Pre-Game Meal: Detroit Lions

NEPD Staff Writer: B. Delabarrera

How awesome of game is this for Patriots fans? Tom Brady returning to the place where he recorded his first stats 10 years ago, against the same team, on the same holiday. That evening Charlie Batch was the top passer as the Lions trampled the Patriots 34-9… Terry Glenn was the top receiver. (woah)

These 2-8 Lions are definitely not going to walk all over Tom Brady and the Patriots this Thanksgiving, but they also might not be as bad as their record suggests. With only three full days of rest the Patriots are walking right in to another trap game back on the road: the only place they’ve lost this season. Happy Thanksgiving from NEPD!

Now who is ready for some football?!

Why shouldn’t Patriots fans be excited about playing a 2-8 Detroit Lions team on Thanksgiving after two humongous victories in Pittsburgh and over Indianapolis? One reason would be their intimidating defensive line that boasts DROY candidate Ndamunkong Suh.

QB Shaun Hill has been doing pretty well too, passing for over 300 yards against Green Bay, Buffalo, and Philly. Granted that those yards were accumulated in games where Shaun and the Lions were forced to play catch-up. However, out of all eight losses, the Lions only lost by less than one touchdown six times.

Speaking of six, the Lions are 0-6 in their last 6 Thanksgiving day appearances… usually getting blown out by more than 11 points.

Tom Brady vs. D-Town Defense – 536¬†yards, 5 TDs, and no interceptions against the Colts and the Steelers. Whew, those are some stats to smile about if you’re Mr. Brady.

Going up against a pass defense that allows, on average, opposing quarterbacks to complete 60% of their passes and score through the air 16 times. That is pure money for a QB like Brady who usually makes his completions count; if you let a guy like Brady complete than many passes, it’s going to be hard to beat him.

This defense is also the same one who lost to Jon Kitna & the 2-win Cowboys and the winless Buffalo Bills. The Lions still have some serious playmakers on their defensive though. Sophomores Loius Delmas (S) and Alphonso Smith (CB) are making their names known. Smith is tied for 3rd place with 5 INTs on the year and 8 passes defended while Delmas leads the team in tackles, compiling 43 of his 60 tackles by himself, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

The defensive line features the rookie Suh (7 sacks, 1 INT, and a fumble returned for a TD), veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch (4 sacks, 2 FF), and Lawrence Jackson (2.5/3 sacks coming in the last 2 games, 1 FF). The Patriots line has only allowed 14 sacks this year and only one coming in the last two games against the the Steelers defense, Dwighty Freeney, and the Colts defense. The trench battle will be where the game is won today.

Jahvid Best vs. BJGE – One of the most important things when playing against a very good defense is to match their intensity. The visiting Patriots must follow their NT leader and crush Jahvid Best at the line of scrimmage. The line purely dominated the Colts’ for three quarters allowing relatively no yards up the middle. And even though Best hasn’t scored since Week 2 and hasn’t done much in the Lion’s last two losses, his ability to make a big play is always there.

The Pats cannot allow this game to be close and for Best to pick up chunks of yards at a time, it’s going to be almost impossible to prevent a long TD in that situation. As per usual Patriot strategy, clog up the run and force a team to the air.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis hasn’t been the flashiest back in the league, but one thing I notice every week is that this guy rarely ever falls straight down or backwards; The Law Firm always falls forward and gives his 110% for those extra yards. That’s an intangible trait that automatically makes him a valuable player on this type of team.

The offensive line has been making holes using the skills of veterans like TE Alge Crumpler, BJGE will have a few opportunities to break off at least a first down or two. I expect him to record another touchdown during this holiday meeting. Whenever the offense needs a good 3 or 4 yards on the ground, Law Firm almost always comes through in the clutch. When isn’t that useful? The Firm is putting his work in racking up almost 600 yards on the ground with 7 scores. <-that’s almost better than the entire Lions rushing effort… Don’t even make me bring Danny Woodhead into this.

Calvin Johnson vs. Devin McCourty – When the best receiver in the 2010 NFL ends up against one of the most outstanding rookie DBs this season, a battle of epic proportions should ensue. To say Calvin Johnson has been lighting up defenses this season would be an understatement: 10 TDs, 55 receptions, 758 yards, and 9 receptions for +20 yards. Any time this guy can catch 5 or more passes in a game, he instantly becomes a problem to deal with. The only team this season that could keep him under 4 receptions were the luck-ridden Jets.

The rookie CB out of Rutgers University has 10 passes defended this season and 3 INTs (the Peyton pick should count as 2). He’s been playing very solid football this season and has proved that he can keep up with the pace of coach Belichick’s defense without missing relatively any snaps. Johnson definitely has size and strength on McCourty, so it should be up to Devin to outsmart Johnson rather than outplay him… This match-up will also prove to be one of the most important ones to watch..

Wild Card – Brandon Meriweather, S: Plain and simple: How many games have the Patriots lost while Brandon Meriweather was performing on the higher level of play that he is capable of?

I don’t know the answer but I do expect that it isn’t that many. If Meriweather can make his presence known or even snag an interception, the Patriots will have to throw the game away to lose it.

The Pats need to get hyped up early on and make long, extended drives featuring our backs. No way Tom Brady doesn’t play…

Patriots 38 – 24 Lions

-B.DelaBarrera

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