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2014 NFL schedule: Thanksgiving will be an NFC party, with some great games

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
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Sep 29, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes a touchdown reception over Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (30) in the fourth quarter at Ford Field. The Lions won 40-32. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

It's been a while since every Thanksgiving NFL game was a great matchup. There's always a dud.

Not this year. By making a tweak with the networks, the NFL guaranteed three tremendous matchups, and it will be all NFC teams. The day starts with Chicago at Detroit, followed by Philadelphia at Dallas and capped off by the big one, Seattle at San Francisco, a rematch of the NFC championship game and one of the top few games on the entire NFL regular-season schedule. That is the best Thanksgiving schedule, top to bottom, in many years.

[Click here to see the full 2014 NFL schedule]

Part of the problem in past years was network rules. Fox gets NFC games. CBS gets AFC games. If there is an NFC vs. AFC game, the network of the road team's conference got the game (for example, if it was an AFC team at an NFC team, CBS had the rights). Because traditional hosts Dallas and Detroit are both from the NFC, there needed to be an AFC team involved to meet those guidelines. Therefore, options were limited. Last year, the Raiders were one of two AFC teams to visit Dallas during the season, and because it was Dallas' turn to be on CBS (Detroit and Dallas alternate Thanksgiving games on CBS), that mediocre game ended up on Thanksgiving. This year the Lions' Thanksgiving game would have had to have been either Buffalo or Miami, and neither one is a knockout matchup. Instead, the NFL decided to bend those guidelines. They added a "cross-flex" option for the league to move games between CBS and FOX. CBS, the home of AFC games, will carry the Bears-Lions game. Fox will have the Cowboys' showdown with the NFC East champs, and NBC will handle the 49ers-Seahawks showdown.

Thanksgiving is a time to be spent with family. Usually you had a window during the "boring" game to get in that quality turkey and touch football time. Not this year. Start making plans to have an eye on the TV starting when the Lions and Bears kick off at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time until the 49ers and Seahawks are through beating up on each other. This is going to be pretty good.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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