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  • Jacob Koehler

The Greatest of Thanksgiving Traditions: NFL Football

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is synonymous with family gatherings, feasting, and, of course, football. As households across the nation prepare their Thanksgiving meals, the NFL takes center stage, captivating millions of viewers with thrilling matchups that have become as much a tradition as turkey and stuffing.

On a day dedicated to food, family, and football, we are sure to be engaged in the games. Thanksgiving games offer upsets, surprises and memorable moments. Players are cemented as Thanksgiving heroes, such as Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, and Emmitt Smith. Anticipation is high to see what special moments and performances come on Thanksgiving 2023.

The tradition of Thanksgiving football dates back to the league’s first season in 1920. Previously, college football had been popular on Thanksgiving. When the NFL started, they played games on Thanksgiving in an attempt to bring in viewership for the new league. As the sport’s popularity rose, the connection to the holiday grew as well. Nowadays, football is standard in the American household on the holiday, even for non-football fans. On Thanksgiving of 2022, a total of 138 million viewers tuned in to the 3 games spanning across the day. In comparison, last year’s Super Bowl brought in 113 million, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade 27.7 million.

This Thanksgiving our three-game slate consists of the Lions vs Packers (12:30 pm EST), Cowboys vs Commanders (4:30 pm EST), and Seahawks vs 49ers (8:20 pm EST). It’s no surprise that we will see the Lions and Cowboys play on Thanksgiving Day, as those two teams have played on every Thanksgiving since 1945 and 1966 respectively.

All three games feature divisional matchups, which should make for some competitive rivalry games. However, none of the games are set within a 7-point spread. Regardless, we are sure to be in for some entertaining games as division rivals in primetime games will put up a fight. The new-look Lions are in an unfamiliar position, favored by 8 and trying to extend their lead in the division going into their yearly Thanksgiving game. Meanwhile, the Cowboys will look to keep within reach of the Eagles for the NFC East, as 14-point favorites over the Commanders. Likely the biggest game of the day is the 49ers (-7) vs Seahawks matchup, as the two are just a game apart in their divisional race.

While Thanksgiving football has been a staple for over a century, perhaps a new tradition begins this year. Amazon Prime is hosting the very first Black Friday football game the day after Thanksgiving. The Jets and Dolphins will face off on Friday night, a rarity for the sport as Friday games have happened only 8 times since 1978. Amazon Prime owns the weekly Thursday night games in a multi-billion-dollar deal. However, their deal doesn’t include Thanksgiving games, so Amazon paid an extra $100 million to host the Black Friday showdown. The deal seems to make sense for everyone, as football fans are blessed with an extra day of football, and Amazon is able to advertise all their Black Friday deals.

Happy Thanksgiving Sportsville Fam!

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