Just when you’ll start welcoming and hugging family members as the aroma of another Thanksgiving gathering warms you and yours, a football game will kick off in Detroit. This was one of the games the young Detroit Lions had circled from the beginning of the season. Who knew the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers would come in undefeated at 10-0?? With a win the Lions will send another message to the NFL that they are for real and will be a force that could make the NFC Championship Game. A loss will relegate them to maybe only going as far as the wildcard round. The 37-13 loss to the Bears coupled with one here would be a confidence zapper for a relatively young team. A win by the Packers and they are one step closer to immortality where they’re trying to finish the 2011 season undefeated. If they were to do this and repeat as Super Bowl champs, they would have a legitimate shot at being the greatest team in NFL history.
What has been lost amidst the hyseria of this game is what happened the last time these two teams played and what significance it held. A fired up Lions defense chased down (4 sacks) and knocked out Aaron Rodgers with a concussion while winning 7-3. At the time of Rodgers flash knockout, he was 7 of 11 for 46 yards and an interception. He was having serious trouble locating receivers amidst silver helmets coming at him. Matt Flynn had to finish the game and fared no better. His stat-line was what you’d expect for a cold player coming off the bench going for 15 of 26 for 177 yards and another interception. The Lions were stymied by the NFL’s #2 ranked defense and hounded Drew Stanton to a sub par performance. The stat-line of 10 of 22 passes for 117 yards wasnt’ glowing yet he did throw a touchdown to TE Will Heller which provided the difference.
This was the last game the Packers lost with Aaron Rodgers as a starter. We know how he came back hot two weeks later and led the Packers to their 13th title. Yet there was a 3-10 football team that proved to themselves they could play with the best of their division and went on to win their final 3 games finishing with a 4 game winning streak. It was Detroit’s winning the next game 23-20 that kept a 10 win Tampa team out of last year’s playoffs. This was where the Detroit Lions as we now know them were born. Their confidence took off as they watched their division brother wreak havoc in last year’s playoffs, knowing they handled Green Bay better than everyone else that tried. Throw in the riches of the draft and the health and availability of Matthew Stafford and this team is NOT afraid of Green Bay.
|Green Bay||10||0||0||1.000||5-0-0||5-0-0||3-0-0||8-0-0||355||212||+143||Won 10|
However this won’t be an easy game for Detroit either. The Packers are on pace to score the second highest point total in NFL history with 568. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t slowed down for anyone. Look at these stats!! Rodgers is 238 of 329 for a whopping 72.3 completion rate while throwing for 31 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. Yikes!! He’s on pace to throw for 49.6 touchdowns, or in layman’s terms, tie Tom Brady’s all time record of 50. Each team is a pass first, run to keep them honest type offenses. The Packers rank 21st, while the Lions rank 22nd in rushing. For all of Rodgers prowess, Stafford’s growth this year has been immense. In his 10 games, he’s completed 61.3% of his passes for 25TDs and 10 interceptions. He’s on pace to throw for 40 touchdowns in his first full season! You have to be kidding me?!? Well we did say in our Pre Season Spectacular that his growth on the field was what the Lions needed from him this year. https://taylorblitztimes.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/2011-detroit-lions-preview/
Then we have former NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Charles Woodson going against Calvin “Megatron”Johnson. First we have Woodson, who has been everywhere this year with 45 tackles, 5 interceptions with 1 returned for a touchdown, 2 sacks and a fumble forced. Woodson’s Opimus Prime had better be ready for Megatron comes in with 59 receptions for 974 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Lions have spread the ball around more as of late but with the bright lights showing, Johnson is going to want the ball. This will be a tremendous battle. What could prove to be the shift in this Thanksgiving Day tilt is the fact that the Packers field the 30th ranked defense in all of pro football to Detroit’s being ranked 9th. Its imperative the Lions pass rush generates hits and sacks on Rodgers to knock him off his rhythm, they can’t afford to watch him stand in the pocket like the picture on the left. Of the Lions 27 sacks this season, 17.5 have come from the defensive line.
Prediction: The Detroit Lions will win this game. Emotion, crowd noise, and having more to prove will be the difference. The Packers are in the driver seat for the conference and the division and a loss won’t affect them. If there are no crazy bounces of the football we think the Lions in a fairly high scoring affair. This game could be an all time classic!! Happy Thanksgiving
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