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Thanksgiving Day serves up three tasty matchups

Thanksgiving football features three division winners from the past season and two contests with divisional implications.

Arguably the marquee matchup features the New Orleans Saints on the road to take on the Atlanta Falcons in the prime-time slot, marking a second straight year the two bitter NFC South foes will lock up on Thanksgiving night.

In last year's holiday meeting, the Saints hosted the Falcons and emerged with a 31-17 win en route to a 13-3 regular-season record and the NFC South crown. The Falcons eventually finished the season at 7-9 to miss the playoffs.

The remaining two games boast the traditional Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys home slates. The Lions host an NFC North rival in the Chicago Bears, who won the division in 2018, for a second straight year, while the Cowboys, winners of the NFC East last year, welcome the Buffalo Bills to AT&T Stadium.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET, FOX

This matchup has two second-year coaches on display with the Bears' Matt Nagy and the Lions' Matt Patricia. Both experienced different results last year, though. Under Nagy, the Bears enjoyed a 12-4 record and return to the top of the NFC North, which came at the expense of the Lions, who lost the two annual meetings against Chicago last year. Patricia's Lions went on to finish the season last in the division with a 6-10 record.

In the 2018 Thanksgiving matchup, the Bears and Lions treated audiences to a thrilling fourth quarter. With the game tied at 16-16 midway through the final period, Bears safety Eddie Jackson picked off Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and returned it 41 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The Bears lead the all-time series with a 99-74-5 record.

Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS

When it comes to traditional matchups, these two teams don't have a lot history outside of two consecutive Super Bowl showdowns in 1993 and 1994, both of which were won convincingly by the Cowboys.

During the regular season, the Bills and Cowboys have met 10 times with the Cowboys owning a 6-4 edge, including a 4-1 mark in home games. The last time the two met came on Dec. 27, 2015, and the Bills emerged victorious by a 16-6 score in Buffalo.

The Cowboys finished the 2018 season with a 10-6 record, while the Bills finished with a 6-10 mark.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Buckle in for a contest that should be regarded as one of the more underrated rivalries in the league. While the Falcons own a 51-48 all-time edge in the regular season in the series, there's something about the Falcons that simply brings out the best in Saints head coach Sean Payton, who holds a remarkable record against Atlanta. Since taking over in New Orleans in 2006 and not counting the 2012 season when Payton served a year-long suspension, the Saints are 17-7 against their rivals over that span, which includes three straight wins.

The Saints-Falcons games also tend to produce offensive fireworks between two of the league's top units and close affairs, as both teams know each other well. In the past eight matchups, six were decided by 10 points or less. If excitement and a busy scoreboard are what the league wanted to cap off Thanksgiving, the NFL certainly picked a good one to showcase to a prime-time audience.

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