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Game Preview: Patriots return home to host the Lions

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (8-2) vs. DETROIT LIONS (7-3)
Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. ET
* Gillette Stadium (68,756)*

The New England Patriots returned from their bye week last Sunday night at Indianapolis and relied on a ground game that produced 244 yards, including 199 from RB Jonas Gray to beat the Colts, 42-20. The win was the Patriots sixth straight and guaranteed that the team will finish with a record of .500 or better for the 14th consecutive season. Since 2001, the Patriots are the only team to finish with a record above .500 every year. Every other NFL team has had at least one losing season between 2001 and 2013. The Patriots have scored an average of 40.5 points per game during the six-game winning streak.

This week, the Patriots will host the Detroit Lions and the NFL's top-ranked defense. The Patriots have won 13 straight games against NFC North teams, including a 2-0 record in 2014, following a 30-7 win at Minnesota on Sept. 14 and a 51-23 win vs. Chicago on Oct. 26. Since realignment in 2002, the Patriots only loss against a current NFC North team was on Oct. 13, 2002, when they dropped a 28-10 decision at home against Green Bay in their very first game against the reconfigured division. The Patriots streak is the longest current streak any NFL team has against another division.

BROADCAST INFO

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TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen locally on WFXT Channel 25 in Boston. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews will work from the sidelines.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience on ESPN Radio. Marc Kestecher and Bill Polian will call the game with Ian Fitzsimmons providing sideline analysis.

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots will host the Detroit Lions at Gillette Stadium for just the second time. Detroit's only other visit to Gillette came on Dec. 3, 2006, with the Patriots taking a 28-21 victory.

The last time the two teams squared off was on Thanksgiving Day in 2010 when the Patriots beat the Lions, 45-24, at Ford Field on Nov. 25 after overcoming a 17-10 halftime deficit.

Since the game in 2010, the Patriots twice traveled to Detroit to face the Lions in the third preseason game, losing 34-10 on Aug. 27, 2011 and 40-9 on Aug. 22, 2013.

The Patriots lead the regular-season series, 6-4. The Patriots are 3-2 in home games and 3-2 against Detroit on the road.

The Patriots have won 13 straight games against NFC North teams, including two straight in 2014 following a 30-7 win at Minnesota on Sept. 14 and a 51-23 win vs. Chicago on Oct. 26. It is the longest current streak any NFL team has against another division. Since realignment in 2002, the Patriots only loss against the current NFC North was on Oct. 13, 2002, when they dropped a 28-10 decision at home against Green Bay in their very first game against the reconfigured division.

In 2000, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his NFL debut against the Lions in a 34-9 Detroit win at the Pontiac Silverdome on Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 23, 2000. Brady entered the game late in the fourth quarter and completed one of three passes for six yards.

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SERIES TRENDS
Overall Record, 6-4

Overall at Home, 3-2
Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 2-2
Gillette Stadium, 1-0

Overall on Road, 3-2
Pontiac Silverdome, 1-2
Ford Field, 2-0

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CONNECTIONS

NEW ENGLAND TIES

  • Lions S James Ihedigbo attended Amherst (Mass.) HS, where he was a twotime All-Western Massachusetts and All-League selection after rushing for 1,012 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior. He then walked on to the football team at Massachusetts, eventually earning a scholarship and becoming a three-year starter. Ihedigbo finished his collegiate career with 257 tackles, 12½ sacks, 23½ tackles for loss, nine interceptions and 28 passes defensed.
  • Lions QB Dan Orlovsky attended Shelton (Conn.) HS, where he earned All-America honors from Prep Football Report, SuperPrep and Prep Star, and he was also named All-State, Class LL MVP and the New Haven Register's Connecticut Player of the Year. As a senior, he threw for 2,489 yards and 58 touchdowns as he led Shelton to a perfect 12-0 record en route to the state championship. Orlovsky played collegiately at Connecticut from 2001-04, where he finished his career with 916 completions on 1,567 attempts for 10,706 yards and 84 touchdowns – all school records. He also led the Huskies to their first-ever bowl appearance as a senior in 2004.
  • Lions LB Julian Stanford attended Bloomfield (Conn.) HS, where he played linebacker, defensive end and running back.
  • Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan served on Maine's coaching staff as a linebackers coach from 1987-88. Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego was also an assistant at Maine from 1988-91. Lions defensive backs coach Tony Oden was a graduate defensive assistant at Boston College in 1997.
  • Lions coordinator of physical development Jason Arapoff was a four-year letter-winning defensive back at Springfield (Mass.) College from 1983-86.
    DETROIT TIES
  • Patriots QB Tom Brady earned three letters at Michigan (1997-99) and recorded a 20-5 record as a two-year starter for the Wolverines, including a Big Ten title win in 1998. He finished his career ranking third in Michigan history with 710 attempts and 442 completions, fourth with 5,351 yards and a 62.3 completion percentage and fifth with 35 touchdown passes.
  • Patriots RB Jonas Gray attended Detroit Country Day HS in Detroit, Mich., where he earned first-team all-state honors as a senior after rushing 341 times for 2,614 yards and 32 touchdowns. Gray was named to the Parade All-America team as one of the 58 best players in the country and was also selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. He was also a member of the 2007 state championship basketball team at Detroit Country Day.
  • Patriots DL Alan Branch played in 37 games with 23 starts in three seasons at Michigan, posting career highs with 25 tackles and two sacks as a junior in 2006. He started all 13 games at defensive tackle that season, earning first-team All-Big Ten and ESPN All-America honors, and he helped Michigan rank No. 1 in the nation in rush defense, allowing only 43.3 yards per game.
  • Patriots LB Cameron Gordon attended Melvindale (Mich.) HS as a sophomore and junior before transferring to Inkster (Mich.) HS for his senior season in which he led the team to the state championship game. Gordon played collegiately at Michigan, where he appeared in 45 games with 15 starts at linebacker and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He was originally a wide receiver, but was switched to safety prior to 2010 spring drills and then switched to outside linebacker prior to 2011 spring drills.
  • Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels (1999) and tight ends coach Brian Daboll (1998-99) were both graduate assistants at Michigan State, and the pair also roomed together during the summer of 1999.
    FORMER PATRIOTS
  • Lions S James Ihedigbo was signed by the Patriots as a free agent before the 2011 season. He played just one season with the team, finishing with a then-career high 72 tackles, one pass defensed and four special teams tackles.
  • Lions RB George Winn was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on June 17, 2013 before being released on Aug. 31, 2013.
    FORMER NFL TEAMMATES
  • Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll (offensive coordinator, 2011), offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo (offensive line, 2009-11), Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan (linebackers, 2010-11) and special teams coordinator John Bonamego (special teams coordinator, 2008-10) worked together on the Miami Dolphins coaching staff. Patriots RB Jonas Gray (practice squad, 2012) and Lions RB Reggie Bush (2011-12) are both former Dolphins running backs as well.
  • Lions K Matt Prater was tutored by Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien from 2007-08, when O'Brien was special teams coach for the Denver Broncos. Prater also played for Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels from 2009-10, when McDaniels was the Broncos head coach.
  • Patriots CB Darrelle Revis was tutored by Lions defensive backs coach Tony Oden and Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan in 2013, when Oden was the secondary/cornerbacks coach and Sheridan was defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Patriots DT Chris Jones, TE Tim Wright and LB Jonathan Casillas also played for the Buccaneers in 2013.
  • Lions defensive backs coach Tony Oden was a secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints from 2006-11, when Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich (2006, 2008) and LB Jonathan Casillas (2009-12) were on the team. Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was also an offensive assistant for the Saints from 2007-13, and Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego was an assistant special teams coach for the Saints in 2011. Lions S Isa Abdul-Quddus (2011-13), RB Reggie Bush (2006-10) and FB Jed Collins (2011-13) are former Saints as well.
  • Patriots RB Jonas Gray was on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad and Lions LB Josh Bynes and S James Ihedigbo were on the 53-man roster in 2013 when Lions head coach Jim Caldwell was the team's offensive coordinator.
  • Patriots CB Brandon Browner, DT Sealver Siliga, Lions WR Golden Tate and TE Kellen Davis played together on the Seattle Seahawks in 2013.
  • Patriots defensive assistant Brendan Daly was a defensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings under Lions secondary coach Alan Williams from 2012- 13, when Williams was the Vikings defensive coordinator. Lions DE George Johnson was tutored by both while with the team both seasons.
  • Patriots DL Alan Branch, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin (secondary coach) and Lions defensive quality control coach Matt Raich (defensive assistant/ linebackers) were all on the Arizona Cardinals from 2007-09. Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins also joined the Cardinals staff as a running backs coach in 2009. teammates on the New York Jets from 2007-08.
  • Patriots LB Akeem Ayers and Lions DE Jason Jones were defensive teammates on the Tennessee Titans in 2011.
  • Patriots OL Dan Connolly and Lions CB Rashean Mathis were teammates on the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2005-06. Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels was head coach of the Denver Broncos in 2010, when the team signed Lions CB Cassius Vaughn as a rookie free agent.
  • Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea was an assistant special teams/linebackers coach for Kansas City from 2004-05, when Lions senior coaching assistant Gunther Cunningham was the Chiefs defensive coordinator.
  • Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo worked with Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan on the New York Giants staff from 2005-08.
  • Lions offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn was a football operations assistant for the Carolina Panthers in 2002, when Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien was the team's assistant head coach/special teams.
  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was hired as an assistant special teams coach by Detroit in 1976 – his second year as an NFL coach. The following year, he earned additional responsibilities as an assistant special teams/tight ends/wide receivers coach.
  • Patriots LB Chris White was acquired by Detroit from Buffalo in a trade in exchange for QB Thaddeus Lewis on Aug. 25, 2013. He spent six days as a member of the Lions before being released on Aug. 31 and claimed off waivers by the Patriots the following day.
    FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES
  • Patriots QB Tom Brady was a senior starting quarterback at Michigan in 1999, when Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was the Wolverine's defensive backs coach.
  • Patriots RB Jonas Gray (2008-11), Lions RB Theo Riddick (2009-12) and WR Golden Tate (2007-09) were offensive teammates at Notre Dame. Gray served as the primary ball carrier while Riddick and Tate were used as returners and receivers. Riddick then became the primary running back in 2012 following Gray's graduation.
  • Patriots DL Dominique Easley was a freshman at Florida when Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was the Gators defensive coordinator.
  • Patriots LB Jonathan Casillas and Lions LB Deandre Levy played together in the same linebacker corps at Wisconsin from 2005-08. The pair were roommates in their freshman, junior and senior seasons, and are still good friends.
  • Patriots RB Shane Vereen and Lions WR Jeremy Ross were offensive teammates all four years at California from 2007-10.
  • Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard and Lions DT Ndamukong Suh were defensive teammates at Nebraska from 2008-09.
  • Patriots DL Casey Walker and Lions WR Ryan Broyles were teammates at Oklahoma from 2009-11.
  • Patriots LB Akeem Ayers and Lions TE Joseph Fauria were teammates at UCLA from 2009-10, though Fauria redshirted after transferring from Notre Dame in 2009.
  • Lions DE George Johnson played on the Rutgers defense alongside Patriots S Devin McCourty all four years from 2006-09. Patriots S Duron Harmon, CB Logan Ryan and TE Tim Wright were all Rutgers freshmen in 2009.
  • Patriots RB Brandon Bolden and Lions CB Cassius Vaughn were teammates at Mississippi from 2008-09.
  • Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels (1999) and tight ends coach Brian Daboll worked as graduate assistants for Michigan State, when Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan (1998-2000) was the Spartans linebackers coach.
  • Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien was the special teams coach at Pittsburgh in 1987, when Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was a senior safety for the Panthers.
  • Lions assistant special teams coach Devin Fitzsimmons was an offensive assistant at Rutgers in 2012, when Patriots TE Tim Wright, CB Logan Ryan and S Duron Harmon were all seniors on the football team and coaching assistant Steve Belichick was an assistant coach for the Scarlet Knights.
  • Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll was a volunteer assistant at William and Mary in 1997, when Lions secondary coach Alan Williams was the team's running backs coach.
  • Patriots DL Alan Branch was tutored by Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan in 2004, when Branch was a freshman at Michigan and Sheridan was the Wolverine's defensive line coach.
  • Patriots LS Danny Aiken played for Lions assistant head coach/tight ends Ron Prince in 2009, when Prince was the special teams coach at Virginia. Lions assistant special teams coach Devin Fitzsimmons was also a graduate assistant for the Cavaliers in 2009.
  • Patriots LB Jerod Mayo was a senior linebacker at Tennessee in 2007, when Lions quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter got his first coaching job as a graduate assistant.
    PATRIOTS: Game Release | Roster | Depth Chart | Stats | Bag Policy
    *LIONS: *Game Release | Roster | Depth Chart | Stats
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