Week 12 NFL Kickoff: Home teams try to keep playoff hopes alive on Thanksgiving

The Redskins, Cowboys and Lions have something in common other than hosting Thanksgiving Day games. They are currently outside of the NFL playoff picture with six weeks remaining in the regular season.

All three can keep alive their playoff hopes by winning Thursday. The most desperate of the three is Washington. The Redskins are 4-6 and will not catch the Eagles (9-1) in the NFC East. A wild-card berth, however, is attainable if they can take advantage of a favorable schedule.

After playing the 2-8 Giants on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC), Washington faces Dallas (5-5) next Thursday, and the Cowboys (5-5) will still be without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas is the only remaining team on Washington’s schedule that does not have a losing record and that would change if the Cowboys lose to the Chargers (4-6) on Thursday (4:30 p.m., CBS).

The Redskins will play the Chargers on Dec. 10 before closing with home games against the Cardinals (4-6) and Broncos (3-7) before the regular-season finale against the Giants.

The Cowboys are reeling after two blowout losses without Elliott. Last year’s NFL rushing champ will be out another four weeks and, by the time he returns, the Cowboys could be out of the playoff hunt altogether.

A win Thursday (12:30 p.m., Fox) by the Lions (6-4) over the NFC North-leading Vikings (8-2) would give Detroit a season sweep of Minnesota and open the door for a division title. A loss would all but seal the division for the Vikings and relegate Detroit to wild-card contention. The two teams currently holding the NFC wild-card spots are the Falcons (6-4) and Panthers (7-3), who both beat the Lions earlier this season.

Week 12’s other marquee NFL games

Saints (8-2) at Rams (7-3)

4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday (CBS)

The Rams want to rebound after seeing their four-game winning streak snapped at Minnesota. L.A. is in the toughest part of its schedule and will play host to the red-hot Saints, who want to extend their winning streak to nine games.

There could be a lot of points scored at the L.A. Coliseum with two of the NFL’s top offenses squaring off. The Rams are second in points scored and fourth in total offense. The Saints have the NFL’s top offense in total yards and are third in scoring.

Packers (5-5) at Steelers (8-2)

8:30 p.m., Sunday (NBC)

Pittsburgh is coming off a 40-17 thrashing of the Titans last Thursday. Things could be worse for the Packers on Sunday night. Green Bay was shut out at home for the first time since 2006 with last Sunday’s 23-0 loss to the Ravens.

The Packers are scoring 14 points fewer per game since losing Aaron Rodgers with a broken collarbone on Oct. 10. Coach Mike McCarthy will have to get creative against Pittsburgh’s second-ranked scoring defense.

Texans (4-6) at Ravens (5-5)

8:30 p.m., Monday (ESPN) 

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