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Taking a closer look at the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day matchups

Matt Patricia's Lions are 4-6 and were shut out last week for the first time since 2009.
Matt Patricia's Lions are 4-6 and were shut out last week for the first time since 2009.Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The Detroit Lions decided to give Matt Patricia another chance to coach this year and have chosen to stick with him during a shaky season.

So far.

Patricia may be running out of time, going into the Lions’ annual home game on Thanksgiving against the Houston Texans.

The Lions (4-6) were shut out last week for the first time since 2009, and a loss to the Texans (3-7) would make it difficult to do what ownership said was necessary, play meaningful games in December.

“At the end of the day, everybody’s job is in jeopardy,’' Lions safety Duron Harmon said. “This is a production-based business. You win, you get a pat on the back, and you get job security. You lose, you don’t have job security.”


The Texans, meanwhile, are closing out the season with an interim leader. They fired coach and general manager Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start dropped him to 52-48 in six-plus seasons on the sideline.

Houston promoted 73-year-old Romeo Crennel to interim coach and he is 3-3, coming off a win over the Patriots.

Chances are, Patricia and Crennel may be out of work after the season.

“We could get together and cry in the same bucket because this is a tough business we’re in,’' Crennel said.

The two coaches were together on Bill Belichick’s staff in New England for one season in 2004, when Patricia was just getting started in the league and Crennel was about to become a first-time head coach in Cleveland.

Later on Thanksgiving Day, Washington visits Dallas. Despite both teams being 3-7, the winner will be in first place in the NFC East for at least a few days, longer if Philadelphia loses this weekend.

Quarterback Alex Smith was days away from a second career Thanksgiving start two years ago when Washington played at Dallas. But his horrific, career-threatening leg injury came the Sunday before against Houston.


Smith’s first appearance since that day was in Week 5 this year, followed by the 36-year-old’s first start two games ago after an injury to Kyle Allen, who took Dwayne Haskins’s job earlier this season, and his first victory last Sunday against Cincinnati.

“An opportunity like this doesn’t get any cooler than this week to play on Thanksgiving,” said Smith, who lost his other Thanksgiving start for San Francisco against Baltimore nine years ago. “It has special meaning for me, especially considering two years ago and on the eve of this game was when everything happened. It’s crazy to come a full circle.”

Andy Dalton’s Thanksgiving debut comes four days after he helped end a four-game losing streak with his first win as Cowboys quarterback, 31-28 over Minnesota.

The former Cincinnati starter replaced Dak Prescott, who is out for the season with a broken ankle, before missing two consecutive games himself. The first was because of a concussion sustained in Washington’s 25-3 win in Week 7, the second after a positive COVID-19 test.

“I’m very happy for the offense and Andy, him being away,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. “He really gave us the ability to stay with the run and the pass. That’s the way we want to play.”