NFL 2015 Thanksgiving preview: Eagles at Lions

November 26, 2015

The 2015 installment of Thanksgiving Day football will feature a tripleheader for the 10th consecutive season.  In the first game, the Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) will go on the road to take on the Detroit Lions (3-7).

The Lions will play their 76th Thanksgiving Day game, while the Eagles will play in their seventh.

​The Detroit Lions and Thanksgiving football has been a tradition dating back to 1934 when owner G.A. Richards scheduled a holiday contest between the first-year Lions and the defending world champion Chicago Bears. The game was the first NFL game nationally broadcast, with NBC radio on the dial.

Detroit is seeking its third consecutive win on the holiday. Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has eight receiving touchdowns on Thanksgiving – the most in NFL history – and aims for his seventh consecutive game on the holiday with a TD.  Johnson also seeks his fourth in a row on Thanksgiving with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown, following last season’s 146-yard, two-touchdown performance against Chicago.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has passed for 1,161 yards (387 per game), seven touchdowns, and only two interceptions (98.4 passer rating) in his past three Thanksgiving games, and aims for his fourth consecutive 300-yard game on the holiday. Stafford has passed for 1,650 yards in five career games on Thanksgiving Day, the third-most in NFL history.

Detroit enters Week 12 following an 18-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

“This was a tough, hard-fought game,” said Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. “We knew it was going to take a great effort to win, and we got that.”

Stafford passed for 282 yards and ran for a touchdown, while wide receiver Golden Tate had eight catches for 73 yards in the victory. Johnson added five receptions for 88 yards in the contest. Johnson (702) became the first player in franchise history with at least 700 career receptions.

The Lions aim for their third consecutive victory this week when they face Philadelphia.

“This is positive to build upon,” said Caldwell. “It’s hard enough to win one game in this league, let alone two. Now we have to see if we can make it three against a really tough team with a short week on Thanksgiving Day.”

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is undefeated in Thanksgiving Day games, and plays on the holiday for the second consecutive season. Philadelphia has the highest winning percentage among active NFL franchises on Thanksgiving (minimum five games).

Thursday’s matchup marks the second time that Philadelphia travels to Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. On November 28, 1968, the Eagles defeated the Lions 12-0 behind four Sam Baker field goals at Tiger Stadium.

Philadelphia enters the game following a 45-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I think everyone understands how bad that was,” said Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin. “It was disappointing. We’ll go watch the film and evaluate. We have to get it fixed and play better on Thursday against Detroit.”

Philadelphia running back Darren Sproles had a 35-yard touchdown reception in the game, his first touchdown reception as an Eagle and the 28th of his career. Sproles is the only player in NFL history with at least 25 touchdown receptions (28), 15 rushing touchdowns (18) and five punt-return touchdowns (six).

“You have to be a pro and move on,” said quarterback Mark Sanchez, who passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns against the Buccaneers. “We are going to get another chance to play on Thanksgiving, which is going to be great. You get to have your family back at home watching, and then get a mini-bye the week after that. This could be the start of something good. We’ll figure it out and try to get a win on Thursday.”

Sanchez completed 20 of 29 passes (69 percent) for 217 yards and scored two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in his start on Thanksgiving last season. Eagles running back DeMarco Murray, who has played in three career games on Thanksgiving, aims for his fourth in a row with at least 100 scrimmage yards.

“We’re moving on and getting ready to play Detroit,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “I think we have a really good football team and I’m very confident in these football players.”



TE Zach Ertz (concussion), RB Ryan Mathews (concussion, groin)

QB Sam Bradford (concussion, left shoulder), C Jason Kelce (knee), T Jason Peters (back)

LB Kiko Alonso (ankle), LB Connor Barwin (quadricep), LB DeMeco Ryans (hamstring), DE Cedric Thornton (ankle), S Walter Thurmond (hamstring)


S Don Carey (back), WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), DT Caraun Reid (ankle), CB Darius Slay (neck), DT Gabe Wright (ankle)

CB Crezdon Butler (teeth), TE Eric Ebron (quadricep, hand)

By Staff of and news services

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