What NFL Games Are On Thanksgiving This Year?
The annual NFL tradition of Thanksgiving Day games is back once again in 2023! Turkey, stuffing, family, and NFL football. What could be better? With three games scheduled for Thanksgiving in 2023, here are all the details, who is playing, and when you can watch them.
NFL Thanksgiving Games and Schedule
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
FOX | 12:30 p.m. ET
Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys
CBS | 4:30 p.m. ET
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
NBC | 8:30 p.m. ET
The first of three Thanksgiving games is a NFC North battle between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. This division is currently a two-horse race between the Lions and the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, the Packers have struggled behind Jordan Love this year, with a bottom-half offense in the league. A win here could keep the Packers in the playoff picture, but things are dire in Green Bay.
For the Lions, they simply need to continue doing what they’ve been doing and win the game. Detroit head coach Dan Campbell joined 97.1 The Ticket’s “Stoney and Jansen with Heather” this past week to discuss all things Thanksgiving. During that discussion, he dropped a surprise not many were expecting.
“Must-have is ham,” Campbell said. “I’m a big ham guy. I’m not a turkey guy. Unless it’s fried turkey, then I’m all for it.
“You know what? I am not a dressing fan. I am not a cranberry (sauce fan). I’ll throw that right out to the dogs straight off the plate and right onto the floor. Everything else is fair game. I’ll just load it up on top of each other. It’s a full stack.”
NFC East Battle
The second Thanksgiving game in 2023 is an NFC East showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders. Like the NFC North, the East is basically a two-team battle right now between the Cowboys and Eagles. Yet, Philadelphia has the upper hand thanks to a head-to-head win.
Regardless, this is the kind of game the Cowboys need to win. A loss to the Commanders would hurt their playoff chances but would be especially embarrassing on Thanksgiving in front of the entire country.
Dallas has a top-five NFL offense and defense, and they control their own fate. QB Dak Prescott is well aware of the pressure on this team and talked about what they need to do to be successful this week.
“It’ll be my job as a leader is making sure guys understand that once again, you’re looking (at a) lesser opponent, but we’ve got to come in and take care of business on Thanksgiving. Then we can enjoy our holidays the right way.”
NFC West Matchup
The last game on Thanksgiving is another divisional battle between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. This might be the game of the day as these two teams battle for the top of the NFC West standings. The winner of this one will have the upper hand in the division and keep momentum on their side.
Geno Smith missed a good chunk of the second half last week with an elbow injury, but he was able to come back in the fourth quarter. Will he be available for this one?
“I’ve had better days, but I’m getting there,” Smith said via Brady Henderson of ESPN. Asked if he’s playing, Smith said, “We’ll see how it goes. It’s up to coach [Carroll].”
Which Football Teams Always Play on Thanksgiving?
Watching NFL games on Thanksgiving is a tradition for many of us. But unless you play for the right franchise, these opportunities could come few and far between.
That said, there are a few football teams that always play on Thanksgiving. The Detroit Lions were the first to host Thanksgiving games every year. The tradition started in 1934, as Lions owner G.A. Richards scheduled a holiday matchup between the Lions and Chicago Bears.
Thirty-two years later, the Dallas Cowboys made their appearance on Thanksgiving Day in 1966, beating the Cleveland Browns 26-14 at the Cotton Bowl. Tex Schramm, the Cowboys’ general manager at the time, wanted the team to play on the holiday for more national publicity for the franchise.
After 80,000 fans showed up, the Cowboys were essentially locked into playing every Thanksgiving Day since, except for 1975 and 1977, when the NFL scheduled the St. Louis Cardinals.
While Detroit and Dallas are the only teams that always play on Thanksgiving, the Bears and Packers have frequented the holiday, mainly due to their association with the Lions and playing in the same division. While Detroit has the most wins at 37-43-2, Chicago has a 20–15–2 record on Thanksgiving, with Green Bay trailing at 14–20–2.
Which Teams Have Never Played on Thanksgiving?
The NFL, especially since the addition of a third Thanksgiving Day game, has done a great job of getting nearly every franchise time in the spotlight. However, not everyone has had the chance to bite the turkey leg after the game.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only NFL team without a Thanksgiving appearance. Founded in 1995, they are the fourth youngest franchise, tied with the Carolina Panthers. They simply had fewer opportunities compared to the Lions and Cowboys, and other older franchises.
However, I expect this to change in the future given the recent success of the Jaguars in 2022 — they not only made the playoffs but knocked out the Los Angeles Chargers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Panthers have the next fewest number of Thanksgiving games played, appearing just once a piece.
Thanksgiving Games By Team
Detroit Lions: 84
Dallas Cowboys: 56
Chicago Bears: 37
Green Bay Packers: 37
Arizona Cardinals: 21
New York Giants: 16
Washington Commanders: 13
Denver Broncos: 11
Buffalo Bills: 11
Kansas City Chiefs: 10
Minnesota Vikings: 9
Pittsburgh Steelers: 8
New York Jets: 8
Las Vegas Raiders: 8
Philadelphia Eagles: 7
Miami Dolphins: 7
Tennessee Titans: 7
San Francisco 49ers: 6
New England Patriots: 6
Los Angeles Chargers: 5
Los Angeles Rams: 5
Seattle Seahawks: 5
Indianapolis Colts: 4
Atlanta Falcons: 4
New Orleans Saints: 4
Cleveland Browns: 3
Baltimore Ravens: 2
Houston Texans: 2
Carolina Panthers: 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1
Cincinnati Bengals: 1
Jacksonville Jaguars: 0