NFL Thanksgiving Day Games Previews


For millions of Americans, Thanksgiving Day and NFL football are inextricably linked.

From touch football games with friends to watching NFL games with relatives after a holiday feast, these football moments and memories are interwoven with the holiday season.

The NFL this Thursday will present fans with a Thanksgiving tripleheader for the sixth consecutive year as traditional competitors Detroit and Dallas host games during the day followed by a primetime nightcap on NFL Network. 

The 2011 Thanksgiving schedule

Thursday, November 24





Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

12:30 PM ET

12:30 PM


Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys

3:15 PM CT

4:15 PM


San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens

8:00 PM ET

8:00 PM

NFL Network

At 12:30 PM ET on FOX, the Green Bay Packers (10-0), the NFL's lone undefeated team, will visit the Detroit Lions (7-3), marking the 20th Thanksgiving Day meeting between these two clubs - the most matchups in NFL history between any two teams on the holiday.

Green Bay will also be the first undefeated team to play on Thanksgiving since the 1962 Packers. Green Bay's lone loss that season was to the Lions on Thanksgiving Day as the Packers went on to finish 13-1 and win the NFL Championship.

"I love playing on Thanksgiving," says Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. "I think the players really like it too. It's an honor to play on the holiday."

At 4:15 PM ET on CBS, the Dallas Cowboys, who are currently tied for first place in the NFC East with the New York Giants at 6-4, will host Miami. Both teams have won three consecutive games, and the Dolphins are the first team in NFL history to start a season 0-7 and win its next three games.

The Thanksgiving tripleheader concludes at 8:00 PM ET on NFL Network as Baltimore's John Harbaugh and San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh face off in the first-ever meeting between head coach brothers in NFL history. The Ravens are tied with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North, while the NFC West-leading 49ers are off to their best start (9-1) since 1997.

For the first time since 1998, every team that will play on Thanksgiving won its preceding game. Four of the six participating teams own at least a share of first place (Baltimore, Dallas, Green Bay and San Francisco). Two of the three games will feature teams with a combined winning percentage of .800 or better.

The best combined records of teams meeting on Thanksgiving Day (since 1970):






Dallas (9-2) vs. Kansas City (10-1)    




Detroit (7-3) vs. Green Bay (10-0)




Dallas (8-3) vs. Minnesota (10-1)




Baltimore (7-3) vs. San Francisco (9-1)




Dallas (7-3) vs. Miami (9-1)



To kick it all off, NFL Network is doing its first-ever Thanksgiving morning pregame show. NFL GameDay Morning will be live from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore from 10:00 AM-12:30 PM ET on Thanksgiving Day...included in the show will be a feature on the Harbaughs. The game broadcast will also highlight the family rivalry with a national advertisement for NFL's Women's Apparel featuring Sarah Harbaugh, wife of Jim, and Ingrid Harbaugh, wife of John, showing off their team pride in style.

NFL Network will air Saturday (11/26) at 8:00 PM ET the NFL Films-produced Sound FX: Thursday Night Football Special Edition on the 49ers-Ravens Thanksgiving night game. In this show, viewers will hear the sounds of the game like nowhere else as more than a dozen coaches and players from both teams will be wearing microphones.

Several other notes of interest to keep in mind during this year's Thanksgiving tripleheader:


  • MARVELOUS MATTHEW:With five touchdown passes in the Lions' 49-35 win against Carolina, Detroit's Matthew Stafford became thefirst quarterback in the Super Bowl era to pass for at least five touchdowns two times in his first 23 career starts.

    Stafford's first five-touchdown performance came against the Browns in the week preceding the Lions' 2009 Thanksgiving Day meeting with Green Bay.He is one of two quarterbacks since 1970 to throw five touchdown passes the week before playing on Thanksgiving Day. In 1972, former 49ers quarterback Steve Spurrier threw five TDs against the Bears before leading San Francisco to a Thanksgiving Day win against Dallas.
  • FIRST AND FOUR-MOST:Four of the six starting quarterbacks on Thanksgiving Day were first-round NFL Draft selections - Baltimore's Joe Flacco (No. 18, 2008), Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (No. 24, 2005), San Francisco's Alex Smith (No. 1, 2005) and Stafford (No. 1, 2009).

    Four first-round starting QBs in 2011 ties 1972 for the most such starting QBs on Thanksgiving since 1970:








Joe Flacco, Baltimore

No. 18, 2008

Greg Landry, Detroit

No. 11, 1968

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

No. 24, 2005

Craig Morton, Dallas

No. 5, 1965

Alex Smith, San Francisco

No. 1, 2005

Joe Namath, New York Jets

No. 1, 1965*

Matthew Stafford, Detroit

No. 1, 2009

Steve Spurrier, San Francisco

No. 3, 1967

* AFL Draft; Also chosen No. 12 overall by Cardinals in 1965 NFL Draft


  • Following are some of the greatest single-game individual performances in NFL Thanksgiving Day history:









Most TDs


Ernie Nevers, Chi. Card.

Chicago Cardinals 40, Chicago Bears 6





Most Yards Rushing


O.J. Simpson, Buffalo

Detroit Lions 27, Buffalo Bills 14





Most Yards Passing


Troy Aikman, Dallas

Minnesota Vikings 46, Dallas Cowboys 36





Most Yards Receiving


Jim Benton, Cleveland

Cleveland Rams 28, Detroit Lions 21





Most Interceptions


Bobby Dillon, Green Bay

Detroit Lions 34, Green Bay Packers 15


Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Phinsider

You must be a member of The Phinsider to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Phinsider. You should read them.

Join The Phinsider

You must be a member of The Phinsider to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Phinsider. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.