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Lions should beware of Pats' play action

The Detroit Lions host the New England Patriots Thursday in the first game of an NFL Thanksgiving tripleheader. The Lions have lost six straight games on Thanksgiving, and a loss today would tie them for the second-longest Thanksgiving Day losing streak in NFL history.

In the 1990s, Detroit went 7-3 on Thanksgiving, outscoring opponents by nearly eight points per game. But it’s been a different story the last 10 years, as the Lions are 2-8 and being outscored by almost 10 points per game on Thanksgiving Day. And during their current six-game losing streak, they’ve allowed a whopping 35.5 PPG.

Tom Brady on Play-Action Passes
Through 10 Games, Last Two Seasons

Despite little improvement in production by his ground game compared to last season and a receiving corps that is dropping more passes than ever, Patriots QB Tom Brady is finding success with play-action passes. The Pats rank in the middle of the pack in rush attempts and rush yards this year after being 12th in yards and 10th in attempts last season.

Brady attempted two play-action passes in the red zone in 2009 and completed one for a touchdown. After 10 games in 2010, Brady is 6-for-7 in the red zone with six touchdowns. The Lions may prove tough, having allowed an 85.3 passer rating on play-action passes, which is eighth-best in the NFL.

When the Lions have the ball, watch for their receivers to get open in space. The Lions lead the NFL in YAC percentage, racking up more than 56 percent of their total receiving yards after the catch. But the Patriots boast the third-lowest YAC percentage allowed in the NFL at 40.9, and that number drops to 29.4 percent when New England sends five or more pass rushers. That doesn’t bode well for Detroit, as Shaun Hill is near the bottom of the league in passer rating against added pressure with a 64.7 passer rating.