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Thanksgiving Day football games: Vikings-Lions, Cowboys-Redskins matter to Giants

Plenty of meaningful NFL action set for Turkey Day

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Thanksgiving is upon us! Today is a day of family, feasting and of course, football. Even though the New York Giants are not playing, there are a couple of important games that could impact their playoff standing.

Minnesota Vikings (6-4) vs. Detroit Lions (6-4), 12:30 p.m. EST, CBS

Who predicted before the season that the Thanksgiving Day game between the Vikings and Lions would determine who would have sole possession of first place in the NFC North? With the demise of the Green Bay Packers dominance of the division, it is now in the hands of either the Vikings or Lions. Both teams have the same record thus making the rooting interest a little difficult. For me, I’m going with the Lions. If the Giants remain in the wild card, a Minnesota Vikings victory might lead to an eventual showdown in Minnesota if they win their division. That would be a bit terrifying to see.

Washington Redskins (6-3-1) vs. Dallas Cowboys (9-1), 4:30 p.m. EST, FOX

Of course, this is the most important game of the day for all members of the NFC East. The result of this game can change the course on the path to the playoffs for many teams. For Giants fans, you root for whatever path you want more. If you want the division, then a Redskins upset makes that path so much easier. That would put the Giants within one game of Dallas, assuming they beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. If they are within one game up until their showdown on December 11, the Giants can overtake the division due to tiebreakers if they beat the Cowboys. The division is not quite out of reach despite that gaudy 9-1 record.

Others will argue that the rest of the NFL has no interest in actually beating Dallas. The Cowboys are bludgeoning every team with their offensive line and with Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott is leading that offense to no fail. Is winning the division really feasible when no one else in the NFL wants to win against the Cowboys? If so, a Cowboys victory would be key in securing a Wild Card spot for the Giants. As of today, the NFC East is sending three teams to the playoffs. A Redskins loss would go in a big way of improving the Giants playoff chances even if it will not help them in the division. Ultimately, the rooting choice depends on where you want to be positioned in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

The only AFC game of the day features the Steelers and Colts. With no bearing to the Giants, fans can relax and watch two teams go at it with no consequence. Though I will mention that checking your fantasy football team will be the easiest here with players like Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger and T.Y. Hilton leading the night. Andrew Luck (concussion) has been ruled out for Indianapolis.

Use this as your open thread to discuss the games throughout the day.