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Patriots-Lions matchup of the day: Tuesday

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Nov. 23, 2010 @ 7:08 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 11 Thanksgiving Day game between the Patriots and Lions:

Lions WRs Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson vs. Patriots CBs Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington

Everyone around the league has figured out that the Patriots' weakest link is their passing defense. It's unfair to lay all the blame on their corners and the rest of the secondary as the pass rush has been ineffective, but having young corners hasn't helped their cause.

McCourty and Arrington have faced some of the league's best receivers this season. Arrington has covered the opponent's No. 1 guy a fair amount, but he was pulled in last Sunday's win for Darius Butler, who was benched in Week Two. Arrington then re-entered the game to rush the quarterback off the edge.

McCourty, the rookie, has been the team's most consistent corner, playing almost every snap this season and picking off three passes. He is physical but has struggled in the red zone, getting beat on quick slants and jump balls. That could cause a problem if he has to line up opposite Johnson, who excels at bringing down jump balls.

Johnson is having a great season with 10 touchdown catches. Burleson has come on of late, scoring in two of his last three games. Even though they don't have QB Matthew Stafford throwing to them, Johnson and Burleson have still played well, and the Lions have the league's sixth-best passing offense. That's not a good matchup for the Patriots and their 31st-ranked pass defense.

As much as the Lions will want to keep Tom Brady off the field, their best chance to score is to utilize Johnson and Burleson and throw the ball a ton on Thursday, and chances are they will find plenty of success through the air. McCourty and Arrington will have to try and slow down the Lions' receivers so the Pats can avoid a letdown, and expect S Brandon Meriweather to provide some help over the top.

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