Pressure is on for Thanksgiving in Detroit

11/27/13 in NFL   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Nov 24, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Demar Dotson (69) attempts to block Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsThe last time the Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers was December 12, 2010.  It was a game in which Aaron Rodgers left early due to injury and behind quarterback Drew Stanton, the Lions won 7-3 at home.
 
The last time the Detroit Lions won a Thanksgiving game was on November 27, 2003.  Coincidentally, the game was against the Packers.
 
As six point favorites against the visiting Packers, the Lions are in decent position to end both losing streaks.  They’re also in desperate need of a win after back-to-back losses against sub-.500 teams this season.  The Packers haven’t won a game since Rodgers went down with a collarbone injury and their playoff chances are looking more and more slim.  At 5-5-1, they’re only a half-game behind the first place 6-5 Lions, but a loss on Thanksgiving would put them in a tight spot where they’d need both the Lions and the 6-5 Bears to suffer a few losses down the road in order to make up ground.
 
All in all, it’s a big, big game and with Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines, the Lions are at a huge advantage, having never defeated Rodgers in 9 tries.  Yet the replacement Packers quarterback has a bit of history against the Lions as well.
 
In week 17 of the 2011 season, the Lions needed a win to secure the 5th seed in the playoffs, and avoid playing the terrifying offense of Drew Brees and the 3rd seeded Saints.  The Packers, meanwhile, had secured the top seed in the NFC and week 17’s game was absolutely meaningless, so Rodgers was given the day off in favor of Matt Flynn.
 
Little did we know that Flynn would go on to have a historic day against a pathetic Lions defense, throwing for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns (both Green Bay records).  The final touchdown pass came with just over a minute left, a 4-yarder to Jermichael Finley that gave the Packers a 45-41 win, dropping the Lions to 10-6, and the 6th seed in the NFC.  In a game the Lions needed to win, their defense allowed a backup quarterback to set franchise records against them, and 41 points from the offense wasn’t enough.
 
Sep 29, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) celebrates after scoring his first career touchdown during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY SportsThis year, the Lions defense has fought similar problems.  In the last two weeks, Pittsburgh put up a whopping 37 points against them and Mike Glennon completed two-thirds of his passes for 247 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.  Glennon’s 85-yard touchdown pass to Tiquan Underwood in the 4th quarter put the Buccaneers up for good, 24-21, sending the Lions to 6-5 on the season, a far cry from 7-4 - which would have given them a full-game lead on the Bears, while owning the tiebreaker against them as well.
 
The Lions have been fighting the ‘soft defense’ label for almost two decades now, and despite an increase in talent overall - especially in the front seven with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, DeAndre Levy, and Steven Tulloch - the big plays keep burning them and the scoreboards continue to display big figures.
 
The last time the Lions played the Packers on Thanksgiving was 2011.  The Packers came away with a 27-15 victory in a game in which Suh was ejected for stomping on offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.  Rodgers put up 307 yards and 2 touchdowns while Stafford threw for 276 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions.
 
This Thursday’s game is a chance for the Lions to find both redemption in a matchup that has haunted them the past decade and also to create separation in the playoff race.  The Lions still control their own playoff destiny despite their back-to-back losses, but a third loss in a row may create too big an obstacle with the returns of both Rodgers and Jay Cutler on the horizon, and tough matchups against the Eagles, Ravens, and Giants still to come.
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11/29/13   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Ha, yeah that was an absolute must-win game, it was great to see the defensive line really step it up. I'd love to see more week-to-week consistency from that unit (their no-show in Pittsburgh was really frustrating). A better effort the past two weeks could have put the team at 9-3, but 7-5 and in control of their own destiny isn't bad, I suppose.

11/27/13   |   Wards_Page   |   248 respect

Funny, I just wrote about this game as well. (Hadn't seen your post yet.) I think the Lions lay it to the Pack tomorrow. They have to, right? They don't win tomorrow and you can pretty much stick a fork in them, though I do think their last four games are all winnable.