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2018 Thanksgiving weekend football guide


Thanksgiving is all about food, family and friends, but don’t forget about football! Here are all the games you can catch not only on Turkey Day, but the rest of the long weekend, too.


Football on Thanksgiving Day

There are currently three National Football League (NFL) games every Thanksgiving Day, but that wasn’t always the case. The NFL stretches back decades, and before the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, there wasn’t much consistency from year to year. In fact, the first Turkey Day competition for the NFL — which occurred in 1920 —  saw six total games, two of which included teams that were not even in the NFL. Looking back on the teams who were actually there, you probably wouldn’t recognize very many, if any at all. And only one of those early teams still remains in the NFL today: the Decatur Staleys, who are now better known as the Chicago Bears.

GOOD EATS: Extra-crispy fried pickles with Cajun dipping sauce

The NFL continued to play games each Thanksgiving. The teams varied, but once the NFL-AFL merger was solidified in 1970, an annual routine was set. One game, hosted by the Detroit Lions, was played each year at 12:30 pm ET, and the second game, hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, was played each year at 4:30 pm ET. While the opponents were different each Thanksgiving Day, the game times and host teams did not change (except for 1975 and 1977, when the St. Louis Cardinals hosted the later games).

This format lasted through the 2005 season, and in 2006, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving Day slate. This late game does not have a regular host, nor does it feature regular teams. Instead, we’re treated to a different game every year. The Kansas City Chiefs‘ owner (and co-founder of the AFL), Lamar Hunt, had long desired a third Thanksgiving Day game, and when the league finally went for it, his Chiefs were chosen as the first host. Unfortunately, Hunt, who had been fighting cancer, was hospitalized the day before the game and was unable to attend. He passed away just a few months later. Still, a third Thanksgiving Day matchup remains every year, much to the delight of those who are too stuffed to do anything besides chill out in front of the TV.

GOOD EATS: Oven-baked Buffalo chicken tacos

Getting in the football spirit

If you’re ready to take in some football and your weekend games aren’t on because it’s Tuesday (or you just love watching vintage football games), you’re in luck: YouTube has scads of old football highlights and games, and there’s even an NFL Throwback channel with loads of great clips.

Also, don’t forget about streaming services. You can stream lots of free movies with an Amazon Prime membership (A Football Life — Brett Favre and Underdogs are a couple of examples). You might find some hidden gems on Netflix or Hulu (hint: typing “football” into the search box will likely return a ton of goodies).

GOOD EATS: Spicy game-day cheese dip

How to watch

This Thanksgiving Day, not everyone in the U.S. will be able to watch every single game. They’re often shown by region — for instance, those in New York will be more likely to see a Giants or Jets game than a Cardinals game. So not only should you pay attention to the networks listed below (and some are subscription- only, such as the NFL Network), but you should also check your local viewing schedule to see what games are available in your area.

Most TV service providers post online schedules to help you plan your football-watching festivities. You can usually find them under “Program Guide,” “Network Schedule” or similar heading on your TV provider’s website. Another source: local newspapers.

GOOD EATS: Chipotle-honey chicken crispers

Note: If you don’t have live TV service and can’t catch a local broadcast with your TV antenna, check out nearby establishments that show local college and pro games. Often, these businesses subscribe to special football packages that let them show all the games. Check around before this special football weekend amps up.


Thursday 11/22 (Thanksgiving Day)

(see below for time zone info)

Bears at Lions (12:30 pm, CBS)
Redskins at Cowboys (4:30 pm, FOX)
Falcons at Saints (8:20 pm, NBC)

College football
Colorado State at Air Force (3:30 pm, CBSSN)
Mississippi State at Ole Miss (7:30pm, ESPN)

GOOD EATS: Beef meatballs with zesty cranberry cocktail sauce

Friday 11/23

College football
Nebraska at Iowa (12:00 pm, FOX)
Texas at Kansas (12:00pm, FS1)
Arkansas at Missouri (2:30 pm, CBS)
Oregon at Oregon State (4:00 pm, FS1)
Oklahoma at West Virginia (8:00 pm, ESPN)
Washington at Washington State (8:30 pm, FOX)
Akron at Ohio (Time TBA, ESPNU/3/CBSSN)
Buffalo at Bowling Green (Time TBA, ESPNU/3/CBSSN)
Central Michigan at Toledo (Time TBA, ESPNU/3/CBSSN)
Coastal Carolina at South Alabama (Time TBA, TV TBA)
East Carolina at Cincinnati (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Eastern Michigan at Kent State (Time TBA, ESPNU/3/CBSSN)
Houston at Memphis (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Virginia at Virginia Tech (Time TBA, TV TBA)

Saturday 11/24

College football
Marshall at FIU (12:00 pm, Facebook)
Michigan at Ohio State (12:00 pm, FOX)
WKU at LA Tech (12:00 pm, CBSSN)
Old Dominion at Rice (1:00 pm ET ESPN+)
New Mexico State at Liberty (2:00 pm, ESPN3)
Wyoming at New Mexico (2:30 pm, ATTSN)
Louisiana at ULM (3:00 pm, TV TBA)
Southern Miss at UTEP (3:00 pm, ESPN+)
UAB at Middle Tennessee (3:00 pm, ESPN3)
Arkansas State at Texas State (4:00 pm, KNVA/ESPN3)
Charlotte at Florida Atlantic (6:00 pm, Stadium)
North Texas at UTSA (7:00 pm, ESPN+)
Nevada at UNLV (9:30 pm, CBSSN)
Arizona State at Arizona (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Auburn at Alabama (Time TBA, TV TBA)
BYU at Utah (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Colorado at California Time (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Florida at Florida State (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Georgia Southern at Georgia State (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Georgia Tech at Georgia (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Hawaii at San Diego State (Time TBA, ESPN network)
Illinois at Northwestern (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Kansas State at Iowa State (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Kentucky at Louisville (Time TBA, TV TBA)
LSU at Texas A&M (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Maryland at Penn State (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Minnesota at Wisconsin (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Navy at Tulane (Time TBA, TV TBA)
NC State at North Carolina (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Notre Dame at USC (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Oklahoma State at TCU (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Pitt at Miami (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Purdue at Indiana (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Rutgers at Michigan State (Time TBA, TV TBA)
San Jose State at Fresno State (Time TBA, ESPN network)
SMU at Tulsa (Time TBA, TV TBA)
South Carolina at Clemson (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Stanford at UCLA (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Syracuse at Boston College (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Temple at UConn (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Tennessee at Vanderbilt (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Texas Tech at Baylor (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Troy at Appalachian State (Time TBA, TV TBA)
Utah State at Boise State (Time TBA, ESPN network)
Wake Forest at Duke (Time TBA, TV TBA)

GOOD EATS: Divine guacamole dip

Sunday 11/25

Browns at Bengals (1:00 pm, CBS)
Seahawks at Panthers (1:00 pm, FOX)
Jaguars at Bills (1:00 pm, CBS)
Raiders at Ravens (1:00 pm, CBS)
Dolphins at Colts (1:00 pm, CBS)
49ers at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, FOX)
Giants at Eagles (1:00 pm, FOX)
Patriots at Jets (1:00 pm, CBS)
Cardinals at Chargers (4:05 pm, FOX)
Steelers at Broncos (4:25 pm, CBS)
Packers at Vikings (8:20 pm, NBC)

All broadcast times here are listed in Eastern Time, and by late November, all states that use Daylight Saving Time will have reverted to standard time. Here’s a quick way to figure out what time zone you live in and a few examples if you’re hoping to catch a game on TV.

  • If a game starts at 1:00 pm in New York, that would be 12 noon in Chicago, 11:00 am in Denver and 10 am in Los Angeles.
  • Games that start at 4:00 pm in Miami will be shown at 3:00 pm in Kansas City, 2:00 pm in Phoenix and 1:00 pm in Seattle.
  • Games that start at 8:00 pm in Charlotte will be shown at 7:00 pm in Dallas, 6:00 pm in Albuquerque and 5:00 pm in Portland.

Still unsure? Try a time zone converter.

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