With their season on the line, the (6-4) Detroit Lions host the (8-2) Minnesota Vikings as part of the annual tradition of Thanksgiving football (12.30pm ET Thursday).
Football on Thanksgiving is a tradition almost as old as the game itself. In 1934, G.A. Richards became the first owner of the Lions and had the idea for the team to play a game on Thanksgiving day. The Lions played the undefeated and defending world champion Chicago Bears in that first game and while they came up short, losing 19-16 to George Halas’ squad, a new tradition was born.
Since the first game in 1934, the Lions have played 77 contests on Thanksgiving, more than any other team. This includes 72 games consecutively dating back to 1945, when the series resumed following a short five year hiatus due to WWII.
Considering their status as division rivals it is somewhat surprising to see that the Lions have only played the Vikings four prior times on Thanksgiving, one of which however was just last year. In their four turkey day meetings, the Lions are an even 2-2, including being victorious in last year’s game, by a score of 16-13. It was the fourth Thanksgiving win in a row for the Lions, who have been on a turnaround as a team dating several years back.
Prior to that, in the 2000s, when the Lions were the laughing stock of the league, there had even been talk of taking away the Thanksgiving game from Detroit. This never came to pass however and as such, the tradition lives on, and this year will be another chapter in the book of Lions’ Thanksgiving contests.
Same Time Next Year?
When the Lions played the Vikings last year, the game was said to have a playoff feel. That’s because both teams were 6-4 and it was believed at the time that the winner of this game would be able to write their own ticket for the postseason. Of course, no one expected the 4-6 Green Bay Packers to get hot and reel off six games in a row to win the NFC North, but that’s not going to happen this year. Without Aaron Rodgers, who was lost earlier this season to injury, this division has really come down to a two-horse race.
The Vikings, after defeating the NFC West-leading LA Rams this past Sunday, are looking like one of the best teams in football and they’re doing so without their own starting quarterback. Case Keenum has been leading the team valiantly in the absence of his predecessor, Sam Bradford, who opened the year on fire.
Minnesota has won their last six in a row, which is the second longest winning streak in the league. It was a streak that started, after the team’s loss to the Lions at home. Dominant defense led the Lions over the Vikings in that meeting and the team will be looking for the same result this week. The early win also puts the Lions in a bit of the driving seat when it comes to their chances in the division. Down two games, a win this week would have the Lions holding the season sweep over their series with Minnesota. If it comes down to a tiebreaker, the Lions would hold the advantage.
So once again, it’s a Thanksgiving game with playoff implications, somewhat of a rarity for the Lions.
Vikings at Lions Stats That Matter
- The Lions are 6-1 SU in their last seven games against NFC North opponents.
- In the last eight meetings between the Vikings and Lions, the total has played to the under seven times.
- The Vikings are 5-0 ATS in their last five games but just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 on the road.
- The Lions are 4-0 in their last four Thanksgiving games.
Our Preview’s Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
Over the past four years, there has been a shift in Detroit. After more than a decade of playing insufferable football, the Lions are good again and perhaps most symbolic of that is how they’ve played on Thanksgiving. The Lions are synonymous with the holiday, almost as much as the turkey and stuffing itself. So to see them playing their best football every year on the game the team really made its own is refreshing given their 1-11 Thanksgiving record dating back to 2000.
For that reason, even though the Lions enter this game as home underdogs, it’s easy to see why they stand a really good chance of walking away with the win on Thursday. Combined with their Thanksgiving success, the Lions defense has shut down the Vikings offense in each of their last three matchups, allowing the team just an average of 12 points per game.
So in our battle with the old enemy, the top American-friendly sports betting websites, these are our preview’s picks and betting predictions for this NFL matchup:
- Take the Lions to best the spread as three point dogs as they win their fifth Thanksgiving game in a row and second of the year against the Vikings. Bet on Detroit +3pts @ best odds of evens (+100) with Bovada. We are not sure how long those odds will last as it is a stand-out betting line compared to the other bookies.
- As for the total points to be notched in the game, given the way defense has really been at the heart of the narrative during the recent rekindled rivalry between the two teams, take the under 44.5pts @ -110 with Bookmaker or BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.