This is for everyone that thinks bias against the Lions is all in our heads.
Everyone knows the Lions started pro football on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys joined the Lions in 1966, but did not play in 1975 nor 1977. So both franchises (together) have continuously hosted a turkey day game since 1978, this will be the 44th straight year.
Shortly after I joined the board (2003?), I saw an article about the Lions getting the short end of the stick on Thanksgiving, because the league sent them on a road game the week before Thanksgiving…making Monday a short prep day (if at all). You say, OK, well the road team has to travel too, so that’s leveling the playing field (although its actually reducing home field advantage). But the league did not routinely do that to the Cowboys, the article said, so the league was giving Dallas an extra day to prepare. The article and some similar ones, made the rounds back then… and after the article, the league finally started giving the Lions home games the week before Thanksgiving, but still gave Dallas those as well.
I decided to look at this in more depth. From 1978 through 2021, for the week before Thanksgiving, the Lions have played 10 home games and 34 away games. During that same time, the Cowboys have played 23 home games and 21 away games.
But it gets much more interesting than that. From 1978 through 2006 (about the time the above article came out), the Lions played ONE home game (1997) and TWENTY-EIGHT road games the week before Thanksgiving. During the same time, the Cowboys played 16 home games and 13 road games the week before Thanksgiving. If the schedule was totally random, there would be an 8/15 (.533) chance of a road game in any given week. If the process were totally random (and fair), the probability of 28 of 29 games being on the road is about 2 in 100 million (I’ll spare you the calculations).
Interestingly, when the league was caught red-handed, the Lions started getting a few “make-up” calls. In 2007-09 we had home games the week before, same for 2011-2013. However, the last three years we’ve been on the road, but overall, since the article came out, we’ve had six away games and nine home games the week before Thanksgiving.
I also noticed another more recent trend however. Another way to give a team an advantage for the turkey day game is to give them an even longer rest - give them say a Thursday night game the week before Thanksgiving. Since 2006, the Cowboys have had seven Thursday games the week before Thanksgiving, including five out of the last six years. Over that same period, the Lions have had one Thursday game the week before, allowing them an extra few days. Maybe the league thinks no one will notice.
In a court of law, any semi-competent lawyer gets a conviction against the NFL for…cheating. So, to those that say, the bias is really in your head, there’s no willfull intent by the league to bias things… what say you?