SERIES: 9th meeting. The series currently stands at 4-4, with the Patriots winning the last game, 20-12, on Thanksgiving Day four years ago.
2006 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 18th (31st rush, 7th pass); defense 26th (23rd rush, 19th pass). Patriots: offense 7th (11th rush, 11th pass); defense 6th (3rd rush, 15th pass)
PREDICTION: Patriots 27- 17
KEYS TO THE GAME: With LB Junior Seau out for the season, the Patriots will move Mike Vrabel inside and start OLB Tully Banta-Cain. The Lions hope they can take advantage of the shuffling with RB Kevin Jones, who is expected to return after missing a game with a sprained ankle. As a runner and receiver, Jones is the critical component in Detroit's attempt to sustain drives and help protect its woeful defense. The Lions can't hope to stop QB Tom Brady & Co. for four quarter -- not with a defense that has produced just 19 sacks and is on pace to set an NFL record for futility by allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68.0 of their passes. DT Shaun Rogers is expect to miss another game recovering from knee surgery, so the Lions also are without their lone difference-maker up front to combat RBs Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney.
FAST FACTS: Lions: Are 5-40 on the road since 2001. ... WR Roy Williams has averaged 105.3 receiving yards in three games against the AFC this season. Patriots: Brady has become the franchise's all-time leading quarterback with 76 career victories. ... RB Kevin Faulk is the team's all-time receptions leader among running backs with 262, breaking Tony Collins' mark of 261.
--RT Rex Tucker was put on injured reserve Thursday with a sprained knee that has bothered him since he was hurt during the preseason. Tucker was signed as an unrestricted free agent last spring in the belief he would upgrade the offensive line play, but the knee injury limited him to five starts.
--OT Barry Stokes, who has started the past four games at right guard in place of Damien Woody (injured reserve with a foot injury), is expected to move to right tackle for the rest of the season after the Lions put Rex Tucker on injured reserve with a knee injury. Stokes started four games at right tackle earlier in the season while Tucker was trying to recover from his knee injury.
--G Blaine Saipaia, who was signed by the Lions two months ago to help shore up their injury-riddled offensive line, is expected to move into the starting right guard position, probably for the rest of the season. The move is a domino effect brought on by a knee injury that landed RT Rex Tucker on injured reserve and necessitated Barry Stokes' move from right guard to right tackle. Saipaia started two games at right guard earlier in the season.
--DT Anthony Bryant has been signed by the Lions from Tampa Bay's practice squad to provide depth in the defensive line rotation. With DT Shaun Rogers expected to miss the game Sunday at New England, coach Rod Marinelli wanted another healthy body available. Marinelli was the Bucs' defensive line coach last year when Bryant was a rookie.
--WR Mike Williams got his first catch of the season in the Lions' Thanksgiving Day game against Miami, but there is no indication whether the former first-round draft pick will even be active for the game Sunday at New England. Williams has been in the doghouse most of the season, and if Devale Ellis (questionable with a shoulder injury) is able to play against the Patriots, Williams might be inactive for the eighth time this season.
--OT Ryan O'Callaghan (neck), S Eugene Wilson (hamstring) and S Rodney Harrison (shoulder blade) were the players not present for the media-access portion of Thursday's practice. Harrison is out for Sunday, while O'Callaghan and Wilson remain questionable.
--Practice squad WR Bam Childress wore a black jersey Thursday, meaning he was named the practice player of the week.
--CB Chad Scott, who missed last week's game with the Bears, is questionable (groin) for Sunday. Without Scott, Ellis Hobbs started at corner, and he too is questionable with a wrist injury.
--QB Tom Brady (shoulder) and DL Richard Seymour (elbow) are both probable for Sunday's game against the Lions.
--WR Chad Jackson (groin) showed up on the Patriots' injury report Thursday. He's listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
Newswire - an assortment of the latest news from around the web. Must read material
Patriots - Lions Over/Under Contest - Fans pick the over/unders
Lions Message Boards - Fan forums before, during and after the game
Patriots Message Boards - Fan forums before, during and after the game
Postgame - Games Balls and Goats - who played poorly, who played well