It’s that time again.

Time to go to the in-laws and listen to Uncle Harry’s bad jokes for the 20th time.

Time to eat gravy so thick you could use it for motor oil and turkey so dry it could be used for paper. (That’s probably why your cousin Carlie is still single!)

Time for the screaming kids that don’t like green beans.

Time to sit next to your girl cousin that you can’t stand at the kids’ table.

And yes, it’s time for Thanksgiving Day football, courtesy of your friends at the National Football League.

The NFL is giving you and football fans a pigskin feast. No cooking or shopping involved. Three games, two of them featuring traditional Thanksgiving games in Detroit in the early afternoon and Dallas in the late afternoon. They’ve also thrown in an extra game for good measure in prime time as Green Bay hosts the Chicago Bears at Lambeau, where they will retire Brett Farve’s number 4.

The Detroit game? Think of it as the early part of the meal, the white meat on the turkey, if you will. As for the Dallas game? They host Carolina is like going back for seconds and the prime time game between Green Bay and Da Bears? A late night snack.

Three games. It’s an early Christmas present that doesn’t need to be wrapped, put in a box and you don’t even have to stand in line. No sizes or colors to worry about and it’s better than the ugly sweater your sister-in-law got for you last Christmas (and she wonders why she’s still single).

As far as the football menu goes, the NFL opens week 12 in the Motor City as the Lions host the Philadelphia Eagles in the early afternoon contest at Ford Field. Then, as most of America is either digesting their food from the early meal or going back for seconds, Dallas welcomes Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at AT&T Stadium.

Is the feast over, you say? “Please, sir, I want more,” as Oliver Twist said. You get your wish as the Packers return home to the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst to face off against their NFC North foes, Da Bears.

The Lions will play their 76th Thanksgiving Day game dating back to 1934, while the Cowboys will play in their 48th since 1966. The Packers and Bears will play in their 36th and 34th games, respectively. The Eagles will play in their seventh and the Panthers will play in their first Thanksgiving game.

The Thanksgiving Day records of the teams playing this Thursday:

Carolina, 0-0-0*
Chicago, 16-15-2
Dallas, 29-17-1
Detroit, 35-38-2
Green Bay, 14-19-2
Philadelphia, 6-0-0
*First game on Thanksgiving this week

The players with the most career touchdown catches on Thanksgiving:

Calvin Johnson, Detroit (8-8)
Cloyce Box, Detroit (5-7)
Michael Irvin, Dallas (10-6)*
Many tied with 5
*Pro Football Hall of Famer

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

Philadelphia (6-0-0, 1.000)
Minnesota (5-1-0, .833)
Tennessee (5-2-0, .714)
Miami (5-2-0, .714)
New York Giants (7-4-3, .636)

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

The most career passing yards and touchdown passes on Thanksgiving Day:

Tony Romo, Dallas (9 – 2,232)
Troy Aikman, Dallas (10 – 2,174)*
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (5 – 1,650)
Danny White, Dallas (10 – 1,545)
Bart Starr, Green Bay (8 – 1,345)*
*Pro Football Hall of Famer

Tony Romo, Dallas (9 – 18)
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

The most career receptions and receiving yards on Thanksgiving Day:

Jason Witten, Dallas (12, 66)
Herman Moore, Detroit (10, 51)
Michael Irvin, Dallas (10, 49)*
Calvin Johnson, Detroit, (8, 47)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (13, 42)
*Pro Football Hall of Famer

Herman Moore, Detroit (10, 834)
Jason Witten, Dallas (12, 740)
Michael Irvin, Dallas (10, 722)*
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (8, 676)
Tony Hill, Dallas (9, 622)

*Pro Football Hall of Famer

Witten also ranks second all-time amongst tight ends with 994 receptions and needs six catches on Thursday to join Tony Gonzalez (1,325) as the only tight ends in league annals with 1,000 career receptions.

The Thursday passing leaders in the NFC since 2009 (minimum three games played and 50 attempts):

Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay, 70.9
Matt Ryan – Atlanta, 69.4
Eli Manning – New York Giants, 67.4
Drew Brees – New Orleans, 66.8
Tony Romo – Dallas, 65.6

Drew Brees, New Orleans (2,236)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (1,650)
Tony Romo, Dallas (1,605)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (1,578)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (1,531)

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (13)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (12)
Tony Romo, Dallas (11)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (9)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (9)

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (113.4)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (108.9)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (96.6)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (94.0)
Tony Romo, Dallas (93.8)

The rookie running backs with the most touchdowns in 2015:


Karlos Williams, Buffalo (5; 2; 0, 7)
David Johnson, Arizona (3; 3; 1, 7)
Todd Gurley, St. Louis (6; 0; 0, 6)
Jeremy Langford, Chicago (5; 1; 0, 6)
Matt Jones, Washington (3; 1; 0, 4)

Here are Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day contests. Be sure you have plenty of food and watch out for your cousin Connie. She may have turned 56 and dates a 42-year old football coach at the local high school but the old girl’s been known to wipe out Super Bowl parties.

Philadelphia (4-6) at Detroit (3-7), 12:30 p.m. on FOX. Week 12 opens in the Motor City on Thanksgiving afternoon as the Detroit Lions host the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field.

Philadelphia was manhandled by Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday in Philly, dropping a 45-17 decision that left most of their fan base upset and crying in their cheesesteaks and beer. The Eagles trailed Tampa Bay 28-14 at the break and could never really recover in the contest and were outscored 17-3 in the final 30 minutes of play. RB Doug Martin accounted for 235 of Tampa Bay’s 283, while the Eagles ran for 136. Tampa Bay forced four Philadelphia turnovers, a fumble and three Mark Sanchez interceptions, while Winston threw five TDs with 246 yards and no interceptions. The Eagles went 7 of 15 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:06, while Tampa Bay went 10 of 16 on third down and found success in their only fourth down try, keeping the ball for 35:54.

“I think everyone understands how bad that was,” says Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin. “It was disappointing. We’ll go watch the film and evaluate. We have to get it fixed and play better on Thursday against Detroit.”

Philadelphia running back Darren Sproles had a 35-yard touchdown reception in the game, his first touchdown reception as an Eagle and the 28th of his career. Sproles is the only player in NFL history with at least 25 touchdown receptions (28), 15 rushing touchdowns (18) and five punt-return touchdowns (six).

“You have to be a pro and move on,” says quarterback Mark Sanchez. “We are going to get another chance to play on Thanksgiving, which is going to be great. You get to have your family back at home watching and then get a mini-bye the week after that. This could be the start of something good. We’ll figure it out and try to get a win on Thursday.”

Sanchez completed 20 of 29 passes (69 percent) for 217 yards and scored two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in his start on Thanksgiving last season. Eagles running back De Marco Murray, who has played in three career games on Thanksgiving, aims for his fourth in a row with at least 100 scrimmage yards.

Philadelphia, who is undefeated in Thanksgiving Day games, plays on the holiday for the second consecutive season. Last season, the Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys 33-10 at AT&T Stadium. Philadelphia has the highest winning percentage among active NFL franchises on Thanksgiving (minimum five games).

Detroit, coming off their huge win over the Packers two weeks ago in Green Bay, took a 16-13 win over Oakland last Sunday in the Motor City. The Lions led 9-0 at the half and held Oakland to 50 rushing yards at Ford Field last Sunday, while rushing for 109 of their own, with QB Matthew Stafford rushing for Detroit’s only TD, a 5-yard run with 11:04 left to play. Detroit got some more luck in the final period of play as they got a sack of Raiders QB David Carr for a safety after Oakland was called for holding in the end zone. Detroit on third down conversions went 6 of 14 and kept the ball for 36:02, while Oakland went 4 of 18 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 23:58.

Thursday’s matchup marks the second time that Philadelphia travels to Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. On November 28, 1968, the Eagles defeated the Lions 12-0 behind four Sam Baker field goals at Tiger Stadium.

“This was a tough, hard-fought game,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell told the Detroit Free Press. “We knew it was going to take a great effort to win and we got that. This is positive to build upon. “It’s hard enough to win one game in this league, let alone two. Now we have to see if we can make it three against a really tough team with a short week on Thanksgiving Day.”

The Lions aim for their third consecutive victory this week when they face Philadelphia.

Stafford has passed for 1,650 yards in five career games on Thanksgiving Day, the third-most in NFL history. In his past three games on Thanksgiving, Stafford has seven touchdown passes and only two interceptions for a 98.4 passer rating. He aims for his fourth consecutive Thanksgiving game with at least 330 passing yards.

Johnson aims for his seventh Thanksgiving game in row with a touchdown catch. Johnson is the all-time leader with eight career touchdown receptions on Thanksgiving. Johnson also seeks his fourth in a row on Thanksgiving with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown, following last season’s 146-yard, two-touchdown performance against Chicago.

The Eagles lead the series 15-13-2, has outscored the Lions 617-577 (which includes games that were played when the Lions were in Portsmouth and known as the Spartans) and won the last meeting that they and Detroit had, with the Eagles taking a 34-20 win in Philly in 2013. Detroit’s last win over the Eagles came in 2012, also in the City of Brotherly Love, by final of 26-23 in overtime. Detroit is favored by 1 and the over/under comes in at 47. Both numbers make a lot of sense in the Thursday week 12 opener. Philly could make this one interesting but the Lions won on Turkey Day last year and they’ll do it again, covering the 1 in the Motor City.

Carolina (10-0) at Dallas (3-7), 4:30 p.m. on CBS. An unbeaten Carolina and Cam Newton travel to the Lone Star State for a contest with the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington.

Carolina won their 10th game in as many tries as they took Washington to the woodshed last Sunday in Charlotte, making short work of the Redskins in their 44-16 win at Bank of America Stadium. Leading 31-14 at the half, Carolina would go on to outscore Washington and Kirk Cousins 13-2 in the final 30 minutes of action, giving up a safety when P Brad Nortman was tackled in the end zone with 16 seconds left to play. Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart ran for 102 yards (the Panthers ran for 142, while Washington was held to 14) and Newton threw for 246 yards and five TDs without being picked off, while Cousins had 207 yards in the air with TD and five sacks. Carolina was 7 of 14 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth) and kept the ball for 38:07, while the Redskins stumbled on third down tries, going 2 of 9 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 21:53.

“10-0 feels great,” says Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. “Usually we have 24 hours to celebrate but the fact that we have a short week upcoming, we need to come back and be ready for Dallas on Thanksgiving.”

Newton tied the franchise single-game record with five touchdown passes (Steve Beurlein, January 2, 2000) in the victory. Newton, who now has 102 passing touchdowns and 39 rushing touchdowns, is the only player in NFL history with at least 100 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing touchdowns in his first five seasons.

“It’s exciting for our players to be able to compete on Thanksgiving Day,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who played on Thanksgiving Day in 1992 as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears. “Every season presents challenges, regardless of when the games are played. We have to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Carolina prepares to face Dallas with the third ranked defense (322.8 yards per game) in the NFC. Linebacker Thomas Davis is only player in NFL with at least three sacks and three interceptions this season. He also leads the team with 69 tackles. Safety Kurt Coleman and cornerback Josh Norman are tied for first in the NFC with four interceptions this season. Linebacker Luke Kuechly, who is second on the team with 68 tackles this season, had 15 tackles and a fumble recovery in his only career matchup against the Cowboys.

Dallas broke a 7-game losing streak and got QB Tony Romo back under center last Sunday in Miami, as the Cowboys completed their Sunshine State swing, taking Miami at Sun Life Stadium by a final of 24-14. After a scoreless first quarter, Dallas led 14-7 at the half and rallied in the final quarter of play, tied at 14 after 45 minutes of play. Dallas outrushed Miami 166-70 and Cowboys RB Darren McFadden accounted for the majority of his team’s offense with 129 yards. In his return, Romo threw for 227 yards with a pair of TDs (one to his favorite target, WR Dez Bryrant) and a pair of interceptions. Dallas went 7 of 14 on third down conversions, 1 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 38:50, while Miami was 1 of 10 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 21:10. The touchdown marked the 50th between Romo and Bryant, the most by a quarterback-wide receiver tandem in franchise history, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin (49).

“Romo gives everybody some extra juice,” says Bryant about Romo, who returned to the starting lineup following an injury he sustained in Week 2. “His play just shows how much he really means to the team. We all know who our leader is. Tony is outstanding. He just makes good things happen.”

“We just have to get back to work,” says Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett about preparing for a quick turnaround. “We’ll go to work because that’s what we do. We love playing football, we love coaching football. These guys love playing with each other. We are excited about the opportunity we have. We have a game on Thursday. The Carolina Panthers are coming to town. They are a darn good football team.”

The Cowboys enter their matchup against the Panthers having won six of their past nine on Thanksgiving.

Romo has led the Cowboys to six wins in eight Thanksgiving starts. For his career, Romo has passed for 2,232 yards and 18 touchdowns on Thanksgiving, both the most all-time on the holiday.

Tight end Jason Witten, who will play in his 13th Thanksgiving Day game this week, is currently the all-time leader on Thanksgiving with 66 catches. His 740 receiving yards trail only Herman Moore (834) for the most all-time on Thanksgiving.

They’ve met 10 times and the Cowboys have taken the last nine meetings, including a 19-14 win in Charlotte in 2012, while the Panthers’ lone win came in 1997 in Irving, winning by a final of 23-13. Carolina’s a 1-point favorite and the over/under is 47. Carolina’s played some really good football so far, while the Cowboys are looking to be at the very least a Wild Card team and save Jason Garrett’s job in the process. The Panthers may be in the Lone Star State this week but Carolina’s finer and takes this one, covering the 1.

Chicago (4-6) at Green Bay (7-3), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst meet in a week one rematch as the Packers host Chicago and retires Brett Farve’s number 4 into the Packers ring of honor.

After taking two in a row, Da Bears fell to Denver 17-15 at Soldier Field and the Broncos did it without Peyton. As in Manning. His replacement? Brock Osweiler. Think of him as football’s answer to Wally Pipp. Chicago trailed 10-6 at Soldier Field last Sunday before rallying to make it a closer contest when rookie RB Jeremy Langford scored on a 2-yard run but they missed the two-point try that would have tied things up. Chicago found themselves outrushed by Denver 170-86 (Denver’s Ronnie Hillman led all rushers with 102) and Osweiler threw a pair of TD passes in the game, including one to WR Demaryius Thomas, which went for 48 yards to open the scoring in the game. Denver on third down conversions went 6 of 14 and on fourth down was 0-1, keeping the ball for 33:13, while Da Bears on third down were not that much better, going 4 of 12 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the pigskin for 26:47.

“We can’t afford to hang our heads,” Chicago guard Matt Slauson told the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. “We aren’t out of this by any stretch. We just need to keep on fighting and keep working.”

The Bears will play on Thanksgiving in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1980-81 after losing to Detroit on Thanksgiving last season. The Bears played on Thanksgiving during the franchise’s first 19 years of existence (1920-38) and are 16-15-2 all-time on the holiday.

“We have to come in and flip the switch pretty quickly,” says Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. “We have to move on. It is part of the game. We have a Thursday night game against Green Bay and hopefully we’ll be energized for it this week on Thanksgiving.”

Cutler aims for his fourth straight game on Thursday with at least two touchdown passes. Wide receiver Alson Jeffery, who has 15 catches for 166 yards and three touchdowns in his past two games on Thursday, seeks his third consecutive Thursday game with a touchdown catch.

Bears rookie running back Jeremy Lanford has five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) in his past five games. His five rushing touchdowns are tied for the second-most among NFL rookies this season.

“I think it’s great, and it will be great for our fans,” says Packers head coach Mike McCarthy about hosting a Thanksgiving Day game at home. “The first time we’ve had a Thanksgiving night game here at Lambeau Field. I think it will definitely be a special night.”

Adding to the excitement, the Packers will honor former quarterback Brett Farve during a halftime ceremony. Favre’s name and retired No. 4 jersey will be unveiled on Lambeau Field’s north facade during halftime of Thursday’s game. Favre, who played in four Thanksgiving Day games in his career, is one of six Packers legends to have their number retired, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Don Hutson (No. 14), Tony Canadeo (No. 3), Bart Starr (No. 15), Ray Nitschke (66) and Reggie White (92).

Heading into this week’s matchup, Rodgers has led the Packers to a 5-1 record when he starts on Thursdays, including a 4-0 record against NFC North opponents. Since 2009, Rodgers is among the leaders in many passing categories on Thursdays, ranking first in the NFC in completion percentage (70.9), touchdown passes (13) and passer rating (113.4). He is also fifth in the NFC with 1,531 passing yards on Thursdays during that span.

Green Bay returns to Lambeau, breaking a three-game losing streak and taking Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings 30-13 at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The Packers broke a 6-6 tie after the first 15 minutes of play and took a 16-6 lead with them to the intermission, holding Minnesota off in the second half for the win. Packers RB Eddie Lacy ran for 100 yards on 27 carries and Aaron Rodgers threw for 212 yards and a pair of TDs, while Bridgewater was sacked six times (the Vikings ran for 94, with RB Adrian Peterson accounting for 45 and a TD but had a key fumble late in the contest). Green Bay was 6 of 16 on third down conversions, holding the ball for 30:22, while the Vikings kept the ball for 29:38 and went 5 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

They meet in week one in the Windy City and the Packers took Chicago to the woodshed at Soldier Field, coming away 31-23 winners.  Green Bay trailed the Monsters of the Midway 13-10 at the half before rallying to take the lead for keeps. Although they were out-rushed by Chicago 189-133, Rodgers lit up the Bears with three TD passes in the first meeting. Green Bay and Chicago did quite well on third down tries in the season opener, with the Packers going 6 of 10 and kept the ball for 28:08, while Da Bears were 11 of 17, keeping the ball for 31:52 (Green Bay on fourth down found success in their only fourth down try, while Chicago was 2 of 3).


The oddsmakers must really like cheese, beer and bratwurst because they’ve made the Packers a 9-point favorite at home with a 48 over/under. Sorry, Bears fans. It’s going to be like an ugly sweater your sister got you (that’s why’s she’s still not married!). Packers may not covered the 9 but they win at home at Lambeau.