12:30 PM ET, November 28, 2013
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Exit Aaron Rodgers for three weeks, and the NFC North has suddenly overtaken the NFC East as football's most up-for-grabs division.
Two of its three five-loss teams will try to further establish themselves Thursday when Matt Flynn leads the visiting Green Bay Packers against the Detroit Lions with much more than a drumstick at stake.
The Packers' quarterback situation has mirrored the division's uncertainty since Rodgers went down with a broken left collarbone Nov. 4 against Chicago. Rodgers has been ruled out for a third straight game despite returning to practice this week, leaving Green Bay's hopes of matching the Lions and Bears for a division-best six wins in the hands of its fourth starting signal-caller this season.
Coach Mike McCarthy waited until Wednesday to announce Flynn would be his new starter. Though Scott Tolzien started the last two games, it was Flynn who took over midway through the third quarter Sunday and led the team back from a 16-point, second-half deficit in a 26-26 tie with Minnesota.
The Packers (5-5-1) are 0-3-1 since Rodgers got hurt.
"I've been hitting the playbook hard and studying, and asking a lot of questions from Aaron, all the receivers, linemen -- how they want things called, and how they want the operation to go," Flynn said. "So I feel good."
Tolzien, who took over for the injured Seneca Wallace on Nov. 11 against Philadelphia, has lost the job to Flynn after combining for one touchdown pass and five interceptions in his two starts and one relief appearance.
Flynn, playing his first game with the Packers since backing up Rodgers from 2008-11, went 21 of 36 for 218 yards and a touchdown Sunday.
"I'm very comfortable. Feel good with the playbook, feel good with the game plan, and I feel ready to go," said Flynn, who re-signed with Green Bay on Nov. 12. "You know, I'm light years ahead of where I would be three weeks into any other system obviously because of the time I spent here."
Green Bay has averaged 18.0 points in the last four weeks, tied for 25th in the league. Through Week 8, the Packers were third in the league with Rodgers at 30.3 points per game.
A win would vault the Packers past the Lions (6-5), who haven't been able to take advantage of their division foe's misfortune or their own seemingly soft schedule.
Detroit has lost consecutive games for the first time this year, and they've come against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, which have a combined 8-14 record. But both of those teams have won three in a row.
The Lions now face a Green Bay team that has gone winless in four straight for the first time since a five-game losing streak in 2008. Detroit, however, has lost nine straight Thanksgiving Day games since a win over the Packers in 2003.
"I think we all need to remind ourselves, like we did yesterday, that the fact is that there's five games remaining, and we're in first place," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Monday. "We need to conduct ourselves accordingly, and we can't worry what happened last week, we can't worry about what happened yesterday. We need to worry about what's going to happen in the future. I like our team's mindset."
The Lions haven't exactly had the same quarterback of late, either. Matthew Stafford threw at least four interceptions for the first time since Nov. 13, 2011, in Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Buccaneers.
He'd thrown eight in the previous 10 games this season with just one multi-interception game.
Accuracy has been an issue as Stafford has completed a league-worst 49.6 percent of his throws this month in three games after connecting on 62.4 percent through Week 8.
The off day against the Bucs came despite the return of one of Stafford's top targets, Nate Burleson. The Lions' No. 2 wide receiver had seven catches on 10 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown in his first game since Sept. 22 after breaking his left arm in a car accident.
After Sunday's loss, running back Reggie Bush said it was time for a players-only meeting. Stafford didn't agree.
"I don't think it's necessary," Stafford said. "This is a team I've been around for a while, and we have strong leaders on this team. We can get it taken care of just in individual groups. We've got leaders at every position, and guys know what it takes to win in this league."
This week, it'll take snapping a five-game skid against the Packers, which includes a 22-9 loss in Green Bay on Oct. 6. It was the Lions' only game without a touchdown and the only time they've been held under 21 points as Stafford was sacked a season-high five times.
However, that was the only game Calvin Johnson has missed, and he's had 505 yards receiving in his last three matchups with the Packers. The All-Pro wideout has an NFL-best 1,198 yards, including 861 over the past five weeks with seven of his 42 catches going for touchdowns.
Slowing him or Burleson down could fall on Packers cornerback Sam Shields, who is expected to return after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
Detroit is 1-15 against the Packers since Dec. 11, 2005, and Stafford has never beaten them. He's 0-6 with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions since entering the league in 2009. The one win against the Packers in his time with the team was led by then-backup Drew Stanton.
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|Avg Points Allowed||25.4||23.9|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||GB|
|Rush Yds Allowed||GB|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Green Bay leads 22-4|
|Oct 6, 2013||GB 22, DET 9|
|Dec 9, 2012||GB 27, DET 20|
|Nov 18, 2012||GB 24, @DET 20|
|Jan 1, 2012||GB 45, DET 41|
|Nov 24, 2011||GB 27, @DET 15|
|Dec 12, 2010||GB 3, @DET 7|
|Oct 3, 2010||GB 28, DET 26|
|Nov 26, 2009||GB 34, @DET 12|
|Oct 18, 2009||GB 26, DET 0|
|Dec 28, 2008||GB 31, DET 21|
|Sep 14, 2008||GB 48, @DET 25|
|Dec 30, 2007||GB 34, DET 13|
|Nov 22, 2007||GB 37, @DET 26|
|Dec 17, 2006||GB 17, DET 9|
|Sep 24, 2006||GB 31, @DET 24|
|Dec 11, 2005||GB 16, DET 13|
|Sep 11, 2005||GB 3, @DET 17|
|Dec 12, 2004||GB 16, DET 13|
|Oct 17, 2004||GB 38, @DET 10|
|Nov 27, 2003||GB 14, @DET 22|
|Sep 14, 2003||GB 31, DET 6|
|Nov 10, 2002||GB 40, DET 14|
|Sep 22, 2002||GB 37, @DET 31|
|Nov 22, 2001||GB 29, @DET 27|
|Sep 9, 2001||GB 28, DET 6|
Matt Flynn posted a 2.1 Total QBR on Thursday, the lowest single-game number by a Packers starting quarterback in the Total QBR era. - Note edited due to change in Flynn's Total QBR.
With his TD today, Calvin Johnson has caught a TD pass in 5 straight and 6 of his 7 career games on Thanksgiving Day.
The Reggie Bush fumble was the 1st lost by Detroit on its opening drive on Thanksgiving since 2008 vs the Titans. The Lions lost that game 47-10, their worst-ever loss in a game played on Thanksgiving Day.
The Lions had 13 plays gain at least 10 yards in the first half. In Week 5 against the Packers, the Lions had 13 plays gain at least 10 yards in the whole game.
The Lions' 30-point win Thursday was their largest on Thanksgiving Day since 1997 and their largest ever on Thanksgiving against the Packers (21 total meetings).[+]
Lions Largest Margin of Victory on Thanksgiving Day
Reggie Bush's first-quarter fumble was the third red-zone turnover for the Lions this year. Only the Patriots and Broncos (four each) have more.
From Elias: The Packers had 0 rushing 1st downs Thursday at the Lions. It was the first time since 1990 (week 14 loss vs Seahawks) that the Packers had 0 1st downs via the rush in a game.
The Lions 30-point win over the Packers was their largest win against Green Bay since 1973. They had lost 15 of their previous 16 games against them.[+]
Lions Largest Margin of Victory vs Packers
- Thursday is Calvin Johnson's seventh game with at least 100 receiving yards this season, most in the league. - Thursday is Johnson's 39th career 100-yard game, four more than any other player since the start of 2007 (Andre Johnson, 35). - Thursday is the second-straight 100-yard game for Johnson on Thanksgiving. Johnson did not reach 100 receiving yards in his first five Thanksgiving games.
From Elias: We're going to need some INCREDIBLE performances tomorrow to break any of these ridiculous NFL Thanksgiving Day records... Ernie Nevers scored SIX TDs for the Chicago Cardinals vs the Chicago Bears 84 years ago tomorrow... O.J. Simpson's 273 Rushing yds in 1976... Troy Aikman threw for 455 yards 15 years ago... And Jim Benton had 303 receiving yards for the Browns vs the Lions in 1945.[+]
For the Record - NFL Thanksgiving Day Records
Brandon Pettigrew dropped a pass in the end zone early in the second quarter. That was the sixth dropped end-zone throw by a Lion since the start of last season, tied for most in the league (Steelers and Bears).
Entering today, the Lions held a halftime lead twice during their current 9-game losing streak on Thanksgiving (2012 vs Texans and 2010 vs Patriots). Detroit was outscored 55-17 in the 2nd half of those 2 games (-19.0 PPG).
The Lions outgained the Packers Thursday by 435 yards, just the fourth time in the last ten seasons an NFL team gained 400 yards or more than their opponent in a single game. It's the second-largest such disparity in that span - the 2005 Eagles outgained the 49ers by 441 yards in Week 2 of that season.[+]
Largest Single-Game Yardage Margin
Stephen Tulloch's second-quarter sack was the Lions' fourth this season when sending at least five rushers, tied for fewest in the league.
Ziggy Ansah's first-quarter sack was his sixth of the season, most among rookies. All six of Ansah's sacks have come as part of a 4-man pass rush.
The Lions averaged 5.1 yards before first contact on 20 designed rushes in the first half Thursday. The Packers averaged 0.3 yards before contact on 8 designed rushes.
It's rare to turn the ball over 4 times and win, and it's even rarer to do that and still win by 30. Including Detroit yesterday, there's been only 6 games this season where the winning team has turned it over 4 times, and according to Elias, they're the 1st team since the 2001 Rams to win a game by 30 points despite at least 4 turnovers.[+]
Won Game With 4 Turnovers This Season
Today is the fifth game the Lions have had at least three turnovers this season... Only the Giants have had more (seven). The Lions have had at least three turnovers in three straight games.
ESPN Stats & Information