It’s Thanksgiving.

It’s time for your Aunt Katie’s mashed potato casserole.

It’s time to listen to your brother-in-law’s bad jokes for the 10,000,000th time.

It’s time to sit at the kid’s table with that cousin you can’t stand.

It’s also time for football.

The NFL’s annual football feast gets underway Thursday as play in week 12 gets started. While there’s football on the field and food on the table, there’s also playoff spots on the line as well.

Three games. Not one. Not Two.


Think of it as “Black Friday” for football fans.

It’s a short week for six teams that will take the field Thursday afternoon and evening and all six teams are or have a share of first place in their respective divisions.

An early game as the appetizer takes place in the Motor City as Minnesota takes on Detroit in as first place is on the line in the NFC North. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, it’s your chance to go for seconds (food and football wise) as a pair of NFC East foes meet in a week two rematch in Arlington. Game number three (yes, there’s a third game) can be thought of as taking home leftovers or dessert as Pittsburgh travels to Indy for a late evening primetime AFC contest in the Hoosier State.

ICYMI (Thanksgiving Edition): Last year, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford set a team record with five touchdown passes on Thanksgiving in Detroit’s 45-14 win over Philadelphia and became the first quarterback in team history to throw for five touchdowns with no interceptions in a game. Detroit defensive end Ezekiel Ansah tied a Thanksgiving Day record with 3.5 sacks in the victory.

The Lions have won their past three Thanksgiving Day games by a combined score of 119-41. In six career games on Thanksgiving Day, Stafford has passed for 1,987 yards (331.2 per game), the third-most in NFL history. He aims for his fifth consecutive Thanksgiving game with at least 330 passing yards.

The players with the most career passing yards and touchdown passes on Thanksgiving:


Tony Romo, Dallas (10 – 2,338)*
Troy Aikman, Dallas (10 – 2,174)^
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (6 – 1,987)*
Danny White, Dallas (10 – 1,545)
Bart Starr, Green Bay (8 – 1,345)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer


Tony Romo, Dallas (10 – 18)*
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (6 – 14)*
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

Tight end Jason Witten, who will play in his 14th Thanksgiving Day game this week, has 70 catches on the holiday, the most all-time. His 776 receiving yards trail only Herman Moore (834) for the most on Thanksgiving.

The most career receptions and receiving yards on Thanksgiving:


Jason Witten – Dallas (13, 70)*
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (9 -55)
Herman Moore – Detroit (10 – 51)
Michael Irvin – Dallas (10 – 49)^
Emmitt Smith – Dallas (13 – 42)^

^Pro Football Hall of Famer


Herman Moore – Detroit (10, 834)
Jason Witten – Dallas (13, 776)*
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (9, 769)
Michael Irvin – Dallas (10, 722)^
Tony Hill – Dallas (9, 622)

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

For generations of Americans, the tradition of Thanksgiving Day and NFL football are historically intertwined.

On Thanksgiving in 1925, a crowd of 36,000 – then the largest in professional football history – watched the Chicago Bears play the Chicago Cardinals to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field. In 1934, the Detroit Lions and the defending world champion Bears squared off on Thanksgiving in the first NFL game nationally broadcast, with NBC radio on the call. This year, the three holiday games will be played inside stadiums with a combined capacity of over 200,000 and will be aired to millions across the country and around the world.

The 2016 installment of Thanksgiving Day football will feature a tripleheader for the 11th consecutive season.

All six teams playing on Thanksgiving have a .500 or better record. It is only the second time in NFL history – and first since 1935 – in which the Thanksgiving schedule has at least three games and every team has a .500 or better record.

1935 THANKSGIVING GAMES – New York Giants (6-3) at Brooklyn Dodgers (5-4), Green Bay Packers (7-3) at Chicago Cardinals (5-3-1), Chicago Bears (5-3-1) at Detroit Lions (5-3-2)

2016 THANKSGIVING GAMES – Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Detroit Lions (6-4), Washington Redskins (6-3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-1), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

And, for only the third time in the past 20 years, every team playing on Thanksgiving won its preceding game (1998 and 2011).

Be sure to say grace before you eat (you can even pray that the turkey your cousin Sarah made doesn’t kill you), wear the stretchy pants, mind your table manners and get ready to watch some football.

Here are the games for Thursday’s action in week 12.

Minnesota (6-4) at Detroit (6-4), 12:30 p.m. on CBS. They meet again. This time, first place in the NFC North is on the line. Minnesota and Detroit take the field in the Thursday afternoon Thanksgiving Day opener in a week nine rematch, with the setting this time being Ford Field in downtown Detroit.

Both teams took wins at home last Sunday. The Vikings got a 100-yard interception return from Xavier Rhodes and a 104-yard kickoff retrun from WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson to take a 30-24 win over Arizona in Minneapolis last Sunday. Minnesota, who forced two turnovers, picking off Carson Palmer twice, led 20-17 at the half at U.S. Bank Stadium before the Vikings opened the second half scoring with the long return. Although Sam Bradford threw for 169 yards and a TD, it was the Cardinals running game that almost stole the show as Arizona would outrush Minnesota 135-72 (with David Johnson accounting for 103).

Once again, the Lions found themselves trailing at home and this time against Jacksonville and managed to come away 26-19 winners at Ford Field. Although they were tied with the Jaguars 9-9 at the break, Detroit found themselves on the short end of a 19-16 tally after 45 minutes of play, before they would go on to score the last 10 points of the game in the fourth quarter and do it unchallenged. TE Eric Ebron gave Detroit the lead back on a 1-yard run with 10:03 left to play and K Matt Prater added a 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds left to ice the contest away. The contest as far as rushing yardage was concerned? Not a lot to write about, as neither team came anywhere near the 100-yard barrier (Jacksonville did manage to outrush Detroit 83-14). Matthew Stafford’s 278 yards in the air was good enough to outpace Blake Bortles, who threw for 202 yards with a pair of TDs (Jacksonville sacked Stafford three times, while the Lions picked off Bortles twice).

They met in week nine in the Twin Cities and the Lions needed overtime at US Bank Stadium to come away 22-16 winners. Detroit led 10-3 at the intermission in the Land of 10,000 Lakes before the Vikings took the lead on a 1-yard TD run by Rhett Ellison with 23 seconds left in regulation. Minnesota’s lead did not last very long as Prather would send the contest into overtime with a 58-yard field goal as the clock struck :00. Detroit then won the toss in overtime and went to work on the Vikings and proceeded to use an 11-play, 87-yard drive that ate 6:39 of clock to take the win when Stafford and WR Golden Tate connected on a 28-yard TD pass with 8:21 left in the extra period. Neither club in the first meeting breached the 100-yard barrier but Detroit did manage to outrush Minnesota 97-78, while Stafford threw for 219 yards with a pair of TDs, while Sam Bradford threw for 273 yards with a TD but was sacked twice.

The Lions have won their last three games on Turkey Day, taking a 45-14 win over Philadelphia last year and overall, the Lions are 36-38-2. Minnesota on Turkey Day? 5-1, with their last win coming in 2000 when they beat Dallas 27-15 in Irving. The Vikings have played Detroit three times on Thanksgiving Day, all in the Motor City and they come away winners in two of those contests (Minnesota’s last meeting with Detroit came in 1995 and the Lions were 44-38 winners, while the Vikings’ last win came in 1998, when they shut out the Lions 23-0).

In the week nine contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Vikings were favored by 5 and the over/under was 42 1/2. Detroit covered the spread, winning by 6 but both clubs combined for 38 points, missing the over/under. In the Thanksgiving Day rematch in the Motor City, the oddsmakers like the Lions (wonder if they like dark meat?) as 2 1/2 point favorites with a 43 over/under. First place on the line… a pair of NFC North rivals going at it… Detroit may not cover the 2 1/2 at home but they win in the Motor City.

Washington (6-3-1) at Dallas (9-1), 4:30 p.m. on FOX. Capulets vs. Montagues. Dogs vs. Cats. Hatfields vs. McCoys. The NFC East feud travels to the Lone Star State and the first-place Cowboys play host to the defending NFC East champs in Arlington in a week two rematch.

Both teams took wins at home last Sunday afternoon as they enter the late Thanksgiving afternoon contest at JerryWorld (aka AT&T Stadium). Washington took apart a struggling Green Bay team last Sunday night in Landover 42-24. Washington led the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers 13-10 and outscored the Packers 29-14 the rest of the contest. Redskins RB Robert Kelly ran for 137 yards and three TDs in the Sunday night affair at FedEx Field, while Washington held Green Bay to 84 rushing yards. Kirk Cousins threw for 375 yards, while Rodgers had 351 for Green Bay (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked twice).

Dallas manhandled Baltimore 27-17 in Arlington Sunday afternoon. The Cowboys erased a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and broke a 10-10 tie at the intermission to take the win in the Lone Star State. Dak Prescott and all-Pro WR Dez Bryant connected on a pair of TD passes in the second half to help them take their ninth win in a row. Dallas outrushed Baltimore 118-101, with rookie RB Ezekiel running for 97 of those yards, while Prescott threw for 301 yards with three TDs (two of them to Bryant, the other to WR Cole Beasley).

They met in week two in Landover and the Cowboys held off Washington 27-23 at FedEx Field. Dallas led 13-10 at the intermission, then trailed Washington 23-20 with 4 seconds left in the third quarter before Alfred Morris gave them the lead back for keeps with a 4-yard TD run with 4:45 left to play in regulation. Dallas outrushed Washington in the first meeting 102-82 and Prescott threw for 292 yards but was sacked four times, while Cousins threw for 364 yards with a TD, sack and interception (Each club turned the pigskin over once).

Despite losing Romo and being blown out of the gravy by Cam Newton and the Panthers last year (they have lost their last two contests), the Cowboys are 29-18-1 in games played in Dallas, Irving and Arlington on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas’ last win on Thanksgiving Day came in 2013, when they beat Oakland 31-24. Dallas and Washington have met on Thanksgiving Day seven times and the Cowboys have won five of those meetings (the Cowboys were 27-20 winners in 2002, while Washington’s last victory over their NFC East foes came in 2012 by a final of 30-27. Washington on Thanksgiving Day? 2-6)

In their first meeting at Landover, Washington was favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under was 45. Dallas covered the spread with their 27-23 win, winning by four and both clubs covered the over/under, combining for 50 points. Dallas is favored this time by 7 and the over/under’s 51. Hail to the Redskins? Not this week. Dallas’ been on a hot streak and it’ll stay that way. Washington’ll make this one close but Dallas comes away with the win in Arlington.

Pittsburgh (5-5) at Indianapolis (5-5), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. A pair of 5-5 teams close out the Thanksgiving footballfest in the Hoosier State as Pittsburgh travels to Lucas Oil Stadium for a Thursday night contest with the Colts, who will more than likely be without Andrew Luck.

Pittsburgh manhandled Cleveland 24-9 along the shores of Lake Erie. The Steelers led 14-0 at the break and after struggling on two-point tries against Dallas at home, connected on a try when Ben Roethlisberger and TE David Johnson connected on a two-point try after LeVeon Bell (146 yards rushing) gave them a 12-0 lead as time expired in the first half. Chris Boswell connected on three field goals in the contest, that was lopsided from the start. Pittsburgh held Cleveland to a somewhat dismal 33 yards on the ground and sacked Browns QB Josh McCown and Cody Kesler four times each.

The Colts evened their record with a 24-17 win over Tennessee last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy led 21-7 at the half before the Titans outscored the Colts 10-3 at the intermission. The AFC South rematch was not much of a rushing affair and neither club breached the 100-yard mark and that was the bad news (Tennessee outrushed the Colts 97-76). The Colts got more bad news when Luck (262 yards, two TDs, while Marucs Mariota threw for 290 yards with a pair TDs and five sacks) was knocked out of the contest with a concussion and will in all likelihood miss the Thursday night contest with the Steelers.

The Steelers lead the series 16-6 (which includes games played in Baltimore), have outscored the Colts 556-386 and won the last three meetings in the series, including a 45-10 win in the Steel City last year at Heinz Field (Indy’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the Steel City by a final of 24-20.

Leading 21-10 at the break, Pittsburgh shut out Indianapolis and the Luckless Colts 24-0 in the final 30 minutes of action, while Roethlisberger (364 yards) threw four TDs without an interception in the lopsided win in the Steel City. Pittsburgh outrushed the Colts 158-54 (De Angelo Williams led all rushers with 134 yards) and forced three turnovers at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh has never played at home on Thanksgiving and has not done well on Turkey Day, going 1-6, with their last win coming in 1950, when they beat the Chicago Cardinals 28-17 in Chicago. Their last contest was in Baltimore in 2013 and the Ravens were 22-20 winners. Indy’s last Turkey Day win came in 2007 (their overall record on Thanksgiving Day is 2-0-1), when a young man named Peyton Manning, went into Atlanta with his team and took the Falcons to task 31-13 in the Georgia Dome.

While the Steelers may the road team, the boys and girls in Vegas have them as 3 points favorites with a 53 1/2 over/under. Even without Luck in the lineup, Indy makes this one interesting but Pittsburgh comes away with the win.

Broadcast Information

Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter). Westwood One: Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker, Hub Arkush (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 83 (Minnesota), 82 (Detroit). XM: 83 (Minnesota), 82 (Detroit).

Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter). Westwood One: John Sadak, James Lofton, Scott Kaplan (Field reporter). SIRIUS:83 (Washington), 82 (Dallas). XM: 83 (Washington), 82 (Dallas).

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Tony Boselli. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Pittsburgh), 82 (Indianapolis). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Pittsburgh), 82 (Indianapolis).

Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. – Carl Cheffers
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. – Craig Wrolstad
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. – Walt Coleman

Injury Report

Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.

OUT: DT Sharrif Floyd (Knee), CB Marcus Sherels (Rib)
DOUBTFUL: CB Terence Newman (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Stefon Diggs (Knee), S Harrison Smith (Ankle), LB Eric-Nathan Kendricks (Hip), CB Captain Munnerlyn (Ankle)

Detroit – Detroit reported no injuries

Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m.

OUT: LS Nicholas Sundberg (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Christopher Baker (Hamstring), WR DeSean Jackson (Shoulder), T Attauyo Nsekhe (Ankle)

OUT: S Barry Church (Forearm), CB Morris Claiborne (Groin)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Dez Bryant (Back), T Charles Green (Foot), DE Demarcus Lawrence (Back), DT Terrell McClain (Thigh), T Tyron Smith (Back)

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

OUT: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Foot), S Shamarko Thomas (Groin), RB DeAngelo Williams (Knee), TE Xavier Grimble (Quadricep)
QUESTIONABLE: S Jordan Dangerfield (Groin)

Indianapolis – Indianapolis reported no injuries

Weather Forecast
Minnesota at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. (Game indoors)
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, mostly sunny and 68 degrees)
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, mostly cloudy and 41 degrees)

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football Leauge, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.