Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers: 5 Lions to Watch on Turkey Day

James Van Etten@jbvanettenContributor INovember 23, 2011

Detroit Lions fans are decked in Thanksgiving Day costumes, November 24, 2005, at Ford Field, Detroit.  The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Lions 27 - 7.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

There are five Lions you must watch as the NFL shines its national spotlight on its annual pilgrimage to Ford Field.

The Detroit Lions hope to be rather inhospitable in their hosting of the undefeated Green Bay Packers this Thursday and expect to create their own undefeated streak in the process.

What do I mean? Well, the divisional showdown will be the Lions' second Thanksgiving Day clash of the season. The previous Turkey Day Classic, the Canadian edition, was the Monday Night Football affair with the Chicago Bears in which the Lions feasted on Jay Cutler, sans gravy, in a 24-13 victory.

As always, I’ll avoid the necessity of telling you to watch the cornucopia of first-round draft picks Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh in the first serving of the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day turdunken.

Grab your Thanksgiving Pants, here are the Van Etten V…


Dominic Raiola

The quarterback of the offensive line will have to be on his game this week as Dom Capers brings his stunting 3-4 defense to Ford Field in hopes of causing the offensive front to second guess where the extra man will be coming from.

Clay Matthews is listed as an outside linebacker, but the Fabio locks can come off the edge, up the middle or anywhere in between.It will be up to Dom to give his linemates the correct calls and recognize where the extra rusher is coming from and Matthew Stafford will be very thankful if the front five can put together a protective front line stiffer than cold mash potatoes.

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Dominic Raiola #51 of the Detroit Lions listens for the play in the huddle during the NFL season opening game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 Kevin Smith

The No. 1 NFL feel-good story this week is Kevin Smith. What he did Sunday after lying on the couch just a couple weeks prior is the stuff ABC family movies are made of.

This week, his blocking should take center stage with the exotic blitz packages employed by the Packers. They’ll bring linebackers from all different gaps and Charles Woodson off the corner—it will be critical for Smith to recognize the extra man and pick him up to allow Stafford to remain comfortable in the pocket and make the Packers pay for the blitz gamble.

Kevin should get some opportunities in the flat as well. If he can get chip blocks on the outside blitzes, it could open screen lanes larger than the distance between myself and any candied yam offering.


Brandon Pettigrew

The Packers allow the fifth most fantasy points to the tight end position. With their continual use of the blitz, the safety valve that is Pettigrew should get plenty of work.The last time the Lions faced a 3-4 front against Dallas, Pettigrew had one of his better reception games with six catches.

If not Pettigrew, perhaps Tony Scheffler will get some extra looks. Wouldn’t that be great for the nation to watch the Western Michigan Bronco break out a discount double-check end-zone celebration?

 Corey Williams

The former Packer has plenty of respect for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, stemming from his time in Green Bay.

"When he came in, there was just something special about the dude because in practice, he took practice like a game," Williams said. "He used to go against our secondary, at the time we had a good secondary, and when I say he'd get out there and compete like it was a real game, that's what he used to do. And we knew then, if he could throw the ball like that on our secondary then he was going to be something special."(

The big fella will probably always feel slighted as he was traded to the Cleveland Browns after posting his career-best season in 2007. Going from the Pack to the Browns is like sitting down in anticipation of grandma’s homemade Thanksgiving Day feast, only to be disappointed with a Snoopy offering of toast, popcorn and jelly beans.

Although he did not practice Tuesday, I would expect a strong effort from Corey on Thursday.


Eric Wright

The man who joined the team less than four months ago, now appears to be the top cat in the defensive secondary.

Wright was matched up with Steve Smith exclusively and held him to one of his lowest production totals of the year.

This week, Wright will again be the center of attention as the Packers' aerial attack comes to town. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson will test Wright all day as Aaron Rodgers has covered nearly 3200 yards through the air this season.

Rodgers is completing over 72 percent of his passing attempts and has thrown an interception once in every 81 attempts, so don’t expect Rodgers to offer up any humble pie.

Expect Wright to get beat at some point, but with all good corners, his memory must be shorter than the distance you keep from the “adult drinks” at your family gathering.

As long as Wright’s positive plays outnumber his negatives, the Lions should have a great shot at giving the ’72 Dolphins reason for celebration.


Those are my five Lions to watch, hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as you share a magnum of your favorite red wine with family and indulge in plenty of dressing, stuffing or whatever you wish to call that carbohydrate delicacy!!


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