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NFL Serves Up a Three-Course Meal

To hosts familiar with the voracious appetite of NFL fans, the problem with scheduling a Thanksgiving meal is knowing when to ring the dinner bell.

That is because the league offers a veritable football feast Thursday, three consecutive games beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET and concluding about midnight. And while the games aren't necessarily must-see TV, each matchup, in order, carries intriguing ramifications.

First up, there's the Green Bay Packers (6-4) at the Detroit Lions (2-8). If the Packers lose, they will become decided also-rans in the NFL North hunt behind the Minnesota Vikings (9-1).

The Lions, who likely will be without rookie quarterback Mathew Stafford (dislocated shoulder), are trying to rebuild respectability after 2008's winless campaign.

"A lot of guys haven't played on Thanksgiving here in Detroit, so it's important that they understand the significance of the game and the urgency of it," coach Jim Schwartz said.

Next up is the Oakland Raiders (3-7) at the Dallas Cowboys (7-3). The Raiders are coming off a 20-17 win vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in quarterback Bruce Gradkowski's first start with the team.

Dallas struggled mightily before edging the Washington Redskins 7-6 last weekend. The Cowboys are one game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants in the NFC East.

The day's best game might be the Giants (6-4) at the Denver Broncos (6-4). Denver has lost four in a row after its 6-0 start and trails the San Diego Chargers by one game in the AFC West. New York ended a four-game losing streak last weekend.

As Giants running back Brandon Jacobs put it: "We are in the race, (but) we've got to keep ourselves in the race."

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