Thanksgiving football has had mixed results, and this season’s slate of events will feature three games with six teams vying for the playoffs.
The Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions start in the early afternoon as appetizers for the day. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will face off for the main course.
And for dessert, the Minnesota Vikings will take on the New England Patriots.
The Lions and the Cowboys are Thanksgiving staples like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and awkward dinner-table conversation. Detroit has hosted a Thanksgiving 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 Chicago Cardinals played 0-0 at Wrigley Field in front of a crowd of 36,000 people. In 1934, the Lions played the Bears on Thanksgiving Day in the first nationally televised broadcast of a football game. Bronko Nagurski threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Bill Hewitt for a 19-16 victory in their first meeting.
This year, the NFL will be honoring the late John Madden all day long. Madden passed away last year at the age of 85, just days after the release of his documentary. The league said the opener, “John Madden’s Thanksgiving Celebration,” will feature special tributes on CBS, FOX and NBC throughout the fixture list.
Lions (4-6) vs. Bills (7-3) — 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Lions are in the mix on Thanksgiving as they are every year, and they’re getting into a game with the Bills looking to derail Buffalo’s playoff hopes. Detroit won three in a row behind Jared Goff, Jamal Williams and a brisk defense.
Buffalo got back in the saddle with a win over the Browns last week. Josh Allen is hoping to cut down on errors against the Lions and not plunge Buffalo into such a pivotal showdown at this point in the season. Allen was also undefeated on Thanksgiving (2-0). He had 204 passing yards and a touchdown pass in his previous Thanksgiving game against the Lions
Detroit Jamal Williams hopes he keeps tearing up. He had three rushing touchdowns last week and became just the fourth player since 2000 with multiple rushing touchdowns in at least five of his team’s first 10 games of the 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 p.m. ET, Fox
The Cowboys and Giants meet on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1992. The teams are in very different places than when they first met at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 26.
Dallas is gaining momentum in its bid for the NFC East title. The Cowboys are seventh in points scored and 14th in yards allowed, and their defense is first in points allowed and ninth in yards allowed. The Cowboys have won 10 of the 11 games they have played against the Giants.
New York is looking to bounce back from the home defeat to the Lions. But getting past a Dallas defense with a team riddled with injuries will be a tall order. Especially when a guy like Micah Parsons enters Reggie White territory.
Parsons recorded his eighth game with at least two sacks, tying Shawn Merriman and Reggie White for “the second most 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. Giants 6-4-3.
Vikings (8-2) vs. Patriots (6-4) — 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
The Vikings and Patriots will round out the Thanksgiving celebrations.
New England scores an electrifying win over the New York Jets on Sunday, thanks to a penalty touchdown run from Marcus Jones. The Patriots have one of the best defenses in the league. That Pats is second in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed. It might be difficult for the Vikings to stay on the offensive.
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But, of course, they have Justin Jefferson. The star wide receiver enters the game with 4,109 career yards and can 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.
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