So its one of the best days of the year as the NFL celebrates Thanksgiving with its usual triple-header of games on a Thursday and this year we start with the usual Packers v Lions match-up, live from 5.30pm on Sky Sports.
Packers 5-5-1 at Lions 6-5 Preview
An interesting game to get us under way. The Packers are reeling right now. The loss of star quarter back Aaron Rodgers is hurting them but the signs were better once Matt Flynn took over in the second half against the Vikings. Flynn hasn’t been away that long and so was always bound to be a good bet to pick up were he left off; it’s been about two years since his star showing got him a big contract elsewhere in the league with Seattle who then found out how good ‘lucky draft pick’ Russell Wilson was.
The Rodgers injury is interesting had they won over the Vikings rather than tied I would feel inclined to think with 3 days lost playing on a Thursday, that we wouldn’t see Rodgers suit up against the Lions. Rodgers has returned to limited practice today but surely a fully fit Flynn is a better call for the health of Rodgers. He is no good injured again if he comes back too quickly the way Cutler has.
The Packers will have their hands full as they come up against Calvin Johnson, but while he again topped 100 yards against the Bucs, he dropped some balls and for the second time he fumbled a ball in contact after the catch. The Steelers managed to outscore the Lions and so did the Bucs so there’s no reason the Packers couldn’t do the same behind what has proven a very strong run game. The Lions must be worried about how their run game seems to have stagnated in the second part of the season. Bush has 737 yards on the season but with just two touchdowns and one since the bye week. Bell has 5 touchdowns but has proved a much less effective big play runner. Lacey and Stark have provided the Packers with a much stronger option
With the division leading Bears (6-5) also stuttering, the winner of this could well take a big advantage in winning the division. The Packers tied game may prove crucial in the end but win here and it holds the tiebreak over the Lions at least. At receiver, the Lions obviously stand out with the best in the league in Calvin Johnson, the league leader. But while Jordy Nelson is 4 touchdowns off his pace he is just under a thousand yards for the season. The supporting cast has pitched in very much like the Lions, with plenty of two touchdown men but the Packers do involve their other receivers a lot more than the Lions tend to. Like in the week 5 game, the Packers have a great chance to exploit the pass coverage of the Lions with the deep ball. The return of Burleson will be help to the Lions pass attack as long as Stafford can cut out those loose passes he’s being throwing the past two weeks.
I expect the pass to dominate this game as both offences are strong making big plays with their passing game than the run game, while both have defences that struggle against the pass at times. The Packers have the number 2 offence in the league being both top 5 in rushing and passing but not in scoring. The Lions are the number 3 passing team in the league but are way down in the rushing stakes and that’s likely to be the case again here. On defence, the Lions have the 4th ranked rush defence but rank 28th against the pass. The Packers have proved able to cope with neither outside the top half of the teams in the NFL in both pass and rush defence.
Packers at Lions Summary:
This really should be close and it would be no surprise were the lead to switch a few times during the match. Taking the Packers with the points may be the wise option in this one as they look to go for a 6th win in a row over the Lions. With Flynn proving a good filler for Rodgers they should improve from their last three games without their start quarter back
Green Bay Packers +6pts 20/21 betvictor
Jordy Nelson anytime TD 5/4 skybet
Jordy Nelson over 75.5yds 10/11 ladbrokes