The Detroit Lions face a tough task in playing the division leading Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving Day, but a win could mean big things for this team.
This Detroit Lions season has kind of been like leftover thanksgiving turkey. They started out really hot, starting out the season 3-1, including a key road victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the team that currently leads the NFC North.
After the hot start, the turkey then got cold and a bit disgusting, as the Lions lost three games in a row to the likes of the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The turkey has appeared to be reheated for thanksgiving leftovers now, as the Lions have recently picked up wins against the Green Bay Packers, the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears. They need to keep this turkey hot going into Thursday, as they play the Minnesota Vikings in what could be the most important game to this football season.
A win for this Lions team would be crucial, as a win would not only get the Lions closer to the playoffs, but it would also give them a chance at overthrowing the Vikings for the lead in the division standings.
In order for the Lions to pick up a win in this Turkey day matchup, the defense needs to perform just like they did in the Week 4 win in Minnesota. They held the Vikings to only 7 points and less than 200 yards passing, while also corralling 3 fumbles the Vikings lost.
Despite the defense playing so well in the game, they didn’t pressure Case Keenum much in the game. He wasn’t under duress much in the game at all, as the Lions only got 2 sacks in the game, courtesy of Defensive End Anthony Zettel.
For the Lions to have a chance to win this pivotal game, the defensive line can’t let Keenum get comfortable in the pocket. The Lions’ ability to create pressure has been inconsistent to say the least, as they have ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks and tackles for loss, while also ranking 5th in the league in fumbles forced (11).
Case Keenum and this Vikings offense has been great as of late, exploding for 38 points against the Washington Redskins in week 10. The Vikings have proven to be an above average team in the passing game, especially when Case Keenum has a lot of time in the pocket. The Detroit Lions cannot provide him with that time if they want to win.
This game should be like any other game so far this season, in that a Lions win rests on Quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s shoulders. He needs to play like the $135 million dollar man the Lions paid him to be this offseason.
Stafford has had a pro-bowl caliber year so far for Motor City, racking up more than 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions. If he continues to play at this level, he can lead this team to an important victory on Thursday.
The best players show up for games where the whole nation is watching, and Stafford has done just that on Turkey Day. In six Thanksgiving day games, our quarterback has thrown for 1,987 yards and 14 touchdowns, while not throwing an interception on the holiday since 2013.
In 2015, Stafford played so well on Thanksgiving Day that he won Fox’s Galloping Gobbler Award, given to the best player on the Holiday. On that day, Stafford threw for 337 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Lions destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles 45-14.
The combination of Stafford playing well and the defense containing Keenum is what would lead this team to a big victory against this good Minnesota Vikings team. With a strong win on Thanksgiving, the playoff picture would get a lot clearer for these Cardiac Cats.