2021-22 NFL Thanksgiving Preview

Bills quarterback Josh Allen celebrates a big play during their last appearance on Thanksgiving Day in 2019. PHOTO SUBMITTED.

One of the most memorable Thanksgiving traditions in many American homes is enjoying the day’s NFL games. Outside of a four-year stretch in the early 1940s, the NFL has held Thanksgiving Day games every year since 1920. For the 2021-22 season, the NFL is treating folks to three headlining games, started off by a NFC North clash, followed by two interconference games that are expected to keep the Thanksgiving festivities entertaining deep into the evening.

The first game of the evening will see the Chicago Bears travel to Detroit to play the 0-9-1 Lions. These two teams have both struggled mightily this season, but also have shown flashes of possible future promise. Justin Fields, the Bears rookie quarterback, will look to keep his performance trending in the right direction against a Lions team that has shown a knack for losing close games this season.

The Lions playing on Thanksgiving Day is a storied tradition, as they have been annual participants since 1934. Last year’s Thanksgiving Day game, like many other games in recent memory, proved to be a disappointment for Detroit fans, as Deshaun Watson led the Texans to a comfortable 41-25 victory over the Lions. 

Chicago boasts storied ties to Thanksgiving football as well. In total, Chicago has played 36 Thanksgiving Day games, the third-most appearances in league history, compiling a 19-15-2 record in those opportunities. The Bears last appeared on Thanksgiving Day back in 2019 when they beat Detroit, 24-20.

The Bears, Lions game is scheduled to kick-off at 12:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on FOX. 

The second Thanksgiving game sees the Dallas Cowboys trying to defend their homefield against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Cowboys look to be a Super Bowl contender this year, powered by an embarrassment of riches in terms of offensive weapons and a defense that forces takeaways at a blinding rate. On the other hand, the Raiders are a team that started off the season strong but has been derailed by off-the-field controversy, specifically the firing of head coach Jon Gruden, the arrest of Henry Ruggs III, and the release of former first-round pick Damon Arnette mid-season due to concerning off-the-field behavior on social media.

The Cowboys became the second regular Thanksgiving Day participant starting in 1966. All but two Thanksgivings have included games featuring both the Lions and Cowboys since Dallas’ first appearance. While the Raiders will be making their first Thanksgiving appearance since 2013. This year marks their first since relocating to Las Vegas. The team has compiled a 3-4 historical record during seven previous Thanksgiving Day appearances. 

The Raiders, Cowboys game will kick-off at 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on CBS.

To wrap the night’s holiday football, the Buffalo Bills will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in primetime. The NFL first added a primetime game to the Thanksgiving Day schedule in 2006. There had been a primetime game on Thanksgiving Day every year since 2006 until the Steelers-Ravens game was postponed due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic last year. 

The Bills are having another strong season despite a few pitfall games tripping them up along the way. The team has put themselves in a position to compete for a playoff spot going down the stretch. If the Bills reach the postseason, quarterback Josh Allen is one of the most electric young talents in the league, so they are well-equipped for a Super Bowl run.

The Saints are struggling to find their identity in the first season, post-Drew Brees era. Injuries have hampered the Saints all year long, with several key players missing time. The Saints have compiled a respectable, albeit unimpressive record this season, but aren’t nearly the threat they have been in years past.

Buffalo is just two years removed from a 26-15 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Cowboys. The franchise has made just nine Thanksgiving Day appearances in total, racking up an even 4-4-1 record. The Saints have played on Thanksgiving Day just three times but the most recent was 2019 when they knocked off the Falcons. In fact, New Orleans boasts a perfect 3-0 historical record on Thanksgiving.

The Bills, Saints game is slated for an 8:20 p.m. kick-off and will be broadcasted on NBC.


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