thanksgiving football

Gonzaga students will have three football games to watch on Thanksgiving Day this year, continuing the tradition within the American holiday.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and that means families will be preparing for the long-lasting tradition of watching NFL football during the holiday celebration.

The Thanksgiving NFL football tradition is back with three games slated for the Nov. 26 holiday. Starting at 9:30 a.m. PST, the Houston Texans will travel to Ford Field to play the Detroit Lions. 

Followed by the afternoon game starting at 1:30 p.m. PST where the Dallas Cowboys will host the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. This leads up to the marquee matchup of the night starting at 5:20 p.m. PST where the Baltimore Ravens will try going into Heinz Field to get a win against the hosting Pittsburgh Steelers.

Not every fan has their favorite team playing on Thanksgiving, but there are things of interest for everyone in all the games. Many families, like that of Gonzaga junior Carter Culver, love to bond with their extended family on Thanksgiving over these football games.

“My dad and I have always watched the football games on Thanksgiving every single year and I’d say the last five or six years me and my uncles and my grandpa and my brothers watch all the games and have a blast,” Culver said.

While some may not have a personal vested interest in the teams, watching the games on Thanksgiving is a great way to spend time with family members and provides an activity an entire family can bond over.

“It’s one of the two to three times per year I get to see my extended family, so we just love sitting there watching football all day until the meal is ready,” Culver said. “It’s literally my favorite part of Thanksgiving and I feel like I get to connect with my uncles and grandpa more because I don’t get to see them a whole lot throughout the year.”

Even if your favorite team is not playing on Thanksgiving, there is still plenty to look out for in all three games.

The Houston Texans, led by Quarterback Deshaun Watson, come into week 11 of the season sporting a 2-7 record. Many view Watson as a rising star in the league on a team devoid of much talent.

“I think Deshaun Watson is one of the most electrifying players in the league, so I’m definitely looking forward to watching him play,” Culver said.

The Detroit Lions will host the Texans and come into week 11 with a 4-5 record. This game will continue the Lions’ tradition of hosting a game on Thanksgiving every year since 1934. 

The team is led by quarterback Matthew Stafford who will try to outduel Watson of the Texans in this matchup. The Lions are coming off their first home victory of the season in week 10 and will look to build off that momentum coming into the game.

Gonzaga junior Alex Samuel sees this game as one of interest, but for different reasons than Culver.

“I love Matt Stafford, he’s the comeback king,” Samuel said. “I’m interested to see what he can possibly get going, maybe win the game in the final drive like he always does.”

The afternoon game features a divisional rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys hosting the Washington Football Team. This will also continue the Cowboys’ tradition of hosting a game on Thanksgiving every year since 1966. Both teams came into week 11 with a 2-7 record, but that is good enough to only be 1.5 games behind first place in the division and an automatic playoff berth. This game could have huge implications for who is able to come out on top in the NFC East division.

“Divisional games are always super fun to watch, like you watched the 15-1 Carolina Panthers lose to the 6-10 Atlanta Falcons in their near perfect season in 2015, and that was one of the best games of the year,” Culver said. “Those divisional matchups are always a ton of fun, and that’s something I’m looking forward to more than the morning game because of how much more competitive it could be.”

This builds up to the Thursday night game and matchup of the night with the Baltimore Ravens taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers in another divisional rivalry game. The rivalry between these two teams is well-documented with many referring to it as one of the best in all of professional football. 

The Steelers lead the overall series between the two teams 29-24. The Ravens come into week 11 with a 6-3 record, 3.0 games behind the undefeated 9-0 Steelers for the division lead.

“I’m looking forward to what is probably going to be one of the best games of the season,” Culver said. “Their first matchup [earlier in the season] came down to the last play and I think it’s going to be a great game again.”

“Both teams are big playoff contenders, possible Super Bowl contenders, so it’s going to be a tight game,” Samuel said. “It’s going to be fun to see Lamar [Jackson] play up against Big Ben [Roethlisberger], and it’ll be interesting to see if the Steelers can adapt to the Ravens dominant run game.”

Regardless of the outcomes of the games, NFL Thanksgiving football provides the country with something to bond over among families.

“No matter who is playing, we’re all going to enjoy it. This is more of a family bonding thing, and I think an America bonding thing,” Culver said.

Ethan McReynolds is a contributor.

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