With Thanksgiving upon us once again, we are treated to a bonanza of NFL football with three Thursday games instead of the customary single Thursday Night Football contest. Which six teams will take the field this Thursday, what might we expect from those games, and which NFL teams traditionally play on Thanksgiving?
What teams play on Thanksgiving 2021?
It is a date that many Americans have circled on their calendar all year, but for NFL fans around the globe, Thanksgiving is a special day. With three NFL games taking place, whether you celebrate the holiday or not, this day is fantastic for the opportunity to watch six teams lock horns.
Let’s take a look at which six teams will be playing and which channel will broadcast each of the games.
Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions | 12:30 PM ET | FOX
There is a lot we do not know about this game heading into Week 12. Both starting quarterbacks may not play. Jared Goff missed Week 11 with an oblique injury and is now questionable at best for Thanksgiving. Justin Fields joined him on the injury list for the Thanksgiving NFL games after leaving with a rib injury on Sunday.
Heading into the early part of the week, we could see any combination of Jared Goff or Tim Boyle against Justin Fields or Andy Dalton. Whichever combo takes the field could be key in determining the outcome of a game that has a lot at stake in terms of the pride of these franchises.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys | 4:30 PM ET | CBS
It is hard to know what to make of these two NFL teams heading into their Thanksgiving game. The Raiders have now lost three straight, while the Cowboys have lost two of their past three. Neither team has looked right on offense over the past few weeks and both will be desperate to piece together a complete performance on a national stage.
Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints | 8:20 PM ET | NBC
This game has somewhat changed in how the audience will view it. Not that long ago, this was a matchup between two teams fighting for position among the top four seeds in their conference. Now, with the Saints on a three-game skid and the Bills losing two of their last three, both could miss the playoffs altogether if they don’t right the ship.
What NFL teams always play on Thanksgiving?
The tradition of the Thanksgiving games dates back to 1920, when multiple games would be played on this date. After World War II, the NFL hosted just one game on Thanksgiving, with the AAFC also hosting either one or multiple contests in the following years.
From 1960-1969, the NFL and AFL each hosted one game on Thanksgiving. Following the merger, the NFL continued to host two games on Thanksgiving. That was expanded to three in 2006, with 2020 the only year to host two due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Ravens’ organization leading to their game being canceled.
Two NFL teams have traditionally always played a game on Thanksgiving over the past decades. The Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving tradition dates back to 1934, but they have played a game on Thanksgiving in every season since 1945. The Lions are 37-42-2 during the holiday.
The Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving tradition is shorter than the Lions’ but still dates back to 1966. Since then, they have hosted a game on Thanksgiving every year (other than 1975 and 1977). The Cowboys have a 31-21-1 record in their 53 Thanksgiving games.