The NFL Thanksgiving game schedule in 2017 is arguably the highlight of the entire slate of Week 12 contests (with the exception of a big NFC tilt Sunday). Lions vs. Vikings (12:30 p.m. ET on FOX), Cowboys vs. Chargers (4:30 p.m. ET on CBS) and Redskins vs. Giants (8:30 p.m. ET on NBC) all come with postseason implications as the 2017 NFL playoff picture becomes more clear.
The 2017 installment of Thanksgiving Day football features a tripleheader for the 12th consecutive season. The tradition of Thanksgiving Day and NFL football in general, however, is more historic. On Thanksgiving in 1925, a crowd of 36,000 (then the largest in professional football history) watched the Chicago Bears play the Chicago Cardinals to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field. In 1934, the Detroit Lions and the defending world champion Bears played on Thanksgiving in the first NFL game nationally broadcast (NBC).
This year, the Lions will play their 78th Thanksgiving Day game dating back to 1934, while the Cowboys will play in their 50th since 1966. The Giants and Redskins will play in their 15th and 10th games, respectively, on the holiday. The Vikings will play in their eighth and the Chargers will play in their fifth Thanksgiving game.
Here is all you need to know about the three NFL Thanksgiving games in 2017.
NFL Thanksgiving games 2017
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Kickoff time: 12:30 p.m. ET
TV network: FOX
Radio: Sirius/XM channel 88 (Westwood One), 82 (Vikings call), 83 (Lions call)
Thursday’s matchup marks the second consecutive Thanksgiving meeting between the Vikings and Lions, and the fifth overall meeting on the holiday. The Vikings lead the NFC North with an 8-2 record and have won six consecutive games. Detroit, who has won three in a row and is 6-4 on the season, trails Minnesota by two games in the division.
The Lions have won their past four Thanksgiving Day games by a combined score of 135-54. With a win Thursday, Detroit would tie the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers (five consecutive wins, 1979-present) and Chicago Bears (five, 1930-34) for the fourth-longest winning streak on Thanksgiving Day. Minnesota has won five of its seven games on Thanksgiving Day and ties for the second-highest winning percentage (.714) on the holiday (minimum five games).
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys
Kickoff time: 4:30 p.m. ET
TV network: CBS
Radio: Sirius/XM channel 88 (Westwood One), 82 (Chargers call), 83 (Cowboys call)
Thursday marks the first Thanksgiving Day meeting between the Chargers and Cowboys. The Chargers are making their fifth appearance on Thanksgiving Day and their first since 1969. The Chargers’ 48-year gap between Thanksgiving Day appearances is the longest in NFL history.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who will play in his 15th Thanksgiving Day game this week, has 73 catches on the holiday, the most of all time. His 809 receiving yards trail only Herman Moore (834) for the most on Thanksgiving.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
Kickoff time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV network: NBC
Radio: Sirius/XM channel 88 (Westwood One), 82 (Giants call), 83 (Redskins call)
The Giants will play on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2009 and the 15th time overall. The Giants made their first appearance on Thanksgiving Day in 1926, when they defeated the Brooklyn Lions 17-0 at Ebbets Field, and were one of the earliest teams featured on Thanksgiving, playing 11 games on the holiday prior to 1939.
Washington plays on Thanksgiving for the second consecutive season and will host a game on the holiday for the first time in franchise history.
NFL Thanksgiving games 2017: Predictions, picks against spread
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Detroit Lions
Vinnie Iyer’s pick against the spread: Detroit won at Minnesota in Week 4. The Lions’ defense matches up well to contain the Vikings’ passing game. At home on the holiday, Matthew Stafford will protect the ball better and play sharper than cooling-off counterpart Case Keenum. The Lions won’t waste the opportunity to suddenly tighten things up in the NFC North. PICK: Lions win 23-17 in an upset.
David Steele’s pick straight up: A good (and rare) Thanksgiving rematch, with the Lions having won last year on a last-second field goal. The Lions have won four straight on their traditional Thanksgiving date, a little treat for those who are perpetually looking for a reason to fire Jim Caldwell. It’s a tall order to pull off this year with the way the Vikings are playing right now on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford’s Lions still have a habit of putting themselves in position to have to come back late; they can’t get away with that against this team. PICK: Lions, 20-19
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys (pick ’em)
Vinnie Iyer’s pick against the spread: The Cowboys’ offense is in a funk, as they strangely have become a one-dimensional rushing offense without Ezekiel Elliott. Those passing game woes play right into the Chargers’ hands. Dak Prescott won’t suddenly bust out of his slump with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rushing him, plus Casey Hayward shutting down one half of the field. On the other side, Sean Lee’s absence will allow Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler to feast in the second half. PICK: Chargers win 23-20.
David Steele’s pick straight up: The Chargers’ pass rush (yup, that’s Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram with 20 sacks between them) vs. whoever might replace Tyron Smith on a short week — that’s an awful combination for the Cowboys. Honestly, there really isn’t that much more to say about this game. Without Smith, as much as without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys are the Chargers, except the Chargers are a better version of the Chargers. PICK: Chargers, 27-17
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-7 1/2)
Vinnie Iyer’s pick against the spread: New York got an inspired, gritty victory against Kansas City, and the Giants will come hard at its NFC East rival with a short-week short trip. The Redskins have had a rough schedule, being swept by the Eagles and losing to both the Vikings and Saints in consecutive weeks. They finally get a break here for Kirk Cousins’ play to pay off as he out-duels Eli Manning with a better array of mixed-bag targets. PICK: Redskins win 27-23 but fail to cover the spread.
David Steele’s pick straight up: Since this is the most unpredictable NFL season in a while, bet on this ending up as the most entertaining game of the holiday. Yes, the odds are long. The Giants managed to not wow anybody even while beating the Chiefs last week. Washington’s collapse in the final minutes in New Orleans made their fans (again) question their will to live. Signs are growing that a national audience will be witnessing a lot of empty seats at FedEx Field. Of the two teams that can’t be trusted, the Giants can’t be trusted more. PICK: Redskins, 30-21
(Thanksgiving Day game info via NFL communications)