​The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys each take the field every year on ​Thanksgiving Day as part of an annual NFL tradition dating back decades. Each year, three games are held on Thanksgiving Day, so let’s delve into some history as to why the Lions and Cowboys are always locks for the Turkey Day slate. 

The Lions have a hold over the earlier game, while the Cowboys play in the afternoon fixture. In 2006, the league added a primetime matchup which features two additional teams.

The Dallas Cowboys are now a game back of NFC East leader Washington and the Redskins visit on Thanksgiving. Yes, Colt McCoy embarrassed them at home on a long ago Monday night, but this is a very different Cowboy team.

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) November 18, 2018

The tradition of Detroit playing on Thanksgiving dates back to 1934, five years after the team was founded. Then-owner George A. Richards was looking for a way to sell more tickets to their games, and decided to play on the holiday to make it happen. The result was massively successful, as the first such game was sold out, and despite the team’s loss to the Bears, the Thanksgiving football tradition had begun. Since then, the Lions have posted a 37-39-2 record in 78 games on the holiday.

@ChicagoBears have played 34 Thanksgiving Day games and have a 17-15-2 record. Thursday will be the 17th time they play the @Lions on the holiday.

— Karl Rasmussen (@Karlras920) November 20, 2018

As for the Cowboys, they played their first Thanksgiving game in 1966, and have been an annual staple on the holiday since 1978. Similarly to the Lions, the Cowboys were hoping to lure more fans to their games while the team developed under head coach Tom Landry, who first took over in 1960. GM Tex Schramm led the way in implementing the holiday game for the Cowboys, and it has stuck ever since. All time, Big D has a 30-19-1 record on the last Thursday in November.

This year, as is tradition, both Detroit and Dallas will be hosting Thanksgiving games. The Lions will welcome the the Bears, while the ​Cowboys will take on the Redskins.

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