For the New England Patriots, this game is expected to be an easy win to put the Pats one game closer to the playoffs. However, unlike a vast majority of recent Thanksgiving games featuring the Lions, there is potential for an upset here. Nndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch have transformed the Lions' defensive line into one of the best in the league, and as a result the Lions' entire defense has become respectable. Additionally, the offense has become potent despite quarterback Matthew Stafford getting frequently hurt and missing a vast majority of the season.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged that to YahooSports' Jason Cole, telling him "Do people know how much better that team is than anything they've had there in years? They've been in, like, five of their losses, coming right down to the end. And they're doing that with a backup quarterback pretty much the whole season."
The Lions have been much better this season than they have in seasons past, but their luck has been absolutely terrible, causing them to lose far more games than they should have. The Patriots' defensive backfield is finally starting to gel, but they will be tested by receiver Calvin Johnson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Running back Jahvid Best will be sure to keep the Patriots from focusing exclusively on the pass, though.
The Patriots' offense has been forced to become more balanced since they traded away Randy Moss. They've lined Tom Brady up under center a lot more frequently, and the added running threat has given the Patriots more room in the passing game. Deion Branch and Wes Welker have more space to find holes in the defense and make clutch catches, and Brandon Tate is developing into a deep threat who can stretch defenses. Meanwhile, former Jet Danny Woodhead has assumed a role in the Patriots' offense similar to that of Reggie Bush in the Saints' offense. With all of these weapons, the Lions' defense will be hard-pressed to stop New England. While the Patriots should win convincingly, don't be surprised if the game is less of a massacre than expected due to the Lions' improvements. - Hank Koebler, IV
Hank is a sports journalist attending the University of Missouri's school of journalism.
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