NFL Thanksgiving games preview, TV times

November 27, 2013

Joe Flacco (5) and the Baltimore Ravens will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving for the first time on Thursday. (Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

NFL games have become just as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey, parades and family reunions, with the tradition dating back to 1920. Here’s what you need to know for the three games scheduled for Thursday:

Teams: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
Kick-off: 12:30 p.m.
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Half-time show: Tony Lucca
Last Thanksgiving meeting: Nov. 24, 2011 – Green Bay defeated Detroit, 27-15
Overall head-to-head record: Green Bay leads, 93-65
Latest line: Detroit by 6

This year marks the 74th Thanksgiving Day game for the Detroit Lions, as they take on a Green Bay Packers team that will not feature injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

It will be the 21st meeting between the Lions and Packers on Thanksgiving and sixth since 2001. In the teams’ most recent Thanksgiving matchup in 2011, Rodgers threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in Green Bay’s 27-15 victory.

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Wednesday that Matt Flynn will start Thursday with Scott Tolzien as backup. In Flynn’s last game against Detroit, the quarterback set franchise single-game records for yards (480) and touchdowns (6) on New Year’s Day in 2012. Rodgers has missed three full games and the majority of the team’s loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 9 with a left shoulder injury.

The Packers (5-5-1) won five out of their first seven games, but lost three consecutive before tying with the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday.

The Lions (6-5) have had an up-and-down season, sweeping the Bears in their two regular-season matchups and beating the Dallas Cowboys by one point, but enter Thursday’s game with consecutive losses to teams with losing records, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Detroit’s brightest star, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, leads the league in receiving yards (1,198) and is tied for first in receiving touchdowns (11).

Teams: Oakland Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys
Kick-off: 4:30 p.m.
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Half-time show: Selena Gomez
Last Thanksgiving meeting: Nov. 26, 2009 – Dallas defeated Oakland, 24-7
Overall head-to-head record: Oakland leads, 6-4
Latest line: 
Dallas by 9.5

Beginning in 1966, the Dallas Cowboys have missed playing on Thanksgiving only twice (in 1975 and 1977). They will be matched up with the Oakland Raiders for the first time this year.

The two teams have not played each other in the regular season since 2009. Dallas won that meeting, 24-7, behind quarterback Tony Romo’s 309 yards and two touchdowns.

Since then, the Raiders (4-7) have struggled to find consistency, shuffling through three head coaches and nine starting quarterbacks.

Matt McGloin, an undrafted rookie free agent, will start his third straight game Thursday after replacing rookie quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the Radiers blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles early November. Pryor played well early in the season, but Head Coach Dennis Allen has elected to stay with McGloin, who posted decent numbers in the Raiders’ one win and one losses with him behind center.

Dallas (6-5) has risen to the top of the weak NFC East, with victories over all three division rivals. Romo has thrown for 23 touchdowns (fourth in the NFL) and only seven interceptions.

Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Kick-off: 8:30 p.m.
Location: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
Half-time show: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Last Thanksgiving meeting: 
N/A
Overall head-to-head record: Pittsburgh leads, 23-15
Latest line: 
Baltimore by 3

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the league’s fierecest rivalries in recent years, have yet to play on the Thanksgiving stage.

Pittsburgh hasn’t played on the holiday since 1998 and Baltimore won its first Thanksgiving game two years ago, a 16-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

The defending-Super Bowl champion Ravens (5-6) have struggled to recapture last year’s form. After losing to the Steelers (5-6) on Oct. 20, linebacker Terrell Suggs declared that the Ravens were in “a state of emergency,” and the team has somewhat responded - winning the past two out of three games.

The usually dominant Steelers failed to reach the playoffs last year and limped out of the starting gates this season with four straight losses. But after winning their last three, the Steelers find themselves in the hunt for the postseason.

“Nobody on the outside is going to give us a chance,” Pittsburgh corner back Ike Taylor said (via USA TODAY Sports.) “But the guys in this locker room, we share what we’ve been through. We just have to go out there and perform.”

QUIZ: Test your Thanksgiving pigskin knowledge with this special holiday quiz from the Express’ Jeffrey Tomik.

TV/Radio schedule:

12:30 p.m. Green Bay at Detroit | WTTG (Channel 5), WBFF (Channel 45), WTEM (980 AM)
4:30 p.m. Oakland at Dallas | WUSA (Channel 9), WJZ (Channel 13), WTEM (980 AM)
8:30 p.m. Pittsburgh at Baltimore | WRC (Channel 4), WBAL (Channel 11)
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Matt Bonesteel · November 27, 2013