The Detroit Lions are one of those NFL teams that play every Thanksgiving, but most of the time the result is nothing for Detroit fans to be thankful for. For nearly a decade (since 2003 when the Lions last won the holiday game), the Lions and their losing ways have continued to make football fans wonder why this team gets the distinguished honor of being the sitting duck each and every Turkey Day.
Though the Lions are less dismal this year (2-8) than in some prior seasons, this year they will have to face the best team in the league (The 8-2 New England Patriots) in the Thursday showdown at half-past high noon.
Even with Tom Brady listed as questionable for this game, a Patriots pick to beat the spread in this game is a lock. Brady will probably play three or four series ending in scores before Bill Belichick will take him out to give Brian Hoyer the majority of the snaps. Belichick may also decide to leave Brady in if the offensive line can open up the run all day despite the absence of Guard Stephen Neal, also on the injury report this week as questionable with a bad shoulder. Sammy Morris, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Danny Woodhead can take the load and pressure off Brady by going to the ground early and often for big gains.
This type of game won't be treated like an easy win before it starts, though, and the Lions won't be able to do their best impression of the Cleveland Browns on Thursday. Belichick does not have to make this a statement game on a short-rest week, and he'll play it smart. If his team can rise to the occasion early, though, it will inevitably be the kind of game that serves as a general tune up for all phases of Patriot attacks on defense and offense.
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The Lions have a Thanksgiving tradition of losing that is longstanding and faster to put fans to sleep than too much turkey. The saving grace this year is that the New England Patriots, a team representing the area where the Pilgrims first landed, is going to get another showcase game to get everyone on the team in gear for a run at the playoffs and another trip to the Super Bowl.
For Detroit to be upstart spoilers they will need to be dominant from the start, something they have not done since scoring 44 points against the Saint Louis Rams in week 5. The defense will have to step up early and stop the running attack the Patriots are sure to engage at the outset. Ndamukong Suh is a juggernaut for the Lions with 7 sacks and 41 tackles already this season, so Brady must be constantly aware of this defensive tackle and get his line to neutralize the threat. Defensive End Kyle Vanden Bosch has 4 sacks of his own and will be notching his 50th tackle in the Patriots game the first time he gets a chance to lay a hit on someone with the ball.
The Lions offense will have to stick to strengths in the passing game if they have any hope of upsetting the Patriots, but even the arm of Peyton Manning and all his worldly experience weren't enough to bring to bear against this constantly improving Patriots squad last week.
The Patriots ought to win big in this one and score over 40 points if their solid starters stay in for the duration, but their defense has been shaky throughout the year. Detroit may put up at least 21 points of their own in this contest, and look for their offensive stars to overshoot the mild expectations of many experts in what should be an entertaining and exciting game.
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Thanks to our friends at BetGameday for this article.