ALLEN PARK - OK, it really is now or never for the Detroit Lions.
With the Chicago Bears running away with the division title at 7-3 and the Minnesota Vikings now a full game ahead at 5-5, the Lions (4-6) have to go on a winning streak now and there's no better time to start one than on Thanksgiving Day.
Detroit has historically risen up and played like champions in front of the nationally televised audience and they'll need to do so with Michael Vick and the Falcons coming in to do battle.
Lions coach Steve Mariucci has decided, with the season on the line, to play things super close to the vest. This week's practices are closed to the media and Mariucci's tatic appears to have worked.
When asked who he expected to see starting at quarterback for the Lions, Falcons head coach Jim Mora replied "I don't know. Can you tell me? Who do you expect to see at quarterback for the Lions this week?"
Mora said it really doesn't matter who it is, but he expects it will be Garcia.
"Obviously, I know Jeff very well. I think it's an understatement to say he's a great competitor. He's unique as a competitor in my opinion. I have great respect for him. If he plays, that's who we have to play. If Joey plays, we have to play Joey. I haven't played Joey as many times or been around him as much as I have Jeff. I don't know him as well. We're preparing more for scheme as opposed to a player. I think that's what you have to do in a week like this."
Mariucci, on the other hand, expects Michael Vick to start despite getting dinged up in last week's loss. Mariucci respects what vick brings to the table.
"Well, he had a good game last game - he threw for over 300 yards and he is a very capable young quarterback," he said. "They missed him a couple of years ago. When he wasn't there, the team was 1-10 without him. I don' t know if one man makes that much difference, but with their team that year, 1-10 without him is telling.
"They have been a playoff team with him. He is an exciting guy; I know the fans are going to love watching us chase him around. We had a chance to go down there in Atlanta in their dome and beat them last year and played one of our real good games. We sacked him six times I think and (linebacker) Alex Lewis intercepted a ball and set up one of our touchdowns and played a heck of a game and we are looking forward to doing it again."
For Detroit, injuries will play a factor again. The Lions finally gave up on second-year linebacker Teddy Lehman, putting him on injured reserve meaning his season is over.
However, Detroit will get back one of their top playmakers and leaders on defense in Dre' Bly -- sporting a specially designed cast over his injured right hand. Bly has been working for the last couple of weeks with the scout team and showed quickness and playmaking ability, even with one hand.
"Well, he is just one of our good players and I think he has some spunk and he is real verbal and he has some energy and he backs it up by playing well," said Mariucci. "We have missed him; we have missed a lot of our guys back there. It will be nice to have him back."
The coach is under scrutiny for his use of his receiving corps. The coach has deactivated first round pick Mike Williams for the last two weeks and says there's no guarantee Williams will be active for this one.
"We have six receivers and they are all finally healthy," he said. "We have to pick and choose who is going to be active. We stayed the same as the week before - the week before was one where he missed practice and Troy Edwards was up as our third. We just felt that we would keep it the same for our last game. We are going to have to make that decision again."