Detroit hosts Chicago today for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff in the Lions’ annual Thanksgiving Day Game at Ford Field. It’s the second straight year these two division foes have met on Thanksgiving, with the Bears coming out on top 23-16 last year. It’s the 18th time these two franchises have played in this annual game with Chicago holding a slim 9-8 advantage in the previous 17 contests.
Here’s five things to watch in today’s matchup:
Detroit’s backup quarterback will be a backup today.
Jeff Driskel’s hamstring injury will not allow him to start vs. Chicago, which means the Lions will turn to third-string quarterback David Blough to start. Driskel will serve as Blough’s backup.
The Lions traded for Blough in August after he was signed by Cleveland as an undrafted free agent out of Purdue.
Blough was Purdue's starting quarterback last season, throwing for 3,705 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Blough will have his hands full today against a Bears' defense that ranks fourth in points allowed (17.1), fourth in total defense (315.6) and ninth in pass defense (218.8).
Detroit’s defense forced nine Bears punts in their Week 10 loss in Chicago and an incredible eight three and outs. Still, Detroit lost the game 21-13.
For how good Detroit’s defense was for most of that contest, there was a roughly six-minute stretch from the end of the second quarter into the early part of the third quarter where the Bears scored on three straight possessions on Mitchell Trubisky touchdown passes.
It was a six-minute lapse – aided by a Driskel interception deep in Lions' territory – that marred an otherwise good outing by the defense.
The Lions lost a similar-type game Sunday in Washington, where the defense played good enough to win, but had some lapses at the end of the game that allowed the game-tying and game-winning Redskins field goals.
The Lions desperately need a win after losing four straight and six of their last seven, despite leading in every one of those games. Can this team put together a full 60-minute performance and finish off a win?
The Lions had seven rookie draft picks play last week against the Redskins. Some of that was due to injury, and some of it was planned by Detroit’s coaching staff to get some of the young players into the mix.
Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was good starting in place of Rashaan Melvin (ribs), even recording his first career interception. Tight end Isaac Nauta played 10 snaps, including some at fullback. Edge rusher Austin Bryant made his NFL debut after coming off IR. He had a tackle.
Don’t be surprised if we continue to see some of the young guys get mixed into some packages, even when veterans come back from injury.
There’s something about this matchup that seems to suit Trubisky.
He threw three touchdown passes and had a 131.0 passer rating in the first meeting between these two teams a few weeks ago.
In his last three games vs. Detroit, Trubisky has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 824 yards (two 300-plus yard passing games) with seven passing touchdowns, one rushing score and a 107.4 passer rating.
The Lions have to find a way to make him more uncomfortable than they’ve made him in their previous three matchups.
Make it two starts and two nice outings for second-year running back Bo Scarbrough, who rushed for 55 yards on 14 carries (3.9 average) and a touchdown against Dallas two weeks ago, and followed that up last week with 98 yards on 18 carries (5.4) against the Redskins.
He’s brought toughness and physicality to the Lions' rushing attack, but more importantly, he’s bringing a level of production and consistency to the offense.
Today will be a good test for Scarbrough and the Lions' run game. Chicago ranks seventh in the NFL against the run (96.8 yards per game). They’re allowing just 3.7 yards per attempt, the third fewest average in the league.