Thanksgiving football in the NFL: Game picks, playoff picture, schedule guide and more

McAfee: Jason Garrett is about to get axed (1:26)

Pat McAfee and Rex Ryan agree that it's time for Jerry Jones to fire Jason Garrett after the Cowboys' loss to the Patriots. (1:26)

The Week 13 NFL slate kicks off with some great Thanksgiving Day football. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every Thursday game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score predictions.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a stat to know for each game and the current playoff picture, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy's Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk's David Bearman hand out helpful nuggets, as well. It's all here to help get you ready for a loaded day of NFL football.

Let's get into the full Thanksgiving Day schedule, including a showdown between two NFC South teams on Thursday night in which one team can already clinch a playoff spot.

Jump to a matchup:

Playoff picture entering Thursday's games


1. New England Patriots (10-1)
2. Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
3. Houston Texans (7-4)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
5. Buffalo Bills (8-3)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)


1. San Francisco 49ers (10-1)
2. New Orleans Saints (9-2)
3. Green Bay Packers (8-3)
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-5)
5. Seattle Seahawks (9-2)
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-3)

  • The Saints will clinch the NFC South and a playoff spot with a win on Thanksgiving. Even if the Panthers were to win out, the Saints would hold the tiebreaker in the division. Per ESPN Stats & Information research, it would tie the earliest clinch of the NFC South in the division's history, which dates back to 2002 (2009 Saints, 2012 Falcons and 2015 Panthers).

Bears (5-6) at Lions (3-7-1)

12:30 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 29.5 | Spread: CHI -5.5 (37)

What to watch for: The Lions have lost seven of their past eight games, coach Matt Patricia is on the hot seat, and a local radio station and a local columnist have each called for Detroit fans to not show up Thursday to send a message to the Ford family about the direction of the franchise. Two weeks ago, Dallas fans invaded Detroit -- and if it happens again in front of a national audience, it could make waves. -- Michael Rothstein

Bold prediction: Bears rookie running back David Montgomery will rush for more than 100 yards. He has cracked 100 rushing yards in just one game this year, but he's fresh after carrying the ball only 13 times for 22 yards against the Giants. Why is that important? Because the Bears have an extremely tight turnaround with Thursday's game on the road. -- Jeff Dickerson

Stat to know: The Bears' offense is 31st in the NFL in yards per play, 29th in yards per rush and 30th in passing yards per game. But then there is the Lions' defense, which ranks 26th in yards per play, 20th in yard per rush and 30th in passing yards per game.

What to know for fantasy: The Lions' Bo Scarbrough has 76.2% of the Detroit running back carries over the past two weeks (4.8 yards per carry). See Week 13 rankings.

Betting nugget: In its past 11 Thanksgiving Day games, Detroit is 1-10 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog (going back to 2004). Read more.

Dickerson's pick: Bears 16, Lions 13
Rothstein's pick: Bears 21, Lions 17
FPI prediction: CHI, 54.1% (by an average of 1.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Lions' Darius Slay has his own version of Friday Night Lights ... Call off the search party, Bears' Khalil Mack might be back

Bills (8-3) at Cowboys (6-5)

4:30 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 58.0 | Spread: DAL -6.5 (47)

What to watch for: Dallas receiver Amari Cooper has just 17 receptions for 213 yards in six road games, but he has 39 receptions for 673 yards and five touchdowns in five home games, including more than 100 yards receiving in his past three home contests. Yet Buffalo is allowing just 184.3 passing yards per game and has allowed just one 100-yard receiver in a game this season. -- Todd Archer

Bold prediction: Buffalo's Tre'Davious White holds Cooper to fewer than 40 yards as he continues his campaign as one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks. In all, the Bills hold the Cowboys under 300 yards but can't muster up enough offense of their own to get the win. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Stat to know: The Cowboys have lost four straight Thanksgiving games against teams that entered with a win percentage as good as the Bills' current mark of .727. In fact, the last time they won a Turkey Day game against such a team was in 1999, when they won 20-0 against the 8-2 Dolphins.

What to know for fantasy: After producing just 274 receiving yards in his first seven games this season, Dallas' Randall Cobb has 307 in his past three games. See Week 13 rankings.

Betting nugget: Dallas is 1-3 ATS against teams with a winning record this year. And Buffalo is 4-0-1 ATS on the road this season. Read more.

Louis-Jacques' pick: Cowboys 17, Bills 10
Archer's pick: Cowboys 31, Bills 20
FPI prediction: DAL, 78.5% (by an average of 10.5 points)

Matchup must-reads: Cowboys at point in season where 'it makes you or breaks you' ... Cole Beasley mixes football, rap career: 'Fixated on proving people wrong' ... NFL execs predict Dak's (and Dallas') future: He bet on himself ... and will win ... 'Dak Dance' is a viral sensation -- and a pregame necessity for Prescott ... Bills have prime opportunity to impress on national stage

Saints (9-2) at Falcons (3-8)

8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 70.6 | Spread: NO -7 (48)

What to watch for: The Falcons' offensive line looked disastrous in last week's loss to the Bucs, and coach Dan Quinn didn't rule out making some changes up front. The Saints seem likely to make some defensive adjustments, as well, after sacking Matt Ryan just once back in Week 10 and allowing the Falcons to rush for a season-high 143 yards that day. -- Vaughn McClure

Bold prediction: New Orleans makes up for its dreadful 26-9 loss to Atlanta three weeks ago and holds the Falcons without a touchdown. The Saints' defense has been very good this year, but it should be extra motivated after a leaky 34-31 win over Carolina in Week 12. Getting cornerback Marshon Lattimore back from a hamstring injury would be a big boost. -- Mike Triplett

Stat to know: Saints receiver Michael Thomas' 104 receptions are the most by a player through 11 games in NFL history. And he is on pace for 151 catches this season, which would be an NFL record (Marvin Harrison had 143 in 2002).

What to know for fantasy: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw 45 passes without a single touchdown toss in these teams' first meeting this season, something he has only done five times in his Hall of Fame career. But it is worth noting that the last time he played in Atlanta, he produced the most fantasy points he ever has in a road game (40.5). See Week 13 rankings.

Betting nugget: The Saints are 11-3 ATS on the road since the start of last season. Read more.

Triplett's pick: Saints 20, Falcons 9
McClure's pick: Saints 24, Falcons 21
FPI prediction: NO, 55.7% (by an average of 2.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: When Falcons' Matt Ryan reaches 50,000 yards, fantasy will become reality ... Sean Payton: Saints' penalty problem will 'cost us a bigger game'