The 2017/2018 NFL season is underway. We still have a long way to the Thanksgiving, but that does not mean it is too early to begin analyzing the teams playing on Turkey Day. As a reminder, the 3 Thanksgiving games slated for this year are:
- Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions – 12:30 p.m.
- Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys – 4:30 p.m.
- New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – 8:30 p.m.
Let’s take a look at how each team performed in Week 1.
Vikings Off To Explosive Start
The Minnesota Vikings announced their new season with a 10-point win over the New Orleans Saints. Former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson made his return home after switching over to New Orleans, although his return was eclipsed by a rampant Vikings effort. Peterson’s replacement, rookie RB Dalvin Cook, had a historic night with 22 carries for 127 rushing yards—setting a new record for most rushing yards in a rookie RB debut. The Vikings’ offensive line was considered a weak point of their unit, but they looked strong against the Saints, helping QB Sam Bradford go 27-32 for 346 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Their receiving corps of Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright and Stefon Diggs looks lethal, with the latter finishing with 7 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns, including several acrobatic catches that drew comparisons to Randy Moss. Their defense controlled the game both in terms of rush and pass defense. Adrian Peterson was arguably a non-factor in his return to Minnesota. They limited the Saints’ third-down conversions to 4 of 11, a good statistic for any team. While only Week 1, the Vikings made their case for being an elite team. We have no doubt that this performance will affect the lines and odds at football betting sites covering the Thanksgiving Day football teams.
Lions Pounce On Cardinals
The Lions somehow amassed a fourth-quarter comeback win against the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener. The Lions were losing 17-5 after 3 quarters of action. The Cardinals were favored to win, especially with veteran players like QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald, but Palmer and the Cardinals defense withered away in the last quarter. Rookie receiver Kenny Golladay looks like he will be a valuable part of the Lions offense this season. RB Ameer Abdullah and QB Matt Stafford both had relatively quiet games. The defense was gifted with interceptions towards the end of the game, so it is hard to gauge their performance, though the Lions offense appears to be the main culprit here. If the Lions want to be successful, they will have to sort out their offensive miscues. The Vikings appear to be rolling, so if this trend continues the Lions could be in for some trouble on Thanksgiving, which is something to keep in mind for those of you interested in betting on NFL Thanksgiving football games.
Charges Lose In Close Game To Broncos
The LA Chargers played in Denver against the Broncos for their first game. Denver came out aggressive and put up 7 in the first quarter. Chargers’ RB Melvin Gordon was the brightest part of their offense with several powerful runs throughout the game. He scored their first touchdown in the beginning of the second quarter. After some injury problems, Gordon looks ready to live up to his hype. Denver built their lead over the course of the game and entered the fourth quarter leading 24-7. However, the Chargers rallied back to score 2 more touchdowns at the end after converting turnovers. QB Phillip Rivers had a muted game, despite finishing with 3 touchdowns. He was limited to 192 passing yards, most of which coming in the fourth quarter, and gave up an interception. The game ended with a blocked Chargers field goal in the final seconds. While Melvin Gordon showed promise, and their offense capitalized off 2 turnovers, it was a little too late for the Chargers. They will need to get their offense going faster if they want to remain competitive.
Cowboys Rout The Giants
The Cowboys were one of the best teams in the league last year, but 2 of their 3 losses came against the New York Giants. The Cowboys got their revenge on their opening night. Dallas got off to a good start and built an early 16-point lead. The second half of the game was somewhat boring, but their defense managed to hold off the Giants until the final whistle. This game was surrounded in controversy regarding RB Ezekiel Elliot, who was banned for 6-games for an alleged domestic violence charge. However, a federal judge granted the Cowboys an injunction that allows the RB to play while he appeals the league’s suspension. Elliot finished with 104 rushing yards and showed his ability to be a continued threat for any opposing defense. Their defense swarmed opposing QB Eli Manning and forced him to revert his second and third-option receivers, which didn’t pan out well for the Giants. With Elliot’s suspension not being enforced, and QB Dak Prescott performing at such a high level (24-39 for 268 yards), the Cowboys are poised to have a successful season that include a strong performance for Thanksgiving Day football.
Giants Left Flustered
For the Giants, they need to make some adjustments. New WR Brandon Marshall had only one target. For such an elite receiver, his involvement was limited. This was mainly due to the impressive coverage of the Cowboys defense, but even QB Eli Manning stated they need to involve him more if they want a shot at winning. WR Odell Beckham Jr. was out with an ankle sprain, and his absence was well noted. The entire Giants offense appeared to be off a couple beats. Their defense was unable to contain RB Ezekiel Elliot and failed to pressure QB Dak Prescott, who even managed some rushing yards after escaping tackles. Their offensive line left Manning exposed on more than one occasion, resulting in a field goal that should’ve been a momentum-changing touchdown. Once Beckham Jr. returns, their offense should sync back up, but the Giants looked nervous in their opening game.
Redskins Fall To Eagles
The Washington Redskins looked bad on their season opener. The Eagles new roster performed well, but it was the Redskins’ mistakes that cost them the game. QB Kirk Cousins, who is supposed to be the franchise player, had 2 fumbles an interception—one of his fumbles was returned for a touchdown. Cousins finished 23-40 for 240 yards and a touchdown. Cousins was also tied for the most rushing yards for the Redskins offense, a bad sign for their running game. The Redskins had won their last 5 games against the Eagles, so they were the favored team. However, Washington looked flat and they will need to get it together if they are going to push .500 this season.