It's a new American tradition; everyone gathers as a family to watch the Lions get thrashed on Thanksgiving, because the Lions, recent improvements notwithstanding, have had a rough stretch as a professional football team. How long has Detroit been a Turkey Day laughingstock?
The chart at the top shows the point differential for all 73 of the Lions' Thanksgiving Day games dating back to 1934. For football fans of college age, it may be surprising to see that the Lions (despite zero Super Bowl appearances) haven't always been terrible. If you are not college age, and this sounds ridiculous, remember that current freshman were around three years old when Sanders retired.
The Detroit Lions lost their first Thanksgiving game to the Chicago Bears 19-16. 69 years later, in 2003, they beat the Packers 22-14 to bring their Thanksgiving record to a respectable 33-29-2 (.531), with a total point differential of plus 105. They had some solid streaks in there too: From 1950 to 1962 they went 10-3, with Hall of Famer Bobby Layne at the helm for seven of those wins. From 1989 to 2000 they went 9-3, thanks in large part to having perhaps the best running back in NFL history.
That's all gone to shit in recent years, as the Lions have lost their last nine in a row, by a remarkable average of 19.4 points per game (to compare, the Jaguars average margin this season is -16.5, which tops the Lions' own 0-16 margin of -15.6). In their winless 2008 season, they lost 47-10 to the Titans, their largest margin of defeat in Thanksgiving history. They now sit at 33-38-2 (.466), with a point differential of minus 70.
Detroit is favored by six points in their match-up against the reeling Packers tomorrow. Can Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford get Detroit back on Thanksgiving track?