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November 25, 2021
The Detroit Lions’ annual Thanksgiving Day game traditionally showcases one of the NFL’s most downtrodden franchises.
The Lions can’t get much lower than they already are heading into their NFC North matchup with Chicago on Thursday. They’re the league’s only winless team at 0-9-1.
Dan Campbell, who played numerous times on Thanksgiving with Dallas and Detroit, is still seeking his first head coaching victory. The franchise has become a punchline once again and Campbell is hopeful his team can finally have the last laugh.
“To get a win, period, is going to be freakin’ outstanding,” he said. “But to get it on Thanksgiving would make it that much more special.”
Not that it’s any solace to Campbell during a winless season thus far, but AI-driven analytic company Quarter4 has forecast the Lions with a 57 percent probability of winning on Thursday.
At least Campbell doesn’t have to worry about his job security in the short run. The same can’t be said for counterpart Matt Nagy. A report surfaced on Tuesday that Nagy would be fired after Thursday’s game, which Nagy said was “not accurate.”
Nagy wouldn’t indicate if he has received assurances from the Bears that he’ll be coaching the rest of the season. But team chairman George McCaskey did reportedly tell players and coaches Wednesday that there was no truth to the report that Nagy would be fired after Thursday’s game.
“My focus right now is on the players and on Detroit,” Nagy said this week. “That’s it. That’s my job as a head coach and as a leader. … Anything else is a distraction.”
Both teams have issues at quarterback due to injuries.
Detroit’s Jared Goff missed the team’s 13-10 loss at Cleveland on Sunday due to an oblique strain. Tim Boyle made his first NFL start and passed for just 77 yards while getting picked off twice.
Goff is officially active for the game and expected to start.
“I do want to make sure he’s definitely ready to go,” Campbell said before Goff was announced as good to go. “And I do think it’s trending that way.”
Running back D’Andre Swift has rushed for 266 yards over the past two games, including a 57-yard touchdown against the Browns. Swift, who has already eclipsed his rookie-year total with 975 scrimmage yards, needs 25 more to become the first Lions running back with 1,000 yards from scrimmage in a season since 2014.
“He’s been steady and reliable all year and he’s really grown,” Campbell said. “He is a dynamic football player for us.”
Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields suffered an injury to his ribs in a 16-13 home loss to Baltimore on Sunday. Backup Andy Dalton will start and Fields will be inactive with Nick Foles serving as the backup.
Dalton threw two touchdown passes in relief, but the Ravens scored the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.
Chicago (3-7) has lost five straight, with the last two decided by a combined five points.
“They were playing so well the entire game,” Nagy said of his defense. “The simple fact of the matter is that now we’re 3-7 instead of 5-5. That’s a big difference right now when you look at where these NFC teams are. We have to keep fighting because we know where we’re at. That’s the way these guys are wired.”
The Bears won the first meeting 24-14 behind David Montgomery’s 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Whether the rest of the country likes it, the Lions will be making their 82nd Thanksgiving appearance. This is the 19th time the Bears and Lions have matched up on the holiday, most recently in 2019 when Montgomery scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:17 remaining.
Goff had been listed as questionable during the week. The most notable among players who didn’t practice was linebacker Trey Flowers (knee), who is officially inactive for the game.
Chicago revealed this week that star linebacker Khalil Mack requires season-ending foot surgery. Wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) is inactive, while defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (ankle) and running back Damien Williams (calf) also are out.
–Field Level Media
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