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Green Bay Packers Vs. Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day 2011: Fan Preview
The Green Bay Packers (10-0) travel to Detroit to take on the Lions (7-3) on Thanksgiving Day November 24th, 2011. It will be the 20th time the two teams have played each other in Detroit on Thanksgiving, with the Lions holding a 11-7-1 lead in the series.
The last time the Packers were 10-0 was in 1962. Just like this year, they were the defending NFL champions, and played the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day in their 11th game of the season. On that Thanksgiving Day at old Tiger Stadium, the Lions dominated the game, sacking quarterback Bart Starr 10 times and holding the Packers to just 122 total yards. Detroit had a 23-0 lead at halftime and led 26-0 after three quarters. Green Bay scored two fourth quarter touchdowns but it was too little too late and the Lions beat the Packers 26-14. It was Green Bay's only loss of the season. The Packers won their last three regular season games and beat the New York Giants in the NFL Championship game for their second straight NFL title.
This year's game figures to be a high scoring affair. Green Bay is averaging 35.5 points per game, tops in the NFL, while Detroit is third with 30.1. Both teams score more via the passing game. Detroit's leading receiver is Calvin Johnson with 974 yards and 11 touchdowns but quarterback Matthew Stafford has plenty of other targets. In the Lions' victory over the Carolina Panthers November 20th, Stafford threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers other than Johnson.
Stafford could be a major headache for a Packer defense that has been giving up too many yards this season. The Packers are 30th in the NFL in yards allowed at 391.8, but they have made big plays on defense (including a league leading 19 interceptions) when it counts. Stafford is emerging as a very good quarterback with 25 touchdown passes so far, but he also has 10 interceptions and does not run well. Green Bay must put pressure on Stafford and force him to make mistakes.
The Packers' Aaron Rodgers has 31 touchdown passes and is a leading candidate for league MVP. The Lions' pass defense has played well, allowing 192.8 yards per game, fifth best in the league. They have also made 15 interceptions. But if the offensive line can give him any kind of decent protection, Rodgers should do fine. The Packers have an abundance of capable receivers, and Rodgers leads all quarterbacks with a 72.3 percent completion rate. The fact that he has thrown just four interceptions is an huge factor in the Packers' success. Rodgers stays calm and doesn't force things and make mistakes.
The 2011 Packers have a chance to win their 11th straight game in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day against a very good Lions team, something that even the Vince Lombardi coached 1962 Packers could not do. For a Green Bay Packers fan, it couldn't be scripted any better than this.
A lifelong Wisconsin resident, Mark Hudziak is a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He has been a Green Bay Packers fan since the Vince Lombardi era.
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