The Patriots left for Detroit early Wednesday afternoon amidst an early-season snow storm that was spreading snow across much of New England. The team put the finishing touches on a short week of preparation for the Lions with a morning walkthrough at Gillette Stadium.
The 6-5 Patriots will face an emotional challenge in Thursday's 12:30 p.m. EST holiday game in front of a national television audience. While the 3-8 Lions appear to be the underdog in the game, the team has a recent history of solid play and an upset-minded attitude in the holiday games.
While the Patriots will likely be able to move the ball against 28th ranked defense in the NFL, the key to the game may be in the early going. Playing an emotionally driven team in their own new building, Ford Field, in a tradition-filled game is an early challenge. If New England can come out in the first quarter, avoid mistakes and work out to an early lead it could be a long turkey day for Lions players and fans. An early lead will not only allow the Patriots to take a balanced approach offensively, but it will allow defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel the flexibility to be aggressive and creative on the defensive side of the ball. Creativity in the New England defense could translate into a long afternoon for Lions rookie quarterback Joey Harrington and the leagues 29th ranked offense.
The Patriots have shown a proficiency in playing with the lead this season and there is no better time than on the road in a trap game such as this to assert that ability. All teams play better from in front, but taking away the early emotional advantage of the Lions could go a long way in deciding the outcome of this festive battle.
Injury Report Update
The Patriots added rookie wide receiver David Givens to the injury report after practice on Tuesday. He is listed as Probable with a leg injury. Tebucky Jones (leg) remained Questionable with a leg injury.
Game Notes and Numbers
Detroit leads the all time series with a 4-3 record. … The Lions won the last meeting, Thanksgiving Day 2000, 34-9. … The Lions "classic" uniforms for the game will be the ones the team wore from 1934-1961 with white pants and silver numerals, plain silver helmets and blue jerseys. … With 117 yards passing on Thursday quarterback Tom Brady will become the sixth Patriot to record a 3,000-yard passing season. … New England tight end Christian Fauria has caught six touchdown passes this season, he caught seven touchdown passes in his previous seven seasons in the league. … Roman Phifer leads the Patriots with 75 tackles this season. Richard Seymour leads the team in sacks with 5 and Ty Law leads in interceptions with 3. Larry Izzo leads the team with 16 special teams tackles. … Safety Victor Green has taken part in 6 takeaways this season (fumble recoveries, forced fumbles and an interception). The Patriots have converted all six of the turnovers into touchdowns. … The Lions rank fifth in the NFL averaging with 3.9 yards per attempt. … The Lions have had 35 plays from scrimmage that have totaled 20 or more yards this season. … Detroit kick returner Eddie Drummond ranks fifth in the NFC with a 25.3-yard return average. … Running back James Stewart is averaging 5.1 yards per touch this season.