The Detroit Lions will host the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day. It is the Lions’ 82nd time hosting the holiday game, by far the most in the NFL. They boast a very Lions-esque record in those games, playing to 37 wins, 42 losses, and 2 ties. For more great insights into the history of NFL football on Thanksgiving Day, check out this article by Todd Archer and Eric Woodyard.
Bears are no stranger to turkey day
Da Bears also have plenty of experience playing on Thanksgiving, sporting an overall record of 19-15-2. This is good for the third most games on Thanksgiving Day behind the Dallas Cowboys who are second overall. Eighteen of those games were against the Lions, and the Bears hold a slight overall edge with a 10-8 record.
The Bears will most likely be starting Andy Dalton in place of the injured Justin Fields in their attempt to stay afloat in the NFC wild card picture. The offense loses much of its allure with Dalton at the helm, but a matchup against the Lions will oftentimes reinvigorate the most motionless of offenses. In fact, on paper this matchup isn’t exactly a clash of titans, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to get excited.
What to watch for from Detroit
Jared Goff supposedly has a chance to play, but given his play before injury, I’m not sure it matters who starts. Tim Boyle threw for only 77 yards and 2 interceptions in the Lions loss to the Browns last week, so neither QB should really get anyone excited.
That being said, there are a couple of great players who will be on display. D’Andre Swift has back-to-back games of 130+ yards, and if he were playing anywhere else besides Detroit, we’d all be talking about him as the next best NFL RB. I expect a healthy dose of Swift, who will continue to produce. The 22-year old will get the national stage all to himself on Thanksgiving, and I hope to see him run all over the Bears. In the passing game, look for T.J. Hockenson to lead the way. He had 6 catches on 8 targets last week, and he will be key for the Lions converting on third down.
What to watch for from Chicago
On the other side, the Bears have plenty of talent outside the quarterback position, and a defense that is still 11th overall despite losing Khalil Mack. With Allen Robinson still doubtful to return by Thursday, Darnell Mooney will look to build on his 5 reception, 121 yard game. He scored a touchdown of 60 yards that started as a screen play, and has that big-play potential we would all love to witness during our turkey dinners. Mooney also had a ridiculous 16 targets throughout the game against Baltimore, so even if the game doesn’t end up being all that exciting, fantasy managers are salivating at that potential target share against the Lions.
We also would be remiss not to mention David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert in the running game, who should enjoy themselves thoroughly. They should feast (pun intended) on the Lions’ 31st-ranked run defense. Montgomery was held to just 58 yards in his return against the Ravens, but on the season is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. I see him eclipsing 100 yards in this one.
Can the Lions get that elusive first win?
Probably not. My apologies and condolences to Lions fans everywhere, but I don’t see this one going their way. I was hoping to find that their overall Thanksgiving record was surprisingly good, but alas, they are under .500, so I can’t even play the “Well they play well on Thanksgiving!” card.
The Lions will battle admirably in front of their home fans, but the Bears take this one 21-13. D’Andre Swift will do as much as he can for the Lions, but it won’t be enough. We can only hope that the front office in Detroit is scheming countless ways to build around Swift for the future.
A quick personal note
Ever since I can remember, football on Thanksgiving has been something special. Long before Thursday night games (which I’m still not fully on-board with), Thanksgiving Day games were a staple of my holiday celebrations. As a Vikings fan, I can vividly remember Randy Moss ripping apart the Cowboys’ secondary in 1998. It is one of my favorite football memories, and I remember all 3 of his catches that day! Yep, 3. Three catches, 3 TDs, and 163 yards; absurd! I remember this game more because it meant a little more being on Thanksgiving. The Vikings don’t play on Thanksgiving every year, so each time we do it’s special. Special like a time that is devoted to getting together with family, and I have been more than fortunate in that area. When you combine priceless family time with a life’s passion, you get Thanksgiving Day football, and I can’t wait.
A shoutout to Lions fans everywhere!
Thanksgiving games are special, regardless of a team’s record. So, a quick shoutout to Lions fans. I admire your dedication to your team. A lesser fanbase wouldn’t appreciate the opportunity to watch their favorite team on Thanksgiving every year, but your fervor has not dwindled! If you read the article linked above, you will learn that more than a hundred die-hard Lions fans will be tailgating bright and early on Thanksgiving Day. The stadium crew will get up before the sun snoozes its first alarm, and 1300 pounds of turkey will be prepared for football fans on Thursday. These traditions exist only through a dedication to football and fandom, and the Lions still haven’t won a game this season. Their fans know that Thanksgiving football is more than just a game. It’s about slowing your world down and spending time with people you love.
I wish a great Thanksgiving to you and yours! If you don’t celebrate, I still wish you all the best (and hope you get a couple of days off work!). Stay safe, be kind, eat a lot, and definitely watch some football!