FOXBORO, Mass. —The Patriots and Lions will be combating short turnarounds this week while prepping for their Thanksgiving meeting in Detroit.
Even though both teams are heading in different directions this season, the Patriots will be hungry for a win to ensure next week’s game with the Jets, who are the AFC East leaders with an 8-2 record (and a win over the Pats earlier this season), is even more important.
It will be an early start at Ford Field, so get that Turkey prepared as soon as possible.
WHEN AND WHERE
Thursday, November, 25, 2010, 12:30 p.m. Ford Field, Detroit
The Patriots lead the all-time series, 5-4. They’re 2-2 in Detroit and 1-0 at Ford Field. The Patriots are 1-1 against the Lions on Thanksgiving. They lost, 34-9, in 2000 when Tom Brady made his NFL debut as a backup. And they won, 20-12, in 2002.
Detroit’s four-man front is a menacing crew, and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Ndamukong Suh might be the most responsible for the Lions’ damage. That means the Patriots’ offensive line, which is coming off a great game against the Colts, has to keep Detroit in check.
Suh, a defensive tackle, is unlike anyone the Colts have on the interior, and he’ll be up there with Minnesota’s Kevin Williams among the toughest 4-3 defensive tackles who will oppose the Patriots this season. Suh has a team-high seven sacks, and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (four sacks), defensive end Cliff Avril (four sacks) defensive end Lawrence Jackson (3.5 sacks), defensive end Turk McBride (two sacks) and defensive tackle Corey Williams (one sack) have also gotten to the quarterback. All in all, the Lions’ defensive line has 21.5 of the team’s 27 sacks this season.
Quarterback Tom Brady is 2-0 in two career starts against the Lions, and he has completed 45-of-68 passes (66.2 percent) for 515 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Head coach Bill Belichick has coached six times on Thanksgiving (twice as a head coach and four times as an assistant), and he has a 3-3 record in those games. Belichick was 1-1 with the Lions, 0-1 with the Broncos, 1-0 with the Giants and 1-1 with the Patriots.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has seven rushing touchdowns this season and is on pace to be the eighth player in franchise history to score 10 rushing touchdowns. The others are Corey Dillon (three times), Curtis Martin (twice), Steve Grogan, Antowain Smith, Horace Ivory, Jim Nance and Tony Collins.
Linebacker Jerod Mayo has 131 tackles this season and is on pace to break Steve Nelson’s franchise record of 207 tackles in 1984.
Tight end Alge Crumpler has 369 career receptions for 4,699 yards, and his average of 12.7 yards per catch is the second highest among active tight ends. San Diego’s Antonio Gates tops that list with 13.3 yards per catch.
Quarterback Shaun Hill has completed 188-of-305 passes (61.6 percent) this season for 1,921 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson has 55 receptions for 725 yards (13.2 average) and 10 touchdowns this season. The rest of the Lions have nine combined receiving touchdowns.
Cornerback Alphonso Smith has a team-high five interceptions. No one else has more than one.
The Lions are only 1-3 this season when winning the turnover battle.
Safety John Wendling has 18 total special teams tackles, which is 10 more than anyone else on the Lions. He’s got 14 solo tackles on special teams.
From Tuesday’s practice report
Quarterback Tom Brady (right foot/right shoulder) did not practice but will play.
Right guard Stephen Neal (shoulder) did not practice, and it seems unlikely he’ll play.
Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (hip) did not practice, and his status is uncertain.
Defensive lineman Mike Wright (neck/concussion) did not practice, and his status is uncertain.
Safety Jarrad Page (left calf) was limited, and it seems unlikely he’ll play.
Running back Fred Taylor (toe) was limited, and his status is uncertain.
Kicker Jason Hanson (right knee) did not practice, and his status is uncertain.
Defensive end Lawrence Jackson (concussion) did not practice, and his status is uncertain.
Tight end Tony Scheffler (ribs) did not practice, and his status is uncertain.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford (right shoulder) did not practice and will not play.
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee) did not practice but should be able to play. li>Defensive tackle Corey Williams (shoulder) did not practice, and his status is uncertain.
Defensive end Cliff Avril (quadriceps) was limited, and he might be able to play.
Running back Jahvid Best (toe) was limited, and his status is uncertain.
Guard Dylan Gandy (calf) was limited, and his status is uncertain.
Linebacker DeAndre Levy (groin) fully participated and should be able to play.
Quarterback Shaun Hill (quadriceps) fully participated and will start.
This is a tricky week for the Patriots, and it’s tough to shake the memory of the letdown they had in Cleveland. The Lions don’t have much to play for, but they’ve been a tough team this season and will be up for this game.
If the Patriots come to play—and Bill Belichick won’t let that Cleveland mistake resurface again—they should handle the Lions.