NFC North Clash

Michael Vick, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were sent to Detroit in the past on Thanksgiving in the hopes their talents would hold viewers despite the presence of the lowly Lions.

The NFL dispatched another star quarterback, Green Bay's Brett Favre, to headline the game this year in the Motor City.

But for a change, the Lions have a relevant team in their annual showcase.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Green Bay -3.5  point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Thursday’s game, the over/under has been set at 47 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Green Bay -3.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Detroit (6-4) has already matched the most wins they've had in seven seasons under team president Matt Millen. But the Lions have lost two straight games for the first time this year and have a tough closing stretch, creating obstacles to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1990.

``It's a must-win game for us,'' Roy Williams said. ``We can't be 6-5.''

Williams is looking forward to playing with pressure instead of just pride on the holiday with the whole country watching.

``It's a little different,'' the fourth-year receiver said. ``We haven't been in this position for a long time. I haven't been in it since I've been here.

``At this position last year, I'm Christmas shopping and getting my gifts together.''

A win doesn't seem as crucial for Green Bay (9-1) after racing off to its best start since the Vince Lombardi-led team in 1962 was 10-0.

The Packers have a three-game cushion in the NFC North over the slumping Lions, who end the regular season at Lambeau Field where they have lost 16 straight games.

Green Bay could just about wrap up the division title with a win at Detroit. Favre, however, said it's a little too early to focusing on playoff possibilities.

``We're 9-1, but it doesn't mean anything beyond this game,'' he said. ``A lot can happen in these next six games. I know a lot of people are starting to talk about postseason and they're looking at this season differently than they did at the start of it. And that's fine. We'll let them deal with that.''

Detroit is going to have to deal with Favre, who is on pace to break many of his single-season records still scrambling and slinging passes at the age of 38.

The three-time MVP has completed 68 percent of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards along with 19 TDs and eight interceptions.

``He looks like the Favre of old,'' Lions cornerback Fernando Bryant said.

Detroit coach Rod Marinelli said Favre appears to be even better than that, drawing on his experience against him as a Tampa Bay assistant for a decade before leading the Lions last season.

``All the years I've seen him, I don't know if he's played any better than he's playing right now,'' Marinelli said. ``It's unbelievable.''

Favre gets a kick out of how much the perception of him has changed in a year.

Retirement hovered over him last season as he and the team struggled to finish with a .500 record. Now, perhaps only New England's Tom Brady is drawing more rave reviews in the entire league.

``Funny how things change,'' Favre said. ``The obvious answer would be, 'I told you so,' with my chest stuck out. That's not even close. I knew I could play, or I wouldn't have come back. Obviously the Packers felt like I could play or they wouldn't have asked me to come back.

``I came back for one reason: this team winning four games last year at the end of the season.''

The Packers closed last season with four straight wins, making them 13-1 since getting routed by the New York Jets on Dec. 3. They have won six road games in a row and seven of eight against the NFC North.

``I don't think we can sneak up on anybody now like we have been,'' defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. ``Now, we're going to get everybody's best shot.''

Detroit is 33-32-2 on Thanksgiving, a tradition dating to 1934, and is 1-6 under Millen on the holiday for franchise's worst seven-year stretch in four decades.

After beating Favre and the Packers in 2003, Detroit dropped the next three games in the national spotlight by an average of 23 points.

``Everybody wants to kick us off the Thanksgiving-tradition thing, but I think this one is going to be pretty good,'' Williams said. ``The nation is going to get to see our team go against one of the best in the NFC, and we feel that we can compete with these guys and come out with a victory.''

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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