It’s been nearly a year since the Detroit Lions won a football game. In early December 2020, they managed a 34-30 victory over the Bears, before dropping the last four games of the season. In 2021, Dan Campbell’s squad dropped eight straight — until, rejoice, rejoice, a tie against the Steelers a few weeks ago broke the losing streak.
This Thursday, the Lions have the chance to turn it all around. And, of course, by “turn it all around,” I mean “get one (1) mark in the win column this season before continuing to lose.” But this Bears matchup has all the makings of a holiday miracle for Detroit and a Thanksgiving disaster for spectators as one of the worst Turkey Day games in recent memory.
Not only will QB1 Justin Fields be out after suffering a rib injury in a heartbreaker against Baltimore, leaving original starter/current backup Andy Dalton to run the offense, but rumors are floating around today that Matt Nagy will be getting the boot on Black Friday.
If true, this would be a welcome change in Chicago — “Fire Nagy” chants have not been limited to Soldier Field, as the Bulls and even Nagy’s son’s football team (yikes) were subjected to the ire of displeased Bears fans. If it’s not true (as he’s currently denying the rumor), I would hope that a loss to this Lions team would be the final nail in the coffin for his time in Chicago, in which case Nagy would be the first head coach to ever be fired midseason by the Bears organization.
But back to the Lions — their last two games haven’t been terrible — or at least not as terrible as usual. A tie and a close loss are better than a blowout, and they’re meeting up with a Bears team that’s on a five-game losing streak. Chicago is sitting at the very bottom of the NFL stat boards in passing touchdowns, passing yards, and completions, though Detroit is not far behind in any of these metrics. Both sit around the middle of the pack in rushing offense, though neither team has cracked 20 touchdowns this season.
Dalton’s start doesn’t immediately spell disaster for the Bears, especially since the Lions may also be sitting their starter on Thursday. In his college career, Lions’ backup Tim Boyle totaled 12 touchdowns and 26 interceptions, prompting the question of how the hell he made an NFL roster in the first place. It’s not going to be an offensive showcase on either side, so you can probably forego a watch in favor of putting the finishing touches on your mashed potatoes and stuffing before sitting down to watch your family members start an argument over politics (or take it into your own hands and be the relative that ruins Thanksgiving! Power to you).
The Lions will have to take advantage of the Bears’ inability to stop the pass rush and will need to use D’Andre Swift to his full capability. With the complete inefficiency of the Lions’ passing offense, the Bears’ best chance to win lies in their ability to keep Swift to under 100 yards rushing. There’s also a chance Jared Goff could retake the field for the Lions after reportedly getting in practice reps this week after his injury against the Steelers. And if the Nagy rumors are true, the Bears are either going to be so elated to have him gone that they go out and play the best game of their season, or they’re going to be so poorly coached (even more so than usual) that they just absolutely spiral. There’s also always the chance that this is just a rumor, or that the leak is going to cause the front office to keep him around even longer to prove some sort of point.
It won’t be pretty. It may not be particularly entertaining. If you’re eating a Thanksgiving lunch while you watch, you may lose your appetite. But it’s the Lions’ best chance for the foreseeable future to notch any sort of victory and the Bears’ chance to finally put a definitive end to the Nagy era.