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When a team travels on a short week, it's tough. But the Patriots have the perfect weapon to beat the Lions: Tom Brady. He will carve up the Lions defense, getting the ball out quickly and spreading the field. The Lions can score, but I think Brady puts up a big number in a blowout. Patriots 34, Lions 20
Florio’s take: The 2-8 Lions host the 8-2 Patriots. Once upon a time, the Lions always were tough to beat at home on Thanksgiving. Matt Millen’s influence helped end that. Bill Belichick’s genius will help continue it.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 41, Lions 21.
Rosenthal’s take: It’s tough to blow the Lions out, especially at home. They are 2-2 at Ford Field this year, with three point losses to the Eagles and Jets. That bodes well for a rare Lions Thanksgiving game that keeps our interest into the fourth quarter. Luckily for New England, the Lions don’t have the running game (or run defense) to close games out.
RECAP: If you listen to Bill Simmons' B.S. Report, you heard some false information from the Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz on Monday. Schatz claimed that the Lions play no worse on Thanksgiving than they do in their other home games. This is completely inaccurate.
Let's roll through those scores again: 34-12, 47-10, 37-26, 27-10, 27-7, 41-9 and 41-10. Forget winning a game; the Lions haven't even covered the spread on Turkey Day since 2003 (0-7). During that span, however, they are 23-21 against the spread at Ford Field when it's not Thanksgiving. Yup, they play exactly the same at home no matter what day it is!
The Lions suck on Thanksgiving. There's just too much pressure from the angry fans who demand a win, and the national media, who continuously opine that Detroit should be stripped of its Thanksgiving game.
Week 12 NFL Pick: Patriots 34, Lions 20
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A blowout (in the Pats' favor of course) would be nice. But somehow I just don't think it's in the cards for this team this year. I'll go in expecting the usual nail-biter win.
"If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us, to shake us from ... the values that make us who we are, as Americans -- well, it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it. Not here in Boston. Not here in Boston."
—President Barack Obama, April 18, 2013
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New England needs to run the ball to set up the pass: Even with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady under center, the Patriots will probably exploit a defense that struggles versus the run; the Lions yield 131 yards a game at 4.6 yards per attempt. Look for Bill Belichick to spread out the Lions' defense by formation but pound the ball between the tackles with RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead.
Mike: When making a prediction for this game, I wouldn't be surprised if it's close early on before the Patriots pull away late. I think it's going to be tough to go in there and start as fast as they want to with all the factors in play -- short week, road game, fired-up crowd on Thanksgiving. But in the end, I see the Patriots as the more talented team. I like a lot of points in this game -- Patriots 34, Lions 24.
Tedy: Shaun Hill will attack the Patriots secondary. I see him putting up good numbers, but the Patriots will continue to cause turnovers. It will be a happy Thanksgiving for Pats fans. Patriots 31, Lions 21.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
In Week 11, the Colts-Patriots game was decided by three points, all four NFC West teams were blown out by double-digit margins, and the Lions lost their 26th straight road contest, a dubious streak dating to October 2007. Vince Young showed his immaturity (yet again), the Texans' defense showed its heinous warts and shortcomings (yet again) and the Jets found an improbable way to win in the final seconds (yet again). And naturally, like the changing of the seasons, the Chargers have shaken off an ugly start to rattle off three straight victories.
Everyone’s been “oohing” and “aahing” over how “unpredictable” the 2010 season has been, but it seems to me as though it has been fairly routine.
New England at Detroit: The Lions extended their NFL-record road losing skid to 26 games in Dallas on Sunday. Just four days later, they have the red-hot New England Patriots. Oh, and they could be playing without their top running backs, Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best? And Shaun Hill is still their starting quarterback? Good luck, fellas. Though it won’t be the cakewalk the Packers had last Thanksgiving in Detroit, it will be a relatively nice and easy holiday for the Pats.
New England Patriots (8-2) at Detroit Lions (2-8)
This is the Lions' last big game of the year -- national TV, Jim Schwartz coaching against his model/first boss in the football business, Thanksgiving in Detroit -- and they'll throw a few roundhouses at the Patriots. But this just in: Shaun Hill is not Tom Brady.
New England (-6.5) over DETROIT
Coin flip pick: Lions (+6.5)
The Patriots will win, but by how much?
Consider that the Lions have played teams tough at home. Even if you throw out that aberrational 44-6 win over the Rams, they're still outscoring opponents 89-83. It's simply a question of whether last week's awful loss to the Cowboys derails this team's focus and sends them a bit off course.
That idea, coupled with the confidence in New England's locker room after beating Peyton Manning, has me leaning to take the Patriots to cover.
Or you could go with the coin, which apparently thinks the Patriots are exhausted from getting worked by Manning in the fourth quarter.
NFL Picks: Week 12 - Thanksgiving Edition
Rich Levine says he would have taken the Lions to win if not for the Cleveland game. So far that is as close as we have come to anybody picking Detroit. He goes with the Pats to win, but does feel the Lions will cover.
The Game: New England (-7) at Detroit
If it weren’t for the Cleveland game, this one would raise a flag that’s redder than Rudolph’s nose. Wait, crap, wrong holiday. What I mean is that I’d probably pick the Pats to lose. First of all, you’ve got the funky 12:30 kickoff, which might not seem like much, but can mess with the mentality of the non-traditional Thanksgiving team. In Shaun Hill, you’ve got an average, journeyman quarterback, but one who—much like Ryan Fitzpatrick—can sling the ball around the field and potentially take advantage of the still developing Pats secondary. You’ve also got Calvin Johnson, a superhuman receiver capable of winning a game by himself.
Like I said, without that Cleveland wake-up call, the Pats were primed to drop this one. But they’ve learned their lesson. That’s not to say this game will be easy; in fact I think it will still be close, but New England won’t be caught asleep at the wheel when they arrive at Ford Field (pun intended); they’ll go home with a win.
It's absolutely vital for the Patriots to start hot on Thursday. As we saw against Cleveland and have in any mismatch between talented teams and have-nots, the longer you dangle a "W" in front of the downtrodden, the more emboldened they become. As Tom Brady told me on Tuesday, the Patriots can't afford to sputter in the early going.
Patriots 31, Lions 27. Calvin Johnson has a huge day but the Patriots survive on the road and get to 9-2 and can start counting down to their AFC East showdown with the Jets.
I think the Patriots are obviously the better team in this one. I don’t see them falling into any trap, whether it be a letdown from the Colts or looking ahead to the Jets. But I do think the Lions will come to play and ready to put up a fight. They won’t have any plans to be some holiday sacrificial turkey. I expect the Patriots to run the ball with decent success and set up the passing game. Defensively as long as they don’t allow Johnson to go off and dominate the game I think they’ll hold the Lions in check enough. We know this defense isn’t going to become stout or suffocating overnight. (Or in the three days since last Sunday!) But it’s been good enough to win and I expect that to continue. Pull it all together and I expect the Patriots to pull away in the second half for a 30-16 victory. Then, it’s a 10-day break so we can all get worked up into a frenzy for the big Monday Night Football meeting with the Jets at Gillette that will likely decided the AFC East and have huge postseason ramifications for both teams.
Chris McCosky: Honestly can't see this going any way but bad for the Lions. They have too many banged up players, too many accrued losses and the Patriots arecooking right now. Patriots 35-14
Tim Twentyman: The Patriots aren't going to overlook the Lions with the Jets on tap the following game. The Patriots are looking for home-field advantage in the AFC and won't slip up against a less-talented Lions team. Patriots 34-20
Bob Wojnowski: The Patriots defense actually is vulnerable, and their running game is less than imposing. But Tom Brady is as good as ever, and so is Bill Belichick. A spirited Lions defense and a loud crowd keep it close, for a while. Patriots 34-20
John Niyo: It's the 10th anniversary of Tom Brady's NFL debut in a blowout loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving. A lot has changed since then, and not for the better in Detroit. Patriots 31-17
Too often this year the Lions have been bit by the big play on special teams. They’ve misjudged balls, muffed punts, allowed two return touchdowns and had a huge coverage breakdown last week. With Jason Hanson still tending to a knee injury, Dave Rayner will handle kicks for the third straight game.
The Patriots aren’t the infallible team they were when they were winning Super Bowls earlier this decade, but there’s a reason they’re 8-2. Brady is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. He doesn’t get sacked a lot, doesn’t commit turnovers and spreads the ball around to a solid supporting cast.
The Lions, on the other hand, are the least resilient team in the league. They keep finding new and inventive ways to lose, though penalties and big-play breakdowns usually play a part.
New England is coming off impressive wins over AFC powers Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. There’s a chance they overlook the Lions like they did the Browns three weeks ago, but it’s probably a better chance this one’s a blowout.