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There is no NFL rule that claims the Lions and also Cowboys must constantly play games on Thanksgiving, but in 2019, Detroit and Dallas both will host a Thanksgiving game for the 42nd continuous year.

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When the NFL creates its schedule each year, per tradition, the just constants space the Lions hosting their beforehand afternoon Thanksgiving game and also the Cowboys hosting their late afternoon Thanksgiving game.


MORE: full NFL Thanksgiving 2019 schedule, TV info

The Lions this year will play their 80th Thanksgiving game dating earlier to 1934. The Cowboys will play in their 52nd Thanksgiving game since 1966.


In short, these corresponding traditions started as publicity stunts, however they"ve become mainstays top top the NFL schedule. Listed below is much more information top top why the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving.

What football teams always play on Thanksgiving?

Detroit Lions

When Detroit master Chicago top top Thanksgiving in 2019, that will note the the 18th Thanksgiving day meeting in between the Bears and the Lions. Chicago has appeared on Thanksgiving 33 times, but only due to the fact that it"s a department rival that Detroit, which has actually played more Thanksgiving games than any kind of other NFL franchise.

The Lions, who have actually a 37-40-2 document in Thanksgiving games, began the tradition in 1934, their an initial year in Detroit. Team owner George A. Richards figured a video game on Thanksgiving would assist his team steal fist from the much more popular Detroit Tigers. Certain enough, tickets for the Lions game versus the Bears that year sold out well ahead of time, and another 25,000 tickets might have to be sold had actually University of Detroit stadion seated more than 26,000.

The successful turnout expected a Thanksgiving legacy was born, and the Lions have actually hosted a game on Thanksgiving yearly since.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys, who have a 37-40-2 document in Thanksgiving games, began their tradition in 1966. Then-general manager Tex Schramm signed up because that the holiday video game in an effort to an increase the franchise"s popularity, and also it worked; the Cowboys the Thanksgiving broke what was then your attendance record. A full of 80,259 fans watched the team beat the Browns in ~ the cotton Bowl.

Dallas has actually played on Thanksgiving every year because except two. In 1975 and also 1977, the NFL awarded Thanksgiving gamings to the St. Luigi Cardinals in an attempt to rise that franchise"s national exposure. The Cardinals shed both games, and also the Cowboys reclaimed the tradition in 1978.

Below space the numbers of Thanksgiving appearances for every 32 existing NFL franchises. Just the Jacksonville Jaguars have actually never played on Thanksgiving.


TeamThanksgiving games
Detroit Lions79 (79 consecutive)
Dallas Cowboys51 (41 consecutive)
Green bay Packers36
Chicago Bears33
Arizona Cardinals23
New York Giants15
Washington Redskins11
Denver Broncos11
Kansas City Chiefs9
Pittsburgh Steelers8
Minnesota Vikings8
Buffalo Bills8
Oakland Raiders7
Philadelphia Eagles7
Miami Dolphins7
Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers6
San Francisco 49ers5
New England Patriots5
New York Jets5
Los Angeles Chargers5
Seattle Seahawks4
Los Angeles Rams4
Indianapolis Colts4
Cleveland Browns3
Atlanta Falcons3
Baltimore Ravens2
New orleans Saints2
Carolina Panthers1
Tampa bay Buccaneers1
Houston Texans1
Cincinnati Bengals1
Jacksonville Jaguars0

What NFL teams are playing on Thanksgiving 2019?

For the 14th continuous season, the NFL has three gamings scheduled for Thanksgiving. The tripleheader starts with the timeless Detroit game, through the Lions this year hosting the division-rival Bears. Also a tradition, Dallas will host the late afternoon game on Thanksgiving, with the Cowboys this year play the Bills.

The Thanksgiving night game this year is Saints at Falcons.


GameKickoff timeTV channel
Bears in ~ Lions12:30 p.m. ETFox
Bills in ~ Cowboys4:30 p.m. ETCBS
Saints at Falcons8:20 p.m. ETNBC

The Lions will certainly play your 80th Thanksgiving Day video game dating ago to 1934, when the Cowboys will certainly play in your 52nd since 1966. The Bears and Bills will play in their 36th and also ninth games, respectively, on the holiday. The Falcons will play in your fourth and also the Saints will play in their 3rd Thanksgiving game.

Below space the all-time Thanksgiving records of the groups playing top top the holiday this year.

Detroit Lions: 37-40-2Dallas Cowboys: 31-19-1Chicago Bears: 18-15-2Buffalo Bills: 3-4-1Atlanta Falcons: 1-2New olions Saints: 2-0

The Saints, who space undefeaded in their 2 Thankgiving appearances, have a chance to end up being the an initial NFL team come clinch a playoff clues this season. With a win over the Falcons on Thanksgiving Night, they would clinch the NFC southern title.

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New Orleans likewise could tie Atlanta top top Thursday night and still clinch the department with a Carolina ns or tie on Sunday.