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Thursday Night Football - Lions' Caldwell is Mr. Thanksgiving
Lions Own Their Game Again
Thanksgiving football is an annual tradition in Detroit, one that stretches all the way back to 1934. Other games have since been joined the festivities - the Dallas Cowboys began their annual Thanksgiving Day game in 1966, while a prime time game was added to the mix in 2006 - but Detroit is the team that's generally associated first and foremost with Thanksgiving football. And lately, there's been more of the latter from the Lions.
Detroit has won four in a row on Thanksgiving, and mostly in convincing fashion. The Lions drubbed the Green Bay Packers 40-10 in 2013 and slaughtered the Philadelphia Eagles 45-14 in 2015. Last season, the Lions edged the Minnesota Vikings 16-13 on a Matt Prater field goal, but it was a win that moved Detroit atop the NFC North division.
Both teams meet again, and once again, there's plenty on the line for both teams. Let's break down this year's Thanksgiving smorgasbord of football, based on odds provided by Bovada.
Surprisingly, the Lions' 28th-rated rushing game was able to move the ball against the second-ranked run defense of the Vikings when they met earlier this season at Minnesota. Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah went for 94 yards in Detroit's 14-7 victory. Generally, teams seek to simplify the playbook during a short week of preparation, so the run game will again be a major factor.
It will also come into play when Minnesota has the ball. The Vikings are the NFL's No. 5 offensive team and No. 8 rushing team, and in the past two weeks, both the Cleveland Browns (201 yards) and Chicago Bears (222 yards) enjoyed significant success running the ball against the Lions. The Vikings rushed for 171 yards last week in their 24-7 victory over the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams.
Detroit QB Matthew Stafford is a gunslinger, and he just seems to find ways to win close games at home. The 6-4 Lions, who swept all three divisional road games this season for the first time in franchise history, can move back into NFC North contention with a win over the 8-2 Vikings.
There's a chance that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (groin) will play for the Cowboys in this game, and that's imperative if Dallas is to have any chance. Minus Smith and the running of the suspended Ezekiel Elliott to keep the defense honest, Dallas has been whipped two weeks in a row and QB Dak Prescott was sacked 12 times in the pair of defeats.Â
The Chargers have sacked the quarterback 30 times this season, third-best in the NFL. Joey Bosa (10.5) and Melvin Ingram (8.5), who was named NFL defensive player of the week, have combined for 19 of those sacks, and Prescott can figure on feeling plenty of pressure from them.
Heroes are often created in the national spotlight on Thanksgiving.Â ThinkÂ Clint Longley, the Mad Bomber, who came off the bench for an injured Roger Staubach to lead the Cowboys past the Redskins in 1974. Well, this Thanksgiving, opportunity to shine is knocking for Washington running back Semaje Perine.
With Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson both on injured reserve, Perine rambled for 117 yards in last week's loss to the Saints at New Orleans. Back home, he lines up against a Giants run defense that permits 132.7 yards per game, third-worst in the NFL.
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