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NFL Thanksgiving Day Primer

Matthew Stafford Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions

The NFL tradition of Thanksgiving Day football continues in Week 12 with three games on the slate. The day will kickoff with the Lions hosting the Eagles in a game that might be messier than a box store stampede on Black Friday. The most glamourous game features to 10-0 Carolina Panthers vs the always polarizing Dallas Cowboys, and an NFC North rivalry will close things out when the Bears visit the Packers.

While the Lions and Cowboys are traditional mainstays on the Thanksgiving Day schedule, the Bears and Packers have each played in over 30 Thanksgiving Day games, while the Panthers have never played on the holiday. 

Here’s a look at the teams’ Thanksgiving Day records:

Thanksgiving Day Records
Philadelphia Eagles6-0
Detroit Lions35-38-2
Carolina Panthers0-0
Dallas Cowboys29-17-1
Chicago Bears16-15-1
Green Bay Packers14-19-2

Key Player stats

While Lions fans haven’t had much to cheer about recently, they’ll be happy to hear that their offensive duo of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have put up great numbers in their past three Thanksgiving games.

Unfortunately for Cowboys’ fans, their dynamic duo of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have been relatively mediocre in Thanksgiving Day games, while Aaron Rodgers has basically been himself when competing on the holiday.

Here’s a look at some relevant Thanksgiving Day stats for Thursday’s headline makers:

Thanksgiving Day Stats
Matthew Stafford61.7 completion %, 1161 passing yards, 7 TD & 2 INT in last three Thanksgiving games
Calvin JohnsonHas caught a TD pass in six consecutive Thanksgiving games
Tony Romo63.9 completion %, 1091 passing yards, 6 TD & 6 INT in last four Thanksgiving games
Dez BryantAverages 4.4 receptions, 62.8 yards and 0.6 TDs in his career on Thanksgiving
Jay Cutler64.6 completion %, 280 passing yards, 2 TD & 2 INT on Thanksgiving in 2014
Aaron Rodgers69.4 completion %, 655 passing yards, 5 TD & 0 INT in two career Thanksgiving games

Betting Outlook

If you’re looking for more of a historic edge based on spreads and totals, we’ve got you covered. As of Wednesday afternoon, the total for each game falls between 45 and 46. Since 2000, every Thanksgiving Day game has combined to have a total of 47.3 points. 17 of the 39 games (43.6%) have combined for 46 or more points. Detroit was involved in the game with the highest combined score (69 vs New England in 2010), while Dallas was involved in the game with the lowest combined score (31 vs Oakland in 2009).

Looking at spreads, road teams have had the advantage on Thanksgiving. Since 2006, road teams are 14-13 ATS, and over the past four years road teams have gone 8-4 ATS.

Those scared off by the -9 spread in the GB-CHI game probably shouldn’t be as many Thanksgiving Day games have resulted in lopsided blowouts. 26 of the 39 games since 2000 have seen a team win by double digits, with an average winning margin of 16 points.

For a more in-depth look at each game, check out our previews – Lions vs Eagles, Cowboys vs Panthers, Packers vs Bears, or visit Bovada to wager on the games.