Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Playing On Thanksgiving Could Ensure A Victory For The Bears Against The Ravens on Sunday


The Chicago Bears have a tough week and a half ahead of them as they will host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and then play again on Thanksgiving in Detroit against the Lions. Playing two games within less than a week used to be tough for NFL teams, but has become standard with the NFL playing a game on Thursday night every week. Since 1991, the Bears have had good fortune when playing the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and that same fortune could come in handy against the Ravens.

The Bears Have Been Victorious On The Sunday Before Playing on Thanksgiving

Since 1991, the Bears have played nine times on Thanksgiving. Although their record on Thanksgiving over the last 30 years has not been special, playing the Sunday before has been extremely beneficial. In the nine games that Chicago has played on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, they have compiled a 7-2 record. A significant aspect of that record is that five of the seven victories came from Bears’ teams that would finish their seasons with losing records.

Of the seven victories, three came on the road, with two of those three games being decided by three points or less. In 1993, the Bears, in their first year with Dave Wannstedt as their head coach, pulled off a major upset against the Kansas City Chiefs on the road. Chicago scored a late touchdown following a Chiefs’ interception led to a 19-17 victory. Six years later, Dick Jauron’s Bears would win an overtime thriller on the road against the San Diego Chargers 23-20. quarterback Jim Miller passed for over 300 yards in his second start with Chicago.

Six of the nine games before Thanksgiving have been played at home, where the Bears hold a 4-2 record. The two losses came against the Indianapolis Colts in 2004 and the Denver Broncos in 2015. Both losses were against teams that had Peyton Manning on their team. In the 2004 game, Manning would pass for four touchdowns in a 41-10 blowout and would pass for a record-tying six touchdowns on Thanksgiving four days later against the Lions. The Hall of Fame quarterback was sidelined with an injury in the 2015 game against the Bears as the Broncos won 17-15 after the Bears missed a game-tying two-point conversion attempt.

Chicago wouldn’t play again on Thanksgiving until 2018. The Bears had their Sunday game before their Thanksgiving game against the Lions flexed to Sunday Night against the Minnesota Vikings. In front of an electric Soldier Field crowd, the Bears beat the Vikings 25-21 to maintain control of first place in the NFC North. In the shortest time between games in NFL history, the Bears defeated the Lions 23-16 four days later, with backup quarterback Chase Daniel. A year later, the Bears would be the New York Giants 20-7 before their Thanksgiving victory over the Lions.

Added Preparation For Thanksgiving Game Could Be Cause For Sunday Success

There is no significant trend for each of the Bears’ wins the Sunday before playing on Thanksgiving, but added preparation for two games in 11 days could be the cause. Before playing on Thursday night every week of the NFL season, Whenever road teams would play on Thanksgiving, the common question is how the teams prepare on a short week. Most of the time, road teams would either install two game plans the week before the Sunday game before Thanksgiving.

Furthermore, the teams that will play on Thanksgiving will install a simple and generic game plan when preparing for the game. In 2018, the Bears spent more time game-planning for the Sunday night Vikings game than the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions four days later.

The Bears have a good chance of defeating the Ravens on Sunday, given how they match up and how they are facing their opponent at the right time. The Ravens struggled against a terrible Miami Dolphins team last week and allowed a combined 300 passing yards to quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Tua Tagovailoa. Baltimore’s run defense has struggled as their opponents have rushed for over 100 yards in three of their last five games. The Bears’ offense currently ranks fifth in the league in rushing yards per game.

Chicago is in dire need of a victory on Sunday as they currently have a four-game losing streak. Given the history of prior Bears’ teams playing on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the 2021 Bears’ team has a good chance of snapping their four-game losing streak against the Ravens. If Chicago loses to Baltimore, it could make for a tough Thanksgiving game against the Lions.

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.

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