Finally, I can post this bit - I've had this swirling around in my brain for the past couple of weeks. As a few of you may or may not remember, I have a few sizeable bets that I made in the heat of the moment, which, regrettably, I made regarding the game on Thanksgiving. I say regrettably because when I made said bets, Detroit had just smoked St. Louis the week prior and were actually looking good against the Jets and the Pats were getting their asses handed to them by the Browns.
Considering that I live in the heart of New England territory, I'm definitely in the select minority out here when I tell football fans that I'm a Lions fan. Years prior they'd cluck their tongues and offer me their sympathy... (you can definitely tell that I'm no fairweather fan!) but this year the tune changed a bit to a smattering of "Hey, I like what they're doing - their defense is definitely improving!" amid other comments of that nature instead of the ol' tired bit of "I'm sorry, they SUCK".
That said, I'm looking forward to the Thankgiving game with a bit of trepidation, given the past couple weeks' performances of both the Patriots and the Kitties. The Lions have just come off losses to Buffalo and Dallas - two teams that I'm sure we all looked at in weeks prior, due to their losing streaks and internal combustion, as teams we should've been able to beat soundly. The Patriots, on the other hand, have come off wins against the Steelers and Colts. Guys, I think I could speak for everyone that if we can beat a team who have beaten two teams who are past Super Bowl Champions... we'd be singing praises everywhere from Traverse City to 8 Mile Rd.
Alas, since I'm out here I don't get too many chances to watch the Lions play. That's why I'm so thankful for this game! I don't care about the parade, just give me the football!
So without further ado, let's get to the matchups!
Lions Offense vs. Patriots Defense - I watched the Pats - Colts game, folks, and let me tell you, we can score on these guys. Their defense looks to be solid, but nothing really jumped out at me. Yes, not even those interceptions they hung on Manning, which is a bit of a shocker, but I felt that was more of a push rather than a solid mistake... Manning was trying to get something done there in the end and win the game. Hey, sometimes you win some, sometime you lose. I honestly feel that if... if...if... we could actually get a running game established, with some kind of complexity instead of the ol' run it up the gut ... we could capitalize with the air game.
Lions Defense vs. Patriots Offense - Truth, folks, this is what scares me. The Pats' offense neutralized Freeney and Mathis so easily it was like, holy fuck. Time after time Brady was able to pink and plink for 5 to 10 yards, all the way to the end zone just by setting up fast passes and screens. Here's the other thing that scares me: Who do you key on? Welker? Green-Ellis? Woodhead? Branch? Who? Brady is so adept in using all his weapons, it's going to be tough to stop. I'm no defensive coordinator, but if I were Gunny I'd simply not worry about Brady's guns and just simply go after Brady himself. I don't mean forget about his comrades, because you gotta have a defense, but I think if you could get to Brady a few times, he'd start playing rattled. We could do that with KVB and Suh. I'm just concerned that Belichick will just do the same thing he did against the Colts - fast setting plays that neutralizes the front defensive line simply because they cannot get to the QB before the ball's already gone.
Lions Special Teams vs Patriots Special Teams - Sigh. Another area which I don't feel too good about. The Patriots ST looked stellar against the Steelers and the Colts. Well, okay, they didn't look all that great because everyone did what they were supposed to do - hit their kicks, made their field goals, tackled the ball carrier at the 20, etc., etc. It just looked routine, and the Pats do it every time. Now, the Lions have missed FGs, let punts go back to the house, kickoffs that went 95 yds+... you get the idea.
And what about the penalties, the referees, you ask? Well, since we're playing at home, hopefully the refs will play this one down the middle instead of making phantom horsecollar calls (which, in light of my viewing the videos, was not the right call; it should've been a facemask, which, coincidentally, has the same penalty as a HC call). And if Schwartz will just use the Schwartz and stiffen his authority over players who keep making boneheaded penalties.. (cough cough Peterson cough cough) and bench 'em when they do so... maybe we would see dividends.
Final prediction from the Iceman in New England?
New England 35, Detroit 21. Sorry folks, I really wish I could type this the other way and actually make some money, but I've got a feeling that we won't be giving thanks this year...!