Lions and cowboys have become as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkeys and pilgrims.
The two NFL franchises have been holiday mainstays for decades. Along with an appetizer from Detroit and a main course from Dallas, the league has an annual dessert game on its Thanksgiving menu.
While the holiday is cause for celebration, the Lions and Cowboys don’t always walk off the field happy. After all, the games count, so the visiting team comes to town to rain on the parade.
How good were the Lions and Cowboys on Thanksgiving? And does it matter to host the celebration?
Here’s a look back at how each NFL team fared on Turkey Day:
What is the Detroit Lions record on Thanksgiving Day?
The Lions have hosted Thanksgiving Day games for 89 years, but not without controversy.
Detroit held its first such game against the Chicago Bears in 1934 and has played on the holiday every year since 1945. The franchise has compiled a record of 37-44-2 in its 82 Thanksgiving games, the most in the history of the league.
Early on, the Lions routinely won most of their Thanksgiving contests. That hasn’t been the case this century, however, as the Lions are 6-17 on Thanksgiving Day dating back to 2000.
Calls for the team to be removed from the holiday roster intensified leading up to the 2008 game against the Tennessee Titans. Detroit was 0-11 on the season and had lost its last four games heading into Turkey Day. Things got worse once the game got underway as Tennessee went on a 47-10 run. However, the NFL kept the holiday spot in Detroit.
Questions about the Lions’ Thanksgiving status have subsided since that loss, but the team is in the midst of another holiday losing streak. Detroit’s last win on the holiday came in 2016 and they will look to turn things around against the Green Bay Packers this year.
What is the Dallas Cowboys record on Thanksgiving Day?
The Cowboys are 32-22-1 on Thanksgiving Day since starting their holiday tradition in 1966.
Their best Thanksgiving performance came in early 1980 when they set a franchise record by winning six straight Turkey Day games from 1980 to 1985.
However, the team has been slightly better than the Lions on Thanksgiving in recent years. Dallas had lost three straight before facing the division rival New York Giants in 2022. This year, it will face another NFC East foe in the Washington Commanders.
Has every NFL team played on Thanksgiving?
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only NFL team without a Thanksgiving Day game in their history.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers have the next fewest Thanksgiving games played with one each.
Every NFL team’s record on Thanksgiving Day
Here’s how all 31 NFL teams that have played in a Thanksgiving game fared on the holiday:
- Arizona Cardinals: 6-15-2
- Atlanta Falcons: 1-3
- Baltimore Ravens: 2-0
- Buffalo Bills: 6-4-1
- Carolina Panthers: 1-0
- Chicago Bears: 20-15-2
- Cincinnati Bengals: 0-1
- Cleveland Browns: 3-3
- Dallas Cowboys: 32-22-1
- Denver Broncos: 4-7
- Detroit Lions: 37-44-2
- Green Bay Packers: 14-20-2
- Houston Texans: 2-0
- Indianapolis Colts: 2-1-1
- Kansas City Chiefs: 5-5
- Las Vegas Raiders: 4-4
- Los Angeles Chargers: 3-1-1
- Los Angeles Rams: 4-1
- Miami Dolphins: 5-2
- Minnesota Vikings: 7-2
- New England Patriots: 3-3
- New Orleans Saints: 3-1
- New York Giants: 7-6-3
- New York Jets: 4-4
- Philadelphia Eagles: 6-1
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-6
- San Francisco 49ers: 3-2-1
- Seattle Seahawks: 2-2
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0-1
- Tennessee Titans: 5-2
- Washington Commanders: 4-8
What is the record for NFL home runs on Thanksgiving Day?
While it’s nice to be home for the holidays, that doesn’t mean much when it comes to Thanksgiving NFL games.
Home teams are 118-112-12 all-time on Thanksgiving. The Lions and Cowboys are a combined 69-66-3 on Turkey Day, with all 138 of those games coming at home.
All other NFL teams are 49-46-9 at home on the holiday. Home teams are 9-7 in the third primetime game, which was added to the annual Thanksgiving schedule in 2006.
This article was originally published in November 2022.