The Cowboys and Chargers are trending in two different directions, and Thursday evening’s 28-6 thumping thoroughly illustrated that.
Dallas has lost its last three games (all without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott) by a combined score of 92-22. At 5-6, they have very little room for error down the stretch if they want to make the playoffs in the competitive NFC. In three games without his backfield mate, Dak Prescott has yet to reach 200 passing yards. He has five interceptions and no touchdown passes.
The Chargers, meanwhile, are also 5-6 but trending upward in a conference desperate to find two decent wild-card teams. Los Angeles has won five of its past seven games and has played tough in all of its losses this year. Its plus-47 point differential signals a team better than its sub-.500 record and a team that could do damage in the final five weeks against Cleveland, Washington, Kansas City, the New York Jets and Oakland. Philip Rivers, who turns 36 next month, had his best game of the season Thursday, completing 27 of 33 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns.
Injuries the story early
The 4-6 Chargers lost wide receiver Mike Williams, who was carted off with a knee injury and the 5-5 Cowboys, already without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott, lost right guard Zack Martin to a head injury. He was ruled out for the second half and replaced by Joe Looney.
Much of the Cowboys’ success last season was because of its offensive line, but the unit has not been able to repeat its dominance this year. All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith missed two games with a groin strain, and now that he has returned to the lineup, Martin goes out. As of the end of the third quarter Thursday, the Cowboys had yet to score, making it 10 straight quarters without a touchdown.
That streak was finally snapped — after 154 snaps — with a two-yard run by Rod Smith. Dallas failed to convert its ensuing two-point attempt.
The Chargers were also in a pickle in the kicking game because Nick Novak injured his back in the first quarter when he missed a 35-yard attempt.
In the early game …
The Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford set two NFL records with his performance Thursday but was outperformed by Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings, who won the NFC North battle, 30-23.
Stafford distinguished himself from the rest of the NFL players who have toiled on Thanksgiving, setting an NFL record for career passing yards on Thanksgiving Day. The record-setting pass was a six-yard touchdown toss to Marvin Jones and moved Stafford past former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who passed for 2,338 yards in 10 Thanksgiving games. Stafford was only 120 yards shy of Romo’s mark coming into the game.
A little later, he broke the record for passing yardage by a player under the age of 30, surpassing Peyton Manning’s 33,189 yards.
But the day belonged to Keenum, who led the Vikings to their seventh straight victory and completed 21 of 30 passes for 282 yards and two TDs. Stafford completed 20 of 35 passes for 250 passes and two TDs.
And finally . . .
In an NFC East game, the 4-6 Redskins wrap up the day with a game against the 2-8 New York Giants, and they’re hurting. They’ve also been hapless on Thanksgiving, going winless on the holiday since 2012 and 2-7 all time on Turkey Day. To boot, they play next Thursday night, too, against the Cowboys in Dallas.
Top story lines
Revis Island redux: The Kansas City Chiefs surprised people by signing Darrelle Revis. (Read more.)
Who’s No. 1? In The Post’s rankings, it’s the Philadelphia Eagles. (Read more.)
Belichick is so happy to leave Mexico: Bill Belichick does not fear 28-3 Super Bowl deficits. Volcanoes are another matter. (Read more.)
The Cowboys’ owner gets a taste of his own medicine: Jerry Jones once told Robert Kraft and the Patriots to “take your medicine” on Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension. This is not how he feels about Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. (Read more.)
Blergh: The Redskins are still afume over Kirk Cousin’s intentional grounding penalty in the loss to the Saints. (Read more.)
This won’t help the Redskins, but . . . : An NFL source suggests to The Post that the intentional grounding penalty was erroneous. (Read more.)
Few options at RB: With their backfield decimated, the Redskins turn to Samaje Perine. (Read more.)
Looking ahead: Jerry Brewer ponders what’s next for the 4-6 Redskins after a devastating loss in New Orleans. His answer? Only the future direction of the franchise. (Read more.)
Six minutes in hell: How the Redskins lost a 15-point lead in six minutes. (Read more.)
What’s better than the Buttfumble? The Buttfumble with a foreign flair. Happy fifth anniversary. Never forget.
Speaking of anniversaries: Odell Beckham Jr. made a spectacular one-handed grab three years ago on this date.
‘Bye byes: The bye weeks are over.
Key inactives for the 12:30, 4:30 p.m. EST games:
Dwayne Washington (hip)
Dwight Freeney (who was claimed off waivers Wednesday)
Mike Remmers (concussion)
Sean Lee (hamstring)
Key players listed as questionable for Thursday include:
Sterling Shepard (illness)
Ryan Grant (calf)
Trent Williams (knee)
Brandon Scherff (knee)
Fantasy football advice
Best/worst matchups: Two words: Paxton Lynch. (Read more)
Five moves you must make for Week 12: Some critical decisions are looming. (Read more)
Week 12 Start/Sit: Put your faith in Kareem Hunt again. (Read more)
The Fantasy Football Beat: Post-bye week strategies to maximize your roster. (Listen)
The top trends and insights from Las Vegas. (Read more.)