pulled Rivers and let him watch most of the fourth quarter from the sidelines as Geno Smith came in at quarterback. Rivers completed 23 straight passes in the game, which broken an NFL record. Rivers finished 28/29 for 259 yards, three touchdowns, and a 138.4 passer rating.
Record Alert— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 25, 2018
Philip Rivers just completed 23 straight passes (and counting).
He just surpassed Mark Brunell (22 in 2006) for the most consecutive completions to start a game in NFL history.#Chargers @Chargers
In the Panthers’ loss to the Seahawks, running back Christian McCaffrey rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown and had 11 catches for 112 yards with a receiving score. McCaffrey is the fifth player since 2000 to have both 100 rushing and receiving yards and score both a rushing and receiving touchdown, joining Arian Foster (October 23, 2011), Brian Westrbook (September 23, 2007), Steven Jackson (December 24, 2006) and Priest Holmes (December 9, 2001 and November 24, 2002) to accomplish the feat. He is the first player in Panthers history to do it.
NFL Week 12 final scores
Thursday, November 22
Bears 23, Lions 16
Washington 23, Cowboys 31
Falcons 17, Saints 31
Sunday, November 25
49ers 9, Buccaneers 27
Giants 22, Eagles 25
Patriots 27, Jets 13
Raiders 17, Ravens 34
Seahawks 30, Panthers 27
Browns 35, Bengals 20
Jaguars 21, Bills 24
Cardinals 10, Chargers 45
Dolphins 24, Colts, 27
Steelers 17, Broncos 24
Packers 17, Vikings 24
Monday, November 26