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The New England Patriots will be putting the best record in the NFL on the line on Thanksgiving Day this week, as they pay a visit to the stingy Detroit Lions in their annual Thanksgiving Day NFL betting battle.
Matchup: New England Patriots @ Detroit Lions
Date: Thursday, November 25th, 12:30 ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Game Line: Detroit +6.5
Patriots Notes: The Patriots have struggled at times this season on the road, as they were defeated by the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago. They also tend to play to the level of their opponent, something that championship teams tend to not do. Still, New England is at 8-2 after ten games and has to feel like a playoff spot really has been locked down, especially if it can win this one. QB Tom Brady is coming off of a pedestrian game against the Indianapolis Colts in which he didn't even make it to 200 yards passing, but his numbers this year still suggest him being an MVP candidate. Brady has thrown for 2,362 yards and 19 scores against just four picks in 2010. His running game might get a boost this week as well, as RB Fred Taylor might be returning from a toe injury that has kept him out of the lineup for the last two months. In the interim, RB Danny Woodhead and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis have done their job, combining to rush for 879 yards and ten scores. Keep a close eye on the two rookie tight ends that Brady has to work with as well. TE Aaron Hernandez is second on the team in receptions with 35 and yards with 444, and he has found pay dirt three times. No one has scored more through the air this year than TE Rob Gronkowski though, as he has six scores on his 20 receptions. Defensively, New England is struggling, allowing 398.4 yards and 24.2 points per game. The first number is the third worst mark in the NFL, but is countered by an offense that is scoring a league best 28.9 points per game.
Lions Notes: Detroit may have had a lot of fight in its tank early in the season, but back to back failed attempts at covering the NFL odds have really hampered its progress. Playing without QB Matt Stafford has really hurt, and though backup QB Shaun Hill has potentially proven that he can earn back a starting job with another team next year, he just isn't good enough to lead a very young offense to wins on a regular basis. Hill has 1,921 passing yards and a dozen scores against nine INTs on the campaign. His biggest problem is going to be figuring out who to turn around and hand the ball to. RB Jahvid Best is out of the lineup with turf toe, and there isn't another player on this team that has more than 21 carries for the season. RB Maurice Morris is likely to get the nod, but he only has 41 yards on 21 carries this season. The Lions only have five rushing touchdowns this year, and Best and Stafford have accounted for all five. Though this is a defense that is improving, there are still some major problems to be worked out. The Lions have allowed at least 24 points six times this year and have given up at least 35 twice. Unless that really improves dramatically, the men from the Motor City are going to continue losing games.
The Final Word: It's kind of cool looking at how polar opposite these teams really have been over the years since their last meeting here in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day in 2002. The Pats have a pair of Super Bowl rings and an undefeated regular season, while the Lions haven't even sniffed the playoffs and have an 0-16 campaign under their belts. Though we know that Detroit isn't as bad as its 2-8 record and that New England isn't as good as its 8-2 record, we also know that the Lions are 0-6 SU and ATS over the last six years on Thanksgiving Day, and with such a great team coming to town, there is no way that they are going to be able to fend off a near certain defeat that will probably come by at least two scores, if not more.
Free Pro Football Picks: New England -6.5
Prediction: New England 34 – Detroit 18