NFL football on Thanksgiving is one of the best traditions of the holiday, it is equivalent to fireworks on the fourth of July. The Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, and other participants have provided background entertainment during the family gathering of Thanksgiving.
The Chicago Bears have been one of the more frequent participants to play turkey day, but their performance has been a bigger let down than bad green bean casserole.
The Bears have appeared on Thanksgiving 11 times since the Lions-Cowboys format became standard in 1970. They are also just one of four teams to play in the Detroit, Dallas, and primetime time games joining the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Giants.
They have only managed to win four of the 11 games during that time featuring losses against both the Lions and Cowboys with just two of the seven losses being decided by one possession.
The recurring theme in all of these games has been the lack of offense for the Bears as they have only scored more than 17 points three times since participating in 1977.
The three games came in 1977, 1980, and 1997 in which the Bears won two of those three games. Furthermore, the Bears have scored exactly 17 points in three games and have failed to score an offensive touchdown in four of those games. In a league that demands offense, the Bears offensive futility may cost them future appearances on Thanksgiving Day as they have turned some bad performances in the past.
The most recent game where Chicago scored more than 17 came all the way back in 1997 when hall of fame running back Barry Sanders ran for over 167 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Lions past the Bears in a 55-20 blowout. The game was actually shaping up to be an offensive shootout as the Bears scored all 20 points in the first half and featured five plays of 20 yards or longer to take a 20-17 lead into halftime. In the second half, It was all Lions as they scored 38 points featuring two Sanders touchdown runs of 25 and 40 yards.
Seven years later, the Bears would travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in what is considered to be one of the worse offensive Thanksgiving games in history. The game saw both teams play two quarterbacks, and three of the four quarterbacks featured in the game would never appear in another game again following the game. The Bears were led by quarterbacks Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn who combined for 15 pass completions and 132 passing yards.
The Cowboys starter Drew Henson who was pulled at halftime for inefficient play and replaced by Vinny Testaverde who led the Cowboys on two short scoring drives resulting a 21-7 Cowboys win. The Bears only touchdown came on an R.W. McQuarters interception return as the offense only ran 12 play in Cowboys territory and never got further than the Cowboys 35 yard line.
On a day where the food causes many to fall asleep and many non-sports relatives despise football being watched in their proximity it is hard to stay entertainment by an offensive lacking game. Close and competitive games always draw viewers whether it be the Leon Lett field goal blunder or Dave Williams overtime kickoff return. The Bears recently have only been apart of one close game on Thanksgiving which was their 2015 upset against the Packers during the primetime night game.
When the schedule was released, many saw the primetime Thanksgiving Night game as a foregone conclusion of a Packers blowout over the Bears seeing how they had done the same the year before winning at home 55-14. Many were shocked when the Bears came out victorious with a 17-13 win and held Aaron Rodgers to just one touchdown pass in the game. The game almost turned into a snooze fest as only three points were scored in the second half of the game as a defensive battle had ensued.
It will be interesting to see if the Bears will warrant being showcased on Thanksgiving in the upcoming years. The team is still marred in a rebuild and do not have a fun offense that is entertaining to watch. Having consistency at quarterback with Mitchell Trubisky may help as if he finds success, the NFL may want to advertise one of their upcoming superstars on turkey day in the next few years. If the Bears do get picked to appear in the next few years, make sure not to expect a lot of offense or a chance of the Bears being competitive based on their history on the holiday.