Here’s who’s playing in this year’s NFL Thanksgiving games – NBC Chicago
While turkey dinners are usually the star of the Thanksgiving show, action on the NFL grill is also key to the festivities, with three games on the schedule.
These games feature five teams with playoff aspirations, including the 7-3 Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, who will face off at AT&T Stadium.
The 7-3 Buffalo Bills are also hoping to keep pace in the AFC East, and they’ll face an upstart Detroit Lions team that has shown some serious improvements lately.
In the prime-time contest, the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots will face off in the Twin Cities.
This year’s Games will honor broadcaster John Madden, who died late last year. Madden became famous for his adoration of Thanksgiving games, handing out turkey legs to the top performers in each contest and professing his love for the dish known as “Turducken”, a hybrid of turkey, duck and chicken.
Here are the three Thanksgiving games this season.
11:30 a.m.: Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions (CBS)
For the 83rd times the Detroit Lions will play on Thanksgiving, and this year they will host the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field.
The Lions have hosted Thanksgiving games every year since 1945 and actually pioneered the concept in the early days of the NFL. Since 1978, the Dallas Lions and Cowboys have hosted holiday games each year.
All-time, the Lions are 37-43-2 on the holidays.
The Bills also played their last game in Detroit, beating the Cleveland Browns in a contest that had to be moved due to heavy snowfall in Buffalo.
Interestingly, the Bills and Lions have played Thanksgiving before. In 1975 the Lions beat Buffalo 27-14, and in 1994 they beat the Bills again by a score of 35-21.
The Bills have appeared on Thanksgiving in three of the past four seasons. They beat the Cowboys 26-15 in 2019, then blasted the New Orleans Saints 31-6 in prime time last season.
The Lions, meanwhile, haven’t won a Thanksgiving game since 2016, when they beat the Minnesota Vikings. Since then, they’ve lost to the Chicago Bears three times, including a 16-14 loss last year.
3:30 p.m.: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys (Fox)
Surprisingly, this will only be the second time the Giants and Cowboys, both NFC East rivals, have played over the holidays. The only other matchup came in 1992, when the Cowboys beat the Giants 30-3.
The Cowboys have held regular Thanksgiving games since 1966 and played a total of 54 times during the holidays. They are 31-22-1 in those contests.
The Giants have played 15 times on Thanksgiving, most recently in 2017. They have a 7-5-3 record.
The game will have significant ramifications in the NFC East race, as both teams enter the competition with 7-3 records. The Cowboys drew first blood in the rivalry earlier this season, winning at MetLife Stadium by a 23-16 margin.
A win for Dallas on Sunday would give them the tiebreaker against the Giants this season.
7:20 p.m.: New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings (NBC)
The Vikings haven’t played in a prime-time Thanksgiving game since the third contest was added to the schedule in 2006, but they have one of the league’s best records in holiday games, with a 6-2 record in those contests.
The Patriots also have a holiday winning record at 3-2, but haven’t played in a Thanksgiving game in a decade. This latest Thanksgiving tilt was a doozy for the Patriots, as they blasted the New York Jets 49-19 and took advantage of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez’s infamous “butt fumble.”
This game will also have playoff implications for both clubs. The Patriots are currently tied with the Cincinnati Bengals and Jets at 6-4 in the standings, and hold tiebreakers on both teams. They also trail the Dolphins by one game in the divisional standings.
The Vikings have taken a huge lead in the NFL North, already leading the Lions by four games. They also trail the Philadelphia Eagles by one game for the NFC’s top seed, which would give them a first-round bye and home court advantage in the playoffs.