Vikings at Lions on Thanksgiving Day in Week 12: Picks, how to watch and stream
Grab some turkey and get ready for this NFC North showdown
It's not often that the Lions are playing in the biggest game of Thanksgiving Day, but you could definitely argue that will be the case on Thursday when Detroit hosts the Vikings on Turkey Day for the second straight year.
This time around, the game will have some serious divisional implications. At 8-2, if the Vikings can pull off a win over the Lions on Thursday, it would practically wrap up the division title. A victory by Minnesota would give the Vikings a three-game lead in the NFC North with just five weeks to play.
On the other hand, a win by the Lions (6-4) could help spur Detroit to its first division title since 1993. The win would be big because it would give the Lions a season-sweep over the Vikings, which would come in handy as a tiebreaker if the two teams were to finish the season with the same record.
If the Lions have one advantage going into Thursday, it might be a mental one. Although Detroit players have said they love playing on Thanksgiving, Vikings players don't seem too excited about the short turnaround that comes with a Turkey Day game.
"It kind of sucks because you've got a short week coming off Sunday and then rolling into this week," Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson said Monday, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Guys are a little banged up, guys are a little tired. You have less time to really prepare. … It sucks, but it's something that the league's got going on and it's something that we got to do."
On the other end of the spectrum, there's players like Golden Tate, who's actually looking forward to playing on Thursday.
"It's a chance for me to have all my family come out, watch the ball game, go home, finish up cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, eating, spending more time with them and then watching more football," Tate told PFT live recently. "So for me I love it."
Here's what you need to know about the game.
How to watch, stream
- Kickoff: Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX (Check local listings)
- Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)
Can the Lions keep their Thanksgiving Day winning streak alive?
For most of the 2000s, the worst part about Thanksgiving, besides green bean casserole, was being forced to watch the Lions play. From 2001 to 2012, the Lions basically got blown out every year. In those 12 seasons, the Lions went just 1-11.
However, over the past four years, things have suddenly changed and it might be because this group of players actually seems excited about playing on Thanksgiving. Although some NFL players have come to dread Thursday football, the Lions seem to love it, especially when they get to play a division rival in a game that could have huge playoff implications.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who's won four straight games on Thanksgiving, says that playing on Turkey Day is a blast.
"Playing meaningful football on Thanksgiving is a whole lot of fun," Stafford said. "This year should be no different. Any time you win on Thanksgiving, it's a blast. The turkey tastes a whole lot better."
Since hiring Jim Caldwell in 2014, the Lions have gone undefeated (3-0) on Thanksgiving, which includes a 16-13 win over the Vikings last season. This year's game might actually be bigger because if the Lions lose, it would drop them three games back in the division and pretty much crush any hopes they might have of winning the NFC North.
Despite the high-pressure situation, Caldwell said his team isn't going to be worried about any playoff or divisional ramifications from this game.
"They're a very good team. They're on a roll," Caldwell said. "We're not worried about ramifications. We're not worried about all of the build up and things of that nature. We're worried about how we play, and that's what our goal is -- to get focused in on our preparation, and get ready to play a tough, hard-fought game."
The good news for Caldwell is that whatever he has his team focusing on when they play the Vikings, it seems to be working. Since Caldwell took over as coach in Detroit back in 2014, he's gone 5-2 against Minnesota.
You can read more quotes from each sideline here.
Can the Vikings score any points against the Lions?
Although the Vikings have one of the best defenses in the NFL, it really doesn't matter how well they play if the offense can't score points, and that's exactly what has happened the last three times the Vikings have faced the Lions.
For whatever reason, the Vikings can't seem to move the ball against the Lions and coach Mike Zimmer has started to take notice. The Vikings have lost three straight to Detroit and in those three losses, they've averaged just 12 points per game. To put that in perspective, the Browns have been the NFL's lowest scoring team this year, and even they average more than that (15 points per game).
"We haven't scored enough points," Zimmer said when talking about why his team hasn't been able to beat the Lions. "We had 16, 13 twice and kicked a 60-yard field goal once. Last (time) 14-7. We turned the ball over three times last game and we got in the red zone and haven't converted."
That sounds like a coach who's been thinking about this almost non-stop since the last time these two teams played back in Week 4, a 14-7 Lions win that was played in Minnesota. Although Case Keenum struggled in that game, Zimmer likes the way his quarterback is playing right now.
"He's getting the ball to the right place," Zimmer said. "The thing I like the most about Case is he's got big (guts). He's not afraid. He's going to pull the trigger and play like that. That's a good thing."
If the Vikings pull out the win, it will be their first Turkey Day victory since 2000, when they beat the Cowboys 27-15.
Who will win?
Although the Lions have won three straight against the Vikings, including a 14-7 road win this season, CBSSports.com senior NFL writer Pete Prisco believes the Detroit's winning streak over Minnesota is going to come to an end on Turkey Day.
This is a big Thanksgiving Day game, which we love. The Vikings are in first place, and if the Lions are to have a chance to win the division they have to win here. I don't think the Lions will move the ball well enough against the Vikings defense. And Case Keenum is playing well for the Vikings. Minnesota takes it 23-17.
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