The Dallas Cowboys are used to playing on Thanksgiving Day, but Thursday’s contest definitely is an oddity for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Cowboys are playing their 50th Thanksgiving contest, but the Chargers will be participating in their first game on the holiday since 1969.
San Diego’s Philip Rivers, who is in his 14th NFL season, knew when the schedule was released that Thursday’s contest was a first for him. “I think besides a playoff game, I don’t think it gets any bigger,” Rivers said at a press conference. “Playing on Thanksgiving, I don’t know if that’s something any of our guys that have been on teams have done. Certainly, I know it’s something we haven’t done here.” Both teams need victories to bolster their playoff hopes, particularly a Cowboys squad that badly misses suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas is four games behind league-leading Philadelphia in the NFC East and was outscored 64-16 while losing to Atlanta and the Eagles in their last two contests.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Chargers -1. O/U: 48
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (4-6): Los Angeles has recovered from an 0-4 start and views the contest as crucial as its deficit in the AFC West is just two games thanks to Kansas City dropping four of its last five games. “We’re not way out of the division and not way out of the hunt,” Rivers said. “That’s exciting and encouraging. It shouldn’t be hard to keep us focused on the task at hand. ... Just be fired up that we still have everything in front of us.” Receiver Keenan Allen (56 receptions, 755 yards) has recovered well from last season’s ACL injury, while star pass rushers Joey Bosa (10.5 sacks) and Melvin Ingram (8.5) pace a defense that is ranked eighth in scoring defense (19.6 points per game).
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (5-5): Quarterback Dak Prescott has passed for 2,139 yards and 16 touchdowns with seven interceptions, but Dallas has allowed 12 sacks over the last two games while missing left tackle Tryon Smith (groin/back) and now must figure out how to stop Bosa and Ingram. “Each one has a repertoire of moves, they have a really good feel and instinct for the game on top of their athletic ability, and they play hard,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters regarding the duo. “So individually, they’re awfully good, and when you put them together, it makes it that much more difficult to protect.” The defense, which is receiving a career year from defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (11.5 sacks), will be missing outside linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring).
1. The Chargers won the last two meetings, but the Cowboys hold a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series.
2. Dallas TE Jason Witten (43 receptions) had made just one catch in two of his last three games.
3. Los Angeles forced six turnovers (five interceptions, one fumble) in last Sunday’s 54-24 rout of Buffalo.
PREDICTION: Chargers 26, Cowboys 24