The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions will play in the first meaningful Thanksgiving Day game for Detroit fans since 2007. The Lions were one of the final two losses for the Packers before Green Bay started their 16-game winning streak.
The early spread on this game is Packers (-6). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for in pick 'em leagues. All lines from Y! Sports and injury reports from CBS Sports as of November 21, 2011. Always update yourselves with injury lines because they'll change throughout the week. Please note that ATS means "Against the spread."
My Current Personal Picks Record (Straights Picks Only)
Green Bay Packers 10-0
Detroit Lions 4-6
OT Chad Clifton (Out), DL Mike Neal, LB Frank Zombo, WR Greg Jennings, RB James Starks, RB Jahvid Best, DE Lawrence Jackson, CB Aaron Berry
Keys to the Game
- Can the Lions start fast?
- Can the Packers hold off any second-half surge from the Lions?
- Does the Lions' 7-3 victory in the 2010 meeting add any motivational fuel for the Packers?
- What will be the status of James Starks?
- Can the Lions contain Aaron Rodgers or the Packers' running game?
- Can the Lions contain Randall Cobb on special teams?
- Can the Packers contain Calvin Johnson or Brandon Pettigrew?
- Can the Lions generate enough pass rush with their front four?
- Which team will win the turnover battle?
- Both offenses thrive in a dome.
- This will be the second consecutive game where the Packers have played on a short week.
- Can the Lions convert on third down and extend drives?
My biggest concern for the Packers is that this will be the second consecutive game where they've played on a short week. They were coming off a Monday Night Football game before their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 20. That's followed up with this midweek classic against the Lions.
Both teams have a plethora of concerns that I've outlined in "Keys to the Game." One of the big ones for the Lions is their slow starts. The Lions have only had a halftime lead in one game since Week 2. They've relied on second-half comebacks with their big-play offense and turnovers from their defense.
The Lions have only converted on 30% of their third downs this season. They also have the second-most passing plays of 40+ yards with nine. What this tells me is that they live-and-die on big plays. That's not good for the Packers' defense. At the same time, a poor third-down conversion rate could mean more possessions for Rodgers.
I feel like the games against the Lions will be the biggest obstacles for the Packers if they want to finish the regular season undefeated. I will say that this is the one game where I think the Packers will have extra motivation because of what happened last season.
The potential absences of Jahvid Best and James Starks will hurt both teams. The Packers could use Starks because it'll relieve some of the pass rush against Rodgers. Kevin Smith has played very well for the Lions since he was re-signed.
I've got to go with the homer pick . I'm tempted to take the upset but I've had some difficulty with getting a feel for what the Lions really are. I wouldn't be surprised if this were the Packers' first (and only) loss though. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if the Packers were firing on all cylinders after that 7-3 loss last season.
Against the Spread:Detroit Lions (+6)
Straight: Green Bay Packers 38, Detroit Lions 35
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. His favorite Packer moments include Super Bowl XXXI, XLV, and Al Harris interception return following Matt Hasselbeck's "We're gonna score" comments. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months.More From This Contributor
Checkout my Y!CN portfolio and/or my NFL predictions blog for more picks throughout the week. The blog will feature individual summaries from most NFL games AND links to other writers' picks such as Zac Wassink, Randy Inman, Rodney Southern, etc.