The Week 12 schedule begins with a three-course football feast on Thanksgiving Day. Here are the key questions and my predicted outcomes for Thursday's games:
12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Can Matthew Stafford pick apart the Texans' defense?
After seeing Chad Henne throw for 354 yards and four touchdowns in the Jacksonville Jaguars' narrow Week 11 defeat in Houston, Stafford has to feel good about his chances of being able to go after a suddenly vulnerable Texans secondary. Stafford has eclipsed 300 yards passing in five games this season, and has rediscovered his chemistry with Calvin Johnson in recent weeks. The duo connected 24 times for 479 yards and two scores over Detroit's past three games, providing a spark to an offense that has been maddeningly inconsistent for most of the season. Given the Texans' disappointing performance against the Jags, expect the Lions to unleash Stafford and their explosive aerial attack in this matchup.
Prediction: The Texans are the best team in the AFC, but they have been exploited by high-powered passing offenses this season. Detroit will challenge Houston's secondary with a host of deep throws to Megatron. While this tactic could keep things close for most of the contest, the Texans' efficient offense will eventually overpower the Lions in the fourth quarter. Texans 34, Lions 24
4:15 p.m. ET, FOX
Robert Griffin III has lived up to the hype surrounding his NFL arrival by displaying a game that is far more polished than those of most rookie starters. RG3 is completing 67.1 percent of his throws and sports an impressive 12:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. In addition, he has rushed for 613 yards and six scores, displaying remarkable speed and quickness with the ball in his hands. Many NFL fans have seen highlights of Griffin's brilliance throughout the season, but this Thanksgiving Day bash against the Cowboys is his first showcase in a nationally televised game. With a DeMarcus Ware-led defense adding to the pressure of performing on the big stage, RG3's poise will be put to the test. How well he keeps his nerves in check will play a major role in his performance and the play of the Redskins' offense.
Prediction: The Redskins are already in playoff mode, and a loss will likely extinguish their postseason hopes altogether. The Cowboys must match the desperation of the Redskins and show better execution in critical moments to get the win. The Cleveland Browns exposed some of the Cowboys' weaknesses on both sides of the ball in Week 11; the Redskins could be poised to pull off a mild upset on Turkey Day. Redskins 24, Cowboys 21
8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Which Mark Sanchez will show up against the Patriots?
Sanchez has been wildly erratic as the Jets' starting quarterback. He has 13 turnovers on the season, and has played five games in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes. However, he enters this contest fresh off one of his best recent performances, and a new-found confidence should encourage him to attack a suspect Patriots defense. Most importantly, he has developed a nice rapport with wide receiver Chaz Schilens that should lead to better production in the passing game. If Sanchez can avoid the costly mistakes that have undone the Jets' offense in the past, he should have plenty of opportunities to exploit a secondary that has routinely surrendered big plays.
Prediction: The Patriots are the class of the AFC East and they have a chance to nail the division down with a win over their bitter rivals. That will certainly prompt Tom Brady and Co. to bring their "A" game in this one, leading to a lopsided margin on the scoreboard. Patriots 31, Jets 17
Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.