Watching football on Thanksgiving is a holiday tradition for millions of Americans, though the games aren’t always among the year’s best. This season, however, plenty will be on the line in Thursday’s three NFL contests.
The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have both played on Thanksgiving in every year since 1978. The teams haven’t experienced much success in recent years, but both find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt in 2016. Detroit might have their best chance to win the division since 1991, while Dallas has the NFL’s best record.
Detroit heads into Week 12 of the 2016 NFL season tied with the Minnesota Vikings atop the NFC North. With sole possession of first place on the line, the two teams will kick off Thursday’s schedule with a meeting at Ford Field. The Lions already have one victory over the Vikings this season, winning an overtime thriller in Week 9.
Dallas has a comfortable lead in the NFC East, sitting two games ahead of the second-place New York Giants. But the Washington Redskins would only be one game out of the loss column with a win over the Cowboys on Thursday afternoon.
“America’s Team” plays in its traditional late-afternoon slot on Thanksgiving, taking on their division rivals. The Cowboys won in Washington in Week 2, completing a fourth-quarter comeback with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Dallas is unbeaten since that contest, and Washington has just one loss since being defeated by the Cowboys.
Since the NFL added a night game to the Thanksgiving schedule in 2006, most of the holiday’s final contests have failed to be competitive. Before the Chicago Bears edged the Green Bay Packers by four points in 2015, eight of the nine Thursday night games were decided by more than a touchdown. The upcoming primetime contest, however, could be one of the best games in all of Week 12.
The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night as both teams fight for first place in their respective divisions. Pittsburgh is tied with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North in what appears to be a two-team race for the division title. Heading into Monday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders, the Houston Texans have a 1.5-game lead over Indianapolis.
Of the 11 Thursday games that have been played in 2016, seven have been decided by double-digits. NFL Network usually carries “Thursday Night Football,” but the Thanksgiving games will be broadcast on three different networks.
Thanksgiving NFL Schedule
12:30 p.m. EST: Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions (CBS)
4:30 p.m. EST: Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys (FOX)
8:30 p.m. EST: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts (NBC)