While the NFL usually tries to avoid playing football games on December 25, there have been 22 Christmas Day matchups over the course of the league’s 101-year history. Of the current teams in the league, 12 of them have never played on Christmas, a number that dropped when the New Orleans Saints made their Christmas debut in 2020. Their opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, made their fourth appearance on the holiday and own a 1-3 record.
So which NFL team has the most wins on December 25?
The first NFL games on Christmas Day didn’t take place until 1971 and the first regular-season Xmas game wasn’t until 1989
In the early years of the NFL, the schedule usually ended in November so playing games on Christmas Day wasn’t even an option. As the schedule began to expand over the years, the league still did its best to avoid playing games on December 25, a practice that’s still in play today save a game or two here and there.
If Christmas Day happens to fall on a Sunday, the league will usually shift the majority of the games to Christmas Eve Saturday, which we most recently saw in 2016 and will see again in 2022.
As for when the first NFL game took place on Christmas Day, that didn’t occur until 1971 and both of those matchups were playoff games. The Dallas Cowboys, who would go on to win the Super Bowl, defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the early game and the Miami Dolphins took down the Kansas City Chiefs in a double-overtime thriller in the later game.
The first regular-season NFL game on Christmas Day didn’t take place until 1989 when the Vikings beat the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Dallas Cowboys have played the most games on December 25
Of the 19 NFL franchises that have taken the field on Christmas Day, the Dallas Cowboys have played the most games with five.
As just mentioned, the Cowboys defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the first-ever NFL game on December 25 by a score of 20-12. In 1995, the Cowboys and Cardinals played the final game of the regular season on Monday Night Football with Dallas picking up a 37-13 win. Once again, the Cowboys would go on to win the Super Bowl that season.
The Cowboys have lost all three of their Christmas Day matchups since then. They were blown out by the Tennessee Titans in 2000, 31-0, lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006, 23-7, and most recently were defeated by the Cardinals in 2010, 27-26.
Seven NFL teams are tied for the most wins on Christmas with two
Seven NFL franchises can claim to have the most wins on Christmas Day as they’ve all won two games on December 25, although the Eagles and Steelers are the only two on that list with undefeated records. The Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins, Cowboys, and Titans round out the list, although one of the Titans’ victories came back in 1993 when the team was still known as the Houston Oilers.
Here’s the full list of results from NFL games played on Christmas Day.
- 1971: Dallas Cowboys-20, Minnesota Vikings-12
- 1971: Miami Dolphins-27, Kansas City Chiefs-24
- 1989: Minnesota Vikings-29, Cincinnati Bengals-21
- 1993: Houston Oilers-10, San Francisco 49ers-7
- 1994: Miami Dolphins-27, Detroit Lions-20
- 1995: Dallas Cowboys-37, Arizona Cardinals-13
- 1999: Denver Broncos-17, Detroit Lions-7
- 2000: Tennessee Titans-31, Dallas Cowboys-0
- 2004: Kansas City Chiefs-31, Oakland Raiders-30
- 2004: Denver Broncos-37, Tennessee Titans-16
- 2005: Chicago Bears-24, Green Bay Packers-17
- 2005: Baltimore Ravens-30, Minnesota Vikings-23
- 2006: Philadelphia Eagles-23, Dallas Cowboys-7
- 2006: New York Jets-13, Miami Dolphins-10
- 2009: San Diego Chargers-42, Tennessee Titans-17
- 2010: Arizona Cardinals-27, Dallas Cowboys-26
- 2011: Green Bay Packers-35, Chicago Bears-21
- 2016: Pittsburgh Steelers-31, Baltimore Ravens-27
- 2016: Kansas City Chiefs-33, Denver Broncos-10
- 2017: Pittsburgh Steelers-34, Houston Texans-6
- 2017: Philadelphia Eagles-19, Oakland Raiders-10
- 2020: New Orleans Saints-52, Minnesota Vikings-33
Scores courtesy of Pro Football Reference