The NFL's three-game slate on Thanksgiving kicks off in Detroit when the Lions host the Philadelphia Eagles in a battle of two teams suddenly headed in opposite directions. After the Eagles' win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9 got them back to .500, the season seemed to turning around. That was until they followed that game up with losses to the Dolphins and Buccaneers. These two games were supposed to be relatively easy for the Eagles and ended up a mitigated disaster for Chip Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff.
Last Sunday, the Eagles were upended 45-17 against a Jameis Winston-led Bucs team. The finger-pointing started mid-game and continued well afterward. The list of issues is long, but like usual, starts with the quarterback. Sam Bradford missed last week's game and despite being cleared early in the week to practice, he was considered a long shot to play against the Lions. Instead, interception-magnet Mark Sanchez is expected to start on Thanksgiving once again.
If you can't throw, run the ball. This is seemingly an easy answer when your running back group consists of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, but nothing is ever that simple. Murray's effort has been anonymously questioned this week, Mathews was out with a concussion and Sproles recently commented on his disappointing amount of playing time.
Without the ability to score, the Lions look to have the advantage heading into the matchup, which is surprising given how the season started. Detroit went 1-7 ahead of its bye week and the offensive coordinator and two assistants were let go just before the team's trip to London. Soon after, 90-year-old majority owner Martha Firestone Ford decided enough was enough and unloaded the team's president and general manager, too.
The Lions have won their last two outings and are hoping to finish the season on a winning streak. To do so, they'll need more offensive production all around. They had some success last week against the Raiders with a three-back system including Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Joique Bell. Wideout Calvin Johnson, who holds the record for touchdown receptions on Thanksgiving with eight, will also need to keep up that stat for the team to get a win.
Two weeks ago, the Lions being favored would seem laughable, but the tides have changed and they have the momentum going against a defeated Eagles team.
Thanksgiving games are a standing tradition, one that the Lions have been a part of since 1934. Only the Lions and Cowboys have the annual agreement with the NFL to play on Thanksgiving, but the Eagles will face their second holiday primetime test in a row. The Eagles' history might give them hope. Last year they improved to 6-0 all time on Thanksgiving with a score differential of 144-44.
The Eagles are 17-13-2 over the Lions since 1933 and have only lost to Detroit once in 20 years. Head coach Chip Kelly has only faced the Lions once, a matchup in 2013 during his first season with the Eagles. Kelly's team won the game, 34-20, but hasn't faced Detroit since.
With all the roster moves, there are several Eagles playing in their first Thanksgiving Day game, but quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back DeMarco Murray have some experience. Murray will be playing in his fourth holiday matchup and has recorded 100-plus total yards three times on Thanksgiving. He's struggled in his new offense, but has been itching for a big game.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is also no stranger to playing on Thanksgiving having played in five holiday games. He's amassed 1,650 passing yards on Thanksgiving Day, the third-most in NFL history. The past three games, he's totaled seven touchdowns for a 98.4 passer rating. Stafford needs at least 330 yards to continue his three-year streak.
Thursday's game will be the second time Philadelphia will head to Detroit on Thanksgiving, the last being in 1968 when the Eagles won 12-0 behind four field goals. The Lions are 35-38-2 on the holiday and are hoping to sway the stats back in their favor.
Who to Watch
There has been talk that Mark Sanchez has a shot to earn back the starting role with the Eagles should he make the most of his time in place of Bradford. He won't earn that spot anytime soon if he has another game like last week, but he still is the first step in a Philadelphia win. In the two games he's played this season, he only has two touchdowns to four interceptions despite a 62.5 completion percentage.
For the Lions, cornerback Darius Slay has been a big factor in the defensive turnaround. Against the Raiders, he was able to limit Amari Cooper to one catch for four yards. He has been great in coverage the past few weeks. If Slay is able to stay close to the Eagles' wideouts -- which hasn't proven difficult this season -- he'll be able to keep pressure on a ground attack Philly hasn't relied on well.
How to Watch
When: 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews
Online: NFL Game Pass
The Lions are 1.5-point favorites and the over/under is 45.5, according to OddsShark.com.
Among the experts, the Lions are favored to break the Eagles' Thanksgiving Day win streak. At CBS Sports, the crew is picking the home team by a 5-3 margin, though the ESPN panel is more bullish on the Lions. Only two pickers on the 13-man panel are going with the Eagles. Here at SB Nation, our experts agree that the Lions come away with the win in Week 12.