The 2020 NFL Schedule is out with all hope renewed for NFL teams and fans alike. And with that release comes exciting new matchups, which include the always entertaining and intriguing Thanksgiving Day slate of action. These Thanksgiving Day games are a great American tradition that we can all enjoy while we sit around with our family and friends and consume all of our best Turkey Day favorites.
So let’s take a look at the NFL’s newest round of 2020 games released for our viewing pleasure on Thanksgiving Day. Last year saw a trio of road teams prevail as the Saints, Bills, and Bears came out victorious. This year, the Lions and Cowboys return to action and hope to come out on top in front of their hungry home crowds. Below is a game-by-game preview of the matchups as well as some intriguing player battles that fans should keep an eye on while they enjoy their Thanksgiving Day feast.
Houston Texans @ Detroit Lions, 12:30 pm ET
As with every Thanksgiving kickoff, the Lions always lead the pack, and this year is no different. The team begins the day with a showdown against the Houston Texans. These are two teams that went in opposite directions last season with two former Bill Belichick disciples as head coaches. The Lions finished as a bottom-dweller, while the Texans made it to the AFC Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. This game will be the first regular-season meeting between these former Patriots’ assistants and current head coaches Matt Patricia and Bill O’Brien. These teams last faced each other during regular season action in 2016, when Texans prevailed 20-13.
Detroit hopes to be a much-improved team in 2020, and this late-season, out of conference game will be a big test for them at home. Matthew Stafford missed the Turkey Day start last year, so getting him back will be a major coup for this team. The 2020 Deshaun Watson-led Texans team will be without DeAndre Hopkins after his trade to the Cardinals. 2020 NFL Draft pick Jeffrey Okudah and the revamped secondary of the Lions will still have their work cut out for them against the speedy trio of Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and new addition Brandin Cooks. This game should provide plenty of scoring and intrigue for all tuned in for the early game on November 26th.
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 pm ET
The second of these three highly-anticipated 2020 NFL Thanksgiving Day games is a storied NFC East showdown between the Redskins and the Cowboys. This game is a hate-filled rivalry, and more fuel was added to that fire in Week 17 of the 2019 season, as Dallas stomped Washington 47-16 at home. The Cowboys won both matchups against the struggling Redskins last season, but there is renewed optimism in Washington for the 2020 season. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins is entering his first full season as the starter and should be much improved in his second season overall.
Washington’s defense should also be vastly better this season behind new stud pass rusher and 2020 first-rounder, Chase Young. The Redskins also welcome back second-year star receiver Terry McLaurin, who will be facing the Cowboys for the first time without shutdown cornerback Byron Jones. The versatile cornerback left for the Miami Dolphins in free agency, so Dallas could struggle to defend Haskins and his favorite receiver. If the Redskins can show consistency on offense and hold up against this Dallas pass rush, this team could surprise the Cowboys and give them some severe indigestion in Jerry World on Thanksgiving Day.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 pm ET
The final primetime game of the Thanksgiving Day slate features a grudge match between two AFC North foes in the Steelers and Ravens. These two teams genuinely dislike each other, and each matchup is a defensively-charged slobber knocker that is not for the faint at heart. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season before their two meetings in 2019, and he had to watch as Lamar Jackson seized control of the division. Roethlisberger is set to return for the 2020 season and will look to get back to the top of the AFC North and get Pittsburgh back into the AFC Playoffs.
The last time Roethlisberger started against the Ravens, Jackson was a backup to then-starter, Joe Flacco. Jackson has since won the NFL MVP Award, and the Ravens are one of the best young teams in the league. However, Roethlisberger’s return evens the playing field for these two teams, who also feature great running games and young, talented defenses. As fans grab their pie and refreshments, they could see a very entertaining quarterback duel with plenty of trash talk along the way. This matchup personifies backyard football, and that is what Thanksgiving Day is all about.
Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the 2021 NFL Draft. You can follow him @sgormanPFN on Twitter.