Our Guide to Thanks Giving Football

The tradition of NFL football on Thanksgiving has been going on for decades and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. One of the first ever NFL games played on the holiday happened to be the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears in 1934. The crowd completely sold out and became a huge hit in Detroit. 

That specific game ended up being fantastic to watch and hyped everybody up about the sport. The fact that the game was played on the holiday really helped it out also. The Lions have not only played, but hosted, a Thanksgiving game every single season since that year, with the first nationally televised game being in 1953 against the Green Bay Packers. 

Fast forward to 1966 and the NFL decided that they wanted to extend their Thanksgiving football schedule due to the massive success it already had. This was when they started to include the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas had a fantastic game and proved that they were worthy of the spot. The only reason they had even got the game in the first place was because of their persuasive general manager at the time, Tex Schramm. 

With Detroit already being one of the staples for Thanksgiving football, Dallas became the second team to get a game every season after that. Fun fact as well, Dallas wasn’t supposed to be a long-time staple here, the NFL actually wanted to St. Louis Cardinals to take the Cowboys spot after a few years. They played these two teams against one another three times, and Dallas won every single time. That was when they decided to keep Dallas in for the foreseeable future. As we all know nowadays, the Cowboys are considered “Americas Team” and I am sure this Thanksgiving game ever year helps cement that nickname. 

There isn’t really a cemented third team on Thanksgiving now, as the only true staples are the aforementioned Cowboys and Lions. Since the 2006 NFL season, there has been a third game to the line-up on the holiday, but the teams have changed every season. 

From my knowledge, these games are selected on which teams are bound to be competitive. After all, nobody wants to tune into a football game on Thanksgiving where one team buries the other by 40 plus points. This year is going to be no different, as we have three exciting matchups on the slate yet again for Thanksgiving. 

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions

The Bears have had a rough time this season and a lot of that falls onto their head coach, Matt Nagy. From a fan’s perspective, it truly seems like the coach doesn’t really like Justin Fields as their starting quarterback and the overall play calling has been atrocious. It also doesn’t help that their offensive line is considered one of the worst in the league. But hey, the team does have a very strong group of running backs with David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and Damian Williams all sharing some touches in the backfield. 

Fields has displayed some great movement in the pocket and accuracy deep down the field. He just doesn’t have enough time nor enough weapons to really turn the team around. Fields and Allen Robinson haven’t clicked whatsoever this season, but Darnell Mooney has been good in the pass game. Cole Kmet has been used sporadically but another solid weapons at the tight end position. 

Defensively, Chicago is fine. They have a solid front seven to pair up with a great secondary that just gets left out on the field way too much. Luckily, Chicago has themselves a plus matchup when they travel to face the Lions. 

Detroit has had a rough go of things lately but that is to be expected for a team that is right in the middle of a rebuild. Jared Goff genuinely hasn’t been that bad for them and D’Andre Swift is emerging as a star in that backfield. In the passing game, there is virtually nobody recognizable outside TJ Hockenson. 

Defensively, it just gets a lot worse. They lost their young cornerback Jeff Okudah to an injury early on in the season and it doesn’t seem like heh has been replaced very well. Don’t get me wrong though, this group has had some good moments. 

Overall, though, they haven’t been good. Two struggling teams are in this one, so it’s tough to pick. I personally think that the Lions have a genuine shot to win this game here and could be a fantastic upset! 

Las Vegas Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys

I feel so bad for the Raiders right now. They just can’t seem to catch a break whatsoever. First, it was the horrible Jon Gruden scandal going around, then Henry Ruggs gets arrested after getting into a car accident while drunk, and most recently their cornerback Damon Arnette was released after flashing a gun to a live stream and announcing that he was going to kill somebody. 

This group has since tried to do everything in their power to stay on the right track and keep pushing forward. Derek Carr is trying his hardest to do so but the problems are starting to catch up. Desean Jackson joining the team helps a little bit, but the receiving core needs some work outside of Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. 

Their backfield has been seriously underwhelming though. Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and Peyton Barber have all contributed and have hovered around the three yards per carry mark all season. The last few weeks this offense hasn’t even been scoring consistently, which has doubled the pressure that their defense has faced week to week. Now, their defense is actually far improved compared to previous years but with the loss of Arnette and some other injuries, they just can’t compete for that long. They don’t get a break either as the Dallas Cowboys are their opponent. 

Dak Prescott is honestly even in the conversation for the MVP award right now. In his first year back from that gruesome ankle injury, he is feeding everybody on the field and making the Cowboys genuine Super Bowl contenders. Ceedee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Ezekiel Elliott give him a million options to push this ball down the field. It also helps that their offensive line is one of the best in the league in both run and pass protection. 

Defensively, Dallas completely revamped their unit. Trevon Diggs has eight interceptions already in the season and their entire front seven have improved outside of the now cut Jaylon Smith. This is going to be an exciting game, one that I can imagine would be filled with touchdowns given these two teams talent offensively. 

However, the Raiders have to make it to the game first without any media trouble. I think Dallas can keep their train moving and beat the Raiders in a close one on Thanksgiving. 

Buffalo Bills @ New Orleans Saints

The Buffalo Bills are a stellar football team all around. Josh Allen is playing like an MVP again and their offense is just filled with weapons. Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders just to name a few. However, their run game has been very mediocre despite a good offensive line. They just don’t seem to be all that committed to the ground attack like I expected. 

Flipping over to their defense, they are without a doubt a top three unit in the league. They have insanely fast linebackers and a safety duo that can track down any football that flies their way. Their defensive line is stacked, and Tre’Davious White is a legitimate lockdown cornerback. That defense could have a field day against the Saints offense that is riddled with injuries. 

Trevor Siemian is the quarterback and has actually been really good for them. The problem is that he has no reliable weapons to throw too with Michael Thomas out for the season. Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris have had their moments but that’s basically it. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are the duo to watch on this offense outside of the pass game. 

Defensively, New Orleans is a top unit in the league as well. They have consistently stayed in games due to that stellar defense and really don’t have a weakness there. Their run game is so good that teams are forced to pass the whole time, causing their stats to look a little worse than it should be in that department. 

I think this will be a nifty defensive battle and honestly could be the best game of the day. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works out, but the Bills probably have the better chance to win this one. 

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