Every year in April when the NFL schedule comes out there are a few games I check out first thing, and a few of those matchups are the Thanksgiving Day games. Thanksgiving football is a tradition unlike any other. Every year while sitting around with the family the Detroit Lions play followed by the Dallas Cowboys. Recently, the NFL has added a third game to the mix for that evening. Many people associate Thanksgiving with football.
The NFL got two of the three games right this year. The early game features the Lions against their division rival Green Bay Packers, and the late game has another division rivalry as the Baltimore Ravens will face the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the middle game is where they messed up.
Due to the way the games are done on television, there are only two possible matchups for Dallas on Thursday. In order to understand this you have to understand how the television rights work in the NFL. With the exception of Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday Night games, television is based off of the visiting teams. If the visiting team is from the NFC, the games will be aired on FOX and CBS will handle the games in which the visiting teams are from the AFC. Thanksgiving alternates every year so that CBS and FOX will each have the Cowboys/Lions every year.
This year is CBS’ turn to play the Cowboys game, and since it has to be an AFC opponent there are only two teams that could have played on Thanksgiving against Dallas — the Denver Broncos or the Oakland Raiders. Before the schedule came out I was excited because I just knew the NFL would put Peyton Manning and the Broncos in this slot. One of the best quarterbacks going up against a storied franchise and a long-standing tradition seemed like a no-brainer to me.
Obviously I was wrong. The NFL chose the Raiders to play on Thanksgiving Day instead. In the process, they deprived everyone from seeing one of the best offensive games of the season. Earlier in the year, Manning and Tony Romo put on an offensive clinic as Denver won 51-48. The two teams combined for 1,039 yards of offense, and Romo passed for over 500 yards in the loss. All-in-all, it was a great game. It was a game, though, that should have been played on Thanksgiving Day instead of making the world watch the Raiders. I love the NFL and they do a lot of things right, but I must admit this isn’t one of them. They missed the beat here when they scheduled the Raiders over the Broncos to play on Thursday.