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5 things to watch: Lions vs. Packers

Thanksgiving football is an annual tradition in Detroit and Lions fans get an old-school, traditional matchup between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. Today will mark the 22nd meeting between the Packers and Lions on Thanksgiving, the most in the NFL and their first since 2013.

Here are five things to look out for in this NFC North matchup:


The Lions came out of Sunday's win over Chicago pretty healthy in the injury department. On Monday's practice report they listed starting left guard Jonah Jackson as the only player on the 53-man roster who was missing any practice time this week with the wrist injury that prevented him from playing last week. If he can't go, rookie Colby Sorsdal could be in line for a second straight start.

Green Bay on the other hand had 16 players listed on their practice report to begin the week as either limited or not participating in practice. They've got some key players like running back Aaron Jones (knee), tight end Luke Musgrave (abdomen), cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder), defensive end Kenny Clark (shoulder) and linebacker Rashan Gary (shoulder) dealing with injuries.

The Lions are certainly the healthier team heading in. We'll see 90 minutes before kickoff just how shorthanded the Packers might be today.

View photos of the starters for the Green Bay Packers.


Lions head coach Dan Campbell talked this week about the emphasis on defense to limit Green Bay's big-play potential and for Detroit's secondary to keep everything in front of them. It's a message that was likely reaffirmed to the players after they started watching tape on the Packers.

Packers quarterback Jordan Love posted a career-high 322 passing yards in their win over the Chargers last week. He had five pass plays of at least 25-plus yards the week prior in Pittsburgh. Love leads the NFL after Week 11 in completions of 30-plus yards with 18. That's more than Brock Purdy (17), Matthew Stafford (17) and Tua Tagovailoa (16). Green Bay has some weapons at wide receiver and the Lions will have to do a good job keeping them in front of them this afternoon.


The Lions have one of the best running back tandems in the NFL in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs and an offensive coordinator in Ben Johnson who loves to run the football in any situation.

The last time the Lions played Green Bay Week 4 Detroit racked up 211 rushing yards on 43 attempts for a 4.9 average per carry and three touchdowns.

Montgomery had 121 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries in that 34-20 Lions victory. Gibbs had eight carries for 40 yards. I expect the carries to be more split between Montgomery and Gibbs this time around, but the Lions are hoping for the same results in terms of yards and touchdowns on the ground. The Packers come in ranked 28th against the run this season, allowing on average 134.7 yards per game on the ground.


Sunday's win over Chicago was big for Detroit because it showed they can win a game when they don't play their best football. The offense turned it over three times and special teams fumbled away a kickoff return. Thanks to Detroit's defense, the Bears scored only 10 points off those turnovers. It's rare a team turns it over four times and still wins the contest.

Detroit will be looking to be much cleaner today and take better care of the football. Detroit's 14 giveaways on the year ranks 17th in the league. The Packers have only generated nine takeaways all season, which ranks 29th. 


Dan Campbell played three times on Thanksgiving as a player in Dallas and Detroit and was 0-3 in those contests. The Lions have lost the first two Thanksgiving Day games with Campbell as head coach. He's looking for his first Thanksgiving win today.

The sellout crowd expected at Ford Field will be rocking as they've given Detroit one of the better home-field advantages in the NFL. Can Campbell get a big win and improve his team to 9-2 on the season and keep pace with the Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) for the best record in the NFL?