The NFL is holding its annual Thanksgiving football game with three great matchups for fans to look forward to throughout the day on Thursday.
Every year, many fans look forward to the NFL Thanksgiving Day games as an extra exciting way to spend the holiday, especially if their team is playing. This Thanksgiving, the NFL has put together three matchups that will certainly be worthwhile.
As tradition calls for, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys host the first two games of the day. Two other teams will face each other for the third and final game to end the day, continuing an annual tradition that began in 1920.
These matchups are bound to be ones to watch.
Thanksgiving NFL schedule 2022
- Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills
- Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
- Minnesota Vikings vs. New England Patriots
Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills
- Kickoff: 12:30pm ET/11:30am CT
- Stadium: Ford Field – Detroit, MI
- TV Channel: CBS
- Announcers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson
- Live Stream: Fubo.TV | Paramount+
The Lions are continuing tradition by hosting one of the Thanksgiving games, and this year’s matchup against the Bills is bound to be an exciting one. The Lions currently sit second in the NFC North with a 4-6 record, while the Bills are tied for first in the AFC East with a 7-3 record.
After finishing last in the division for the past four consecutive years, the Lions present an interesting challenge as an up-and-coming competitor in the NFC North. Meanwhile, the Bills have won their competitive division the past two years in a row.
The two teams have yet to face each other, but the Lions have been pulling a lot of close games and on a hot streak lately, winning their past three consecutive games. The Bills have led the season as Super Bowl favorites, but the Lions could come up as the underdogs.
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
- Kickoff: 4:30pm ET/3:30pm CT
- Location: AT&T Stadium – Arlington, TX
- TV Channel: FOX
- Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, Tom Rinaldi
- Live Stream: Fubo.TV | Fox Sports App
The Cowboys are another team that traditionally hosts a Thanksgiving game, so this’ll be another familiar one for fans. The Cowboys are tied with the Giants 7-3 in the NFC East, so the divisional matchup will undoubtedly be an exciting one as it’ll be the tie-breaker to see who moves up a spot in the division.
The Cowboys seem to have a solid chance of moving up in the NFC East as they beat the Giants 23-16 in their last matchup. In Week 10, Dallas completely destroyed the Vikings, a first-place 8-2 team, with a final score of 40-3 on Sunday.
Dak Prescott is officially back and is wasting no time, proving to still be a threat in the league. The Giants, on the other hand, have Daniel Jones, who recently had his best performance statistically of the year against the Lions, throwing for 341 yards and a touchdown.
Either way, the division tie will be broken, and one team will officially be the second-place team.
Minnesota Vikings vs. New England Patriots
- Kickoff: 8:20pm ET/7:20pm CT
- Location: U.S. Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, MN
- TV Channel: NBC
- Announcers: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Melissa Stark
- Live Stream: Fubo.TV | Watch NBC App
This is sure to be a competitive matchup, as the Vikings have one of the best records in the league and the Patriots are struggling to stay afloat with an unfavorable offensive line. However, the Vikings recently faced a massive loss to the Cowboys while the Patriots pulled off a stunning win against the Jets, so anything could happen.
The Vikings and the Patriots have yet to face each other this season, so it’ll certainly be an exciting matchup. The Pats have quite a bit of new talent on the team that seems to be just beginning to reach their potential.
During Sunday’s game against the Jets, the Pats and the Jets were tied 3-3 up until the last minute of the game when Marcus Jones ran a beautiful 84-yard touchdown. Plays like that could be lethal against any team, and if the Patriots continue to play at that caliber, they certainly stand a chance of winning.
If the Pats win, it’ll break their tie against the Jets and they’ll be extremely close to moving up past the Miami Dolphins and the Bills for the first place spot in the standings. Bill Belichick famously says that football doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving — hopefully for New England, it starts on Thanksgiving Day.
Which NFL teams have never played on Thanksgiving?
- Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are the only team in the NFL that hasn’t played on Thanksgiving, likely because they’re one of the newer teams in the league as they’ve only existed since 1995. Because they’re still one of the newest franchises, they haven’t had as many opportunities as the longer-tenured ones such as the Lions, the Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s unclear exactly why they haven’t played a Thanksgiving game or if they will in the future, but they should get the opportunity to at some point, as it’s a special game with a lot of viewership. They have consistently been one of the least successful teams in the league for the past several years, so that may be a reason why they haven’t had their chance to play quite yet.
The Los Angeles Rams and the Cleveland Browns have played on Thanksgiving before, but they haven’t in quite some time. In fact, the last time each team played a Thanksgiving game, the Jags weren’t even a team yet.
The Rams have the longest active drought, not having played on Thanksgiving since 1975. The Browns haven’t played since 1989. The Rams have been a good team for the past few years and even won Super Bowl LVI this February, but the Browns have been notoriously bad, which could be why they haven’t appeared in so long.
Which NFL teams are undefeated on Thanksgiving?
- Baltimore Ravens: 2-0
- Houston Texans: 2-0
- Carolina Panthers: 1-0
The Ravens played their first Thanksgiving game in 2011 against the San Francisco 49ers, and they had great success with a final score of 16-6. This game was particularly exciting because at the time, John Harbaugh coached the Ravens while his brother, Jim Harbaugh, coached the 49ers.
The two teams struggled defensively and the 49ers appeared to be on the path to a victory before their touchdown was wiped due to a chop block.
Baltimore then played on Thanksgiving just two years later in 2013 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and pulled a close 22-20 win. Justin Tucker was a particularly impactful player during this game, as he produced five field goals in the hard-won game.
The Texans played the Lions on Thanksgiving in 2012, their first ever Thanksgiving Day game. They pulled off a close 34-31 win in overtime with a field goal from Shayne Graham. Both teams certainly fought long and hard, and they came back to beat the Lions in 2020 on Thanksgiving with a much larger margin.
In their 2020 matchup, the Texas beat the Lions 41-25 with an explosive game. Deshaun Watson was particularly notable this game, as he had a completion percentage of 68 over 318 yards for an average of 12.7 yards per pass and four touchdowns. The game proved to be one of his best games that season.
The Panthers played their only Thanksgiving Day game in 2015, the same season (but not the same year) they played in the Super Bowl. Building up to a Super Bowl appearance, it was no surprise that they took down the Cowboys 33-14.
After the second quarter, they held the Cowboys to a harsh 23-3 score, and Dallas just couldn’t pull it together to overtake the Panthers. Graham Gano had several successful field goals, ultimately bringing the team to victory.
When was the last time the Giants played on Thanksgiving?
- 2017: Lost to the Washington Commanders 20-10
The Giants last played on Thanksgiving five years ago with a rough loss to the Commanders. The Giants only scored in the second and third quarters, but they struggled to overtake Kirk Cousins as he threw two touchdowns.
Overall, the Giants had a rough season in 2017, going 3-13 and finishing dead last in the NFC East. The Commanders finished slightly above them in third going 7-9 — much more favorable, but still not the best team in the league.
When was the last time the Patriots played on Thanksgiving?
- 2012: Defeated the New York Jets 49-19
The Patriots decimated the Jets on Thanksgiving of 2012, but at that point, nobody was surprised. That was one of their prime years of the Tom Brady era, and they also had great players such as Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Stephen Gostkowski to make the team one of the bests in the league.
They finished that regular season 12-4, tied with the Houston Texans for the second-best record in the league. The Jets, on the other hand, went 6-10 that season and didn’t seem to stand a chance.
The Patriots had an explosive second quarter, scoring a whopping 35 points with five touchdowns, five extra point kicks and a field goal. This was certainly one of the best outcomes fans could’ve witnessed for the Patriots on Thanksgiving, but Jets fans were unfortunately hurting a bit more.
When was the last time the Vikings played on Thanksgiving?
- 2017: Defeated the Detroit Lions 30-23
The Vikings overtook the Lions on Thanksgiving in 2017 with a strong first half consisting of three touchdowns. They lost steam in the second half with just one touchdown and one field goal, but they were still able to come out with the win.
Minnesota finished the season with a 13-3 record and won the NFC North, while the Lions trailed behind in second with a 9-7 record. Both teams were an even match, and the Lions won their prior matchup in 2017, so it truly could’ve gone either way.
When was the last time the Bills played on Thanksgiving?
- 2021: Defeated the New Orleans Saints 31-6
The Bills were on fire during the 2021 season, finishing first in the AFC East with an 11-6 record. It was no surprise then that they crushed the Saints, a team that ended the year with a 9-8 record. New Orleans ended their season in second place in the NFC South behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Buffalo had a particularly good defense complemented by incredible offensive players like Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and Dawson Knox that made them capable of pulling off such a stunning win. They didn’t allow any points from the Saints until the final quarter when Nick Vannett ran for a touchdown. That didn’t scare them as they were already up 24-6, and then Matt Breida ran one last touchdown to bring them up even more.
What are the Vikings, Patriots, Giants and Bills career records on Thanksgiving?
- Minnesota Vikings: 6-2
- New England Patriots: 3-2
- Buffalo Bills: 5-4-1
- New York Giants: 7-5-3
Each team has seen quite a bit of success in previous Thanksgiving games, so this year will certainly be exciting.
The Vikings had an extremely notable Thanksgiving game in 1998 with wide receiver Randy Moss running 163 yards and completing two touchdowns in the 46-36 win against the Cowboys. He began the game catching a 51-yard pass and went on to catch two more 56-yard passes.
The Patriots will never be able to top the iconic Butt Fumble Game in 2012, which is another historical happening that occurred on a Thanksgiving Day game. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez went to run the ball after a missed play, but he collided with Brandon Moore and fumbled. Moore’s butt got the ball loose, allowing the Pats to run with it.
Back in 1976, the Bills had a memorable Thanksgiving Day moment with O.J. Simpson rushing 273 yards in that game, which set the record for most rushing yards in one game at that time.
In 1938, the Giants tied the game in the fourth quarter with a touchdown from Dale Burnett. According to Michael Eisen of the Giants official website, “That score 84 years ago tomorrow remains the Giants’ most recent offensive touchdown on Thanksgiving Day.”
Many big moments have come from Thanksgiving Day games, and they’re likely to continue this year.
What are the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys career records on Thanksgiving?
- Detroit Lions: 37-43-2
- Dallas Cowboys: 31-22-1
The Lions and the Cowboys certainly have a lot of history in Thanksgiving Day games as they play nearly every single year.
One of the most memorable Thanksgiving games in Lions history was back in 1962 against the Green Bay Packers. The Lions certainly weren’t favored to win as they faced a team that Vince Lombardi handpicked, and the Packers were undefeated upon entering the game. However, the Lions persevered and sacked Bart Starr 11 times in a 26-14 win.
The Cowboys’ most memorable game was back in 1993 against the Miami Dolphins. The game was particularly unique, as the Cowboys entered as the defending Super Bowl champs and played on a snow-covered field. The Dolphins overtook the Cowboys in a close 16-14 game.
When was the last time the Detroit Lions won on Thanksgiving?
The Lions haven’t won on Thanksgiving since 2016 against the Vikings in a 16-13 win.
Why do the Cowboys and Lions play on Thanksgiving every year?
The Lions began the Thanksgiving Day tradition back in 1934 as an attempt to attract more fans, which proved to be a clever tactic. As a result, the stadium was sold out, and people were turned away at the gates because so many people showed up.
The Cowboys followed lead in 1966 and had similar results, leading the two teams to continue the tradition in an effort to boost viewership of the teams.