The National Football League's Thanksgiving tradition lives on again in Week 12 with a great matchup between division rivals Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. With both teams trending atop the NFL Power Rankings, this game is sure to be an instant classic.
After their electrifying, come from behind, 14-point victory against the Carolina Panthers, the Lions have silenced even more critics. They now look to prevent history by giving the first loss to the undefeated Packers. With Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers playing at the top of their games, it will be both team's toughest tests of the season.
Here are the five keys to how the Lions will ace the test and hand the Packers their first loss of the season in Week 12.
The Packers passing offense plays right into the Lions greatest strength. With the fifth best passing defense in the league, Aaron Rodgers will to have his toughest matchup of the year in Week 12.
Through 10 games, the Lions have only allowed 10 touchdowns through the air (third best) to go with a passer rating of 69 (fourth best). Aaron Rodgers on the other hand has thrown for 31 touchdowns (first) and has the best passer rating in the NFL at 127.4.
In order for the Lions to win this game, they must live up to their top-five ranking.
The Lions are also top five in interceptions with 15 on the year, and turnovers will be vital to the victory. If the Lions can add to Aaron Rodgers' five interceptions, they should get the edge in the contest.
The Lions are top 10 in almost every passing category, which matches up great against Green Bay's less than stellar secondary. Throwing for over 272 yards a game, the Lions are sure to add to the Packers' second-to-last ranking at 289 yards per game.
Stafford has thrown for 25 touchdowns, which is second only to Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has given up 18 touchdowns, which is good for 29th in the league. Stafford is sure to exploit the secondary as he has all season, especially with their new-found running game to back him up.
This game is sure to turn into a shootout and Stafford has all the weapons to match Rodgers. With the Lions clearly owning the better pass defense, they should come out on top.
The resurgence of Kevin Smith and the Lions rushing attack will play a key role in the victory against the Packers. After the Lions scooped him up off the streets three weeks ago, he slowly worked his way into the Lions offense before exploding against the Panthers.
The former Lions third round pick looked promising his rookie year before he got hit with the injury bug, which temporarily ended his football career. After vigorously training, he finally got a shot to go back to his old team, and it has paid off so far for both sides.
Green Bay has a very average rushing defense, grading out between 12 and 17 in almost every category. If Smith can repeat his Week 11 Offensive Player of the Week performance, he is sure to lead the Lions to victory.
Going into the season, the Lions main strength was their defensive line, and it has proven key so far. With 27 sacks already through 10 games, they will look to disrupt Aaron Rodgers this week.
The last time the Lions pass rush went up against this Packers team, Rodgers did not fare well. Lasting less than a half, he was knocked out of the game with a concussion. This allowed the Lions to come away with a victory.
This matchup wont be much different, as Green Bay has already given up 25 sacks and just lost their best pass protecting running back in James Starks. This will play right into the Lions hands, as they will attempt to only rush four to defend the high-powered Packers passing attack.
If the Lions front four can get to Aaron Rodgers, forcing him into mistakes, it will surely lead to a victory for the home team.
The Detroit Lions started it all. Way back in 1934 the tradition began with a game against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day. After a national cry to remove the Lions from their own tradition, they are finally back to relevance and looking to prove the nation wrong.
With a 7-3 record, the Lions appear playoff-bound for the first time in over a decade. Detroit has one of the toughest schedules going down the stretch, and a win against the Packers would help to secure a wild card spot.
Ford Field is sure to be even more electric this week than their Monday night matchup against the Chicago Bears. The crowd noise contributed to the Bears committing nine false start penalties. NINE. The fan's will look to improve on their league leading 25 false start penalties at home and carry their team to victory once again.
With these keys, the Lions will start off the holiday by handing the Packers their first loss of the season.