There's nothing quite like the tradition of Thanksgiving Day football. The tradition started 87 years ago, and while there was one brief stoppage of it during World War II, it has become a staple of the American holiday.
The NFL is entering its 16thseason of scheduling three games for Thanksgiving Day. Only two games were played last year.The night game between the Steelers and Ravens was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns, but the Lions and Cowboys continued their decades-long streak of playing on the holiday.
The Lions were the team that began the Thanksgiving Day tradition. OwnerGeorge A. Richards designed the game in 1934 to boost attendance, and it worked. The Cowboys began playing on the holiday in 1966. Save for one brief stoppage imposed by the NFL, they have continued to do so.
In 2021, the tradition will continue once again. The Lions will face the Bears, the Cowboys will do battle with the Raiders and the Bills will get a chance to square off with the Saints as the night game returns.
Below is all you need to know about the teams playing on Thanksgiving this year, plus the TV channels for the games and more.
NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
What teams are playing on Thanksgiving 2021?
|Game||Kickoff time||TV channel|
|Bears at Lions||12:30 p.m. ET||Fox, fuboTV|
|Raiders at Cowboys||4:30 p.m. ET||Fox, fuboTV|
|Bills at Saints||8:20 p.m. ET||NBC, fuboTV|
The Lions are hosting their 82nd Thanksgiving game in 2021 and entering Week 11, they were still looking to get Dan Campbell his first win. Could it come against the Bears? The Lions lost 24-14 against the Bears earlier in the season but if they can slow Justin Fields and the Bears offense down, they could grind out a gritty win. They will be motivated to win on Thanksgiving, after all.
The Cowboys will play their 53rd Thanksgiving game and will get a chance to play their second AFC West team in as many games. The Raiders figure to be an easier matchup for the Cowboys than the Chiefs, as Las Vegas has fallen apart in recent weeks after the Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette releases. The Dallas offense is playing well, so as long as they're healthy, they'll be solid favorites in this one.
The night game for 2021 should be interesting. There wasn't one last season —the Ravens-Steelers game was postponed due to COVID issues — but it will be making its return this year. The Bills have a strong-looking offense led by Josh Allen and a great defense as well. The Saints have the league's best run defense and could challenge some of the Bills' receivers.
This one may come down to quarterback play, but maybe Trevor Siemian can play well enough to win. Having Alvin Kamara healthy and available would certainly help his cause.
What channel isThanksgiving football on?
Lions vs. Bears TV channel
(12:30 p.m. ET kickoff)
- TV channel: Fox
- Live stream: fuboTV
Fox's No. 1 broadcast team — Joe Buck and Troy Aikman — tends to call the Thanksgiving game for the network. They may not be showing the Cowboys this year, but you can still expect them to be on the call for the Lions-Bears game, as they usually broadcast "Thursday Night Football" anyway.
Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink have served as a tag-team duo as sideline reporters this year, and they will likely continue to do this for Fox's stand-alone Thanksgiving game.
Mike Pereira serves as Fox's broadcast's rules analyst.
Cowboys vs. Raiders TV channel
(4:30 p.m. ET kickoff)
- TV channel: CBS
- Live stream: fuboTV
It looks like Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will have the call for CBS in the Cowboys-Raiders game. That means viewers will get to watch Romo break down his former team and the starter that replaced him.
Tracy Wolfson is the sideline reporter for Nantz and Romo's crew while former NFL referee Gene Steratore will be CBS' rules analyst for the game.
Saints vs. Bills TV channel
(8:20 p.m. ET kickoff)
- TV channel:NBC
- Live stream: fuboTV
The NBC broadcast seems likely to get a change-up from its usual Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth duo on Thanksgiving. Michaels usually gets Thanksgiving off and is replaced by Mike Tirico. This year, it seems that Collinsworth will move out of the booth to take the holiday while Drew Brees will break down his former Saints team in the booth.
Michele Tafoya will serve as the sideline reporter in this game while Terry McAulay, a recently-retired official, will be the NFL rules analyst for the broadcast.
MORE: Why the Lions play on Thanksgiving, explained
What football teams always play on Thanksgiving?
TheDetroit Lionsare set to play their 82nd game on Thanksgiving. The tradition began in 1934 with their only stoppage of the Thanksgiving gamescoming from 1939 to 1944 during the height of World War II.
TheDallas Cowboysjoined the fray in 1966 and hosted some Thanksgiving Day games in the early years of their franchise's history. They stopped for a bit from 1975 to 1977, asthe NFL wanted the St. Louis Cardinals to play on Thanksgiving to boost their popularity,they are set to play at home for the 43rd consecutive year.
The Lions have a career record of37-42-2 on Thanksgiving. They haven't won a game since 2016 against the Vikings. The Cowboys are 31-21-1 on Thanksgiving with their last win coming over Washington in 2018.
MORE: Why the Cowboys play on Thanksgiving, explained
What teams have never played on Thanksgiving?
There is only one team that has never played on Thanksgiving Day. That's the Jaguars.
The Jaguars have only been around since 1995 and are one of the smaller-market teams in the NFL. As such, it makes sense that they have yet to play on Thanksgiving, especially when you look at their production over the years. Jacksonville has routinely been one of the NFL's worst teams, so it makes sense that the NFL has avoided scheduling the team in a marquee spot, like Thanksgiving Day.
Perhaps if Trevor Lawrence improves in future seasons,the Jaguars will get that nod. For now though, they are the lone team without a Thanksgiving appearance. Three other teams — the Buccaneers, Bengals and Panthers — have played just once on Thanksgiving Day.
Below is a list of NFL teams in order by number of Thanksgiving game appearances, not including 2021's games.
|Green Bay Packers||36|
|New York Giants||15|
|Kansas City Chiefs||10|
|New York Jets||8|
|Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers||7|
|San Francisco 49ers||5|
|New England Patriots||5|
|Los Angeles Chargers||5|
|Los Angeles Rams||5|
|New Orleans Saints||3|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1|
Do people watch football on Thanksgiving?
The NFL's Thanksgiving Day games have routinely been among the most-watched NFL regular-season broadcasts in recent years. In 2019, the Bills-Cowboys Thanksgiving game averaged 32.53 million viewers, which made it the most-watched game since the 2019 Super Bowl between the Patriots and Rams.
In 2020, the trend of the Cowboys being a big draw continued. They averaged 30.3 million viewersfor their 41-16 loss at the hands of the Washington Football Team. It didn't quite compare to the previous season's numbers, but it was still impressive considering the ongoing COVID pandemic and rise of streaming alternatives.
The Lions-Texans game in 2020drew 23.2 million viewers on average during the game. Neither team had playoff chances, so that broadcast did well, all things considered. The Steelers-Ravens game was, unfortunately, postponed because of some COVID positives, so these two games are the ones we have data on.
Long story shot, yes. People do watch football on Thanksgiving. It continues to be atradition for many families across America.
What are the three Thanksgiving football games? ›
The Lions will host the Bills to kickstart the holiday while the Cowboys will take on one of their divisional rivals, the Giants, in the afternoon. Thanksgiving 2022 will then culminate with a battle between Mac Jones' Patriots and Kirk Cousins' Vikings. Below are the TV details and times for all three games.What channels are the Thanksgiving football games on? ›
Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America. TV Channel: NBC. Stream live: Watch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App.What are the three NFL games on Thanksgiving this year? ›
The three Thanksgiving games this season will be Bills at Lions, Giants at Cowboys and Patriots at Vikings. Each of those games features captivating storylines and, in the case of the Giants-Cowboys game, an intriguing divisional race.What are the NFL games on Thanksgiving? ›
In 2006, the NFL added a third game with no specific host team to the prime-time window. The 2022 Thanksgiving Day schedule: Buffalo Bills at Lions: 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS. New York Giants at Cowboys: 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox.Is there always 3 games on Thanksgiving? ›
The NFL's Thanksgiving Day games have traditionally included one game hosted by the Detroit Lions since 1934, and one game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys since 1966 (with two exceptions in 1975 and 1977). Since 2006, a third prime time game has also been played on Thanksgiving.Is this the first Thanksgiving with 3 NFL games? ›
Aside from 1975 and 1977, when the NFL attempted to add the St. Louis Cardinals into the mix based on popularity, the Cowboys have hosted every year on Thanksgiving Day. In 2006, the league added a third Thanksgiving game to the program.What channel is Thursday Night football Thanksgiving? ›
Amazon has the exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football for 2022 and the following 10 seasons. However, there's an exception for the Thanksgiving game this year. So, while you've gotten in the habit of tuning into Amazon Prime on Thursday evening, tonight's game won't be there. It will air on NBC instead.Where can I watch NFL on Thanksgiving? ›
- Time: Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET (CBS), stream on Paramount+ (click here) ...
- Time: Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox), stream on fuboTV (try for free) ...
- Time: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC), stream on fuboTV (try for free)
Since 1978, the Lions and Cowboys have hosted a game on Thanksgiving every year. Detroit regularly plays the early game, tailgated by Dallas in the late afternoon, and a rotating prime-time matchup was added in 2006.What NFL team is playing on Thanksgiving Day 2022? ›
What teams are playing on Thanksgiving 2022? The Lions are hosting their 83rd Thanksgiving Day game in franchise history during the 2022 NFL season. Per usual, their contest will be the first of the holiday, and Detroit will be motivated to win its first Thanksgiving contest since a 2016 victory against the Vikings.
Why does Detroit and Dallas always play on Thanksgiving? ›
Why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving? It all started on Thanksgiving Day in 1934, when owner George A. Richards decided to play on the holiday to attract more fans. Richards was known for his marketing acumen, and his Thanksgiving plan was an immediate hit.Will the Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving? ›
If it seems like the Dallas Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving, well, that's because they do. The Cowboys' annual tradition of playing on the American holiday, which began in 1966, originated as something of a publicity stunt for America's Team.What channel is the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving? ›
Cowboys game is scheduled to air on Fox at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT, with the Jonas Brothers performing during halftime. Closing out the NFL's Thanksgiving game day will be the Patriots vs. Vikings airing at 8:20 p.m. ET/5:20 p.m. PT on NBC.Why does Dallas play every Thanksgiving? ›
Cowboys General Manager Tex Schramm, who was seeking to grow the NFC team's national popularity, hatched the idea. More than 80,000 fans showed up to the Cotton Bowl to see the Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns, 26-14, and thus the tradition was born and now the Cowboys always play on every Thanksgiving day.Where can I watch Thanksgiving 2022 football games? ›
Lions Thanksgiving football 2022 game airs on November 24, 2022, at 12:30 p.m. ET / 9:30 a.m. PT on CBS, which is available to stream on services like Paramount Plus, Fubo TV and Hulu+ With Live TV.Can I watch football on Peacock for free? ›
If you don't have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan. Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan.How can I watch the football games on Thanksgiving without cable? ›
You can watch select NFL games without a cable subscription via live TV streaming services and platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Paramount Plus, Peacock Premium, and NFL+. You can also watch local NFL games with an HDTV antenna.Is there Thursday Night Football on Thanksgiving? ›
20, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. 'Tis the season for turkey and pigskin. The 2022 NFL season once again brings about a trifecta of Thanksgiving games, culminating with Thursday night's game between the visiting New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings.Are Thursday night NFL games on CBS? ›
Starting this season, Amazon Prime became the NFL's exclusive "Thursday Night Football" partner. "Thursday Night Football" has previously aired on CBS, NBC and Fox. Each game will kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET. Here's a rundown of each Thursday night game for the 2022 season.What TV channel covers Thursday Night Football? ›
2022 Thursday Night Football schedule
Missing from the table are Thursday night games from weeks 1 and 17, which will air on NBC at 8:15 p.m. eastern. 8:15 p.m.
What NFL team has most Thanksgiving Day games? ›
Detroit held its first such matchup against the Chicago Bears in 1934 and has played on the holiday every year since 1945. The franchise has built a 37-43-2 record across its 82 Thanksgiving matchups, which are the most in league history.How many games are there on Thanksgiving Day? ›
The NFL's Thanksgiving slate is something football fans look forward to every year. The league didn't disappoint with the trio of games scheduled for Nov. 24, 2022. The first of three games begins at 12:30, as the Detroit Lions take on one of the NFL's best teams in the Buffalo Bills.How many Thanksgiving football games are there? ›
This year's annual Turkey Day festivities brings us four games across the national TV schedule, including one special college football rivalry matchup and three NFL games from the early slate into primetime. Here's your viewing guide for the football to watch on Thanksgiving.Why do Bears and Lions always play on Thanksgiving? ›
It started in 1934 when the Lions moved to Detroit
In 1934, they played their first Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears and legendary coach George Halas. Richards had NBC cover the game across the U.S. via radio, with 26,000 fans in attendance. While the Bears won the game, a new tradition was born.
Thursday marks the first time in a decade that Washington has played on Turkey Day in Dallas. In 2002, the Cowboys escaped on their home turf with a 27-20 win. Dallas fans rejoiced on four other Thanksgiving occasions between 1968 and 1996. Coincidentally, Washington has never hosted Dallas on Thanksgiving.Why do the Lions play on Thanksgiving every year? ›
In 1934, owner George Richards bought the team and moved it to Detroit. The Lions, at that time, were looking for new ways to draw fans. As a marketing idea, Richards convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations across the country. It worked.How much are tickets to Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game? ›
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS at DALLAS COWBOYS - 8:25 P.M. ET
400 level ticket prices start at $263 in the end zones and corners, and $277 on the sidelines. 300 level ticket prices start at $391 in the end zones, $396 on the corners, and $531 for sidelines.
NFL Christmas Day Games Schedule
Green Bay Packers vs. Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m.
Abraham Lincoln: the president who made Thanksgiving a holiday | WCIA.com.What channel can I watch the Cowboys and Eagles game? ›
Eagles-Cowboys is scheduled to kick off at 4:25 p.m. Eastern on Fox. Calling the game is Fox's new top crew, which featured play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt and analyst Greg Olsen. Reporting from AT&T Stadium during the game are Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi.
What channel do the Cowboys play on regular TV? ›
Watch Cowboys games live on CBS.Will the Cowboys game be on CBS? ›
Most NFL games in 2022/2023 will air on CBS (AFC) and Fox (NFC). This season, Sunday Night Football will air on NBC and stream on Peacock, Monday Night Football will air on ESPN, and Thursday Night Football will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.Why do Detroit and Dallas always play on Thanksgiving? ›
Why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving? It all started on Thanksgiving Day in 1934, when owner George A. Richards decided to play on the holiday to attract more fans.Why do only the Lions and Cowboys play on Thanksgiving? ›
Their tradition began in 1966 when general manager Tex Schramm signed up to play on that day to get more national publicity.What teams play on Thanksgiving the most? ›
The NFL on Thanksgiving is a longstanding tradition led by the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys having annual games. This will be the Lions' 83rd Thanksgiving game and the Cowboys' 55th.Who plays on Thanksgiving Day 2022? ›
Giants at Cowboys
This game marks the sixth consecutive time that the Cowboys have played against a divisional opponent when the game was being broadcast by Fox. They had previously played three games against Washington and one against the Eagles. Dallas and New York have squared off on Thanksgiving only once, in 1992.
80,259 fans attended the game in 1966, and since then the Cowboys have never looked back. They have played every Thanksgiving since and have even become known as 'America's football team. ' Since 1978, the Lions and Cowboys have hosted a game on Thanksgiving every year.Why do bears and Lions always play on Thanksgiving? ›
The Thanksgiving game tradition began in Detriot back in 1934. The then-team owner George A. Richards had purchased the Lions earlier that year, and he wanted to build a fanbase. So, he decided to host the back-to-back world champions, the Chicago Bears.
If it seems like the Dallas Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving, well, that's because they do. The Cowboys' annual tradition of playing on the American holiday, which began in 1966, originated as something of a publicity stunt for America's Team.How do they decide who plays on Thanksgiving? ›
From now on the key is rotating the games. Instead, the teams that will play on Thanksgiving will be determined much like the Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football schedule is determined: How they did the season before as well as what their national draw is. The formula will then go NFC-NFC; NFC-AFC; AFC-AFC.
Do the Cowboys play Washington every Thanksgiving? ›
Coincidentally, Washington has never hosted Dallas on Thanksgiving.