Two teams coming off lackluster efforts play in Dallas on Thanksgiving as the Cowboys host the Raiders. Dallas has lost six of its last nine games on this special day, while the Raiders are playing for the first time since 2013 when they lost 31-24 to the Cowboys. These two last shared the field back in 2017 when Dallas picked up a 20-17 road win as Dan Bailey kicked a late field goal to get the victory.
Las Vegas (5-5) has lost three straight since its Week 8 bye with the latest being 32-13 to Cincinnati at home. The Bengals only outgained Vegas by 10 yards but forced two turnovers and held the home team to just 13 first downs and 22:40 in time of possession. It was a 13-6 game at the end of the third quarter before Cincy scored on four different possessions in the fourth quarter. Derek Carr was very mediocre, going 19-of-27 for 215 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the loss.
Dallas (7-3), meanwhile, was without Amari Cooper in its 19-9 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City last week. The Cowboys eventually lost CeeDee Lamb to a concussion right before halftime and the absences were felt as Dak Prescott had just 216 passing yards. On the positive side, the team's defense was fantastic when it had to be, as KC scored just two touchdowns and two field goals in the victory. Still, it was an ugly effort from the Cowboys, who have lost two of their last three
Thanksgiving Day: Las Vegas (5-5) at Dallas (7-3)
Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 25 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Cowboys -7.5
Three Things to Watch
It's a short week for both teams as they prepare to play on the holiday. Vegas was home for its previous two contests and is 2-2 this season on the road. Being on a losing streak, I think they'll be really focused for this one. Next up is a home game against the Washington Football Team on Dec. 5. The Cowboys played in Kansas City last week, but this is their third home contest over the last four weeks. This team is very familiar with playing on Thanksgiving, so that will be a benefit. Next up for them is another Thursday game, but on the road in New Orleans who is also in action on Thursday.
2. Cowboys offense?
Dak Prescott will be without Amari Cooper (COVID-19) for another week, and CeeDee Lamb's status is up in the air. He's officially questionable on the injury report but the team is optimistic he will be cleared in time to play on Thursday. Even if Lamb is able to play, more targets (and pressure) will fall to Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, and Noah Brown at wide receiver as well as Dalton Schultz at tight end. The run game has been a massive disappointment the last few weeks, but they've been without left tackle Tyron Smith, who is a vital piece of the offensive line. The good news is he will be back on Thursday as he practiced in full this week and carries on injury designation. Ezekiel Elliott has not run for more than 60 yards since Week 6 in New England. One potential piece of good news is that Las Vegas is 29th in the NFL against the run, giving up 132.1 rushing yards per game. Joe Mixon gashed them for 123 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday, so this bodes well for Elliott and Tony Pollard.
3. Raiders offense?
Usually, a bye week is a good time to get things right, but since the week off, Vegas has scored fewer than 17 points in each contest. The run game has been almost non-existent as Josh Jacobs has gone over 50 rushing yards just twice on the season. Without the ground threat, this puts more pressure on Carr, who has thrown just as many interceptions as touchdowns (four each) over the last three games. It also didn't help that the Raiders were just 1-of-7 on third down last week. For the season, they are converting 35.6 percent of their opportunities on the critical down, which ranks them 25th in the league. Meanwhile, Dallas' defense definitely kept the team in the game last week against Kansas City. Limiting the Chiefs to 4-of-12 third-down conversions, sacking Patrick Mahomes three times, and forcing him into a couple of turnovers. If the Cowboys are able to carry over some of this momentum, Carr and company could be in for a tough time trying to move the ball.
With Tyron Smith back along the offensive line, Dallas may try and commit to the run with its passing game not at full strength. Between the 1-2 backfield punch of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard and an improving defense, I think the Cowboys are the pick here. Knowing how to handle playing on Thanksgiving will give them a little advantage on their way to a double-digit win.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, Raiders 14
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.