The Lions and Cowboys have become as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkeys and Pilgrims.
The two NFL franchises have been holiday mainstays for decades. Along with a Detroit appetizer and Dallas main course, the league has an annual primetime matchup for dessert on its Thanksgiving menu.
While the holiday is a cause for celebration, the Lions and Cowboys don’t always get to walk off the field happy. The games count, after all, so the visiting team comes to town looking to rain on the parade.
Just how good have the Lions and Cowboys been on Thanksgiving? And does being the home team on the holiday make a difference?
Here’s a look back at how every NFL team has fared on Turkey Day:
What is the Detroit Lions’ record on Thanksgiving?
The Lions have been hosting Thanksgiving games for 89 years, but not without controversy.
Detroit held its first such matchup against the Chicago Bears in 1934 and has played on the holiday every year since 1945. The franchise has built a 37-44-2 record across its 82 Thanksgiving matchups, which are the most in league history.
In the beginning, the Lions routinely won most of their Thanksgiving contests. That has not been the case this century, though, as the Lions are 6-17 on Thanksgiving dating back to 2000.
Calls for the team to be removed from the holiday slate increased leading into the 2008 game against the Tennessee Titans. Detroit was 0-11 on the season and had lost its last four Turkey Day matchups. Things got worse once the game started, as Tennessee rolled to a 47-10 blowout. Nonetheless, the NFL maintained Detroit’s holiday spot.
Questions about the Lions’ Thanksgiving status have quieted since that defeat, but the team is in the midst of another holiday losing streak. Detroit’s last win on the holiday came in 2016, and they will look to turn things around against the Green Bay Packers this year.
What is the Dallas Cowboys’ record on Thanksgiving?
The Cowboys have gone 32-22-1 on Thanksgiving since starting its holiday tradition in 1966.
Their best Thanksgiving stretch came in the early 1980s, as they set a franchise record by winning six straight Turkey Day games from 1980 to 1985.
The team has been just slightly better than the Lions on Thanksgiving in recent years, though. Dallas had lost three straight games before snapping the skid against the division rival New York Giants in 2022. It will face another NFC East foe in the Washington Commanders this year.
Has every NFL team played on Thanksgiving?
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the lone NFL team without a Thanksgiving appearance in their history.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers have the next-fewest Thanksgiving games played with one apiece.
Every NFL team’s record on Thanksgiving
Here is a look at how all 31 NFL teams that have participated in a Thanksgiving game have fared on the holiday:
Arizona Cardinals: 6-15-2
Atlanta Falcons: 1-3
Baltimore Ravens: 2-0
Buffalo Bills: 6-4-1
Carolina Panthers: 1-0
Chicago Bears: 20-15-2
Cincinnati Bengals: 0-1
Cleveland Browns: 3-3
Dallas Cowboys: 32-22-1
Denver Broncos: 4-7
Detroit Lions: 37-44-2
Green Bay Packers: 14-20-2
Houston Texans: 2-0
Indianapolis Colts: 2-1-1
Kansas City Chiefs: 5-5
Las Vegas Raiders: 4-4
Los Angeles Chargers: 3-1-1
Los Angeles Rams: 4-1
Miami Dolphins: 5-2
Minnesota Vikings: 7-2
New England Patriots: 3-3
New Orleans Saints: 3-1
New York Giants: 7-6-3
New York Jets: 4-4
Philadelphia Eagles: 6-1
Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-6
San Francisco 49ers: 3-2-1
Seattle Seahawks: 2-2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0-1
Tennessee Titans: 5-2
Washington Commanders: 4-8
What is the record for NFL home teams on Thanksgiving?
While it’s nice to be home for the holidays, it doesn’t mean much when it comes to NFL Thanksgiving games.
Home teams are 118-112-12 all-time on Thanksgiving. The Lions and Cowboys have combined to go 69-66-3 on Turkey Day with all 138 of those games taking place at home.
All other NFL teams are 49-46-9 at home on the holiday. Home teams are 9-7 in the third, primetime matchup that was added to the annual Thanksgiving slate in 2006.
This article was originally posted in November 2022.
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