THANKSGIVING DAY – A TRADITION OF FRIENDS, FAMILY
For generations of Americans, the tradition of Thanksgiving Day and NFL football are historically intertwined.
On Thanksgiving in 1925, a crowd of 36,000 – then the largest in professional football history – watched the CHICAGO BEARS play the CHICAGO CARDINALS to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field. In 1934, the DETROIT LIONS and the defending world champion Bears squared off on Thanksgiving in the first NFL game nationally broadcast, with NBC radio on the call.
This year, the three holiday games will be aired to millions across the country and around the world as the National Football League honors Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN MADDEN with the inaugural “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration,” a yearly, multi-faceted remembrance of the late great icon’s indelible legacy.
The inaugural “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration” will feature special broadcast tributes as CBS, FOX and NBC will create their own segments dedicated to the football legend.
For more information on the National Football League honoring John Madden, click here.
Since 2006, the NFL has scheduled three Thanksgiving Day games each year. This year’s triple-header is the third season since 2006 to feature five teams with a winning record, joining 2014 and 2011.
The first game showcases the BUFFALO BILLS traveling to Ford Field to face the DETROIT LIONS (12:30 PM ET, CBS). The Bills are playing their second-consecutive game in Detroit after their Week 11 contest against Cleveland, originally scheduled to be played at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, was moved to Ford Field due to a weather emergency in western New York last week. The late-afternoon game marks the 45th consecutive Thanksgiving Day contest hosted in Dallas, as the DALLAS COWBOYS welcome the NEW YORK GIANTS to AT&T Stadium (4:30 PM ET, FOX). The holiday concludes at U.S. Bank Stadium as the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS visit the MINNESOTA VIKINGS. (8:20 PM ET, NBC).
BUFFALO (7-3) at DETROIT (4-6): Thursday’s matchup marks the third Thanksgiving Day meeting between the Bills and Lions, with Detroit winning each of the first two contests. On November 25, 1976, the Lions earned a 27-14 win as GREG LANDRY and DAVID HILL connected for two touchdowns. Detroit also defeated Buffalo, 35-21, on Thanksgiving in 1994 as Pro Football Hall of Famer BARRY SANDERS rushed for one of his eight career Thanksgiving touchdowns.
Thursday marks the 11th regular-season meeting between the two franchises, with Buffalo holding a 6-4-1 series advantage. In their last meeting, Week 15 of the 2018 season, quarterback JOSH ALLEN rushed for a touchdown and threw a go-ahead 42-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the Bills’ 14-13 victory.
Week 12 will mark Buffalo’s third appearance on Thanksgiving in the past four seasons. On November 28, 2019, the Bills defeated Dallas, 26-15, with two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) from Allen and two sacks from defensive tackle ED OLIVER. Last year on the holiday, Allen threw four touchdown passes, including two to tight end DAWSON KNOX and one to wide receiver STEFON DIGGS, in Buffalo’s 31-6 win at New Orleans.
Last week, Buffalo earned a 31-23 victory over Cleveland as Allen threw his 21st touchdown pass of the season. Since entering the NFL in 2018, he has 159 career combined passing and rushing touchdowns (124 passing, 35 rushing), tied with PATRICK MAHOMES (159) for the third-most by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history. Diggs recorded his eighth touchdown reception of the year in Week 11 and surpassed 1,000 receiving yards (1,033) for the fifth-consecutive season.
Linebacker VON MILLER has six sacks in five road games this season and has 10.5 sacks in 12 career games on Thursday. In Week 11, linebacker MATT MILANO became the first player since RYAN SHAZIER (Week 2, 2015) with at least 10 tackles (12), three tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery in the same game. Defensive tackle ED OLIVER had a career-high three tackles for loss last week and aims for his third in row on Thanksgiving with at least half a sack and a pass defensed.
In Week 11, Detroit defeated the New York Giants, 31-18, for its third-consecutive win. Running back JAMAAL WILLIAMS had three rushing touchdowns in the win and became the fourth player since 2000 with multiple rushing touchdowns in at least five of his team’s first 10 games of a season, joining SHAUN ALEXANDER (six games in 2005), Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (six in 2006) and PRIEST HOLMES (five in 2003). He leads the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns this season.
Last year on the holiday, quarterback JARED GOFF completed 21 of 25 pass attempts (84 percent), the highest single-game completion percentage on Thanksgiving in NFL history. He has a passer rating of 100-or-higher in three of his past four home starts and has two-or-more touchdown passes in eight of his past nine home games. Wide receiver AMON-RA ST. BROWN led the team with seven receptions last week and has at least seven catches in six of his past seven home games.
Last week, rookie defensive lineman AIDAN HUTCHINSON recorded an interception and fumble recovery and became the second player (LESLIE O’NEAL – 1986) since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic with at least five sacks (5.5) and two interceptions (two) in his first 10 career games. Rookie safety KERBY JOSEPH registered his third interception of the season in Week 11 and is the only rookie with at least three interceptions (three) and two forced fumbles (two).
NEW YORK GIANTS (7-3) at DALLAS (7-3): The Giants and Cowboys meet for the 121st time since 1960, with Dallas holding the all-time regular-season series advantage, 72-46-2, including wins in 10 of the past 11 meetings. The two clubs previously met on Thanksgiving in 1992 (November 26), with the Cowboys earning a 30-3 win behind two third-quarter touchdowns from Pro Football Hall of Famer EMMITT SMITH. Thursday marks the second meeting this season between the NFC East rivals. Dallas defeated New York, 23-16, in Week 3 on Monday Night Football with a go-ahead touchdown reception from wide receiver CEEDEE LAMB in the fourth quarter.
Last week, New York Giants quarterback DANIEL JONES passed for a season-high 341 yards and had two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). He has a passer rating of 90-or-higher in three of his past four road starts. Running back SAQUON BARKLEY leads the NFC with 1,163 scrimmage yards this season and has three rushing touchdowns in four road games in 2022. He recorded 126 scrimmage yards (81 rushing, 45 receiving) and a rushing touchdown in Week 3 against Dallas and has at least 100 scrimmage yards in two of his three career games at Dallas.
Defensive lineman LEONARD WILLIAMS has at least five tackles in three of his past four on the road and has 3.5 sacks in his past three games against the Cowboys. Defensive lineman DEXTER LAWRENCE registered his sixth game this season with at least five tackles in Week 11, tied for the most such games among defensive linemen in 2022. Linebacker JAYLON SMITH recorded 516 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 20 passes defensed and nine sacks in 68 games over five seasons (2017-21) with Dallas.
Dallas defeated Minnesota, 40-3, last week and is the only NFC team to score at least 40 points twice this season. In five career starts on Thanksgiving, Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT has 1,393 passing yards and nine touchdowns (seven passing, two rushing) with a 98.4 rating and can surpass DANNY WHITE (1,545) for the fourth-most passing yards by a quarterback on the holiday all-time. He has 21 touchdowns against five interceptions for a 100.1 rating in 11 career starts against the Giants.
Running back TONY POLLARD had a career-high 189 scrimmage yards (109 receiving, 80 rushing) and two touchdown receptions in Week 11 and became the fourth player since 1990 with at least 75 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in a single game, joining JOEY GALLOWAY (November 12, 1995), TODD GURLEY (December 24, 2017) and Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (December 7, 2003). On Thanksgiving in 2021, Pollard recorded a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown, the third-longest touchdown ever scored on the holiday, trailing only interception-return touchdowns of 102 yards by BOB SMITH in 1949 and 101 yards by BRYANT WESTBROOK in 2000.
Running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT recorded his 14th-career game with two rushing touchdowns last week. He has 488 scrimmage yards (97.6 per game) and four rushing touchdowns in five career Thanksgiving games. Elliott has 10 touchdowns (nine rushing, one receiving) in 11 career games against the Giants and aims for his sixth in a row against New York with a touchdown.
Dallas enters Week 12 with the league’s top ranked scoring defense (16.7 points per game) and leads the NFL with 42 sacks this season. The Cowboys are the only team with four players each having at least five sacks in 2022 – MICAH PARSONS (10 sacks), DORANCE ARMSTRONG (seven), DEMARCUS LAWRENCE (six) and DANTE FOWLER (five) – and each of the four recorded at least one sack in Week 11.
Parsons registered his eighth-career game with at least two sacks, tied with SHAWNE MERRIMAN (eight games) and Pro Football Hall of Famer REGGIE WHITE (eight) for the second-most such games by a player in his first two NFL seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Only ALDON SMITH (nine games) has more.
Cornerback TREVON DIGGS has 10 passes defensed and three interceptions in five career games against New York and aims for his fourth in a row against the Giants with an interception.
NEW ENGLAND (6-4) at MINNESOTA (8-2): New England leads the all-time series against Minnesota, 9-4, including wins in five consecutive matchups. The Patriots have scored at least 45 points in each of their past two Thanksgiving appearances (2010 and 2012) and are 3-1 on the holiday under head coach BILL BELICHICK.
New England defeated the New York Jets, 10-3, in Week 11 as rookie defensive back MARCUS JONES recorded a game-winning 84-yard punt-return touchdown with five seconds remaining, the first punt-return touchdown in the NFL this season. Jones is the sixth player to record a game-winning punt-return touchdown in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime since 1970, joining PATRICK PETERSON (November 6, 2011), DESEAN JACKSON (December 19, 2010), BRIAN WESTBROOK (October 19, 2003), TAMARICK VANOVER (October 9, 1995) and WALTER STANLEY (November 27, 1986).
Quarterback MAC JONES completed 23 of 27 pass attempts for a career-high 85.2 completion percentage last week. He has at least one touchdown pass in seven of his past eight road starts and aims for his third in a row overall without an interception. Running back RHAMONDRE STEVENSON ranks tied for fifth among all running backs with a career-high 41 receptions this season and needs 73 scrimmage yards for his first-career 1,000-yard season.
The Patriots are the only team in the league this season to allow three points or fewer multiple times and can become the first team since 2000 to allow three-or-fewer points in three consecutive games within a single season. New England enters Week 12 allowing 16.9 points per game, the fewest among all AFC teams. Linebacker MATTHEW JUDON has at least 1.5 sacks in three of his past four and leads the NFL with a career-high 13 sacks this season.
Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS has 691 passing yards (345.5 per game) and five touchdowns against one interception for a 110.8 rating in two career Thanksgiving starts. Running back DALVIN COOK needs 55 scrimmage yards for his fourth-consecutive 1,000-yard season and aims for his third in a row on Thursday with at least 170 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON has 4,109 career receiving yards and can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (4,163 receiving yards) for the most receiving yards by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history.
Linebacker ZA’DARIUS SMITH has 22 sacks in 22 career primetime games while linebacker DANIELLE HUNTER has 6.5 sacks in six career Thursday games. Cornerback PATRICK PETERSON ranks third in the NFL this season with 12 passes defensed. Safety HARRISON SMITH has a pass defensed in five of his past six games and aims for his third in a row with at least six tackles.
For the Thanksgiving all-time leaders and memorable moments, click here.