Great Slate Of Thanksgiving Day NFL Games


by NFL Media

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 played inside stadiums with a combined capacity of over 200,000 and will be aired to millions across the country and around the world.

For the first time since 1935, Thanksgiving Day features three games with all six teams owning a record of .500 or better. The six teams participating in this year’s holiday festivities all won in Week 11, marking the third time in the past 20 seasons that all teams playing on Thanksgiving Day were victorious in the preceding week.

The 2016 installment of Thanksgiving Day football will feature a tripleheader for the 11th consecutive season.

The first game showcases a battle for first place in the NFC North as the Minnesota Vikings travel to Detroit to face the Lions (12:30 PM ET, CBS). The late afternoon game at AT&T Stadium marks the 112th overall meeting between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET, FOX). The holiday concludes with an AFC showdown as the Indianapolis Colts host the Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC (8:30 PM ET).

Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Detroit Lions (6-4) CBS 12:30 PM ET 12:30 PM
Washington Redskins (6-3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-1) FOX

3:30 PM CT

4:30 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5) NBC

8:30 PM ET

8:30 PM

The Lions will play their 77th Thanksgiving Day game dating back to 1934, while the Cowboys will play in their 49th since 1966. The Redskins and Vikings will play in their ninth and seventh games, respectively, on the holiday. The Steelers will play in their eighth and the Colts will play in their fourth Thanksgiving game.

The Thanksgiving Day records of the teams playing this Thursday:

Dallas Cowboys 29


Detroit Lions 36


Indianapolis Colts 2


Minnesota Vikings 5


Pittsburgh Steelers 1


Washington Redskins 2 6 0

MINNESOTA (6-4) at DETROIT (6-4): Thursday’s matchup marks Minnesota’s fourth visit to Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. In the last Thanksgiving meeting between the clubs, Detroit quarterback SCOTT MITCHELL passed for 410 yards with four touchdowns and running back BARRY SANDERS rushed for 138 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run with 5:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, in the Lions’ 44-38 victory on November 23, 1995. Vikings quarterback WARREN MOONthrew for 384 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.

Detroit enters Week 12 following a 26-19 win against Jacksonville. The Lions scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and became the first team in NFL history to record six wins when trailing in the fourth quarter in the team’s first 10 games of a season.

Last year, Lions quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD set a team record with five touchdown passes on Thanksgiving in Detroit’s 45-14 win over Philadelphia and became the first quarterback in team history to throw for five touchdowns with no interceptions in a game. Detroit defensive end EZEKIEL ANSAH tied a Thanksgiving Day record with 3.5 sacks in the victory.

The Lions have won their past three Thanksgiving Day games by a combined score of 119-41. In six career games on Thanksgiving Day, Stafford has passed for 1,987 yards (331.2 per game), the third-most in NFL history. He aims for his fifth consecutive Thanksgiving game with at least 330 passing yards.

The players with the most career passing yards and touchdown passes on Thanksgiving:

Tony Romo* Dallas 10 2,338
Troy Aikman^ Dallas 10 2,174
Matthew Stafford* Detroit 6 1,987
Danny White Dallas 10 1,545
Bart Starr^ Green Bay 8 1,345

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Tony Romo* Dallas 10 18
Matthew Stafford* Detroit 6 14
Bobby Layne^ Detroit 8 14
Danny White Dallas 10 14
Troy Aikman^ Dallas 10 11
Brett Favre^ Green Bay 4 11

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

In Week 11, Minnesota defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 30-24.

Vikings cornerback XAVIER RHODES had a 100-yard interception-return touchdown – his first of two interceptions on the day –  and wide receiver/kick returner CORDARRELLE PATTERSON had a 104-yard kickoff-return touchdown in the win as the Vikings became the first team since the 1962 Dallas Cowboys to have a 100+ yard interception-return touchdown and a 100+ yard kickoff-return touchdown in the same game.

Minnesota has won five of its six games on Thanksgiving Day and appears on the holiday for the first time since 2000. In that contest, Vikings wide receiver RANDY MOSS had 144 receiving yards with two touchdowns and running back ROBERT SMITH rushed for 148 yards and a score in Minnesota’s 27-15 win at Dallas.

The active franchises with the highest winning percentage on Thanksgiving (minimum five games):

Philadelphia Eagles 6 1 0 .857
Minnesota Vikings 5


0 .833
Tennessee Titans 5


0 .714
Miami Dolphins 5


0 .714
New York Giants 7


3 .636
Note: tie games prior to 1972 do not count in winning percentage

WASHINGTON (6-3-1) at DALLAS (9-1): The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys square off in a NFC East matinee on Thursday afternoon. Dallas has won six of its seven Thanksgiving Day matchups against Washington, dating back to 1968.

In the last Thanksgiving meeting between the two teams, Washington, led by rookie quarterback ROBERT GRIFFIN III (304 passing yards, four touchdowns) and rookie running back ALFRED MORRIS (113 rushing yards, one touchdown), totaled 437 yards of offense in a 38-31 victory at Dallas in 2012.

The Redskins enter Week 12 following a 42-24 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.

Washington quarterback KIRK COUSINS passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 145.8 passer rating in the victory. Wide receivers PIERRE GARÇON (116 receiving yards, one touchdown) and JAMISON CROWDER (102 receiving yards, one touchdown) both had 100 receiving yards and scored a touchdown, while rookie running back ROBERT KELLEY rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys have won nine consecutive games entering Thursday’s contest, the longest single-season winning streak in franchise history. Last week, Dallas rookie quarterback DAK PRESCOTT passed for 301 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-17 win over Baltimore. Prescott joined CHARLIE CONERLY (1948), Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (1983) andRUSSELL WILSON (2012) as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history to have multiple touchdown passes in five consecutive games.

Tight end JASON WITTEN, who will play in his 14th Thanksgiving Day game this week, has 70 catches on the holiday, the most all-time. His 776 receiving yards trail only HERMAN MOORE (834) for the most on Thanksgiving.

The most career receptions and receiving yards on Thanksgiving:

Jason Witten* Dallas 13 70  
Calvin Johnson Detroit 9 55  
Herman Moore Detroit 10 51  
Michael Irvin^ Dallas 10 49  
Emmitt Smith^ Dallas 13 42  

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Herman Moore Detroit 10 834
Jason Witten* Dallas 13 776
Calvin Johnson Detroit 9 769
Michael Irvin^ Dallas 10 722
Tony Hill Dallas 9 622

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PITTSBURGH (5-5) at INDIANAPOLIS (5-5): Pittsburgh and Indianapolis close out an all-day spread of Thanksgiving football with a meeting of two teams in the thick of the AFC playoff race.

The Colts will host their first Thanksgiving game and will play their first game on the holiday since 2007. In that contest, Indianapolis quarterback PEYTON MANNING threw for three touchdowns and running back JOSEPH ADDAI rushed for a score in the Colts’ 31-13 win at Atlanta.

In addition to the holiday festivities, Indianapolis will honor Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees TONY DUNGY and MARVIN HARRISON with the Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony at halftime.

Last week, Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK passed for 262 yards with two touchdowns and running back FRANK GORE added 121 scrimmage yards (50 rushing, 71 receiving) in the Colts’ 24-17 win over Tennessee.

Pittsburgh defeated the Cleveland Browns 24-9 in Week 11. Steelers running back LE’VEON BELL recorded 201 scrimmage yards (146 rushing, 55 receiving) and a rushing touchdown, while the Pittsburgh defense notched eight sacks and held Cleveland’s offense to 209 total yards. Linebacker JAMES HARRISON (77.5 sacks) set the Steelers’ all-time sack record in the contest, surpassing JASON GILDON (77 sacks from 1994-2003).

The Steelers will play on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2013, when the team dropped a 22-20 decision to Baltimore. Pittsburgh was one of the earliest teams featured in Thanksgiving Day action, as the team played against the Philadelphia Eagles in back-to-back years in 1939 and 1940.




STREAKS 2 of past 3  
COACHES VS. OPP. Mike Zimmer: 2-3 Jim Caldwell: 3-2
LAST WEEK W 30-24 vs. Arizona W 26-19 vs. Jacksonville
LAST GAME 11/6/16: Lions 22 at Vikings 16 (OT). Detroit K Matt Prater converts game-tying 58-yard FG as time expires in regulation. Lions WR Golden Tate has GW 28-yard TD catch in OT.
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/25/15: Vikings 28, Lions 19. Minnesota QB Teddy Bridgewater passes for 316 yards & 2 TDs for 118.3 rating. Vikings WR Stefon Diggs has 6 catches for 108 yards & TD.
REFEREE Carl Cheffers
BROADCAST CBS (12:30 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter). WW1: Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker, Hub Arkush (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 83 (Min), 82 (Det). XM: 83 (Min), 82 (Det).


PASSING Sam Bradford: 217-311-2191-12-2-99.8 Matthew Stafford: 238-351-2651-18-5-101.2
RUSHING Jerick McKinnon: 97-285-2.9-1 Theo Riddick: 79-310-3.9-1
RECEIVING Stefon Diggs: 67-747-11.1-2 Golden Tate: 52-540-10.4-2
OFFENSE 293.8 331.7
TAKE/GIVE +13 +2
DEFENSE 306.9 358.2
SACKS Danielle Hunter: 7 Kerry Hyder: 7
INTs Xavier Rhodes: 4 Rafael Bush: 2
PUNTING Jeff Locke: 44.2 Sam Martin: 49.6
KICKING Kai Forbath: 6 (3/4 PAT; 1/1 FG) Matt Prater: 75 (21/23 PAT; 18/21 FG)


VIKINGS: QB SAM BRADFORD passed for 273 yards & TD for 103.4 rating in last meeting. Has 5 TDs vs. 1 INT for 99.1 rating in past 4…RB MATT ASIATA aims for 3rd in row with rush TD. Had career-high 115 rush yards in 12/29/13 meeting…WR STEFON DIGGS has 40 receptions (10 per game) in past 4. Ranks 2nd in NFC with 67 receptions. WR-KR CORDARRELLE PATTERSON had 104-yard KR-TD in Week 11. Has 4 career 100+ yard TDs, most in NFL history. WR ADAM THIELEN aims for 3rd in row with TD catch. TE KYLE RUDOLPH aims for 4th in row vs. Det. with TD catch. Ties for lead among NFL TEs with 5 rec. TDs…DE EVERSON GRIFFEN has 8.5 sacks in past 8 vs. Det. DE DANIELLE HUNTERhas 3 sacks in past 2. CB XAVIER RHODES had 2 INTs, incl. 100-yard INT-TD in Week 11. S HARRISON SMITH had 10 tackles & sack last week. Since 2012, leads NFL safeties with 7.5 sacks…LIONS: QB MATTHEW STAFFORD has 2,238 pass yards (279.8 per game) & 18 TDs with 6 INTs for 101 rating in past 8 vs. division. Has 8 TDs & 0 INTs for 119.1 rating in past 4 at home…RB THEO RIDDICK had 8 receptions for 70 yards in Week 11. Since 2015, leads NFL RBs with 123 receptions…WR ANQUAN BOLDIN has 4 TD catches in past 5 vs. Min. WR GOLDEN TATE had 11 receptions for 79 yards, including GW 28-yard TD catch in OT in last meeting. Has 285 rec. yards (95 per game) & TD in past 3 at home. TE ERIC EBRON had 1st career rush TD last week…DE EZEKIEL ANSAH has 4.5 sacks & 2 FFs in past 5 vs. Min. DE KERRY HYDER had 2 sacks in last meeting. LB TAHIR WHITEHEAD aims for 3rd in row vs. NFC North with 11+ tackles. S RAFAEL BUSH has 2 INTs & sack in past 3 at home. S TAVON WILSON had INT last week.



STREAKS   3 of past 4
COACHES VS. OPP. Jay Gruden: 2-3 Jason Garrett: 8-5
LAST WEEK W 42-24 vs. Green Bay W 27-17 vs. Baltimore
LAST GAME 9/18/16: Cowboys 27 at Redskins 23. Dallas rookie QB Dak Prescott passes for 292 yards & rushes for TD. Cowboys rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott rushes for 83 yards & TD.
LAST GAME AT SITE 1/3/16: Redskins 34, Cowboys 23. Washington QB Kirk Cousins passes for 176 yards & 3 TDs for 155.1 rating. Redskins WR Jamison Crowder has 5 catches for 109 yards & TD.
REFEREE Craig Wrolstad
BROADCAST FOX (4:30 PM ET): Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter). WW1: John Sadak, James Lofton, Scott Kaplan (Field reporter). SIRIUS:83 (Was), 82 (Dal). XM: 83 (Was), 82 (Dal).


PASSING Kirk Cousins: 258-384-3091-17-7-98.8 Dak Prescott (R): 214-316-2640-17-2-108.6
RUSHING Rob Kelley (R): 84-424-5.0-4 Ezekiel Elliott (R): 223-1102-4.9-9
RECEIVING Jordan Reed (TE): 49-535-10.9-3 Cole Beasley: 53-591-11.2-5
OFFENSE 418.5 413.1
DEFENSE 371.3 347.9
SACKS Ryan Kerrigan: 8 Tyrone Crawford: 3.5
INTs 7 tied: 1 Brandon Carr: 1
PUNTING Tress Way: 43.7 Chris Jones: 46.6
KICKING Dustin Hopkins: 92 (23/25 PAT; 23/27 FG) Dan Bailey: 87 (30/30 PAT; 19/21 FG)


REDSKINS: QB KIRK COUSINS completed 21 of 30 (70 pct.) for 375 yards & 3 TDs for 145.8 rating last week. Has 956 pass yards, 6 TDs & 2 INTs for 96.4 rating in 4 career meetings. Aims for 4th in row on road vs. NFC East with 100+ rating…Rookie RB ROB KELLEY rushed for career-high 137 yards & 3 TDs in Week 11. Has 321 rush yards (107 per game) & 4 TDs in past 3…WR JAMISON CROWDER aims for 5th in row vs. NFC East with TD. Has 23 receptions for 354 yards (88.5 per game) & 3 TDs in past 4. WR PIERRE GARÇON had 6 receptions for 116 yards & TD last week. In 6 career meetings at Dal., WR DE SEAN JACKSON is averaging 101.7 yards per game. Since 2015, TE JORDAN REED ties for NFL lead among TEs with 14 TD catches…LB RYAN KERRIGAN has 6.5 sacks in past 6. Aims for 3rd in row at Dal. with sack. CB JOSH NORMAN had FF last week. Had FF & 3 PD in last meeting. S DONTE WHITNER has 35 tackles (8.8 per game) in past 4…COWBOYS: QB DAK PRESCOTT leads NFL rookies in pass yards (2,640), TDs (17) & rating (108.6). Has 2+ TD passes in 5 games in row, 4th rookie in NFL history with 5 consecutive multi-TD games… Rookie RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTTleads NFL with 1,102 rush yards, 3rd-most in player’s 1st 10 career games. Ranks 2nd in NFC with 10 TDs (9 rush, 1 rec.)…WR DEZ BRYANT has 11 receptions for 215 yards (107.5 per game) & TD in past 2 vs. NFC East. Has 4 rec. TDs in past 3 at home. TE JASON WITTEN ranks 2nd all-time among NFL TEs with 1,069 receptions & 11,735 rec. yards…DT TYRONE CRAWFORD aims for 3rd in row vs. NFC East with sack. LB SEAN LEE has 43 tackles (10.8 per game) in past 4 meetings.CB ORLANDO SCANDRICK has 3 sacks & 2 FFs in past 4 at home.




STREAKS 3 of past 4  
COACHES VS. OPP. Mike Tomlin: 3-1 Chuck Pagano: 0-2
LAST WEEK W 24-9 at Cleveland W 24-17 vs. Tennessee
LAST GAME 12/6/15: Colts 10 at Steelers 45. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger passes for 364 yards & 4 TDs for 126.4 rating. Steelers WR Antonio Brown has 3 total TDs, incl. 71-yard PR-TD.
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/25/11: Steelers 23, Colts 20. Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu has 16-yard FR-TD. Steelers K Shaun Suisham converts GW 38-yard FG with 4 seconds remaining.
REFEREE Walt Coleman
BROADCAST NBC (8:30 PM ET): Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Tony Boselli. SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Pit), 82 (Ind). XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Pit), 82 (Ind).


PASSING Ben Roethlisberger: 228-353-2524-20-7-96.3 Andrew Luck: 236-375-2827-19-8-93.9 OR

Scott Tolzien (Pre.): 41-62-390-2-1-87.4

RUSHING Le’Veon Bell: 128-579-4.5-2 Frank Gore: 163-642-3.9-4
RECEIVING Antonio Brown: 77-907-11.8-7 T.Y. Hilton: 57-888-15.6-5
OFFENSE 364.4 356.6
DEFENSE 363.6 397.6
SACKS Stephon Tuitt: 3.5 Erik Walden: 8
INTs Artie Burns (R): 2 Darius Butler: 2
PUNTING Jordan Berry: 46.3 Pat McAfee: 50.3
KICKING Chris Boswell: 58 (22/22 PAT; 12/16 FG) Adam Vinatieri: 87 (27/27 PAT; 20/21 FG)


STEELERS: Play 6th Thanksgiving game (1st since 1991)…QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER has 1,250 pass yards (416.7 per game) & 11 TDs vs. 1 INT for 129.1 rating in past 3 vs. Ind…RB LE’VEON BELL had 201 scrimmage yards (146 rush, 55 rec.) & TD last week. Has 4 career games with 200+ scrimmage yards, most in Pit. history. RB DE ANGELO WILLIAMS has 203 rush yards (101.5 per game) & 2 rush TDs in past 2 meetings…In past 2 vs. Ind., WR ANTONIO BROWN has 18 catches for 251 yards (125.5 per game) & 4 TDs. Fastest in NFL history to 600 catches (96 games)… LB JAMES HARRISON is franchise leader with 77.5 sacks. Has 7 sacks in past 5 meetings. DE STEPHON TUITT had 2.5 sacks last week. Rookie DT JAVON HARGRAVE had sack & FR-TD last week…COLTS: Play 4th Thanksgiving game (1st at home)…In past 6 at home, QB ANDREW LUCK has 1,762 pass yards (293.7 per game) & 13 TDs vs. 3 INTs for 100.8 rating. QB SCOTT TOLZIEN has 2 career NFL starts (last on 11/24/13 vs. Min.)…RB FRANK GORE had 121 scrimmage yards (50 rush, 71 rec.) last week. Has 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in past 2 vs. Pit. RB ROBERT TURBIN had rush TD last week…WR T.Y. HILTON had 97 rec. yards & TD last week. In past 2 vs. Pit., has 191 rec. yards (95.5 per game) & TD. WR DONTE MONCRIEF aims for 4th in row with rec. TD…LB ERIK WALDEN aims for 5th in row with sack. Is 1 of 4 NFL LBs with 8+ sacks (8) & 2+ FFs (2). LB D’QWELL JACKSON had sack in last meeting. Had sack last week.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.