Here’s how critical Philadelphia’s game at Dallas will be on Thanksgiving Day: The winner can start thinking about a home postseason game, maybe even a bye for the wild-card round. The loser winds up needing to win the rematch in 17 days to be viable in the NFC East.
A sweep by either the Eagles or Cowboys, both 8-3, makes that team a contender for top record in the conference. It also puts the loser in a scrambling position just to make the postseason.
A juicy serving, no doubt, with the Cowboys (No. 5, AP Pro32) a 3-point favorite over the Eagles (No. 6, AP Pro32).
“Now, it’s all about Dallas,” Eagles linebacker Trent Cole says. “If you can’t get excited for this game, you shouldn’t be playing football.”
The Cowboys actually have a slight disadvantage in that they were on the road last Sunday night, beating the Giants. Philly was home in the afternoon and defeated Tennessee.
“I think the excitement and adrenaline can override how tired you are,” tight end Jason Witten says. “It’s a great opportunity for us. You can’t worry about anything else. Just get through it and move forward.”
Dallas will move forward, barely.
No. 22 New Orleans (plus 3) at No. 12 (tie) Pittsburgh — This one jumped out at us. If Saints can lose three straight at home, then what shot do they have in Steel City? ... BEST BET: STEELERS, 33-24
No. 1 New England (plus 3 1-2) at No. 2 Green Bay — Same thing Pro Picks said two weeks ago: Patriots are underdogs, then they are ... UPSET SPECIAL: Patriots, 31-26
No. 7 Seattle (plus 1) at No. 9 San Francisco, Thursday — Very important conference and division game sure to get nasty in prime time. ... 49ERS, 20-17
No. 20 (tie) Chicago (plus 7) at No. 14 Detroit, Thursday — Lions exposed in past two weeks. Bears exposed all season. ... LIONS, 23-20
No. 3 Denver (minus 1) at No. 10 (tie) Kansas City — Intriguing Sunday night matchup that Chiefs might have been looking ahead to last week. ... BRONCOS, 27-24
No. 15 Miami (minus 5 1-2) at No. 30 New York Jets, Monday night — We learned a lesson last Monday: avoid the Jets at all costs. ... DOLPHINS, 27-6
No. 29 Washington (plus 9 1-2) at No. 10 (tie) Indianapolis — No Andrew Luck vs. RG3 with Colt McCoy in for Redskins. No matter. ... COLTS, 31-16
No. 4 Arizona (minus 2 1-2) at No. 23 Atlanta — Two first-place teams; wonders never cease. Cardinals rebound from loss to Seahawks. ... CARDINALS, 20-16
No. 17 San Diego (plus 4 1-2) at No. 12 (tie) Baltimore — Ravens’ toughest remaining game. ... RAVENS, 23-17
No. 16 Cleveland (plus 3) at No. 18 Buffalo — Bills came together after horrific weather. They can handle Browns in tight one. ... BILLS, 21-20
No. 25 New York Giants (minus 2 1-2) at No. 32 Jacksonville — Giants need lowest-ranked NFL opponent to break six-game slide. ... GIANTS, 22-17
No. 10 (tie) Cincinnati (minus 4) at No. 27 Tampa Bay — After some stumbles, Bengals looking like a contender again. ... BENGALS, 24-21
No. 26 Carolina (plus 2 1-2) at No. 24 Minnesota — After many stumbles, Panthers not looking like contender despite horrid NFC South. ... VIKINGS, 23-20
No. 31 Oakland (plus 7) at No. 20 (tie) St. Louis — With their first victory in their pockets, Raiders go for a winning streak. Nah. ... RAMS, 26-16
No. 28 Tennessee (plus 6 1-2) at No. 19 Houston — Former Houston occupants go back to get spanked. Well, beaten in a close one. ... TEXANS, 23-20
2014 RECORD: Against spread: This week (6-9); Season (83-86-4). Straight up: This week (11-4); Season (116-58-1)
Best Bet: 5-7 against spread, 7-5 straight up.
Upset special: 7-5 against spread, 5-7 straight up.