Bears vs. Lions: A Thanksgiving Rivalry by The Numbers

The Bears have an 18-15-2 record in 35 all-time Thanksgiving games, 17 of which have been played against Detroit

The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions will do battle on Thanksgiving in the Motor City, and it’s the latest chapter in a long-running holiday rivalry between the two clubs.

According to Pro Football Reference, Thursday’s meeting between the two teams is the 13th Thanksgiving Day showdown between the teams since 1947, and we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the noteworthy stats from the Turkey Day rivalry.

0 – The Detroit Lions will start David Blough at quarterback on Thanksgiving, and he has thrown a grand total of zero NFL passes in his career.

In fact, a quarterback making his NFL debut on the holiday is exceedingly rare. According to Rich Eisen of the NFL Network, the last quarterback to make his first career appearance on Thanksgiving was a gentleman named Tom Brady.   

5 – Bears quarterbacks have generally struggled against the Lions on Thanksgiving, although a few have had success, including Vince Evans and his pair of victories against Detroit on the holiday.

The Bears quarterback who struggled the most on the holiday was Jim Harbaugh, who posted a 1-1 record while throwing one touchdown pass and five interceptions.

7 - The Bears have had a rough stretch against the Lions in recent Thanksgiving showdowns, losing three consecutive holiday meetings between 1997 and 2014, but last year the Bears broke that streak with a 23-16 victory at Ford Field.

In the 12 games the teams have played against one another on Thanksgiving since 1947 (the earliest year available on the Pro Football Reference database), the Bears have a 7-5 record against Detroit.

18 - The Bears have been playing in Thanksgiving games since 1920, when the Decatur Staleys beat the Chicago Tigers 6-0. Among the 30 teams that don't traditionally host Thanksgiving games (the Lions and Cowboys excluded), the Bears have the most wins on the holiday, with 18 in 35 total contests. 

Only four teams in NFL history have zero wins on Thanksgiving, with the current incarnation of the Cleveland Browns having the distinction of being the worst Turkey Day team, with an 0-3 record. 

Only one team has never played in a Thanksgiving game: the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

55 – The Bears own the distinction of having the most lopsided loss in the Thanksgiving rivalry, losing 55-20 to the Lions in a 1997 game at the Pontiac Silverdome. Barry Sanders rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns in the emphatic victory.

292 – Speaking of Sanders, he absolutely destroyed the Bears on Thanksgiving, rushing for 292 yards and three touchdowns in three career Turkey Day games against Chicago. He was on the losing end of one of those games, however, a 10-6 defensive slugfest in 1993.

626 – The Lions’ most successful quarterback in Thanksgiving games against the Bears is, not surprisingly, Matthew Stafford, who has thrown for 626 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Chicago on the holiday.

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