Gobble! Gobble! Turkey day is here, a day where we can all sit back and enjoy good food, good conversation, and most importantly, some NFL action. As traditions go, watching football on Thanksgiving Day is a favorite, and it was Detroit that started it all. As a marketing ploy to drum up attendance at the new team’s games, then Lions’ owner, George A. Richards, arranged for the team to host the Chicago Bears in the University of Detroit Stadium on Thanksgiving Day. Richards also arranged for the game to be televised nationally via NBC. The holiday game was such a success that Detroit continues to host it to this day; the Thanksgiving Day game this Thursday will mark the Lions’ 71st. The (2-8) Detroit Lions will welcome the hot (8-2) New England Patriots into Ford Field for a Thursday afternoon Thanksgiving Day affair, kickoff slated for 12:30 PM EST.
He’ll never match the numbers of his record breaking 2007 season, when he threw 50 touchdown passes and New England went 16-0, but Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is having the second-best season of his NFL career. Brady has completed 215 of 329 passes (65.3 percent) for 2,362 yards, with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions, for a 100.6 passer rating. Look for Brady to have a big game against the Lions’ offense, but don’t be surprised if the Lions’ front four puts more pressure on him than Brady is accustomed to facing. Secretly, New England has established a solid, traditional one-two punch backfield with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. The ground game could get some help this week in the form of veteran RB Fred Taylor. Despite being inactive on Sunday against Indianapolis, Taylor has had limited participation in practice over the last two weeks and his toe injury has shown signs of progress. Taylor hasn’t played since a Week 3 win over Buffalo, but was a pretty solid option for the Pats prior to getting hurt. In the season opener versus Cincy, he carried 14 times for 71 yards.
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Most everyone in the NFL concedes that the Lions are finally on the right path, even if their 2-8 record doesn’t indicate it. With Matthew Stafford done for the season the best Detroit can do is catch the wounded Vikings for third in the NFC North, even if they get decent play at QB from backup Shaun Hill. Head coach Jim Schwartz has instilled a new swagger for this franchise, they no longer are the pushovers in the NFL. One of the main reasons the Lions have a newfound charisma may be from their 2010 first rounder DT Ndamukong Suh. The Nebraska product is the leading vote getter for DT’s in this years Pro Bowl and he may very well be the next elite defensive lineman in this league. On Sunday in Dallas, Suh led the Lions with eight tackles and shared a sack with DE Lawrence Jackson. Suh also played a key role in a safety when he was held in the end zone by Cowboys LT Leonard Davis. For the Lions, the player to watch is receiver Calvin Johnson. There was a time in the 1990s when the chance to see Barry Sanders was an important part of Thanksgiving for every NFL fan, and Johnson may be close to establishing the same kind of reputation as the go-to player for the Detroit franchise. Yes, the Lions stink, but Johnson is the most talented wide receiver in football. He’ll be a treat to watch on Turkey Day. Whether this can be a game or not depends on Hill’s ability to move the ball against a shaky Patriots defense that allows opponents to gain nearly 400 yards a game but has shown the ability to make plays when they’re most needed.
Patriots vs Lions Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
New England Patriots -6.5
@ Detroit Lions +6.5
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Patriots vs Lions Betting Predictions for Week 12:
Spread Prediction (TOP PLAY) – This will be the Patriots’ fourth Thanksgiving Day game and the third against the Lions on Thanksgiving. The last time the Patriots played on Thanksgiving Day was Nov. 28, 2002 when New England defeated Detroit, 20-12, at Ford Field. The Patriots have been successful against NFC teams in recent seasons, compiling a 32-5 (.865) regular-season record against the conference since 2001. Including the postseason, the Patriots are 35-6 (.854) against the NFC with a 3-1 Super Bowl record since 2001. New England gives 6.5 in this one, a number that looks short. Tom Brady has always played well indoors and on artificial turf, and he’s at the top of his game right now. If Brady even approximates what he did to the Steelers a few weeks ago (30 for 43, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions), New England should be able to put this one in Belichick’s back pocket. We will side with the team whose name is responsible for bringing us this joyous occasion.
Game Total Prediction – With an ailing Tom Brady and a second string Shaun Hill playing I do not see this one becoming a shoot-out. The Detroit Lions defense has looked increasingly exceptional all year and, except for last weeks debacle in Dallas, they have been keeping their opponents down to less then 18 points per contest. If Detroit can get pressure and hold down the fort in the passing game they can the Patriots in relative check. New England showed some vulnerability on the road with a recent loss at Cleveland. Detroit’s pass defense is actually solid this year and their d-line is among the NFC’s best. The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New England’s last 6 games when playing Detroit. Take a look at the UNDER in the early contest on Thanksgiving Day. Cheers and eat up!