It's Thanksgiving folks and time for turkey with all the trimmings and of course, football!
Starting with the traditional Thanksgiving Day games in Detroit (forever) and Dallas (since 1978) and the night cap game, which is more of a recent thing than the day games.
The Detroit Lions (6-5) will host the Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) in an NFC North tilt that may go a long way in deciding the final outcome of the division. The Packers are once again without All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers (broke collar bone) for the game.
Detroit will face a Packers team coming off a tie with the Minnesota Vikings last weekend. The Lions lost to the Tampa Bay Bucs last week and are deadlocked with Chicago in first place in the NFC North. Lions' QB Matthew Stafford needs to get back on track after being intercepted four times last week if they are to win this game.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys (6-5) will face the Oakland Raiders (4-7) in Big D in the middle game of the day. Tony Romo and company will face a squad that lost a last second thriller to Tennessee last week and must be ready. Dallas beat the New York Giants last week on a last second field goal by kicker Dan Bailey to pull even with Philadelphia (6-5) in the NFC East.
This year's night game will be in Baltimore with the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens (5-6) playing the Pittsburgh Steelers (also 5-6) in a AFC North battle. The Steelers started the season 0-4 and have won five of seven games to get back into the AFC playoff chase.
There are currently six teams at 5-6 in the AFC playoff race seeking the sixth and final wild card spot, so this game will be a big one for positioning for the sixth spot in the playoffs.
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, there are some big games on Sunday, including the second meeting between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs (both 9-2) in the last three weeks. The AFC West is still up for grabs and if Denver can win in KC on Sunday afternoon, they will have the edge in the tie breaker for the division crown by having swept the Chiefs.
The Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) travel to play the San Diego Chargers (5-6) and really need to win this road game because a loss would leave them just one game ahead of the winner of the Pittsburgh-Baltimore game. Meanwhile, the Chargers got a huge win last week in Kansas City to get back into the AFC playoff hunt and would definitely be in good position with a win.
In the AFC South, the Tennessee Titans (5-6) travel to play the Indianapolis Colts (7-4), which was blown out in Arizona last week. The Titans lost a tough one to Indy earlier this season, blowing a big lead in the game and would do wonders for themselves with a win this week.
One other interesting game in the AFC features Miami traveling up to New York to face the Jets. Both teams are in that 5-6 logjam for the wild card spot. So the loser of this game would be in real trouble as far as the playoffs are concerned.
Back to the NFC where the Arizona Cardinals (7-4) play in Philadelphia against the Eagles in a game which features two teams that have been rolling in recent weeks.
And of course, the huge game on Monday Night Football features the top two teams in the NFC as the New Orleans Saints (9-2) travel to the great northwest to face the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks, a team that hasn't lost a game since October 6, a 34-28 loss at Indianapolis. The winner of this game will likely enjoy "home field" advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
There are no more "bye weeks" for teams the rest of the way in the regular season, so each week brings additional pressure for those vying for the playoffs. Believe it or not, just one team (Atlanta Falcons) has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs entering Week Thirteen.
The following capsule style previews follow below and of course, the Heftyinfo predictions for this week as well.
Thanksgiving Day Games
Green Bay (5-5-1) at Detroit (6-5) - Turkey day in Motown ... the Lions and the Packers playing ... it doesn't get any better.
Oakland (4-7) at Dallas (6-5) - The Cowboys should roll in this game, but then again we are talking about the Cowboys, so nothing is guaranteed.
Pittsburgh (5-6) at Baltimore (5-6) - The loser of this game is likely out of the playoffs because of the fact so many teams have the same record.
The rest of the scheduled games
Tampa Bay (3-8) at Carolina (8-3) - The Panthers have won seven in a row while the Buccaneers have won three in a row ... something has to give.
Jacksonville (2-9) at Cleveland (4-7) - The Browns get off the mat this week.
Tennessee (5-6) at Indianapolis (7-4) - The Titans in a must win game on the road.
Chicago (6-5) at Minnesota (2-8-1) - The Bears have to win this one to keep pace with the Lions and Packers in the NFC North.
Miami (5-6) at NY Jets (5-6) - This is a big game for both of these teams for AFC wild card playoff hopes.
Arizona (7-4) at Philadelphia (6-5) - The surging Cardinals have won three straight and are starting to earn respect in the NFC and now face a rugged road test in Philly against an Eagles team that has also won three straight games.
Atlanta (2-9) at Buffalo (4-7) - The Falcons and the Bills ... who cares?
Denver (9-2) at Kansas City (9-2) - The AFC West battle between two teams coming off very tough losses.
Cincinnati (7-4) at San Diego (5-6) - Can Philip Rivers and company keep things going in the right direction?
St. Louis (5-6) at San Francisco (7-4) - The Rams have been blowing teams out lately while averaging 40 points per game. The 'Niners need to win this one to keep pace with Arizona in the NFC West battle for second place.
New England (8-3) at Houston (2-9) - The Patriots, coming off a huge comeback win against Denver last week, should give the Texans their 10th consecutive loss.
NY Giants (4-7) at Washington (3-8) - These two teams are just playing out the string.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
New Orleans (9-2) at Seattle (10-1) - This is the game football fans have been waiting for... should live up to the billing in prime time.
The Heftyinfo picks for Week Thirteen . . . . . (Home teams are listed in BOLD; Lock of the Week pick is listed in BOLD CAPS)
Detroit over Green Bay
Dallas over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Baltimore
Carolina over Tampa Bay
Cleveland over Jacksonville
Indianapolis over Tennessee
Chicago over Minnesota
NY Jets over Miami
Philadelphia over Arizona
Atlanta over Buffalo
Denver over Kansas City
San Diego over Cincinnati
San Francisco over St. Louis
NEW ENGLAND over Houston
NY Giants over Washington
Seattle over New Orleans
Last Week's Record: 7-6-1
SEASON RECORD: 110-65-1
Lock of the Week Record: 10-2