Five things to watch: Lions vs. Bears

By Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News

Some of the most memorable moments in Lions’ history come on Thanksgiving Day.

Without the benefit of big moments on the NFL’s playoff stage, the Michigan holiday tradition will have to do.

The Lions and Bears meet on Thanksgiving in Detroit, 11 days after the two teams met in Chicago.

In typical Lions’ fashion, it’s often an adventure: Think Phil Luckett and Jerome Bettis, Jim Schwartz challenging, and Vince Evans and the one-play overtime in 1980. But no matter what, there’s probably turkey afterward, so it can’t be all bad.

Here are five things to watch Thursday against Chicago (12:30 p.m., CBS, WJR 760):

1. Tough turnaround

No Lions’ fans are going to cry for the Bears, but they are getting royally screwed by the NFL this week.

Chicago hosted Minnesota in the Sunday night game and then have just three days between an earlier-than-usual kickoff on Thursday afternoon, with travel to Detroit mixed in to the 85 hours (and 5 minutes) in between games.

So much for player safety.

You might excuse the Bears, who aren’t even watching film of Sunday’s win against Minnesota until this weekend, for looking beat up — even a shortage of motivation against a Detroit team they just manhandled.

2. Revenge factor

You might recall a recent trip to Chicago didn’t go so well for the Lions.

In that 34-22 blowout on Nov. 11, there were a few Detroit players who stood out for their struggles.

We’ll see if players such as right tackle Rick Wagner, cornerback DeShawn Shead and quarterback Matthew Stafford respond 11 days later.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions and had a passer rating of 74.9 when he faced the Bears on Nov. 11. He also was sacked six times.

3. Mack’s night?

The NFL’s best all-time players usually find a way to step up on one of the league’s signature showcase days.

Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Randy Moss, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, Joey Harrington… it seems like all the greats have had holiday moments to remember.

Maybe it’s time for a player such as Chicago’s Khalil Mack — or for optimistic Lions’ fans, maybe Stafford or Kenny Golladay — to get a bite of the turkey leg.

The safer bet is for Mack to respond to Aaron Donald’s superb performance Monday night for the Los Angeles Rams with a dominant effort of his own.

More: Can Lions’ LeGarrette Blount have another ‘legendary’ Thanksgiving?

More: Lions' Patricia doesn't want to jinx opposing kickers' struggles

4. Shouldering the load?

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has a right shoulder injury, and he's listed as doubtful for Thursday's game.

Trubisky has been known to be inaccurate every now and then and the injury can’t help, if he's able to play. With Darius Slay back in the lineup after Chicago missed him last time around, the Detroit secondary should feast.

Or, if Trubisky can’t go, backup quarterback Chase Daniel could get his third career start and first since 2014. He has one career touchdown pass and one interception.

Thursday, leading a likely playoff team on national television, could be the biggest day of his career.

5. Tony time

The Lions are usually on FOX with the network holding rights to nearly every NFC game.

But since Thanksgiving features an all-NFC slate, the Lions land on CBS, which means Tony Romo will call his first Lions’ game.

The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback has been praised for his work on games since joining Jim Nantz in the booth at the beginning of last season.

He’s known for calling out audibles of plays pre-snap, so we’ll see how he reads Jim Bob Cooter’s offense.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.