One of the most traditional fixtures in the NFL has returned, that’s right, Thanksgiving Thursday. The early of three games features an NFC divisional matchup between the Bears and Lions at Ford Field. Despite the game being a rematch of week 10, it’s a whole new ball game come Thursday!
The Key for the Lions
The Detroit Lions must find a way to integrate the run game into their game plan. As previously documented, the Lions are at their best when this is done effectively. However, there is a major discrepancy in the running back position as Kerryon Johnson suffered a knee sprain in the Lions’ victory over the Panthers in week 11. With that in mind, Theo Riddick should be a solid replacement as he possesses similar explosiveness from the backfield and can be utilised as an outlet man for Matthew Stafford.
Speaking of Stafford, the offensive line must protect him better in order to win. As displayed in last week’s victory, when given adequate time he can be dynamite from the pocket. Additionally, the creation of the partnership between Stafford and Golladay will be key in this game, especially considering Marvin Jones Jr. and Bruce Ellington did not participate in practice on Tuesday. Golladay looks to replicate his performance from Sunday, after he contributed 113 yards and 1 TD on 8 receptions as the leading wideout in the game.
As ever, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage is the most crucial aspect of the game. Any game is won and lost in the trenches as they, thus Da’Shawn Hand must be disruptive. Likewise, Ezekiel Ansah and Ricky Jean-Francois must stamp their presence on the game too. Unfortunately for the Lions, a few key players only participated in light practice yesterday. Namely, Damon “Snacks” Harrison (shoulder) and Darius “Big Play” Slay (knee). It is, however, likely that both will see action in the game which is absolutely vital considering they can be game-changing pieces on the defence.
Bears Bereft of Mitchell Trubisky?
After suffering a bruising tackle at the hands of Harrison Smith, Trubisky suffered a shoulder injury. Despite not participating in practice yesterday, Coach Matt Nagy said he was “cautiously optimistic” about Trubisky’s return. He also added that he couldn’t “make any promises” on the matter either way.
If he is indeed not the starter come Thursday, backup Chase Daniel will be handed the opportunity. When addressing the media, Nagy insisted that he was incredibly confident in his ability. He stated: “He’s extremely confident in the way he plays because he’s so smart. He prepares every game as if he’s going to start so if that time were to come, he doesn’t blink.”
Regardless of who starts, the offence retains many of its explosive talents for this fixture. Firstly, Tarik Cohen, who boasts explosive speed and acceleration and is a useful target in both the run and pass game. Furthermore, Robinson, Gabriel and Miller are all active for the game, therefore Daniel will not be bereft of any of the key talents on offence.
The Best Defence in the NFL?
The Bears’ greatest asset remains on defence however. As the current league leaders in takeaways, the Bears have talent in all areas of the defence. At the line of scrimmage they have potential DPOTY in Khalil Mack. He also lines up with dominant DT, Akiem Hicks who had 1 sack and 5 TFL against the Vikings on Sunday.
Moreover, playmakers like that of defensive backs Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos provide a considerable threat. Jackson in particular has had an amazing season thus far with 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery for a TD and a pick-six.
After deep consideration, I feel that the Chicago Bears will get the better of the Lions. In spite of the team entering unfavourable territory, Chase Daniels is a formidable backup to Mitchell Trubisky. Therefore, I feel his absence will only effect the game minimally. I would also argue that the Bears’ defence is head-and-shoulders above the Lions’ in comparison.
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