This year’s Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit means more than any turkey day tilt over the past 20 years. The Lions sit at 6-5 and are barely holding on to the NFC North division lead. With the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers both riddled with injuries, the Lions have been unable to seize a stranglehold on a division that was seemingly served up on a platter for the taking. If the Lions are to lose Thursday, it may the type of loss that could dismantle the strides this organization has made under the tenure of head coach Jim Schwartz.
The phrase “same old Lions” has been thrown around after two straight losses to sub .500 teams. Another loss to Green Bay, especially without superstar QB Aaron Rodgers, would prove this phrase true once again for Lions fans. The Lions are just too talented of a team to squander a division championship with the amount of catastrophic injuries that have depleted the Bears and Packers this season. And that’s what makes this week’s game against the Packers so important. A win would give the Lions a two game lead over the Packers in the win column and more importantly, would guarantee the Lions the best record against division opponents for the season, an important tie breaker for the playoffs.
It appears that it will be Matt Flynn will start for the Packers this week. The last time he started a game for the Packers he set a franchise record for passing yards and passing TDs. That game was played against a Lions team that was good enough to make the playoffs during the 2011-2012 season. Although the Flynn story line will likely be the most hyped, how the Lions plan to contain rookie running back Eddie Lacy will prove to be the focus of the defense this week.
If the Lions choke away this division lead you can bet that Schwartz’s job will be in jeopardy. Although the Lions schedule isn’t exactly daunting down the stretch, this divisional match up this week will go a long way in determining how serious this team is becoming a legitimate NFC contender. After the past two performances, it doesn’t seem like this team is ready to handle the spotlight. We’ll see if that changes on the national stage. This year’s Thanksgiving game is truly the most meaningful since the days of Barry Sanders and Herman Moore.