The Detroit Lions haven’t played well the last two weeks in losses to Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Okay, they’ve played pretty bad.
The Lions have seen their 6-3 record turn into 6-5 and their opportunity to put a stranglehold on the division fly out the window.
But one thing that shouldn’t be lost in the disappointment of the last two weeks is the Lions still lead the NFC North and still control their playoff destiny. If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, the Lions would still be the No. 3 seed in NFC.
That doesn’t make up for how bad they’ve played of late, and doesn’t give fans a fuzzy feeling about the next five games after watching the last two, but it does offer some perspective.
It certainly hasn’t been lost on the players or coaches.
"We are in first place,"
The Lions have committed eight turnovers the last two games without getting any turnovers of their own. They’ve been their own worst enemy. That has some thinking a quick turnaround could be in the cards.
"The mistakes we had were physical errors," receiver
It’s a short turnaround this week to get those things fixed, however, and Thursday’s game has greater importance than just being the next game on the schedule or a nationally televised game.
"We always talk about division opponents and NFC North and how you can count two games like that," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "It’s a team that’s right there in contention. We need to play our best and we need to come out with a win. We have lost two in a row and we need to right that. There’s no better opportunity than Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field."
With a win Thursday the Lions remain in first place and in the drivers seat to the playoffs.
THE OTHER SIDE OF FLYNN
When most people think about Matt Flynn vs. the Detroit Lions they instantly think back to the Week 17 performance during the 2011 season when he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a Packers win.
But Flynn faced the Lions one other time, in 2010, with much different results.
He came into the game for an injured Aaron Rodgers in the second half and was 15-of-26 passing for 177 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. His passer rating was 62.5 and the Lions won the game 7-3.
With Flynn expected to start on Thursday, it begs the questions, which Flynn shows up to Ford Field on Thanksgiving?
Most NFL games come down to two things: turnover and trench play.
The first matchup between Detroit and Green Bay in Week 5, the turnover battle evened out (0-0), but Green Bay won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
The Packers defensive line, in particular, harassed
"They kind of had us playing sideways a little but," guard
The Lions are No. 1 in the NFL in sacks allowed per play and the Packers are No. 2 in sacks per play.
That’s what you call a key matchup on Thursday.
SLAY TO START?
He didn’t participate in Monday’s walkthrough or Tuesday’s practice, either.
If Houston isn’t ready to play Thursday, the Lions are likely to start rookie
"I think the biggest thing is just overall knowledge of not just our scheme, because he had a pretty good handle of our scheme, but just offenses," Schwartz said of Slay. "Any young player, that’s a step that they all need to take. They all work on technique and they all work on knowing what our defense is, but you also need to understand what offenses are trying to do and I think he’s done a really good job.
Like any young player, though, Slay has been inconsistent.
He said he’s been working with assistant defensive backs coach Steven Jackson on defensive concepts vs. different offenses and Slay says that’s helped slow the game down some.
We could potentially see how much of a difference its made come Thursday.
The Lions have a long a storied history on Thanksgiving Day dating back to 1934.
The Lions haven’t won on Thanksgiving since 2003, however, and that’s left a bad taste in the mouth of a number of players.
"It would be huge for me," receiver
The last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving was against the same Green Bay Packers they’ll face Thursday.
"More than anything, I want to get a win on Thanksgiving," Burleson said. "One of the memories I want to cherish is that I won on a special day like (Thanksgiving). I’m not going to keep it quiet. I want a victory and I think everyone in this locker room shares that."