Vikings Have a Lot at Stake on Thanksgiving — Without Playing

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Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt (95) chases Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) during their football game Thursday, September 28, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. © Wm. Glasheen / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Although the Minnesota Vikings have played on oodles of holidays in the last few years, they have Thursday off for Thanksgiving.

But elements pertaining to Vikings football will be loud and clear via the NFL’s three-game docket.

Vikings Have a Lot at Stake on Thanksgiving — Without Playing

In fact, the AFC received zero attention on Turkey Day, instead watching from afar as six NFC teams do battle in three contests. The games kick off at 12:30 pm EST and will likely end around 11:30 pm EST — a full platter.

on Thanksgiving
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

So, these are the games and the Vikings’ desired outcomes.

Packers at Lions

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Time: 12:30 pm EST
Point Spread: Lions -7.5
Vikings’ Preference:
(gulp) Packers

The Chicago Bears had the Detroit Lions dead to right last weekend but then bungled the game’s final minutes. The Lions prevailed, the Vikings lost later that night, and just like that, Detroit regained a 2.5-game lead over the Vikings in the NFC.

There’s still slim hope that Minnesota can catch Detroit and win a back-to-back division crown, but the Lions will have to lose a game or two by Christmas Eve. If the Vikings can stay within two games of the Lions by that day, Minnesota will control its NFC North fate.

So, yes, begrudgingly, Vikings fans should want the Packers to win on Thanksgiving. It’s up to you to decide if you can stomach cheering for Green Bay. If you cannot, that is totally understandable and justifiable.

Commanders at Cowboys

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports.

Time: 4:30 PM EST
Point Spread: Cowboys -12.5
Vikings’ Preference:

For now, the Cowboys have a grip on the NFC’s No. 5 playoff seed, with a challenging remaining schedule afoot. Of course, at home versus Washington is not a daunting test, but after this matchup, Dallas will face the Seahawks, Eagles, Bills, Dolphins, and Lions.

Minnesota can realistically grab the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the NFC, and it will help if the Cowboys lose some games the rest of the way.

Even though they won’t lose to the Commanders, Vikings fans can dream.

49ers at Seahawks

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 8:20 PM EST
Point Spread: 49ers -7.0
Vikings’ Preference:

San Francisco will win the NFC West, meaning, like the Cowboys, Minnesota should want Seattle to lose and drop out of the No. 6 seed. And again, similar to Dallas, Seattle has a brutal schedule in 2023’s remainder.

Because the Vikings already have a tiebreaker over the 49ers, plus San Francisco will win the South anyway, cheer for Seattle to tumble at home on Thanksgiving night.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by