Last year, the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings faced off on Thanksgiving in a bout between the two top teams in the NFC North. The Lions and Vikings shared a 6-4 record and both were considered a top-half team in the league.
It’s an extremely similar situation this year, as the two teams face off, again atop the NFC North, and both riding significant winning streaks. The Vikings have won six straight, and are coming off a huge win over the Los Angeles Rams. The Lions are winners of three straight, and have pulled themselves back into the playoff picture in the NFC.
As a result, Thursday’s game is one of the biggest in the conference. The Lions are entering the game as a top-10 team, according to several Week 12 power rankings.
SB Nation (“hope rankings”): 10th (up 1)
ESPN: 12th (up 2)
Washington Post: 10th (up 3)
Bleacher Report (Simms): 10th (no change)
Yahoo! Sports: 12th (up 1)
USA Today: 11th (up 2)
CBS: 12th (up 2)
NFL.com: 10th (up 4)
The Vikings, however, are a consensus top-five team. After their convincing win over the Rams, it’s hard to deny just how well this team is currently playing. In all of these power rankings, the Vikings are either the second or third best team in the NFC, trailing only the 9-1 Eagles and occasionally the 8-2 Saints.
So if the Lions want to propel themselves back into the the top 10 of the league unanimously, a win over the Vikings on Thanksgiving is sure to do it.
Of course, the more important result of a win would be the valuable ground gained in the NFC North playoff race. A win would draw the Lions within one game of the division lead with a season series sweep over Minnesota. Considering the Vikings have road trips to Carolina and Atlanta ahead, a Lions win on Thanksgiving would put them in an extremely favorable position with five games remaining.