Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Nov 2011

Thanksgiving Football Doesn't Get Any Better

This is the second annual article for NBC where I write six stat factoids about the six Thanksgiving teams, and this one turned out really well! I fiddle with Aaron Rodgers' completion rates, go through Lions history, and look at some historic kickers who compare with David Akers, among other things.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 23 Nov 2011

20 comments, Last at 28 Nov 2011, 8:08pm by dryheat


by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 9:24am

"Rodgers showed signs of mortality" against the Bucs, I think, not the Lions. Also, the 2-1 Lions team was 1982, as you correctly note in item 3 in your list of Lions teams, not 1981 as the list currently says.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 9:34am

OK, editing done ... An entire section on how the Lions haven't been very good in a long time? You could write that just about any time. I'd rather have seen something about the games those teams actually played.

You want underwhelming? Try the 2000 Patriots, the Lions' opponent on Thanksgiving. Detroit whipped them 34-9. New England finished 5-11 that season; losing to the Lions on national television humiliated them so that they turned around and won the Super Bowl the next year.

The 1991 Lions met the 9-3 Bears on Thanksgiving in a matchup not too different than this year's. Detroit prevailed, 16-6, pulling even with Chicago in the division. It would prove to be a pivotal game: Detroit won out, Chicago lost in the season finale to San Francisco, and the Lions earned the #2 seed and a first-round bye, setting up their lone post-merger playoff win. (Dallas, their playoff victim? So humiliated by the loss that they turned around and won the Super Bowl the next two years.)

In 1982, Detroit met an equally uninspiring team, Ray Perkins' Giants. 0-3 New York beat Detroit 13-6 on their way to a 4-5 record; both they and 4-5 New Orleans stayed home when the Lions took the final spot in the NFC quarterfinals. (No, the Giants did not win the Super Bowl in 1983. It took them three more years.)

In 1971, Kansas City was the victim: as in 1991, Detroit beat a team one game better. The 32-21 win (a solid win; the Chiefs scored a late touchdown to make it respectable) moved the Lions to 7-3-1. Unlike 1991, it was their last win of the season. Close losses to Philadelphia and San Francisco plus a blowout loss to Minnesota left Detroit at 7-6-1 and unable to return to the playoffs ... the Chiefs won out, finishing 10-3-1 atop the AFC West.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 10:07am

So, you're saying that if the Lions blow out the Pack tomorrow, Green Bay's a lock for the Super Bowl?

by DGL :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 1:32pm

In other words, the 2011 Lions are ranked too low because Tanier is deep in a drunken haze over the Eagles' play this year. Picking out the three or four good games played by the Lions on Thanksgiving is way better than this. Megatron roolz!

(It's meant as an homage, not a dig. I really have the greatest respect for you as a commenter.)

by BlueStarDude :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 11:25am

Thank you for talking about Fiametta. I couldn't believe that Moose Johnston of all people failed to mention him at all during the telecast. I was beginning to think only Cowboys fans knew about what difference maker Fiametta has been.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 11:50am

Kinda makes me glad Fiametta is an unsung hero, because hearing Moose Johnston sing is not on my bucket list.

by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 1:09pm

He's been pretty great. And he's still so unsung that nobody knows how to spell his name - not Tanier, not NBC Sports, not Cowboys fans posting here. It's Fiammetta, not Fiametta.

by Tepid Coffee (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 11:45am

Is the plural of end-around "end-arounds" or "ends-around"? I've seen the first usage three or four rimes now in the last month, and every time it makes me wonder.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 11:55am

I think ends-around would be multiple ends going around on a single play

by dryheat :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 12:06pm

I would go with end-arounds, unless both ends switch places during the play, in which case ends-around would probably be correct.

I've given up the "times out" fight.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 12:16pm

If Reggie Bush is lined up wide but is listed as a RB, is it still an end-around?

by Dean :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 12:20pm

No, it's a tackle for loss.

by bernie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 12:55pm

Haha it's funny coz it's true.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 12:59pm

I'm pretty sure "end's a round" is an anatomical term.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 1:35pm

"This is the best wide receiver class since Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, Marvin Harrison and others entered the league in 1996"

This may end up being true, but it's a bold statement at this point given the 2001 class: Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, Santana Moss, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Chris Chambers, Koren Robinson and Ken-Yon Rambo. That's three guys who may get Hall of Fame consideration, three more who went to at least one pro bowl, another who had a thousand yard season as a receiver and went to a pro bowl as a return man, and one who just had a freakin' awesome name.

by Dean :: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 2:51pm

I'm glad you tied that together at the end. You had me really confused for a moment.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 9:45am

Nothing is over!

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 3:03pm

He's living what is.

by dryheat :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 8:08pm

I don't remember which game I was watching at the time, probably UGA/GA Tech, but I noticed another Rambo on the sidelines.