There’s no better Thanksgiving tradition than soccer, and with the 2021 NFL schedule now available, all six teams in action are known over the holidays.
There wasn’t much mystery surrounding the games. After all, we knew the Lions and the Cowboys would play. But watching your opponents is always exciting, as is watching Thursday night’s game that has become a staple in the Thanksgiving rotation.
Here’s an in-depth look at the 2021 Thanksgiving Day NFL games, as well as a brief history of the holiday tradition.
Thanksgiving Soccer Calendar 2021
As always, the Lions and Cowboys will be in action on Thanksgiving with the Lions playing the first of two afternoon games. The Lions will play the Bears at 12:30 pm ET. The Cowboys will face the Raiders at their usual 4:30 pm ET venue.
MORE: 2021 Primetime | Week-by-week programming
For the night game, viewers will be able to enjoy a game between AFC runner-up Bills and post-Drew Brees Saints. That game will begin at 8:20 pm ET.
|Play||Start time||television channel|
|Bears into lions||12:30 pm ET||Fox|
|Raiders in jeans||4:30 pm ET||CBS|
|Invoices in los santos||8:20 pm ET||NBC|
Bears into lions
- Start time: 12:30 pm ET
- Television channel: Fox
The Bears and Lions are longtime divisional rivals and play twice a year, but this game will have a decidedly different feel.
Matthew Stafford is no longer with the Lions; Jared Goff is his new quarterback. Meanwhile, the Bears have walked away from Mitchell Trubisky, and by Thanksgiving, 2021 first-round draft pick Justin Fields will likely have emerged as a starter over Andy Dalton. So the QB advantage in this matchup may, for the first time in more than a decade, belong to the Bears.
It’s worth noting that the Bears have held a 5-1 lead over the Lions for the past three years, as Matt Patricia’s teams frequently fell victim to strong Bears defense. Will that change with coach Dan Campbell now at the helm in Detroit? It certainly could.
The last five games between the Bears and the Lions have been decided by one possession, so either way, this game seems to be hotly contested and should be a good way to start Thanksgiving in 2021.
Raiders in jeans
- Start time: 4:30 pm ET
- Television channel: CBS
Although they are long-established NFL brands, the Raiders and Cowboys have met only 12 times in their respective histories. Each team has won six games.
Dallas has won the last three games dating back to 2009, so the Raiders will look to reverse their recent history against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
This game could end up being the highest-scoring of the three games on this list. Both the Raiders and Cowboys finished in the top five scoring defenses in the NFL last season. While each side has added their respective stoppage unit this offseason (the Raiders, in particular, signed defensive end Yannick Ngakoue as a free agent, while the Cowboys spent their first-round draft pick on linebacker Micah Parsons ), also still has problems. in high school. That should bode well for Dak Prescott and Derek Carr.
Mike McCarthy and Jon Gruden face pressure for their teams to take the next step and make the playoffs, so this game could be important to both coaches, whether their teams are battling for division titles or simply fighting to stay alive in the wild card. race.
Invoices in los santos
- Start time: 8:20 pm ET
- Television channel: NBC
In recent years, the night game has become the star game of Thanksgiving. That’s partly because the Lions and Cowboys have had their ups and downs, but also because the night’s meeting has often featured two playoff contenders or divisional rivals.
This year will be the first. The Bills were runners-up in the AFC last season, while the Saints won the NFC South. The Bills should be a contender again in 2021, but there are questions about how the Saints will fare without quarterback Drew Brees. Still, as long as Sean Payton is in charge of the team, New Orleans will have a chance to compete with the best in the league.
It won’t be easy for the Saints to contain Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and the Bills’ other receiving weapons. The Bills, meanwhile, will have to focus on stopping Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and whoever the Saints QB is (Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston). On paper, the Bills should have a better chance of succeeding, but Kamara had a game of six touchdowns last year, so he could face a Bills team that was in the middle of the pack against the race in 2020.
This game could have massive playoff implications for both sides, which means it’s going to be a big shot for the Thanksgiving slate. At the very least, watching Payton and Sean McDermott duel will be fun to watch.
What soccer teams always play on Thanksgiving?
For 43 years in a row, both the Lions and Cowboys have played on Thanksgiving, but the Lions’ tradition goes back much further than the Cowboys.
Detroit’s tradition began in 1934 and, except for a span of six seasons from 1939 to 1944, the team has always played on Thanksgiving ever since. The game was started by team owner George A. Richards as a stunt to get the Lions’ attention away from the more popular MLB Tigers.
This will be the 82nd Lions Thanksgiving game; they have posted a 37-42-2 record in the previous 81. They will be looking to break a four-year losing streak over the holidays; their last victory was a 16-13 win over the Vikings in 2016.
As for the Cowboys, they began their tradition of Thanksgiving games in 1966 to help enhance the team’s popularity. That year, the Cowboys broke their attendance record at the time by drawing 80,259 fans to the Cotton Bowl, where they earned a victory over the Browns.
Since ’66, the Cowboys have played on all but two of Thanksgiving. The only two that did not play were in 1975 and 1977 as a result of the NFL awarding a Thanksgiving game to the St. Louis Cardinals to improve their national profile. The annual Cowboys tradition resumed in 1978. Dallas is 31-21-1 on Thanksgiving.
What teams have never played on Thanksgiving?
Only one current NFL team has ever played on Thanksgiving. It would be the Jaguars.
Since coming to the league in 1995, the team has yet to get called up for a Thanksgiving game. With Trevor Lawrence in tow, it might happen sometime in the not-too-distant future. Since they didn’t have a game against the Lions or Cowboys this year, the odds of them playing on Turkey Day were low.
Some teams have only recorded a single Thanksgiving appearance: the Panthers, Buccaneers and Bengals. The Panthers, an expansion franchise in ’95 with the Jaguars, made their only appearance in 2015. They beat the Cowboys.
Here’s the all-time leaderboard for Thanksgiving games, with the Lions, Cowboys and other members of the NFC North topping the list unsurprisingly.
|Green Bay Packers||36|
|New York Giants||fifteen|
|Washington football team||12|
|Kansas City Chiefs||10|
|New York Jets||8|
|Las Vegas Raiders||7|
|Los Angeles Chargers||5|
|Los Angeles Rams||5|
|New England Patriots||5|
|San Francisco 49ers||5|
|New Orleans Saints||3|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1|
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.