NFL Thanksgiving Games 2021

Last Updated: Nov 22nd 2021   Published: Nov 22nd 2021   4 Min Read
NFL Thanksgiving Games 2021
Image © Quinn Harris / USA TODAY Sports

Who’s ready for NFL Thanksgiving games 2021?

While the 2020 football season seemed somewhat anti-climatic, football is back, and we’re ready for some gameday eats and action!

Why do we watch football on Thanksgiving?

The history of watching football on Thanksgiving Day dates all the way back to the 1800s!

Unofficially, before then, it was popular for college and high school teams to throw the pigskin on Thanksgiving Day. But it didn’t become a real tradition in New England until that fateful game in 1876 when Yale defeated Princeton (on Princeton’s home turf of New Jersey, no less!).

On that day, when Yale beat Princeton, 2-0, it was only students and alumni that were in the stands. Within the next five years, Thanksgiving Day football became increasingly more popular, and fans flocked from all over New England to watch players at four Ivy League Schools in the Intercollegiate Football Association compete on this day. 

Lions Thanksgiving Day Tradition

You’ll note that the letters N-F-L were pretty absent from the above story. While Thanksgiving Day college football was popular from 1881 on, it wasn’t until 1934 that the NFL made its way into homes on Thanksgiving.

We can thank the Detroit Lions for making this holiday the football-crazed day it is today. 

When the Lions (previously the Ohio Spartans) were bought by George A. Richards and moved to the Motor City, Richards wanted a way to boost ticket sales that year. He convinced the Chicago Bears to play on Thanksgiving Day — and he also got NBC to broadcast the whole thing, bringing pro football into American’s homes on this day.

Obviously now, Thanksgiving Day football is an American tradition. And the Detroit Lions still play each year on this day.

Who’s playing on Thanksgiving? NFL Thanksgiving Games 2021

Each year, the Detroit Lions still play on Thanksgiving Day. But who they play (and the other teams that play) changes every year. 

Want to know who’s playing on Thanksgiving? Other than the Detroit Lions (who are a given), we’ve got your 2021 NFL Thanksgiving game coverage right here. 

NFL Teams Playing on Thanksgiving

This year, in addition to the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders, and Dallas Cowboys will all be playing NFL Thanksgiving games 2021. 

To make the day even more special, the Chicago Bears will be playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field (just as they did on that first Thanksgiving Day game). 

Chicago Bears

Currently, the Chicago Bears are ranked third in the NFC North. 

The Bears are currently ranking 3-7. 

Just because they’ve lost more than twice than they’ve won this year doesn’t mean they’re out of the game entirely for the season. Hey! they still have 10 more games to go, right?

To add insult to injury, the Bears just lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, 13-16. Speaking of injuries, Bears quarterback Justin Fields injured his ribs during the Ravens game. While nothing is broken (only bruised), Fields’ status for the Thanksgiving game is still up in the air. 

Chicago Bears Vs Detroit Lions Picks.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions aren’t faring much better than the Bears, as the team is currently ranked fourth in the NFC North — which means they’re just behind their Thanksgiving Day opponents, the Bears. 

The Lions are currently ranked 0-9-1.

While the Lions also lost their last game on Sunday, they did fare better during their last game than previous games in the season. The Lion’s quarterback Jared Goff is also suffering an injury and wasn’t able to play on Sunday. He’s also unlikely to be able to play this Thursday, too. 

Despite the Lions’ improvement on Sunday, the Bears are still expected to win the Turkey Day game in 2021. 

Chicago Bears Vs Detroit Lions Picks.

Las Vegas Raiders

Further south, the Las Vegas Raiders will be heading to Dallas to play the Cowboys. The Raiders are currently ranking fourth in the AFC West (they fell from first place in their league from the end of October to now). 

The LV Raiders are ranking 5-5. 

The Raiders also lost their last game on Sunday (to the Cincinnati Bengals). They’re going to need to do better than they did in their last game if they’re going to win against Dallas in the Cowboys’ home stadium. 

Las Vegas Raiders Vs Dallas Cowboy Picks.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are faring much better than most of the teams on this list. They’re currently first in the NFC East.

The Cowboys are ranking 7-3. 

It seems as though all the teams playing on Turkey Day lost their last games on Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys also lost their last game on Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs, 9-19. 

The Cowboys may not need to worry too much about their game on Thursday, as they’re the favorite to win. 

Las Vegas Raiders Vs Dallas Cowboy Picks.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are currently ranked second in the NFC East, behind only the New England Patriots (but when aren’t the Patriots first in the NFC East?). 

The Bills are ranked 6-4. 

The Bills also lost their last game on Sunday (to the Indianapolis Colts). What was shocking was just how much they lost by — 15-41. 

They’ll be playing the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome on Thursday. The Bills are expected to win the game, but it’s not expected to be a blowout. 

New Orleans Saints 

The New Orleans Saints are currently ranked second in the NFC South. 

They’re ranked 5-5. 

The Saints also lost their last game (to the Philly Eagles) on Sunday. 

How to Watch the Thanksgiving NFL Games

Bears at Lions on FOX (12:30 p.m. ET / 9:30 a.m. PT).

Raiders at Cowboys on CBS (4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT).

Bills at Saints on NBC (8:20 p.m. ET / 5:20 p.m. PT).

NFL Thanksgiving Gameday Odds


Bears at Lions



Raiders at Cowboys



Bills at Saints