Column: Will Lions be turkeys vs. Patriots?

Thanksgiving is here and as tradition America will be subjected to more than just turkey and all the fixings. Per the usual, Americans will see the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, long halftime shows with stale acts and many commercials (just the way the NFL likes it).
The Lions will don their throwback jerseys Thursday, as they play the visiting New England Patriots. The last time the Lions played the Patriots on Thanksgiving was in 2002, a game that saw only one offensive touchdown (a rush by Antowain Smith). The Patriots won 20-12, the Lions quarterback for that game was Joey Harrington who threw three interceptions. Jason Hanson’s career has been the silver lining for this team the past two decades and he accounted for all of the Lions points that day.
The Lions are still building their young team, whereas the Patriots come in a well-oiled machine rolling through the league with a dynamic offense led by veteran quarterback Tom Brady. The Lions franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford is still out with a shoulder injury, so expect Shaun Hill to get the Thanksgiving start. If Stafford could just stay on the field, there’s lots of hope for the Lions future.

Perhaps down the line we’ll see a coaching duel between Jim Schwartz and Bill Belichick, but the talent divide will make this a definite uphill battle for the Lions. One thing both coaches will be careful of is the quick turnaround from Sunday to Thursday and possibly resting players who have been injured or need more time.

Every few years there’s chatter about taking the national spotlight away from the Lions, yet nobody really cares that the Cowboys have only won one playoff game in the past ten years. They are America’s Team, which is fitting because the team is vastly overpaid and overrated.

The league ultimately won’t take the Thanksgiving Day game away from the Lions because, frankly, it’s all we have. If it was based on any kind of merit, they’d have taken it away a long time ago. How many Lions fans would trade the Thanksgiving Day game for a playoff appearance? I know I would.

The Lions playing on Thanksgiving is great, but the way the league sees it, it’s just about money and ratings. Is it even possible for the Lions to play bad enough to get America off the couch on Thanksgiving?

The Lions will play the Patriots at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Ford Field. The game will be broadcast on CBS and is sold out.


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