Five things to know about Lions vs Bears on Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving tradition like no other — a winless NFL team playing a struggling, dysfunctional team.

Pass the Tums.

The Lions (0-9-1), who started playing Thanksgiving games in 1934, will face the Chicago Bears (3-7), who have lost five straight which sparked rumors about Coach Matt Nagy’s tenure. It’s the second meeting of the NFC North basement dwellers after the Bears won 24-14 on Oct. 3.

“We did some things good the last time we played them and the turnovers killed us. And so, I think some of that is us just trying to be smart when we get down there and give ourselves a chance to possess the ball and then see if we can get it in there,’’ Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “But, we ran it pretty good until we got behind and then we weren’t able to run it anymore. Look, we scored with (Kalif Raymond) Lif down there, but certainly those turnovers killed us.”

Five things to know about the nationally televised Thanksgiving game:

1. Boy did the Lions ever miss Jared Goff in the loss at Cleveland on Sunday. On Tuesday, Campbell said Goff is improving and it looks like he could play. He is officially listed as questionable and was able to practice on limited basis. Still it could be a gametime decision. Certainly Goff gives the Lions a better chance of winning than Tim Boyle who struggled in his first NFL start on Sunday.

2. Once again, the Lions will face a backup quarterback. Andy Dalton will start for the Bears. Rookie Justin Fields is out with bruised ribs. It will be Dalton’s third start this season where he’s amassed three touchdowns and one interception.

3. Campbell said there are a couple calls he’d like back after calling the offense in the past two games. “I think that certainly finding some runs has been pretty good. I feel like just mixing it up and letting those guys go up front has been pretty good and it’s helped us,’’ Campbell said. “We’ve kind of found a running game here, but I think that maybe there were a couple of calls there where – it’s tough to say because you could say, ‘Well maybe we ought to pass it here.’ But also, wanting to be mindful of – the first week you’ve got a guy who you don’t feel like can push the ball down the field, you want to be smart, the conditions aren’t good and then we come back with another game where the conditions aren’t great. Boyle hasn’t – it’s his first start. You go back and forth on that. Do you try to take care of them? Do you try to get it with (D’Andre) Swift on the ground or do you put it in his hands? You play that game a little bit, but certainly there are things I wish I could have back, but I’m growing at it as well.”

4. “I think what’s going to help us is getting a first down. If we can get a first down to sustain a drive, then we get a couple more plays to try to put it in the hands of our receivers, whether that’s a run or a short pass. I think to be able to really helps those guys out, I think we’ve got to convert on third down. We’re way too low right now. Even if you can convert one or two more times in a game, you allow yourselves a minimum of six plays and then you don’t know where that’s going to go. I think everything starts there.”

5. The defense has been doing a good job of creating turnovers and they need to keep it up.  “I think you’re always talking about them. You’re always preaching them. You’re always working. Like, we work turnover drills. We’ve been doing them all year, but sometimes it just takes – you’ve got to get a little momentum and all of a sudden you get one and guys start feeling it and smelling it,’’ Campbell said. “And next thing you know, one guy sees his teammate doing it, he starts doing it, and then the next one starts doing and it does, it becomes contagious. Unfortunately, it’s no different than offensively. If you start fumbling the ball, pretty soon that becomes contagious the wrong way.”

PREDICTION: Bears 24, Lions 17

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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