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Lions finally get important Thanksgiving game

Dave Goldberg
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
Duane Burleson/APDetroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna looks for a play from the bench as teammate Jeff Backus (76) and New York Giants' Michael Strahan look on in the first half of the Lions 16-10 loss Sunday.
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For a decade, the Thanksgiving game in Detroit has been little more than a chance for the nation to see how bad the Lions can be.

But the game with Green Bay on Thursday is meaningful, although it’s less important now that the Lions have reverted to their old ways, losing their last two games to Arizona and to the Giants ” their first home loss. That drops them three games back in the NFC North, making it unlikely they will win the division, even with two games left against the Packers.

Instead, they are fighting for what is likely the NFC’s second wild-card spot, a game ahead of Arizona, Philadelphia and Washington. They have lost to all three, meaning they have almost no chance in tiebreakers.

The problem lately is offense.

In the two losses, they have gained a net 7 yards rushing. While Jon Kitna has thrown for 673 yards, he has been intercepted five times and Detroit has scored just 31 points, 10 against the Giants at Ford Field, where it had been averaging more than 30.

“This isn’t a problem with the system,” Kitna says. “This is about us. We have to get better. The players have to do our jobs and win the individual battles. That’s how this is going to change.”

The Packers, who have won 13 of 14 games going back to last season, are favored by 31/2 points. A win would just about wrap up the division and leave them to point for next week’s game in Dallas, the NFC’s other 9-1 team.

Green Bay is getting better and more confident as Ryan Grant has upgraded the running game.

Lions in free fall.

PACKERS, 24-13

New York Jets (plus 14) at Dallas (Thanksgiving)

In the last four games, Terrell Owens has 31 catches for 575 yards and eight touchdowns. So why should he know or care about the guy who will cover him? “I don’t know who that is, but once I step on the field, it doesn’t matter who’s out there,” he replied when asked about Darrelle Revis, the Jets’ first-round pick.

COWBOYS, 31-20

Indianapolis (minus 111/2) at Atlanta (Thanksgiving)

After this game, the Colts have 10 days to get healthier.

COLTS, 24-10

Philadelphia (plus 22) at New England (Sunday night)

And up goes the spread. According to R.J. Bell of pregame.com, this is the second largest ever: San Francisco was minus-23 at home against Cincinnati on Dec. 5, 1993 and won 21-8. That won’t happen here for a team outscoring its opponents by an average of 41-16.

PATRIOTS, 41-16

Washington (plus 3) at Tampa Bay

Similar teams. But Jeff Garcia is more consistent than Jason Campbell.

BUCS, 17-16

Denver (plus 2) at Chicago

The Broncos may win a weak division. Jay over Rex.

BRONCOS, 22-20

Buffalo (plus 71/2) at Jacksonville

The Colts have a pretty good team chasing them.

JAGUARS, 24-12

Miami (plus 16) at Pittsburgh (Monday night)

The Steelers are a good team at home. Miami is a bad team everywhere.

STEELERS, 27-3

San Francisco (plus 10) at Arizona

A schedule with teams like this is why the Cardinals might make the playoffs.

CARDINALS, 31-13

Minnesota (plus 7) at New York Giants

A one-dimensional offense won’t work against New York.

GIANTS, 20-9

Baltimore (plus 9) at San Diego

San Diego has the Holiday Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl. This is the Turkey Bowl.

CHARGERS, 8-5

Seattle (minus 3) at St. Louis

The “streaking” Rams stumble after two wins.

SEAHAWKS, 27-23

Houston (plus 31/2) at Cleveland

Phil Dawson clunks one off the back support at the gun.

BROWNS, 31-30

Tennessee (minus 1) at Cincinnati

It’s easier to play in Cincinnati than in Denver.

TITANS, 24-21

New Orleans (minus 3) at Carolina

The Panthers are 0-4 at home. Drew over Vinny.

SAINTS, 24-20

Oakland (plus 51/2) at Kansas City

Brodie Croyle showed promise last week. When does JaMarcus Russell get a chance to show his promise?

CHIEFS, 17-12

AND, BONUS PICK

Saskatchewan (minus 11) vs. Winnipeg (Grey Cup)

The teams split in the regular season, but backup Ryan Dinwiddie replaces the injured Kevin Glenn, the league’s best passer, for Winnipeg. So …

ROUGHRIDERS (that’s Saskatchewan) 13-1.

“””

LAST WEEK: 7-7-2 (spread); 11-5 (straight up)

SEASON: 79-73-8 (spread); 102-58 (straight up)1


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