The New England Patriots are expected to be one of the top teams in the 2013 NFL season. The preseason might not mean much, but team could be on their way to big things in the regular season as they try to go 3-0 in their exhibition games.

The defending AFC East champs will visit the Detroit Lions in Week Three of the preseason. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday night. The contest will air locally on TV on WBZ-TV Channel 4 in Boston and ABC in Detroit. Viewers across the country can watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Preseason Live.

New England will take the field on the same day that they discovered Aaron Hernandez has been indicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd. The Patriots released the tight end in June when it was first discovered that he had an alleged connection to the murder.

Even without the likes of Hernandez and Wes Welker that helped lead New England to the AFC Championship Game last year, the team has managed to move the ball effectively. In their most recent game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, free agent signee Danny Amendola showed the why the club brought him in. He made six catches for 71 yards, including a touchdown reception.

The third preseason game is usually the one in which the starters play the most. Tom Brady should be under center for most of the game, leaving less of an opportunity for backups Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow. In his brief appearances, Tebow has struggled as a signal caller. He’s completed just five of his 19 pass attempts for 54 yards. He rushed for 30 yards against the Bucs, but registered a 0.0 passer rating.

The Patriots have been able to score on the strength of their running game. LeGarrette Blount has done all he can to earn a roster spot, picking up 101 yards and two touchdowns on 11 rushes in Week 1. Last week it was Brandon Bolden who led the way with 38 yards on six carries.

The Lions are 1-1 this preseason, but coming off a 24-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Calvin Johnson didn’t play with a bruised knee, making harder for Detroit to move the ball. He missed practice on Tuesday with the injury and is questionable for the contest.

As the Lions starters play more in Week Three, the club will look to improve on its running game with Reggie Bush in the fold. Detroit only picked up 51 yards on 21 rushes against Cleveland.

Betting Odds: Detroit-2.5, 46

Prediction: New England 30, Detroit 20