Patriots vs. Lions Preview: Thanksgiving Trap Game?
This week the 8-2 (3-2 away from home) Patriots will travel to Detroit to play the 2-8 (2-2 at home) Lions, to kick off the Thursday night Thanksgiving football lineup. The Lions are better then their record suggests as five of their eight losses have been by a touchdown or less. The Patriots however are coming into this game as hot as ever, coming off big wins over the Steelers and the Colts.
However this looks a lot like the Cleveland game where the Patriots went in heavy favourites after three big wins only to get decimated by the Browns. Watch out as the Lions try to follow the Browns lead and upset the Patriots.
Lions Receivers Vs. New England Secondary
Maybe the only weak point on an otherwise good Patriots team is the pass defence. Their secondary is littered with young inexperienced players that will surely become great players in the future, but at the moment they are to inexperienced to play to a high level in the NFL.
Unluckily for them they go up against one of the best WR's the NFL has to offer in Calvin Johnson. Johnson is a physical specimen and should have a big day against the Patriots. Rookie Devin McCourty, who has been very impressive so far this year, will likely be matched up against Johnson and it will be interesting to see how he does.
A couple positives for the Patriots defence are that Matthew Stafford is once again injured leaving Shaun Hill the starting job and also that Jahvid Best maybe out leaving the Lions will little run game, meaning the Patriots can focus more on dropping into coverage.
Lions D Line Vs. Patriots O Line
So far this year the Lions defensive line has been great with Kyle Vanden Bosch looking like his old self and Ndamukong Suh having an amazing rookie season. Defensive end Cliff Avril was also doing well compiling four sacks in seven games before getting injured but his replacement Lawrence Jackson has 3.5 sacks also.
The Patriots offensive line has only given up 14 sacks so far this season, behind only the Colts and the Giants. And in the last two games against the always dangerous Steelers and the Colts with Mathis and Freeney they have only given up one sack. As well as having success in pass protection the line has been devastating run blockers opening up big holes for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead.
One of the key battles in this game will be fought in the trenches.
Special Teams Battle
Both of these teams have good special teams units. In the return games Stefan Logan and Brandon Tate maybe two of the best in the league with them having a combined three kick return touchdowns this season.
Both teams also have good Punters with both Nick Hanson and rookie Zoltan Mesko averaging over 40 yards a punt. Mesko has actually landed over 31% of his punts inside the opponents 20 yard line.
However both teams have lost their starting kickers through injury with the Patriots kicker on IR.
It will be interesting to see who wins in the battle between these two special teams units.
Brady & Co. Vs. Lions Secondary
Detroit have a young and talented secondary that is very underrated. It is lead by two talented second year players in Louis Delmas and Alphonso Smith, tied for third in the NFL with 5 interceptions.
They will go up against Tom Brady and his many weapons. Brady has been excellent in the last two weeks throwing for 536 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. And he did all that whilst keeping a very high 72% pass completion rating.
It helps that Brady has so many versatile weapons to throw to with the likes of Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Brandon Tate, free agent pickup Danny Woodhead and rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
If the Lions can limit Brady's stats then they drastically improve their chances of winning.
The Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL right now coming off massive wins over top AFC rivals yet I still have a sneaky feeling they will have trouble against the Lions.
Despite my suspicions I can't pick against the Patriots here and I expect them to win, but I won't be sleeping on the Lions.
Score Prediction: Patriots 34-21 Lions