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“And I think that talk went away, thankfully, because it needs to be in Detroit forever,” he added. “And they’re really competitive right now.”

Only two other times in the past 50 years _ yes, 50 years! _ did the Lions arrive at Thanksgiving at 7-3, in 1993 and 1969, according to STATS LLC. You have to go all the way back to 1962 to find them with a better record (8-2) at this point in the season.

Each of the past two years, they were 2-8. That was an improvement from 2008, when the Lions were 0-11, on their way to 0-16.

And while Detroit has lost a franchise-record seven consecutive games _ by an average of more than 20 points _ in its annual showcase, there is reason to believe they can make things interesting this time around.

“From what it’s been in the past to now, it’s different. For us to be doing as good as we’re doing right now, it’s real exciting. Then we’ve got Green Bay coming in _ the big, 10-0 Green Bay,” said Detroit defensive lineman Corey Williams, who used to play for the Packers.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be like a mini-Super Bowl, I think, atmosphere-wise,” Williams said.

Plus, this particular trio of games gives fans a chance to see some of the sport’s most dynamic players: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, putting together one of the greatest seasons ever by a QB; Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh; San Francisco’s can’t-be-run-on defense, led by Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith.

For other NFL teams, there’s work to be done Thursday, practicing and preparing for their next games. Then they’ll go home and turn on the television.

“I might get a little peek at John and Jim going at it. I think that’ll be entertaining,” St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “We’ll certainly get the players out of here early, and the coaches as soon as we can after that, and I’ll follow.”


AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Minneapolis, R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis, David Ginsburg in Baltimore and Larry Lage and Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this report.


Get in touch with Howard Fendrich at or hfendrich(at)