Free NFL Pick: New England at Detroit 11-25-2010

November 24, 2010


New England Patriots at Detroit Lions

Thursday November 25th, 2010 12:30 PM EST

Line: New England -7


At 8-2, the New England Patriots have displayed their resiliency all season long. Despite losing Randy Moss and having a roster that is far from laden with talent, New England seems to manage to find a way to win. The Patriots have been involved in close games this season, but have also turned up the heat at times, with half of their wins having a double digit margin of victory.

The Lions have fallen short yet again this season, posting a 2-8 record thus farThey are a team that is packed with play makers, but has serious holes in their depth chart. The Lions have made a habit of losing. While they have pockets of talented scattered throughout their roster, can they really compete against a powerhouse like the Patriots?

Keys to the Game:

  • The Lions might catch the Patriots sleeping down field. The Patriots have the second to worst pass defense in the NFL. The Lions put up 255.9 yards a game through the air. While the Lions inflate their passing numbers because they are always trying to throw their way back into contention and the Patriots are constantly facing opponents trying to come from behind, Calvin Johnson and the Lions could present a mismatch for the Patriots.
  • Calvin Johnson is one of the hardest players to cover in the entire league. He has 725 yards and ten touchdowns. Johnson’s combination of size, speed, route running, and hands make him an elite talent in the NFL. While the Lions have had different quarterbacks under center, Johnson’s production has not slowed down. Making Brandon Merriweather swing over to help out with Johnson will help, but the hard hitting safety is on the short end of the stick should he find himself in a jump ball situation with Johnson.
  • Tom Brady finally looks like he might be finding a way to feel comfortable without Randy Moss. His numbers plummeted with the departure of Moss, though he still found a way to win. Brady has had to deal with a lack of weapons before. He might not have one of the best wide receivers of all time at his disposal, but he still manages to impress, throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions since week 6.
  • Patriots defensive end Mike Wright might have been shut down against Indy last week, but don’t count Wright out on Thanksgiving. Lions blind side protector Jeff Backus is a veteran presence, but Wright will likely have a big day on Sunday. Shaun Hill is not Peyton Manning and won’t be able to adjust to pressure, should Backus struggle with Wright.

Key Matchup:

Ndamukong Suh Vs. Patriots pass protection

  • Ndamukong Suh is having the best rookie season for a defensive lineman in recent memory. Suh is going to be the piece of the defense the Lions build on for years to come. He takes it upon himself to dominate the interior line, despite commanding the attention of two, sometimes three offensive players on every down. Suh is dominating games like Albert Haynesworth did pre-Washington.
  • Suh will see the Patriots offensive line. New England has only allowed 14 sacks this year. Suh will likely make his presence felt, and if Tom Brady starts feeling premature heat, it could cause problems for the New England offense. While Brady picks apart defenses that come after him, if the Lions are able to disrupt his rhythm without the aide of extra rushers, it would force the ball out of Brady’s hand quicker. If the Patriots have to keep a running back in the backfield to handle Suh, their offense loses flexibility.

Wrap Up:

The Lions haven’t lost a game by more than three at home this season, but they were just embarrassed by the Cowboys last week. The Lions can’t seem to put it together and the Patriots are rolling over most of their opponents, even on the road. That being said, I’m taking Detroit and the points.

While it may look like this will be a blowout, the Lions play much better at home and the Patriots could find themselves in an unexpected battle. This is a team that got waxed by the Browns on the road. The Patriots are only 3-2 on the road. While they beat the Steelers with ease on the road, they are hit or miss on the road.

Free NFL Pick: Detroit +7

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