The challenge for the Patriots this week isn't just about preparing for an opponent, but dealing with the difficult situation that is created by a Thanksgiving Day trip to Detroit.
The Lions are a scrappy team, but a 2-8 scrappy team. Second-year head coach Jim Schwartz, a former Bill Belichick assistant in the early 1990s with the Browns, has his team fighting if not winning.
The Lions have had musical chairs at quarterback and haven't gotten over the hump on either side of the ball enough to win regularly. But in losing five games by seven points or less they've proven themselves more than capable at times on both sides of the ball.
The game at Ford Field should be no cakewalk for a Patriots team that had a heated battle with its chief rival Colts in Foxborough on Sunday. In preparing for Peyton Manning and a battle with Indy that annually has key postseason ramifications there was clearly little time last week to look ahead to the Lions.
That left the Patriots with a quick turnaround, mentally and physically, following Sunday's 31-28 victory over Indianapolis that wasn't decided until the game's final possession for the Colts.
"We're really happy to get the win. We've got a quick turnaround here (to play Detroit Thursday), so we can't stay on this very long, but we'll enjoy it here for a couple hours," Bill Belichick said after the win the pushed New England to 8-2 to keep pace with the Jets atop the AFC East.
"We've got to go quick. We're going to have to cram a lot in here and do a good job on preparing for the Lions. They've got a lot of stuff to get ready for. (They're) a real explosive team offensively, so we've got our work cut out for us on the preparation for that. That's the way it is. With every long week comes a short week; with every short week comes a long week, so it all balances out in the end. But that will be a big challenge, preparation challenge for us this week."
But it's a challenge Belichick was seemingly happy to meet head on, given that it comes with the tradition of playing on Thanksgiving Day.
"I think Thanksgiving is a great day for football. It's a great day for high school football and obviously for the NFL the double-header is now a triple-header. And that is a great day for everybody to be with their family and eat turkey and watch football," Belichick said. "That's kind of what that holiday is. It doesn't get any better than that."
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