With the NFL Thanksgiving Day football games tradition running for as long it has been, one must wonder if there are any patterns with teams. The answer is yes. Which NFL team has the most wins on Thanksgiving Day? Well. out of all the teams that have played in Thanksgiving, there are two contenders way ahead of the pack.
Success – Most Wins
The Detroit Lions have played in the most Turkey Day games since the tradition began, which has naturally rendered them as the NFL team with the most Thanksgiving Day wins. The Detroit Lions Thanksgiving record currently sits at 37-38-2. Detroit has been hosting Thanksgiving Day football games for decades, their game being the first on the holiday docket. Their success has varied over the years, going through bouts of subsequent victories and losses, though they are currently riding a wave of victories with their last three Thanksgiving games ending in a win. Prior to that, the Lions had lost for nine straight years.
Second Place But Best Performance
Coming in just after the Lions are the Dallas Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving record is 30-18-1. Statistically speaking, the Cowboys perform better with a .622 average, but the Lions still hold the most wins. Dallas’ Thanksgiving hosting duties have been in effect since 1966. The Cowboys have seen some pretty mixed results in recent seasons, though 5 of their last 7 wins have been by double-digit leads. The current Dallas team looks poised to begin a string of victories in Thanksgiving Day games.
Third Place Strong
The Chicago Bears are the third most winningest team in Thanksgiving history. Their record of 17-15-2 puts them over .500. The Bears beat their rivals the Green Bay Packers in 2015, but lost to the Lions in 2014. It was interesting to see them have subsequent Thanksgiving appearances given their last one was back in 2004. They have featured in more games against the Lions or Cowboys than they have against a random opponent in the third time slot.
Fourth Place Takes A Break
Speaking of Green Bay, the Packers are the fourth winningest team on Turkey Day. Their Thanksgiving endeavors have landed them at .417 overall with a record of 14-20-2. Their last appearance was a loss in 2015 to the Bears. Before that, the Packers appeared in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Their pattern of incremental 2-year appearances seems to have ended this year, as the Packers are set to miss out on the Thanksgiving party.
After these teams, the number of wins drops off quite a bit. The New York Giants are the next winningest team at 7-4-3. This huge range between win counts is a testament to the Thanksgiving regulars—the Lions, Cowboys, Bears and Packers have combined for the most appearances by all the teams in the league. These teams are household names and huge draws for fans in terms of television rankings, prompting the league to make them semi-regular fixtures (as opposed to the Lions and Cowboys, who host games every single year).
Most Losses –
In sports, there are winners and there are losers. Interestingly enough, the Lions have the most losses out of any NFL team on Thanksgiving. This statistic seemingly comes with the territory of having the most appearances, but it also reflects the Lions inconsistencies when it comes to their Thanksgiving performances. The list of teams with the most losses is similar to the teams with the most wins: Lions, Packers, Cowboys and Bears, in that order. The only newcomer to the Thanksgiving list is the Arizona Cardinals, who have amassed a 6-15-2 record over their holiday features.
The rest of the teams who have played on Thanksgiving have records too similar to mention. One interesting fact about the day is that the Jacksonville Jaguars are the only team in the league to never make a Thanksgiving appearance. There are teams like the Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers that have gone through some significant droughts, but each of these franchises have at least played once.
Detroit and Dallas have left their mark on the NFL’s Thanksgiving traditions. Their win-loss ratios reflect their place in history and the two franchises will continue to build their records in years to come. For the sake of keeping records, perhaps Detroit will want to keep their win-loss rate balanced.
For some other interesting tidbits – our article on Thanksgiving Football Trivia provides some other fun facts about the Thanksgiving Football tradition.