What will the NFL's Plate Look like on Thanksgiving? Good question. In an ideal world, the NFL has finally settled down.
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What will the NFL's Plate Look like on Thanksgiving? A Look Ahead to Week 12

You've probably heard the saying: "Real football doesn't start until after Thanksgiving." The idea behind this sentiment is that entering the final third of the season, each football team knows what they are good at, and there is significant tape and statistical tendencies to use for game planning against each opponent. You have to win when the whole league knows how you are going to try and do it. It's put up or shut up time.

Who your team is by Thanksgiving (Week 12) is likely who they will be for the rest of the NFL season. 

But what every fan wants to know is ... who will their team be when they get there?

I'm going to peer into my crystal football and give you my five bold predictions about what the state of the NFL will be on Thanksgiving, and I am going to start with the only undefeated team left in the league.

1. The Philadelphia Eagles will still be Undefeated for their SNF Showdown with Green Bay.

DeVonta Smith #6 of the Philadelphia Eagles leads the huddle against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The biggest barrier to Philadelphia hitting Thanksgiving at 10-0 was their contest this Sunday at home against the Dallas Cowboys. Now, the Eagles have a bye week, followed by games against Pittsburgh, Houston, Washington and Indy.

While the Eagles have some exploitable flaws, and Jalen Hurts entered Week 6 with one of the worst fourth-quarter QB ratings in the league, the NFC is currently wide open, and that schedule is ripe for the taking.

When it comes to Philadelphia winning the division, we have to ask ourselves if the Eagles' league-leading +12 turnover differential is sustainable. That margin is three times greater than any other team in the league!

We also have to consider if the Giants can keep up their hot start under new coach Brian Daboll and if the Cowboys' offense will become more formidable when Dak Prescott returns to action.

If all of those answers trend in the Eagles' direction, then the NFC East could be locked up before the second Eagles-Cowboys showdown on Christmas Eve.

2. Baker Mayfield will have Played his Last Meaningful NFL Game as a QB1.

Baker Mayfield #6 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Another head coach has fallen victim to having Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback. Mayfield had four different head coaches in Cleveland, and now that Matt Rhule has been fired, he is onto his second coach in Carolina — after just five games. Sometimes when you think everyone else is the problem, you might be the problem.

Baker Mayfield has the worst quarterback rating in the NFL, and it's even more embarrassing because he bet on himself. The Browns are paying nearly $10 million for Mayfield not to play for them, and Baker took a nearly $4 million pay cut. All this just to put up horrific numbers surrounded by weapons in his contract year.

While Mayfield will likely miss the next few games with an ankle injury, even if he does return, I expect the Panthers eventually to go with a healthy Sam Darnold under center by Thanksgiving.

I can't imagine there is a team willing to invest starting QB money and resources into Mayfield this offseason, so this will effectively end his career as a starting quarterback. It's been a wildly disappointing one for the former No. 1 overall pick who helped the Browns win their first playoff game in 26 years.

3. One More Coach will be Fired by Thanksgiving and it won't be Mike Tomlin.

Head coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders speaks with quarterback Carson Wentz #11 during the first half of the game against the Tennessee Titans at FedExField

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It's rare to see firings before December in the NFL, like the one we saw with Matt Rhule in Carolina, but a few teams will be looking to see how their players react under new management before the season ends.

I expect some coaches, like the Lions' Dan Campbell and Falcons' Arthur Smith, to have longer leashes as those franchises are dug in for long-term rebuilds and have shown flashes of promise.

While Pittsburgh has been extremely disappointing, it's been well-documented that the Steelers franchise rarely changes head coaches, with only four in the Super Bowl era. Mike Tomlin's Super Bowl trophy will buy him a little extra time with an already patient organization.

To me, the most likely candidates to be out by Thanksgiving are Ron Rivera with the Commanders and Kliff Kingsbury with the Cardinals.

Rivera is presiding over one of the worst defenses in football, and he has started to distance himself from his quarterback, which usually means a coach's job is in jeopardy. The Commanders can financially cut all ties with Carson Wentz when the year is over, putting them in prime position to clean house. It makes too much sense for Washington to use the last third of the season to see if new leadership can return this talented defense to its 2020 form, aided by the possible return of the talented Chase Young.

Kliff Kingsbury did sign a contract-extension with the Cardinals this past March, but since then, Arizona made a substantially larger investment in quarterback Kyler Murray. The Cardinals need to prioritize that second investment, and as we can tell from their most recent loss to the Seahawks, where they put up only nine points, something isn't right in Arizona.

Kingsbury has historically struggled in the later parts of the season. If the Cardinals enter Thanksgiving with a poor record — despite the return of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins Arizona will want to turn the page on their coach quickly before they damage their investment in their quarterback too significantly.

4. The Patriots will hit Turkey Day at 7-3 after a Six-Game Winning Streak, while the Jets Roll in at 4-6 on a Four-Game Losing Skid.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks to quarterback Bailey Zappe

Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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The Patriots' defense is beginning to round into form after holding the Lions' number one offense scoreless in Week 5. New England plays the Browns, Bears, Colts and Jets twice before they match up against the Vikings on Thanksgiving. Even if the Patriots lose to the Browns this week, which I don't expect, New England fans can bet on their team hitting Thanksgiving riding a significant winning streak, regardless of who is playing quarterback for their team.

If the playoffs started at the end of Week 6 (excluding the Monday night game), the New York Jets would be the fifth seed in the AFC. This win in Green Bay might be the high point of the season for Gang Green. However, with an upcoming road game against the Broncos, followed by three straight divisional games against the Patriots and Bills, I don't expect the Jets to be favored in any of those games (though the jury's still out on Denver). Which means as New York hits Thanksgiving, we might start hearing Robert Saleh's name placed onto the coaching hot seat if they do lose four in a row.

5. The NFL MVP race will be down to the same four elite AFC QBs that will be battling it out for the next five years.

Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills runs onto the field before the game against the Miami Dolphins

Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

This is no disrespect to Aaron Rodgers, Joe Burrow, Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray or any of the other talented signal callers in the NFL. However, the current "Tier One" of quarterbacks in the NFL will separate themselves even further from the rest of the league by Week 12 of this season.

The NFL MVP winner for the next five years will come from the group of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson. All these quarterbacks are between 24 and 27 years old, and each has taken the position to new heights with their athleticism and ability to throw the ball downfield. 51-13. That's the touchdown-to-interception ratio of those four guys through the first five weeks of the season. 

Mahomes currently has 17 TDs to only four interceptions, and we aren't talking about it enough because we have grown to expect it!

Josh Allen had almost 350 passing yards by halftime alone against the Steelers in Week 5.

Lamar Jackson is on pace for 3,600 passing yards and nearly 1,300 rushing yards with arguably one of the weakest receiving corps in the league.

Justin Herbert entered Week 6 third in the NFL in passing, and with games against the 49ers and Chiefs right before Thanksgiving, he will firmly enter his name into the four-horse race for MVP, where it will stay for at least the next half a decade.

MORE: Lamar Jackson's Historically Insane Contract Year Could Cause a Massive Shift in the Free Agent Market