NFL power rankings: The winless Detroit Lions and Thanksgiving, a holiday tradition

Detroit Free Press

Thanksgiving football is a great tradition in Detroit, one I hope never goes away. It is something that has brought families together for generations in this city and guaranteed the Lions at least one national stage to play on a season.

But if we’re being honest, Thanksgiving football — at least the games involving the Lions, of late — has been pretty bad. Borderline unwatchable, even.

The Lions have lost four straight Thanksgiving games and 13 of 17, not exactly the homefield advantage G.A. Richards had in mind when he conjured up the first Thanksgiving game 87 years ago.

The Houston Texans blew out the Lions last Thanksgiving, 41-25, which brought an end to the Matt Patricia-Bob Quinn era in Detroit. Before that, the Lions had a couple close losses to the Chicago Bears and one to the Minnesota Vikings (though they fell behind 20-3 in that game and put some makeup on their turkey late, to make it look respectable).

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This year’s game between the Lions (0-9-1) and Bears (3-7) seems especially dreadful as the two teams enter the week a combined 3-16-1. Per research shared by my friend Brad Biggs from the Chicago Tribune, that’s the worst combined record by teams on Thanksgiving since the Lions lost to the Kansas City Chiefs on turkey day in 1987, when the teams entered play a combined 3-17.

This is the third straight year both the Lions and their opponent have had losing records on Thanksgiving, and the fifth time it has happened since 2006. In the same span, both the Lions and their opponent have had winning records on Thanksgiving four times. The Lions are 1-3 in those games.

Lions-Bears won’t be the only background noise on TV come Thursday, either. All six teams playing on Thanksgiving are coming off losses, and three teams – the Bears, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders – have losing streaks of at least three games.

The Lions, of course, tied the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago, so they don’t quite fall into that category, but they still enter the week last in the power rankings and are winless entering Thanksgiving for the third time since 2001.

Happy turkey day.

2021 Thanksgiving Day schedule: Lions vs. Bears, 12:30; Cowboys vs. Raiders, 4:30; Saints vs. Bills, 8:20.

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This week’s NFL power rankings

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

2. Green Bay Packers (8-3)

3. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

4. Tennessee Titans (8-3)

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

6. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

7. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

8. Dallas Cowboys (7-3)

9. Buffalo Bills (6-4)

10. New England Patriots (7-4)

11. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)

12. Los Angeles Chargers (6-4)

13. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

14. San Francisco 49ers (5-5)

15. Las Vegas Raiders (5-5)

16. New Orleans Saints (5-5)

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1)

18. Cleveland Browns (6-5)

19. Denver Broncos (5-5)

20. Minnesota Vikings (5-5)

21. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

22. Carolina Panthers (5-6)

23. Washington Football Team (4-6)

24. Miami Dolphins (4-7)

25. Seattle Seahawks (3-7)

26. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

27. Chicago Bears (3-7)

28. New York Giants (3-7)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8)

30. New York Jets (2-8)

31. Houston Texans (2-8)

32. Detroit Lions (0-9-1)

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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