As Americans, some things seem to be ingrained in our culture. On Thursday, we will find ourselves once again gathered around the television to see who is playing in the NFL’s traditional Thanksgiving Day games. However, this will be a Thanksgiving like we haven’t seen in modern times.
Due to more shutdowns and restricted travel across the country, not all of us will be able to gather as we once traditionally did for Thanksgiving, making the unofficial start of the holiday season seem a bit less joyful. However, while we might still find ourselves in houses or apartments that are a bit less crowded, what we have to be thankful for has never been higher.
The work of the medical professionals who tirelessly put themselves on the front lines of this global situation, we thank you. For the parents who had to fill the role of not only a provider but also a teacher while balancing working from a new location, your family thanks you more than you know. Those who have been on the front lines for social justice, you have not only the gratitude of the nation but future generations. To the first responders, the small business owners, the guy who has been delivering my food, the support of my friends and family, and everyone reading this, I thank you and am thankful for what you do and the support you have shown.
Now before we go put on our fat pants and pass out from the Tryptophan coursing through our bodies, let’s see who is playing in the NFL Thanksgiving Day games and where you can watch them, even if it is from the inside of your eyelids until it’s time for seconds or thirds.
What NFL games are on Thanksgiving in 2020
For the 15th year in a row, the NFL will play three games on Thanksgiving. When you think of the traditional teams that have come to be part of this Turkey Day tradition, who comes to your mind first? While the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears might pop into your head, they are not one of the traditional teams. That honor belongs to the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions.
The Lions are the oldest, having played on Thanksgiving Day since 1934 with an exception during World War II, but have never missed a Turkey Day since. After that, the Dallas Cowboys joined the list in 1966, becoming the two teams we see every year.
Houston Texans -2.5 at Detroit Lions (12:30 PM EST)
In 2020, the Detroit Lions also get the privilege of kicking off our trio of NFL games as they play host to Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans at 12:30 EST.
With it being a short week, any lingering health issues need to be resolved quickly, resulting in several spent wishbones. RB D’Andre Swift for the Lions hopes to make his return in Week 12 after missing last Sunday’s game with a concussion. Swift seemed to have taken a step forward on the running back committee in Week 10, where he played on 73% of the offensive snaps, handling 77% of the running back touches for 149 total yards and a touchdown.
WR Kenny Golladay has missed three-straight games with a hip injury, and his presence at the offensive table for the Lions on Thanksgiving seems uncertain. Also, QB Matthew Stafford is trying to play through an injured right thumb.
This game is the turkey when you look at who is playing in the games on Thanksgiving Day around the NFL. It’s tradition, and it wouldn’t be the same without it being around, but at the same time, you are never that thrilled to have it on your plate.
Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys -3 (4:30 PM EST)
The other traditional team comes on TV right as most of us are struggling through our food coma as the Washington Football Team heads to Jerry’s World to take on the Dallas Cowboys.
I just want to get this out there while I have your attention. No, the Dallas Cowboys are not on Thanksgiving Day because they are “America’s Team.” They weren’t even the first choice to be called America’s Team; that goes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the name was used in a film covering the Cowboys in 1978, it was originally pitched to the Steelers and the commissioner at the time Pete Rozelle by NFL Films after the Steelers beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl X.
To which Steelers owner Art Rooney said, “Pete, let me tell you something, we are not America’s Team, we are the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Back to the matter at hand, the Cowboys are coming into the game looking…good? They were able to score some points on offense in the post-Dak era finally, and all in all, the team looked like one that could win the NFC East. Okay, maybe that is a bit of a backhanded compliment since no one in the division has more than three wins, but you have to start somewhere.
Andy Dalton looked fine after missing a few weeks due to illness and a concussion, throwing for three touchdowns along with one that will go down in the highlight reel of the 2020 NFL season by CeeDee Lamb. Ezekiel Elliott also had his best day of the season, going over 100 yards for the first time this year and scoring for the first time since Week 5.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers -3 (8:20 PM EST)
Update November 25th: Unfortunately, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers Thanksgiving Day matchup has been moved to Sunday afternoon due to a number of Baltimore players and personnel testing positive.
They saved the best NFL Thanksgiving day game for last. The dessert, stuffing, and every other side that you love all into one game that steals the show. One of the greatest rivalries in the NFL has its second chapter written on Thanksgiving Day as the Baltimore Ravens head into the Steel City to take on the 10-0 Pittsburgh Steelers.
This game never needs any extra motivation. These are two teams who respect each other but hate each other just as much. Throw in a primetime game on the biggest stage and the Steelers being the lone undefeated team remaining, and Baltimore would love nothing more than to ruin the day and take the last dinner roll.
While we know the game will be great, the status of Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is less certain. After a play was over, a referee threw his flag in front of Smith-Schuster, who then stepped on it and rolled his ankle. This feels like a complete and total setup and inside job by the NFL, and I need a thorough investigating on this matter immediately, if not sooner.
What was a balanced offensive attack has turned into an aerial blitz with Ben Roethlisberger airing it out at an astonishing rate. From Weeks 1 through 8, the Steelers’ playcalling was at a 55/45 run to pass ratio. In the three games since, it has switched to a 67/33 split in favor of the pass, with Roethlisberger attempting 134 passing during this time. With the questionable status of Smith-Schuster, it will fall on Diontae Johnson and rookie sensation Chase Claypool to handle the majority of targets.
What are the TV channels and start times for NFL Thanksgiving Day games?
Now that we know who is playing, where can you find these NFL games on Thanksgiving Day?
Lions vs. Texans TV channel (12:30 PM EST kickoff)
- National: CBS
- Houston: KHOU
- Detroit: WWJ
Kicking off the day, our living rooms will be filled by the commentary of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo as they are the top-team for any CBS broadcast. They’ll be joined by sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson and Gene Steratore as broadcast’s rules analyst.
Cowboys vs. Washington TV channel (4:30 p.m. ET kickoff)
- National: FOX
- Dallas: KDFW
- Washington, D.C.: WTTG
It seems only fitting this game is on Fox as it allows them to have their main crew covering it, led by Joe Buck and former Cowboys QB Troy Aikman. I think there is a contract floating out there somewhere that a former Dallas QB has to be on the call for each of their games, especially for an NFL Thanksgiving Day game. They will be joined by one of the best sideline reporters in the NFL, Erin Andrews, along with Kristina Pink. Mike Pereira is the network’s rules analyst.
Steelers vs. Ravens TV channel (8:20 p.m. ET kickoff)
- National: NBC
- Pittsburgh: WPXI
- Baltimore: WBAL
The final NFL game on Thanksgiving Day is no different than Sunday Night Football. However, we will see a change in the normal primetime crew. The network announced that Al Michaels is off this week, and Mike Tirico will be in his place, along with Cris Collinsworth in the booth. Michele Tafoya will be down on the sidelines, and referee Terry McAulay will be the NFL rules analyst for the game.
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