Have the Green Bay Packers Ever Played on Christmas Day Before?

The Green Bay Packers are here to ensure Cleveland Browns fans’ festive Christmas Day spirit doesn’t survive the entire holiday.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, fresh off winning the NFC North for the third straight year, will host Baker Mayfield and the Browns on Christmas Day in Week 16. Although the Browns have existed across multiple forms since 1946, Saturday will mark their first time playing on Dec. 25.

As for the Packers, the four-time Super Bowl champions aren’t unfamiliar with playing after opening their gifts.

The Green Bay Packers are no strangers to playing on Christmas Day

James Jones celebrates a touchdown with Green Bay Packers fans on Dec. 25, 2011, the last time the team played on Christmas Day.
James Jones celebrates a touchdown with Green Bay Packers fans on Dec. 25, 2011 | David Banks/Getty Images

Although the Packers have existed since 1919, they didn’t play on Christmas Day until 2005. The NFL did everything in its power to avoid holding games on Dec. 25, even if it meant pushing the NFL Championship Game to Monday, Dec. 26, in years when the pre-Super Bowl event would have occurred on a Sunday.

Eventually, the NFL compromised and began holding one or two games on Christmas when the schedule permitted. Flash forward to 2005, when Brett Favre threw four interceptions in a 24-17 loss to the rival Chicago Bears at home. Nearly 70,000 fans filled Lambeau Field for a rare 5:11 p.m. kickoff in 34-degree weather.

Six years later, the two teams met at Lambeau Field once again. Wth Rodgers leading the way this time, the Packers didn’t have any trouble against their rivals. Rodgers, who won his first NFL MVP Award that season, fired five touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over the Bears on Sunday Night Football.

Fourth-year receiver Jordy Nelson hauled in six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns that night. James Jones, a reliable rotational receiver, added another two scores.

That primetime showdown marked the last time either team played on Christmas … at least until the Packers take the field Saturday afternoon.

Which NFL teams have played the most on Christmas Day?

Although only 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams played on Christmas from 1989-2020, that number should increase to 22 this year. Barring any COVID-19 postponements, the Browns and the Indianapolis Colts — who face the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night — will play on Dec. 25 for the first time.

Football fans might not be surprised to learn the Dallas Cowboys lead all NFL teams with five Christmas Day games. At least, they lead all teams if the 1971 NFL Playoffs are included. Fittingly, Dallas became the first team to win an NFL game on Dec. 25 when the Cowboys took down the Minnesota Vikings, 20-12, during the Divisional Playoffs.

If the 1971 playoffs are excluded, the Cowboys and the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans have each played on Christmas four times; Dallas is 1-3, with its only victory coming against the Cardinals in 1995, and Tennessee is 2-2.

Arizona and Green Bay will join the Denver Broncos (2-1) and Vikings (1-2) as the only teams that have played three regular-season Christmas Day games.

The Packers still have a considerable amount to play for on Saturday, even after winning the NFC North


Even While Winning NFC North, Aaron Rodgers, Matt LaFleur, and the Green Bay Packers Leave Room to Doubt a Super Bowl Run

Packers fans received an early Christmas gift on Sunday, Dec. 19, when Green Bay officially clinched the NFC North with a thrilling 31-30 victory over Tyler Huntley and the Baltimore Ravens. In theory, the Packers can rest their starters for the rest of the season knowing they’re assured of home-field advantage in the NFC Wild-Card Round.

However, the Packers have no reason to take that approach. Green Bay entered Week 15 owning the NFC’s No. 1 seed in a time when only one team earns a Wild-Card Round bye. The days of a No. 2 seed watching at home during the first round officially ended last season.

Although Green Bay cannot clinch the No. 1 seed in Week 16, a win against the inconsistent Browns would go a long way towards securing home-field advantage. Unless, of course, Mayfield channels his inner Grinch on the road.

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