NFL 2017 Week 12: Los Angeles Chargers vs Dallas Cowboys preview and prediction

The Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving game against a dangerous Chargers team. Who will come out on top?

The Chargers got to go against rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman last week, and they made the Bills pay for their poor decision to start him. Joey Bosa was a constant menace and hurried Peterman on basically every play. The rookie threw five interceptions in the first half before being benched, but by then it was far too late. The Chargers were rampant in a 54-24 win.

Dallas hosted the Philadelphia Eagles last week, and while the game was close in the first half the Eagles turned up the heat in the second and ran out comfortable 37-9 winners. The Cowboys once again had blocking issues without Tyron Smith and were unable to prevent Derek Barnett causing chaos.

Can we block someone?

It is unclear if Tyron Smith will be able to make it back in time from a groin injury to play in this game, which is a problem because the Cowboys have only been able to play turnstiles at left tackle in his absence. It’s not just on the left side that there are problems though. Right tackle La’el Collins has been hampered by back problems and is questionable for the game, leaving Dallas with very little ammunition to go against the best pair of defensive ends in the NFL.

Playoff hopes hang by a thread

At 5-5, the Cowboys need to get a win on the board if they are to stand any chance of getting through a crowded and tough NFC wildcard race. Meanwhile, the Chargers are 4-6 and somehow in a better position than Dallas when it comes to the playoffs. They are just one win back from the AFC’s #6 seed, and only two wins back from the stumbling Chiefs in the AFC West.

The Chargers are 4-2 in their last six games, and could easily be 5-1. They are the form team in the AFC West and looking to make a shocking run. That starts with beating the Cowboys. Neither team can really afford to lose.

Does anyone have a running game?

Dallas will be without Ezekiel Elliott as he finally serves his six game suspension, and the Cowboys are yet to adjust to life without Zeke in the backfield. However, they aren’t the only team with running issues. The Chargers are getting just 3.8 yards a carry from Melvin Gordon this season, suggesting that we may see an all-out aerial assault from both teams in this one.

Matchup to Watch: Scott Linehan vs Joey Bosa & Melvin Ingram

The two Chargers defensive ends have combined for 19 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, and 34 QB hits this season. In short, they are an utterly destructive force. With both starting tackles having issues, and the backups proving ineffective over the last two weeks, Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is going to have to get creative with his formations, protections, and playcalls if he wants Dak Prescott to survive Thanksgiving.

Fantasy Tip: Chargers RB Austin Ekeler

The rookie Ekeler has become like another Danny Woodhead for Philip Rivers. He’s been lining up across the formation and acted as the primary third down back. If you can get your hands on him he is an interesting flex play this week as the Cowboys are without Sean Lee and really struggle to stop backs in the passing game.

Betting Tip: Under 47.5

This has the makings of a low-scoring game thanks to Dallas’ line issues and Los Angeles’ inconsistencies on offense. Take the under.

Prediction: Chargers 24 – 13 Cowboys

I honestly don’t know how Dallas plan to move the ball against the Chargers because they have so far shown a complete inability to coach around the absence of their stars. Meanwhile the Chargers are in good form and sniff a division title despite their 0-4 start.

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Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.