NFL to Egg Bowl: Breaking down five best Thanksgiving games

Vikings-Lions and Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss are among the top holiday games.

If the feast hasn’t begun yet, this rivalry is the perfect appetizer. Minnesota (8-2) has six consecutive wins since losing to Detroit (6-4) in October, when the Lions’ defense was the difference-maker. But the Vikings’ offense, piloted by fill-in QB Case Keenum (93.7 passer rating), has come a long way, and their stout defense just limited the NFL’s highest-scoring team to seven points last weekend against the Rams. 

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SCOUTING REPORT: Vikings vs. Lions

PREVIEW: Who wins?

While Dallas (5-5) has been a mainstay of Thanksgiving day games, this is the first Thanksgiving game for Los Angeles since 1969, when the Chargers (4-6) were a member of the AFL. While the teams post similar records, they enter Thursday with strikingly different waves of momentum.

The Cowboys — their offense hampered by the loss of running back Ezekiel Elliott to suspension — have lost two in a row, including a setback to the Eagles on Sunday that hurt their playoff chances. The Chargers have won four of their last six — suddenly stepping into a weak AFC West playoff race. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has been sacked 12 times in the last two games with LT Tyron Smith out, and the all-pro is questionable for Thursday. 

►  CBS

Neither team is ranked in the coaches poll top 25, but this is perhaps the most enticing of the opening day match-ups in the inaugural Phil Knight PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore. — a two-tournament, two-venue hoops extravaganza over Thanksgiving weekend. 

Butler’s new coach, LaVall Jordan, brings back a nice chunk of talent from last year’s Sweet 16 team, led by Kelan Martin (15.0 ppg). Shaka Smart’s Longhorns feature one of the most explosive players in the country in 7-footer Mohamad Bamba (14.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg).

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The Bulldogs (8-3, 4-3) look to win their second consecutive Egg Bowl, as the Rebels (5-6, 2-5) are having an off year. Mississippi State has won five of its last six, while Ole Miss is still reeling from an NCAA scandal and the departure of coach Hugh Freeze, as Matt Luke has stepped in as interim coach. The Rebels should be motivated, since Thursday’s game in Starkville, Miss., is practically a bowl game thanks to a self-imposed postseason ban. 

►  ESPN

Despite losing most of its Final Four roster to the NBA, coach Dana Altman has helped the Ducks reload via an impressive freshman class and strong transfers. The most intriguing of the bunch is Troy Brown, a 6-7 freshman with takeover ability. Oregon draws a UConn team looking to find its swagger among college hoops’ elite programs. Terry Larrier (16.7 ppg) and Jalen Adams (15.5 ppg) are two juniors playing with a chip on their shoulder. 

►  ESPNU

MORE: Question of the week: What is college football’s best rivalry?

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