Bears-Lions Is Shaping Up to Be a Historically Bad Thanksgiving Game

The longstanding rivals have a combined record of just 3-16-1 and will probably both be without their starting quarterbacks

Jamaal Williams of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field
Jamaal Williams of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
Jamie Sabau/Getty

Having met at least once per season since 1930, the Bears and Lions are engaged in the longest-running annual rivalry in the NFL, and will continue their rivalry on Thursday afternoon when Chicago plays in Detroit on Thanksgiving.

Based on how the teams have played this season, early feasters will not want to have the game on while eating.

When the divisional rivals — who already played in Week 4, with Chicago emerging the 24-14 victors — go at it again on Thursday, the Bears will likely be using backup quarterback Andy Dalton in place of injured starter Justin Fields, who they selected with the 11th overall pick in the most recent NFL Draft. On the other side of the ball, the Lions will likely be using Tim Boyle in place of injured starter Jared Goff.

Dalton, who completed 11-of-23 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Ravens in Week 11 after Fields left with a rib injury, will be trying to help Chicago end the NFL’s longest losing streak (five games) against the league’s the last winless team. Thanks to a tie in Week 10, the Lions (0-9-1) have a losing streak that isn’t as long as Chicago’s, which somehow makes the game seem worse.

An 11-year pro who was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-year-old Dalton is at least marginally competent at playing quarterback at the NFL level and may actually be Chicago’s best option at this point. The same cannot be said for Boyle, even though he is replacing one of the league’s worst starting quarterbacks in Goff.

Boyle, who spent the past three seasons with the Green Bay Packers and somehow appeared in eight games last season without attempting a pass, finished 15-of-23 in Detroit’s 13-10 loss to the Browns on Sunday with 77 yards and two interceptions. The 27-year-old is also somehow posting the lowest average depth of target and uncorking the highest percentage of interceptable passes this season despite playing a very limited number of snaps, per NBC.

As difficult as it would seem to perform as badly as Boyle has in limited action, it actually checks out: he threw 26 interceptions in 21 starts in college split between UConn and Eastern Kentucky, including a stint at the former that saw him complete 133-of-275 passes for 1,237 yards with one touchdown and 13 picks between 2013 and 2015.

To be fair to the Bears and Dalton and Boyle and the Lions, their game will likely only be an appetizer for what could be a main course and dessert of bad football, as all six teams playing on Thanksgiving (the Raiders, Cowboys, Bills and Saints are the others) lost in Week 11 and combined for a -72 point differential.

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