It feels like it’s been an eternity since the Green Bay Packers’ 22-9 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 5.
Interestingly enough, the Lions were without superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson back then and now the Packers are without their superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers in part two of the series.
Will the Packers look as lost as the Lions did without Calvin or will they finally rise to the challenge? Does anyone want to win the NFC North?
These are the questions that fans want answered on Thanksgiving 2013.
Detroit Lions (6-5) Analysis: It’s fairly obvious that the Lions are their own worst enemy. In their recent losses to the Steelers and Bucs, it’s been stupid turnovers and questionable coaching which has led to competitive meltdowns.
The hardest thing to stomach with the Lions is how they’ve had a division gift-wrapped for them and they just don’t know how to accept it. For some reason, Detroit is completely capable of building leads, yet they continue to lean on their passing game which ranks 3rd in the league at 308.4 points per game. We all know Johnson is the best receiver in the game, but a running game can be your best friend when you want to avoid turning over the ball. Matthew Stafford has thrown 12 interceptions this season, most of them coming at times when he has no business dropping back in the pocket.
To go along with the wrong offensive plan, the Lions defense fits perfectly with an opponent who wants to come from behind. They have an unbelievable rush-defense (ranks 4th in the league) and a pass-defense that allows almost any quarterback to shred them up. If the Lions want to turn this season around, Head Coach Jim Schwartz needs to stop worrying about what he’s going to say in the press conference and worry about what he’s doing on the football field.
Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) Analysis: The Packers are in the midst of a four-game tailspin, including three losses and a tie at home to the divisional doormat, the Minnesota Vikings. To say they’ve struggled without Rodgers would be a massive understatement.
Coach Mike McCarthy has stated that Matt Flynn will make the start on Thanksgiving. Packers fans shouldn’t expect a repeat of the record-breaking performance in 2011 though. It would be absolutely shocking to see Flynn throw for 460 yards and six touchdowns because he hasn’t proven that he can throw the deep ball. It’s as if the Packers could use a combination of Flynn (knowledge of the playbook) and Scott Tolzien (great deep ball) instead of their individual skill-sets.
There will be one focus on defense and that will be to stop Megatron. Green Bay hopes the return of corner Sam Shields will provide the secondary with the necessary boost to do so, but that’s most likely wishful thinking. Nick Perry and Johnny Jolly will also make their return from injuries in an attempt to try to pressure Stafford in to committing those customary mistakes the Lions love to do. If the Lions are smart, they will look at the game-tape and see that the Vikings racked up 232 rushing yards on a soft Packers front-line.
Brutally Honest Prediction: Lions 31 Packers 20
If the preview came off as a little pessimistic and overly dramatic, it’s because these two teams have played horrible football as of late. The Chicago Bears have tanked with a failing defense and the Lions/Packers have squandered any chance of emerging as the division favorite. Heck, I’m under the belief that Minnesota has looked like the best team in the division and they have a 2-8-1 record. Nevertheless, the Lions should currently be the best team in the division and I expect them to show it in a Thanksgiving battle with the Packers who will keep gasping for air as they drown in the division without their safety raft in Rodgers.
TV Coverage: 11:30 AM CT FOX; Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst), and Pam Oliver/Erin Andrews (sidelines)
Betting Lines: Detroit favored by 7.0 points and over/under at 49.0 points
2013 Record straight up: 7-3-1
2013 Record against the spread: 6-5
2013 Record in over/under: 6-5
Week 12 Pick Redux: Predicted the Packers to win 27-20 over the Vikings (actually GB 26 MIN 26); Pushed straight up and hit the over/under (43.5), but missed against the spread (-4.0).
What do you think about this game and it’s implications for the NFL North? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Pictures obtained from 104star.com and jsonline.com
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