Along with Thanksgiving comes the triple F. Contrary to many, this does not stand for “forced family fun,” but rather it stands for “family, food and football.” The tradition of Thanksgiving football games dates back to college football in the 1800s, and has held strong throughout the past 150 years. This year’s Thanksgiving Day football showdown included a tribute as it was the first National Football League (NFL) Thanksgiving Day without football legend John Madden. Madden passed away in December of 2021, at the age of 85. Throughout his revered 12-year coaching career, and nearly three decades of commentating in the booth, Madden embraced Thanksgiving football unlike any other. His love of the game and food was ever-present. Madden and turducken became synonymous, a tradition he started in the late ’90s: a deboned turkey, stuffed with a deboned duck which was then stuffed with a chicken. Madden introduced this delicacy by awarding the player of the game, as well as the five defensive linemen of the winning team, with the six scrumptious legs. This tradition has continued and six lucky players still are honored to partake after each Thanksgiving NFL game. Maintaining tradition, both the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys play each Thanksgiving. This year’s three games included one matchup where both teams held the same record. The other two games featured two front-running teams in the NFL.
Starting off the day for NFL football were the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills. Coming off of a win against the Cleveland Browns only four days prior, the Bills were looking to improve their 7-3 record. The game was evenly scored throughout, each team producing impressive plays, including Bill’s quarterback Josh Allen running for a touchdown in the second quarter. Lions quarterback Jared Goff was tackled in his endzone, earning Buffalo two points with the safety. As the close-scoring game was nearing its end, things got interesting as Lions kicker Michael Badgley missed a 29-yard field goal attempt, and Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass missed an extra point following Buffalo’s touchdown in the fourth quarter with 2:40 remaining on the clock. A strong drive by the Lions late in the fourth quarter resulted in a field goal, leaving the game tied 25-25 with 23 seconds remaining for Buffalo to potentially capitalize. The game ended with the Bills scoring a field goal and winning 28-25. The Bills came away from the game improving their record to (8-3). This talented team is heading into this week with a game against the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football, though the Bills are currently facing an illness outbreak within the team. The Lions are moving on to play the (4-7) Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday.
To follow, the Dallas Cowboys played the New York Giants. Both teams came into this game with records of 7-3, the Cowboys coming in with hopes of breaking their three-game losing streak for their Thanksgiving record. The Giants were down three offensive line starters who were out with injuries. They did not help their case when their first touchdown was called back due to an ineligible receiver being on the field. The Cowboys, who lead the NFL in sacks, were able to maintain relative dominance throughout the game, despite quarterback Dak Prescott throwing two interceptions. Following a missed field goal attempt by the Cowboys, the Giants got the ball with 1:13 remaining in the game. They were able to get a touchdown off of a strong drive, but that is where the scoring ended for the game as they had a failed attempt to finish the game with a score of the Cowboys winning 28-20. The now 8-3 Cowboys will play the 4-7 Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. The Giants will be playing the 7-5 Washington Commanders this Sunday.
Finishing off the evening were the New England Patriots and the Minnesota Vikings in a much-anticipated meeting. The fast-paced game started with back-to-back successful drives for either team. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had an excellent game, making several great catches and acquiring 139 receiving yards for the Vikings. Patriots tight end Hunter Henry had an impressive game as well, with nearly two touchdowns. Making an impressive catch, crossing the plane of the endzone with his hand fully protecting the ball from hitting the ground, this touchdown was called back, leaving players and fans wondering what the referees saw that led to this poorly officiated call. The score remained relatively evenly scored throughout, though the Patriots lost steam during the fourth quarter. With several controversial calls, going for it on fourth down and several careless fouls, the Patriots gave up 10 points to the Vikings in the fourth quarter, ending the game with the Vikings winning 33-26. The 9-2 Vikings will play the 7-4 Jets this weekend with red-hot second-string quarterback Mike White starting over first-string Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. The Jets being week-to-week with quarterbacks will make this matchup entertaining. As for the Patriots, they will be playing the Bills. This will be the second time the Bills and Patriots meet this season.
As the NFL heads into week 13, the Eagles, Chiefs and Vikings remain the frontrunners. Wishing everyone and their preferred (or fantasy) teams luck with the upcoming games.