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NFL 2013: Three Helpings on Thanksgiving

Yahoo Contributor Network

What's better than a couple of NFL games on Thanksgiving?

Uh...three games.

In 2006, the league added a third contest to the Turkey Day slate, a perfect way to end the day after taking that brief nap after dinner.

This year's three games all have playoff ramifications, which is great.

So here are a few meals to help with your viewing on Thursday -- and a very Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) at Detroit Lions (6-5)

Appetizer: Imagine that? The Green Bay Packers are winless in their last four games (0-3-1), will start their fourth different quarterback this season on Thursday (Matt Flynn) and are just one-half game out of first place in the NFC North. Meanwhile, the Lions have lost two straight games following a 6-3 start this season…

Entree: Green Bay has won 5 straight meetings in this series and dating back to the clubs' second meeting in 2000 are an impressive 23-3 in their last 26 games vs. the Lions. Eight weeks ago at Lambeau Field (Week 5), Mike McCarthy's team came away with a 22-9 victory. The Packers are also 6-1 in their last seven trips to the Motor City…

Dessert: Packers' rookie running back Eddie Lacy has rushed for 755 yards and five scores in his last eight games, while Lions' wideout Calvin Johnson has totaled an astounding 861 yards on 42 receptions (7 for scores) in his last five contests. And let's not bury the lead; Detroit has lost nine straight games on Turkey Day by a combined 319-144 score…

Oakland Raiders (4-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

Appetizer: Are the Cowboys ready to take off and go on a winning streak? Last week's sweep of the Giants, Dallas' first over Big Blue since 2007, raised the team's record within the division to 4-0. Last season, Jason Garrett's team was 3-3 vs. their NFC East brethren.

Entree: The last time we saw the Silver and Black on Thanksgiving they were in Dallas and coming up short. The Cowboys posted a 24-7 win over the Raiders in 2009, which also marks the last time these two franchises met…

Dessert: The Raiders haven't enjoyed a winning season since finishing 11-5 and reaching Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002. And unless they run the table, they will fall short of finishing above .500 for a 12th straight season. Elsewhere, the Cowboys own a 28-16-1 lifetime edge on Thanksgiving. More importantly, Dallas owns a 4-1 record at home this season one year after going 4-4 in its own building. But it also bears noting that three of the losses suffered by Jason Garrett's club in 2013 have come at the hands of the AFC West's Kansas City Chiefs (17-16), San Diego Chargers (30-21) and Denver Broncos (51-48)…

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-6)

Appetizer: If you include a pair of playoff encounters, the Steelers are 8-5 in their last 13 meetings with Baltimore. But regardless of who wins, it's going to be close. All told, nine of the team's last 11 regular-season tilts have been decided by exactly three points, including the last four encounters…

Entree: Mike Tomlin's team has won three straight games following that 55-31 debacle at New England. In the last two games, wins over the Lions and Cleveland Browns, the Steelers have totaled seven takeaways and did not commit a turnover. Meanwhile, the defending Super Bowl champions have had their issues and mistakes have certainly played a part in their 5-6 record. Quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown 14 interceptions in 11 games this season. In 2013, including the club's four-game playoff run, the Ravens' signal-caller was picked off only 10 times in 20 contests…

Dessert: Does anyone remember the last time the Steelers played on Thanksgiving? That would be the infamous Phil Luckett coin flip game in 1998, when running back Jerome Bettis did or did not tell call heads or tails in overtime. As for the Ravens, we just saw them two years ago on this holiday. In what proved to the first meeting of brother head coaches in NFL history, older brother John bested younger brother Jim and his San Francisco 49ers, 16-6. This past February at the Superdome, a Harbaugh rematch proved to be much more significant…

Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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