2011 NFL Schedule: Lowly Detroit Lions Could Put Up a Better Thanksgiving Fight

Adam HirshfieldFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2011

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 25:  Maurice Morris #28 of the Detroit Lions celebrates with teammates after scoring on a one yard run in the second quarter to give the Lions a 14-3 lead over the New England Patriots at Ford Field on November 25, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

One of the first things I look at when the NFL schedule is released each spring is the Thanksgiving matchup.

Or, in other words, I do a quick scan of the schedule to see who’s going to beat the Detroit Lions while I’m sucking down turkey and cranberry sauce.

The Lions are 0-7 in their last seven Thanksgiving games, and bashing their involvement in one of the Thursday national TV matchups has become as much a part of the holiday as stuffing and roasted squash.

But I have higher hopes for 2011.

Who knows who the up-and-coming Lions will match up against in that Turkey Day special, but with Calvin Johnson a year older, a healthy Matthew Stafford, a more experienced Jahvid Best and an improved defense led by Ndamukong Suh, I have to think they’ll put up a better fight.

Even ESPN.com’s wonderfully talented LZ Granderson, an admitted Lions fan, suggested that his team should lose the right to host the Thanksgiving game back in 2009, a day before the Lions lost 34-12 to the Green Bay Packers:

"Fact is, no team that has won only one playoff game in 52 years should be a marquee holiday game on network television just because that's the way it's always been—not if the goal is to keep people excited about football."

Fair point.

But what if they’re an up-and-coming team with a chance at competing for a playoff spot? Couldn’t that be a fun way to spend your Turkey Day?

Or look at it this way: A Lions game on Thanksgiving will certainly be easier to digest this year than that roasted squash.