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NFL Thanksgiving guide: A new Detroit Lions era, Matt Canada fired in Pittsburgh and the Kelce brothers for Christmas No 1

The Green Bay Packers (4-6) and Detroit Lions (8-2) kick off a Thanksgiving triple-header live on Sky Sports from 5.30pm this Thursday, followed by the Washington Commanders (4-7) against the Dallas Cowboys (7-3) and the San Francisco 49ers (7-3) against the Seattle Seahawks (6-4).

Detroit Lions, Thanksgiving NFL

Happy Thanksgiving! Welcome to one of the busiest and best weeks on the NFL calendar, where the race to the playoffs really begins to gather pace. We guide you through some of the latest news lines, stats and build-up ahead of a stacked Week 12...

Editor's note...

'Who are you and what have you done with our Detroit Lions?' asks Thanksgivings of the past. Times are changing, and this year the Honolulu blue of Motor City glistens with Championship ambition.

The Lions arrive into Turkey Day 8-2 and the second seed in the NFC, their playoff pursuit entrenched with a Jared Goff resurgence within a Ben Johnson chuck-it-in-the-Louvre-prone offense within the intoxicating controlled rah-rah fortress Dan Campbell has sought to install.

Aidan Hutchinson is their pocket-crumbling No 2 pick looking like a No 1 pick as the face of Aaron Glenn's defense, Amon-Ra St. Brown has assumed the role of NFL slot king, Brian Branch is the rookie safety on which rivals fumbled in the Draft and Penei Sewell anchors one of the league's most violent offensive lines.

For so long Detroit have been synonymous with little other than their reputation as Thanksgiving's team. Now they are chief advocates for a wide-open NFL season in which the Lions have spring-boarded a new, prosper-hopeful chapter for the franchise.

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Some of the most fun moments from the Sky Sports NFL tradition of the carving of the turkey on Thanksgiving Thursday.

The Lions have played on Thanksgiving a league-leading 83 times in their history and hold a 37-44-2 record on the national holiday as they prepare to face the Green Bay Packers this Thursday.

Their ties to the day date back to 1934 and Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards, who had bought the Portsmouth Spartans before relocating the franchise to the 313. Upon arrival Richards found that the college game and baseball's Detroit Tigers, who had just won the American League Pennant, topped professional football in popularity.

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In reaction to modest crowds at the start of the season, he decided to hold a Lions game on Thanksgiving as a means of enhancing national attention, persuading NBC to broadcast Detroit's clash with George Halas' famed Chicago Bears on 94 radio stations across the country. Detroit University Stadium welcomed a sell-out crowd of 26,000, while also turning disappointed fans away at the gate such was the spike in interest.

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After their win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold discuss whether the Philadelphia Eagles can now be named the best team in the NFL.

They have since played a home game on every Thanksgiving, with the exception of 1939-1944 during World War Two, as a staple of the NFL's relationship with the holiday. Detroit have reached the playoffs just three times since 2000, enduring 17 losing campaigns in that time.

Sunday's comeback win over the Chicago Bears from 12 points down in the final three minutes epitomised a different feel to a different Detroit team. One that takes centre stage on Thanksgiving as a once-unlikely playoff thorn.

Jeff Reinebold is back in the studio. Get that turkey ready!

Around the league...

  • Matt Canada was fired as Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator after three-and-a-half seasons on Tuesday, with his unit ranked 28th in total yards, 31st in passing, 16th in rushing, 28th in scoring and 25th in EPA/play on the year.
  • The Jets have officially benched quarterback Zach Wilson ahead of their Black Friday game against the Miami Dolphins, which will see 2018 undrafted free agent Tim Boyle start under center with Trevor Siemian serving as his backup.
  • In one of the surprise moves of the week, the Colts released three-time first-team All Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard amid a drop in his playing time since his return from injury last year.
  • Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson faces four games out after being suspended for the second time this season for repeated violations of playing rules after his helmet hit on Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs.
  • NFL brothers Jason and Travis Kelce topped the US iTunes charts with their 'Fairytale of Philadelphia' single amid their hunt for Christmas No 1 last week.
  • Former 2019 undrafted free agent Jake Browning will start at quarterback for the Bengals after Joe Burrow was ruled out for the rest of the year with a wrist injury.
  • Falcons head coach Arthur Smith confirmed Desmond Ridder will take back the starting quarterback job against the Saints this weekend after losing his place to Taylor Heinicke in recent weeks.

Injury news

  • British Commanders defensive end Efe Obada was ruled out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair multiple leg fractures suffered against the Giants on Sunday.
  • Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa is set to land on injured reserve after exiting his side's loss to the Packers with an ankle injury.
  • 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga will miss the remainder of the campaign after tearing his ACL against the Buccaneers.
  • Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has an "outside chance" to return this year after he sustained an ankle injury requiring surgery during Thursday's win over the Bengals, said Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh.
  • The Saints have placed three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas on injured reserve due to a knee injury.

Your Thanksgiving menu on Sky

Week 12 on Sky Sports!
Image: Week 12 on Sky Sports!

Starter... David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs have combined for 1,089 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns this season as part of a Lions ground attack ranked fifth in yards per game and third in rush EPA. It makes for uneasy reading for Joe Barry's much-maligned Packers run defense which - between missed assignments, personnel mismatches and technique issues - ranks 28th in yards allowed and 22nd in rush EPA. Gibbs has also made 44 catches for 259 yards and two scores as a lead motion candidate in Johnson's offense.

Main course... CeeDee Lamb is burying question marks over his credentials as a lead receiver on the outside, and enters Thursday's divisional clash with the Washington Commanders having thrust himself among the NFL's elite wideouts as the centre-piece to Mike Mike McCarthy's Dallas offense. The former first-round pick is tied for second in the league with AJ Brown on 1,013 receiving yards through 10 games, with only Michael Irwin (nine games in 1995) have surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in fewer games. On defense, Micah Parsons just became the ninth player in history to reach 10 sacks in each of his first three seasons as he lines up against a Commanders offensive line that has given up a league-high 51 sacks on Sam Howell this season.

Dessert... With the post-Russell Wilson era in Seattle has come the addition of franchise cornerstones with whom to guide the Seahawks towards a new chapter of contention in the coming years. Among those is 2022 second-round edge rusher Boye Mafe, whose run of a sack in seven straight games came to an end at the weekend amid his rise as one of the faces of Pete Carroll's defense. Rookie corner Devon Witherspoon meanwhile continues to star as a stalwart in-the-making under the tutelage of defensive backs mastermind Carroll as Seattle prepare to take on the 49ers, who may be unveiling a young star DB of their own in safety Ji'Ayir Brown as he comes in for the injured Hufanga.

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The best plays between Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who have shared had a superb connection this season.

Best quotes

49ers tight end George Kittle on Brock Purdy after his perfect passer rating vs Buccaneers: "System quarterback, right? It's crazy. Brock's fantastic that way that he shows up every single day. Someone asked him about his mindset about how he can be so aggressive and still protect the football, and he talked about being a surgeon, he talked about having zero fear."

Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady in an interview on The Stephen A. Smith Show: "I think there's a lot of mediocrity in today's NFL. I don't see the excellence that I saw in the past. I don't think the coaching is as good as it was."

Injured Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers discussing the benching of Zach Wilson on The Pat McAfee Show: "It was going to be me and my show, and Zach getting to learn and watch it first-hand, and not having the pressure to go out there and play. So, obviously, this is disappointing. I have some personal guilt around the whole thing."

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Speaking on Inside the Huddle, Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold agree that the decision to allow Tyreek Hill to be traded away is now costing the Kansas City Chiefs.

Texans quarterback CJ Stroud after throwing a career-high three interceptions in Week 11: "Man, Steph Curry don't ever stop shooting. I'm going to keep letting it ride. And I've got no shame in my game. I've definitely got to be smarter. No confidence is taken away from me. I'm going to keep letting it fly."

Travis Kelce tells The Wall Street Journal he thinks about retirement "more than anyone could ever imagine": "That's the only thing I've never really been open about, the discomfort. The pain. The lingering injuries, the 10 surgeries I've had that I still feel every single surgery to this day."

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson on fan messages about his fitness: "My health is wayyyy more important than you winning your fantasy games. It doesn't matter how many times y'all flood my dms talking about me selling your team. I DON'T CARE."

Black Friday!

Hurrah for mid-week football at a reasonable hour! Among eight live games on Sky Sports in Week 12 comes the first ever Black Friday clash between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, with kickoff at a family-friendly time at 8pm.

Neil Reynolds and the Sky Sports NFL team are back on the road as we broadcast live from a Jets Watch Party in Manchester to celebrate the latest edition to the league's ever-innovating calendar.

The stats

  • Myles Garrett is just the third player with at least 12 sacks in five of his first seven career seasons since 1982 in the NFL, following on from Reggie White (six seasons) and Leslie O'Neal (five seasons).
  • Jalen Hurts passed Cam Newton for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback through four seasons with 34 as he found the end zone twice against the Chiefs on Monday night
  • The Chiefs offense is averaging a league-worst 5.3 points in the second half of games this season, having failed to score in the second half of their last three games
  • Lions edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson is the first player in NFL history to record 15 sacks and four interceptions through two seasons

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Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen and Khalil Shakir combine for a 81-yard TD which becomes the NFL's new longest pass play of 2023!
  • The Jets offense is now 30/131 on third down through 10 games this season, making for the lowest conversion rate (22.9 per cent) since Pro Football Reference began recording such data in 1991
  • Josh Allen's 206 total touchdowns (160 passing, 45 rushing, one receiving) are the most by any quarterback through his first six seasons in NFL history, overtaking Mahomes (204)
  • The Steelers have posted fewer than 400 total yards on offense in 58 consecutive games, including all 44 of Canada's time as offensive coordinator, during which their best scoring ranking was 21st.
  • Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett has thrown touchdown passes on just 1.9 per cent of his career attempts, and has now thrown just two scores in his last seven games

Inside the Huddle: Super Bowl favourites?

Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold discuss the biggest talking points from Week 11 of the NFL season, including the Eagles' win over the Chiefs and mounting pressure in Los Angeles.

Essential reading: Déjà vu for Herbert's Chargers - time up for Staley?

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley
Image: Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley

Justin Herbert's time is being wasted and Brandon Staley's time is almost up as the Los Angeles Chargers swallow another painfully familiar dose of one-score torment. The NFL's festive period has begun, and so too the countdown for some of the league's most under-pressure figures.

The Chargers could be likened to the friend that turns up at five-a-side sporting Copa Mundials, with a hairband on, sock tape hugging their next-to-non-existent shin-pads and black Nike gloves to top off the ensemble. The optics point to a gifted technician, until they sky the five-yard gimme teed up by the Justin Herbert of the team following a marauding run during which he has slalomed beyond three defenders.

Sky Sports NFL editor Cam Hogwood explores the mounting pressure on Chargers head coach Brandon Staley after Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers...

Essential reading: 'Meet the NFL's Scottish tush push guru'

A Philadelphia Eagles fan holds up a sign for a play during the first half of an NFL football game between the Eagles and the Washington Commanders on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Image: A Philadelphia Eagles fan holds up a sign for a play during the first half of an NFL football game between the Eagles and the Washington Commanders on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

From NFL anonymity to lock-and-key secret-keeper. Earlier this season Jason Kelce was telling brother Travis Kelce about the "Scottish guy" with whom the Philadelphia Eagles had consulted in order to gain a rugby outlook on the team's 'brotherly shove/tush push' play.

That 'Scottish guy' was Richie Gray.

The former Scotland and Springboks coach speaks to Sky Sports NFL editor Cam Hogwood about his involvement in one of the league's most talked-about plays...

Fantasy waiver wire options

Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely
Image: Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely

    Week 12 waiver options

    • Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens
    • Zach Charbonnet, RB, Seattle Seahawks
    • Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals
    • Desmond Ridder, QB, Atlanta Falcons
    • Jayden Reed, WR, Green Bay Packers
    • Demario Douglas, WR, New England Patriots

    Ahead of Week 12 in the NFL, we explore some of the top fantasy football waiver options around the league..

      Her Huddle: Olha Hariacha's journey from Ukraine to Flag Football

      In the latest episode of Her Huddle, Phoebe Schecter speaks to Ukrainian flag footballer Olha Hariacha, who shares the story of how her country appeared at the European Flag Football Championships despite the backdrop of war in her homeland.

      "When my husband and I have practice together and our daughter is home alone and the siren goes, she takes her cat and her favourite book and goes to the shelter in our house."

      Super Bowl rematch...

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      Highlights of the Philadelphia Eagles clash with the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 of the NFL.

      Jalen Hurts ran for a pair of touchdowns, including a go-ahead tush-push score in the fourth quarter, as the Philadelphia Eagles rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 21-17 in a Super Bowl rematch on Monday night.

      The Green Bay Packers (4-6) and Detroit Lions (8-2) kick off a Thanksgiving triple-header live on Sky Sports from 5.30pm this Thursday, followed by the Washington Commanders (4-7) against the Dallas Cowboys (7-3) and the San Francisco 49ers (7-3) against the Seattle Seahawks (6-4).

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