Playing the unbeaten Packers on a short week might not be the worst thing for the Lions. If they had more time to process all the hype and circumstance around this Thanksgiving Day game, their collective head would explode - national television, against NFC North rival and defending Super Bowl champion Packers, who just happen to be 10-0, trying to strengthen their hold on a wild-card spot.
"Every game is big for me and every game is big for this team," wide receiver Nate Burleson said. "We can't afford to let any games go. It was important for us to beat Carolina and it's going to be important for us to win this one.
"Being on Thanksgiving, being the Packers, being in the division, being that we were 1-1 with them last year, there are a lot of reasons why this is more exciting. But they are all important."
The Lions haven't won on Thanksgiving since they beat the Packers in 2003. The last time they beat a 10-0 Packers team was also on Thanksgiving - in 1962. In that particular contest, the Lions defensive line dominated Green Bay's interior, making a miserable day for legendary QB Bart Starr.
"I'm not much on the history," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "I am just worried about the 2011 Packers."
The Lions did beat the Super Bowl champion Packers at Ford Field Dec. 12, 2010. They defeated them 7-3 behind third-stringer Drew Stanton, and may have stumbled on the only way to slow quarterback Aaron Rodgers down - they knocked him out of the game in the second quarter.
The Lions are the last NFL team to beat the Packers with Rodgers at the helm.
"The reason we were able to beat them is because we were always hitting (Rodgers)," defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "We need to speed up his process and get him off his spots. That's the biggest thing."
The Lions sacked Rodgers twice and hit him often. But again, this isn't the same guy, the same offensive line or the same offense. Rodgers leads the NFL in four passing categories - touchdowns (31), completion percentage (72.3), yards per completion (9.6) and passer rating (128.8). His 3,168 trails only Drew Brees. He's only thrown four interceptions.
He has been sacked 25 times. So, the MO is clear for the defense -- do what you did in 1962, and do what you did last season: attack the quarterback.
"They look unbeatable and they have been," Burleson said. "They are at a place that not many teams can get to. We are in a position where we can maybe put a little nick in their armor."
Nate Caminata helped contribute to this story
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