NFL Thanksgiving game trends

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November 27th, 2019

Thanksgiving football has been around for as long as the NFL has existed. On Thursday the beloved tradition continues, as the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons play host in three enticing matchups, beginning with the Lions and division rival Chicago at 12:30 p.m. ET.

To get you ready for the full-day feast, here are a few key NFL Thanksgiving trends to help you win some moneyor at least impress your family and friends at the dinner table.
Away teamHome teamGame TimeSpreadO/U
12:30 p.m.
Bears -3
4:30 p.m.
Cowboys -6.5
New Orleans
8:20 p.m.
Saints -7

The Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving


On November 29, 1934, Detroit held its first Thanksgiving game but fell 19-16 to the Bears. The Lions have a 37-40-2 record in Thanksgiving games and currently own a two-game losing streak.

3-2 in the last 5

The Lions are 3-2 in their last five Thanksgiving games and 3-4 against the NFC North dating back to 2009.

5-4 against Chicago

The Bears and Lions have met nine times on Thanksgiving, including last year's November 22 matchup, when Chicago defeated the host team, 23-16. The Lions have a 5-4 record against Chicago in those nine holiday games.


Detroit has seen the Over hit in nine of its last 13 games on Thanksgiving.

Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving


The Cowboys have participated in 51 Thanksgiving games and hold a 31-19-1 overall record. In Dallas' inaugural holiday clash in 1966, it bested the Cleveland Browns, 26-14.

2-3 in the last 5

America's team won last year's Thanksgiving game but is 2-3 in its last five holiday games.

3-3 vs. non-division opponents

The Cowboys will face AFC East opponent Buffalo on Thursday, a year after they hosted NFC East foe Washington last year. The Cowboys are 3-3 in their previous six games against non-division opponents on Thanksgiving and got annihilated the last time they encountered a member of the AFC on the holiday. In 2017 the Chargers pounded Dallas, 28-6.

In the last two against the AFC East, though, Dallas defeated Miami, 20-19, in 2011, and the New York Jets, 34-3, in 2007.

Buffalo hasn't appeared in a Thanksgiving game since 1994 and is 0-2 overall, with two double-digit losses to Detroit.

Prime-time Thanksgiving

In 2006 the NFL added a third Thanksgiving matchup in the prime-time slot. The NFL rotates the host of that evening showdown, and in 2019 the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons get a rematch of last year's holiday battle.


The number of prime-time games played on Thanksgiving since 2006.


The favorite has gone 11-2 straight up and 10-3 against the spread in the previous 13 matchups.


The Under is 9-4 in the last 13 prime-time Thanksgiving games.


5-3, AFC

It’s been a rare occasion in recent memory to witness a team from the AFC square off with the NFC on Thanksgiving, but in the previous eight inter-conference clashes, the AFC has won five.


It's even more uncommon to see a Thanksgiving contest head to overtime. Since 1980 it has happened five times, but never in prime time.

The last Thanksgiving matchup decided in extra time occurred in 2012, when the Houston Texans handed the Lions a 34-31 defeat at home.

Which Thanksgiving side do you like? Make your wager at BetAmerica!