- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 23, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - The New England Patriots shouldn’t worry about a letdown against the lowly Lions after beating two of the AFC’s best teams.

Even if they have one, it might be tough to lose to Detroit.

The Patriots go into Thursday’s game with an 8-2 record following wins over Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. The Lions enter their annual Thanksgiving Day home game at 2-8 after losses to Buffalo, which entered that game winless, and Dallas, which had just two victories at the time.

New England coach Bill Belichick said the Lions’ familiarity with the traditional holiday game should help them.

Not enough, apparently. Detroit has lost its past six Thanksgiving matchups by an average of 23 points, none by fewer than 11.

Never one to let complacency creep in, Belichick is stressing to his players that five of the Lions losses this season have been by five points or fewer.

“He really stays on top of us,” wide receiver Wes Welker said Tuesday, “and makes sure that were not getting overconfident or believing in the noise outside the locker room and understand that every game’s tough in the NFL.”

That reality was driven home on Nov. 7 when the Patriots took a 6-1 record into Cleveland to face the Browns at 2-5. By the end of the first quarter, the Browns led 10-0. Entering the fourth, it was 24-7.

“We saw what happens when you don’t execute, especially early in a game, with Cleveland,” tackle Matt Light said. “We can’t afford to come out and play a game like that, so when you’re playing on the road, and it’s an environment like this, it’s a short week, you’ve got to keep on top of everything.”

The Patriots didn’t do that before the Cleveland game. Several players said they weren’t focused during practice.

But this week, with only three days to prepare, they jumped right into their work for Thursday’s game after a 31-28 win over Indianapolis.

“We came in Monday and we didn’t even talk about the Colts,” quarterback Tom Brady said Tuesday. “We talked about the Lions and what we need to do to beat them. We talked about coming in and having a good day today, so we crammed a lot of information into these two days.”

The Patriots, as usual, heaped praise on an underdog opponent.

Coach Jim Schwartz “is one of the smartest guys I’ve ever worked with,” said Belichick, who had him as a scout from 1993-95 while serving as head coach in Cleveland.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second pick in this year’s draft, is “a very disruptive young player,” tight end Alge Crumpler said.

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