Throwback Game (Both teams will wear throwback uniforms. Lions will wear classic "no-logo" uniforms while New England will feature their old "Pat Patriot" design from 1985)
Detroit Lions (3-8) vs. New England Patriots (6-5)
(ALLEN PARK, MI)--The Detroit Lions are 5 point underdogs for Thursday Thanksgiving Day classic? Whoever decided that must not know Detroit's history on Turkey Day.
Over the last eight years, Detroit is 6-2 on Thanksgiving. This is Detroit's showcase, their Super Bowl, their own Private Idaho. The Patriots might as well be the Pilgrims.
Well, maybe that's taking it a little too far, but Detroit is always dangerous on Thanksgiving. That fact is not lost on the Patriots who were blitzed by the Lions 34-9 in the 2000 edition of this classic.
That's the whole idea.
NFL senior vice president of marketing Ty Stewart said he's looking to make Thanksgiving the ''midseason Super Bowl'' and that the league caught a big break by having the defending world champions on national TV this year.
''We're really thrilled,'' said Stewart. ''We're trying to elevate it to event status with elaborate halftime shows. Having the Super Bowl champs play on Thanksgiving Day just takes it to a new level.''
Detroit has a distinct advantage. ''Both teams have a short week,'' said Law. ''They're used to it because they do it every year, but it wasn't long ago we played them [on Thanksgiving 2000] so we understand what the game is and what we have to do in a short time.''
Detroit's Marty Mornhinweg can give thanks that he has a football game to coach just four days after the overtime debacle in Chicago. Mornhinweg's questionable decisions in Detroit's 20-17 overtime loss to Chicago continue to be banter around the NFL with some columnists calling for his job.
Marty better not make any mistakes on Thursday with the glare of the entire NFL staring down his throat and with the Ford family shutting down the assembly lines for this one. In fact, the coach can put himself on solid ground with the Fords if he can pull this one off. Detroit will welcome back old friend Mike Compton, their former center in Detroit's playoff years, who will start at right guard for the Pats.
ANALYSIS: Detroit's Joey Harrington has taken a step back over the last four weeks, but Thanksgiving has a way of bringing out the best in Detroit. Watch for receivers Germane Crowell and Bill Schroeder to step it up a bit and tight end Mikhael Ricks to become a factor. Detroit's best offensive player, James Stewart, just needs to be his reliable self. Stewart is 4th in the NFC with 853 yards rushing and seems a shoe in for his second 1,000-yard season as a Lion. Stewart's 4.7 per carry average is third (Michael Bennett, Minnesota 5.5, Marshall Faulk, St. Louis 5.0) among backs in the top ten in the NFC.
If Detroit will be patient enough to give Stewart 12-15 first half carries, this could pave the way for Joey Harrington to work play action against the tough Patriots secondary. Ty Law (highest paid defensive back in NFL 7-year $50 million), Lawyer Milloy, Victor Green and Tebucky Jones combine to form the best secondary in the NFL. Detroit had better make hay on the ground, because these four can make a quarterbacks life miserable.
Conversely, despite winning the Super Bowl last year after taking over for Drew Bledsoe, former University of Michigan product Tom Brady played to boos in New England's 24-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Brady (6th in the AFC in passing with a 92.7 rating) is being criticized for not being able to throw the long ball. Never mind that Brady is reliable, accurate and a winner, fans still aren't happy.
That's just what the Lions (30th ranked in pass defense) needed. Brady and the Patriots come into the game averaging 25.7 per game (7th in the NFL) and will not change a thing. They will put up 20 more points at Ford Field, but will it be enough?
PICK: All the signs point to a Patriots rout over the Lions, but some magical seems to happen to the Lions when they roll out turkey and those decal-less throwback uniforms. I've gone back and forth on this one, including a 27-23 Patriots pick on WBBL "The Ball" (1340AM Grand Rapids) earlier in the week. This one defies all logic, rhyme and reason.
Lions 30 - Patriots 27