The Detroit Lions haven't won the NFC North division in nearly 25 years. In fact, the last time the Lions won the North, it was called the NFC Central division. They have had a few good years in between this incredibly long drought in Motown, however, 2017 is the year of change. It has to be. The opportunity is there, no excuses.

When most radio hosts in Detroit and nationwide were predicting the Lions would finish 4-12, 6-10 or 8-8 at best, I called a local station and was laughed at when I said they would win the division. Back in August, I predicted the Lions would win the NFC North.

Why? Because I had a feeling that this is Matt Stafford’s year. It just had to be.

Time for Stafford to earn his keep

Matt Stafford is a good quarterback, that really can’t be argued. He was a beast at the University of Georgia and he came to Detroit to be the savior - the man who could finally lead this ragtag team to a division title, multiple playoff berths, and a Super Bowl. He has several weapons on offense, including one of the best wideouts in the NFL in Golden Tate. The Lions also have a very good defense, and they just added a key ingredient to the fold on Wednesday evening. The blocks are all in place for this team to make a run, but it all starts - or stops on Thursday.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Detroit Lions can take a step forward in the Stafford era by winning a game at home that they definitely should win.

The Lions are healthy, they are playing well, and they have to finally get over the hump of beating a team that the NFL experts say they shouldn't.

The Vikings come into Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup as 3-point favorites against the Lions.

Why? Well, maybe because Stafford entered the 2017 season with a record of 5-46 against teams that were .500 or above, and the simple truth is until Stafford wins games consistently vs teams like the Vikings, the groans will never go away.

The Vikings are playing great football. At 8-2, they can put a stranglehold on the NFC North by beating the second place Lions, who are sitting at 6-4.

A loss would put Detroit three full games behind Minnesota and compete for a wild card in the log-jammed NFC.

So, one game doesn’t make a season, right? A loss Thursday still gives Detroit a great shot at the postseason.

In this case, I say wrong. Very wrong.

Sure, mathematically the Lions would still be in the middle of the wild-card race even if they lost to Minnesota, but Detroit needs this game, for so much more than one simple win. Lions fans are so used to losing that it becomes second nature to be okay with a “possible” wild card or a “we did better than expected this season” mentality. Beat the Vikings, keep on proving the experts wrong, win this division, and give this city a home playoff game.

It is time for Matt Stafford to have that breakout game that grabs the attention of other teams by showing the league the Lions are for real.

Cam Newton did it in Carolina in 2015, Matt Ryan in Atlanta last season, and now it is Matt Stafford's time.

Freeney signed

Oh yeah, one more Thanksgiving treat. The Lions signed former Colts stud defensive end Dwight Freeney. Freeney was playing at an incredible level in Seattle, which made many NFL gurus wonder why they released him. This is a great pick up for the Lions. Freeney is reunited with his former coach Jim Caldwell. If Freeney plays at the level he did with the Seahawks this season, the Lions pass rush will greatly improve.