The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers are preparing for their annual Thanksgiving day game this Thursday. The Lions have struggled in recent years but seem to have turned a corner this season under second-year coach Dan Campbell. At 4-7, Detroit already has more wins than the past two seasons combined. Meanwhile, the Packers have underperformed with a 4-7 record after three straight 13 win seasons. This crucial NFC North battle holds major playoff implications for both teams.
Lions Riding Momentum into Turkey Day Contest
The Lions come into Thursday’s game looking to win consecutive games for the first time since October 2020. Detroit is coming off a thrilling 31-30 comeback win over the New York Giants last Sunday. Rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson came up with a forced fumble late to seal the victory.
Quarterback Jared Goff orchestrated the game-winning drive, shaking off earlier struggles to lead the Lions down the field. Goff has battled inconsistency this season but won back-to-back games in October before the team lost five straight. He will need to limit turnovers against a talented Packers defense.
“It was a great game and a great team win,” said Herman Moore, Lions legend and all-time franchise leading receiver. “It really embodied what coach Campbell has been preaching, the fight, don’t blink mentality.”
Second-year receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has emerged as Goff’s top target, hauling in six catches for 81 yards against New York. Running back Jamaal Williams also played a starring role, registering 64 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Detroit’s defense has shown marked improvement after finishing 31st in points allowed last year. The Lions held dynamic Giants quarterback Daniel Jones to a 43% completion percentage and picked him off twice last week. Rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and cornerback Jeff Okudah made the key plays late to secure the win.
“They’re playing good team defense right now,” said former Lions lineman Lomas Brown.
|Key Lions Players
|QB Jared Goff
|2,471 pass yards, 17 TDs, 8 INTs
|RB Jamaal Williams
|547 rush yards, 12 rush TDs
|WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
|70 catches, 743 rec yards, 3 rec TDs
|DE Aidan Hutchinson
|5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
The Lions have struggled mightily on Thanksgiving in recent years, having not won since 2016. Overall, Detroit is 37-43-2 on the holiday. But this year’s team is hardly resembling the squads of old. Players and coaches believe things could finally be turning around.
“I’m looking forward to playing on Thanksgiving with this team,” said offensive tackle Taylor Decker, now in his seventh Lions season. “Previous years, we haven’t been in spots for it to mean as much as it does this year.”
Surprising Packers Seeking Rebound
The Packers meanwhile are looking to halt a five game losing streak after dropping back-to-back contests to the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers uncharacteristically has Green Bay’s offense sputtering.
Injuries have plagued the receiving corps with top wideouts Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and rookie Christian Watson in and out of the lineup. The Packers rank just 24th in scoring offense a year after leading the NFL. Rodgers has failed to throw for over 250 yards during the five game skid, a far cry from his MVP seasons.
First year coach Matt LaFleur has admitted needing to self-scout the offense over the mini-bye to find solutions. But Rodgers maintains trust in the system that has brought Green Bay so much success in recent seasons.
While the offense has struggled, the defense has kept games close. The Packers boast a fearsome pass rush led by linebacker Rashan Gary and his team-high seven sacks. Green Bay has held five straight opponents to 22 points or less thanks to standout seasons from cornerback Jaire Alexander and safety Adrian Amos.
|Key Packers Players
|QB Aaron Rodgers
|2,542 pass yards, 19 TDs 8 INTs
|RB Aaron Jones
|677 rush yards, 5 rush TDs
|WR Allen Lazard
|39 catches, 516 rec yards, 6 rec TDs
|LB Rashan Gary
|31 tackles, 7 sacks
The Packers have had considerably more Thanksgiving success than the Lions, going 14-7 all time. That includes wins in four out of the last five holiday contests against Detroit. After missing the playoffs just three times in the last 13 years, Green Bay desperately needs a victory to avoid a lost season.
Playoff and Division Implications
Beyond the tradition and pageantry, this Thanksgiving matchup is dripping with playoff drama. The Lions sit just one game back of the final NFC wild card spot while the Packers linger 1.5 back.
The winner keeps their flickering postseason hopes alive. Detroit also has an opportunity to bury Green Bay’s chances in the race for the NFC North division title. Minnesota currently leads comfortably at 9-2 but neither team is mathematically eliminated.
It sets the stage for a tension filled Thanksgiving matchup. The Lions finally appear poised to be competitive while the reeling Packers look to play postseason spoiler.
After years of lopsided defeats, Detroit has a chance to finally break through on Thanksgiving. Will Dan Campbell’s hungry Lions take advantage of the big opportunity? Or can Rodgers snap out of his slump to lead Green Bay to a bounce back win?
This holiday game is shaping up to deliver more excitement and drama than usual. Consistently one of the highest rated matchups annually, this year’s edition may garner some extra attention. The Lions try to give their fanbase something extra to be thankful this Thanksgiving.
What to Watch heading into Thanksgiving
Dan Campbell’s Physical Lions Identity
The blue-collar ethos Dan Campbell has instilled seems to be taking hold. Detroit displayed tremendous mental toughness to mount their comeback against New York.
"You can see it’s definitely the identity coach Campbell has kind of laid forth for us," said safety DeShon Elliott. “It’s gritty, it’s grimy, it’s dirty.”
Campbell has preached physicality since arriving in Detroit before last year. The team’s play is finally matching the rhetoric in year two. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson getting creative with power backs Jamaal Williams and DeAndre Swift has helped complement the run game.
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has his faster, athletic unit flying to the football with sound tackling. Veterans Michael Brockers and Charles Harris have assisted Hutchinson and other first and second-year players adjust quicker.
The Lions look to impose their will in the trenches on both sides of the ball against Green Bay. Detroit has run for over 100 yards as a team in four straight contests thanks to their punishing offensive line. Starting center Frank Ragnow’s return from injury last week also provided a boost.
Rookie Difference Makers
This Lions roster is the fifth youngest in the NFL and their promising rookies have delivered impact plays during the surge back to relevance. Hutchinson leads all rookies with 5.5 sacks and seems to be hitting his stride after returning from injury. The No. 2 overall pick out of Michigan flashed his signature high motor against New York.
“That’s the type of players we want and he fits the bill perfectly,” said Campbell of Hutchinson.
First round safety Kerby Joseph made a game-saving interception two weeks ago and has brought ball-hawking skills to the secondary. Undrafted rookie wideout Kalif Raymond has also emerged recently as a dynamic vertical threat.
While fifth round rookie tight end James Mitchell hasn’t posted gaudy numbers, coaches have praised his steady blocking that helps enable the run game. Detroit will continue relying on youthful playmakers as their rebuild progresses faster than expected.
“I think we have guys emerging as leaders,” said Decker. “Guys who are in Year 2 or 3 starting to come into their own.”
Reviving the Rushing Attack
Getting Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon uncorked may prove crucial if Green Bay is going to salvage their season over the final six games. The Packers have sorely lacked balance offensively and sit 31st in rushing.
Dillon is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry after breaking out with over 800 yards last year. While hamstring issues have nagged top back Aaron Jones, his normally stellar 5.3 career average is down to 4.4 this season. The Packers have lacked opportunities to establish downhill momentum running behind their powerful offensive line.
“Fundamentally, we have to be able to run the football,” said LaFleur this week. “And we’ve got to regain some confidence.”
The mini-bye came at an ideal time for LaFleur to reassess and reignite the ground attack. Jones traditionally feasts in the Detroit matchup, including rushing for 100+ yards twice. Getting him rolling early behind lead blocker Josiah Deguara would open up the passing game for Rodgers.
The steady improvement from Detroit combined with Green Bay’s ongoing offensive woes leads me to believe Dan Campbell’s Lions will finally snap their Thanksgiving losing streak. Hutchinson and the defensive front should be able to fluster Rodgers while Goff protects the football enough to put up 20+ points. Matt LaFleur has had no answers to awaken the Packers attack the past month and Detroit’s sound defense looks equipped to take advantage.
Final Score Prediction: Lions 24, Packers 20
This sets up Detroit to win three straight for the first time since 2017. Amon-Ra St. Brown comes through when it matters most to lift the Lions in the final minutes for a signature win. Meanwhile, the Packers hopes will dwindle after losing six straight, unable to capitalize on favorable field position and Rodgers misfiring at key moments.
The excitement around Detroit football on Thanksgiving will be reignited, remembering why this yearly tradition brings out the best in the Lions and their fans. Campbell’s blue-collar approach seems to finally have the franchise poised for brighter days ahead.
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