Thanksgiving football is hardly any different, and this season’s action slate will include three games with six teams in playoff contention.
The Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions start in the early afternoon as the starters of the day. The Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants will battle it out for main course.
And, for dessert, the Minnesota Vikings will take on the New England Patriots.
Lions and cowboys are Thanksgiving staples like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and awkward dinner table conversation. Detroit has hosted a Thanksgiving Day game every year since 1934, and Dallas has hosted a game every holiday since 1966 with the exception of 1975 and 1977.
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In 1925, the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cardinals played a 0-0 game at Wrigley Field in front of 36,000 spectators. In 1934, the Lions played Thanksgiving Day Bears in the first nationally televised broadcast of a football game. Bronko Nagurski threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Bill Hewitt to seal a 19-16 victory in their first meeting.
This year, the NFL will be honoring the late John Madden all day long. Madden died at the age of 85 last year, just days after the release of his documentary. The league said the inaugural “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration” will feature special tributes on CBS, FOX and NBC throughout the game slate.
Lions (4-6) vs. Bills (7-3) – 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Lions are in the mix on Thanksgiving like they are every year, and are entering a matchup with the Bills looking to shorten Buffalo’s playoff hopes. Detroit was on a three-game hitting streak behind Jared Goff, Jamaal Williams and a spirited defense.
Buffalo got back in the saddle with a win over the Browns last week. Josh Allen is hoping to cut mistakes against the Lions and not sink Buffalo in such a crucial matchup at this point in the season. Allen is also undefeated at Thanksgiving (2-0). He had 204 passing yards and one touchdown pass in his previous Thanksgiving game against the Lions
Detroit is hoping Jamaal Williams can continue his tear. He had three rushing touchdowns last week and became the fourth player since 2000 with multiple rushing touchdowns in at least five of his team’s first 10 games of a season.
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The Bills are 5-4-1 all-time on Thanksgiving and the Lions are 37-43-2.
Cowboys (7-3) vs. Giants (7-3) – 4:30 pm ET, FOX
The Cowboys and Giants meet on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1992. The teams are in completely different places than when they first met at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 26.
Dallas is gaining momentum in its bid for an NFC East title. The Cowboys are seventh in runs scored and fourteen in yards gained, and their defense is first in runs allowed and ninth in yards allowed. The Cowboys have won 10 of their last 11 games against the Giants.
New York is trying to bounce back from a loss at home to the Lions. But getting through the Dallas defense with an injury-riddled team is going to be a tough task. Especially when a guy like Micah Parsons is getting into Reggie White territory.
Parsons recorded his eighth career game with at least two sacks, tying Shawne Merriman and Reggie White for “the second such games by a player in his first two NFL seasons since 1982,” according to the NFL.
The Cowboys are 31-22-1 on Thanksgiving. The Giants are 6-4-3.
Vikings (8-2) vs. Patriots (6-4) – 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Closing the Thanksgiving festivities will be the Vikings and the Patriots.
New England are pulling off an electric victory over the New York Jets on Sunday, thanks to a punt return touchdown by Marcus Jones. The Patriots have one of the best defenses in the league. That the Pats are second in runs allowed and fourth in yards allowed. It might be difficult for the Vikings to carry out their offensive.
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But, of course, they have Justin Jefferson. The star wide receiver enters the game with 4,109 career rushing yards and may pass Randy Moss for the most receiving yards by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history.
Minnesota is 6-2 on Thanksgiving and the Patriots are 3-2.