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Packers vs. Lions: Things You Could Watch and a Prediction

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Packers vs. Lions: Things You Could Watch and a Prediction

The longest home winning streak against one team in NFL history will be put on the line Sunday night when the Detroit Lions (4-8) and Green Bay Packers (8-4) meet at Lambeau Field.

The Packers have won 20 straight home games against the Lions (and 21 overall in the state of Wisconsin), besting Washington's 18-game home winning streak over the Lions (1939-present) and Pittsburgh's 16-game streak over Cleveland (1970-1985). Detroit hasn't won a road game against the Packers since Dec. 15, 1991, a 21-17 win in Green Bay.

The Lions can point to last January's 45-41 loss in Green Bay as one of the best opportunities it has had to snap the streak. But despite holding a 41-38 lead with under two minutes left and Aaron Rodgers holding a clipboard, the Lions allowed a late Jermichael Finley touchdown and lost its 20th-straight road game to their division rivals.

With four games left in 2012, the Packers have an opportunity to win the NFC North and secure a first-round bye. The Lions are out of the postseason picture, but playing the spoiler has added relevance with such a historic losing streak tied in.

Here are some other things you could watch Sunday night:

Spotlight on Megatron 

The Lions have been dealt serious blows to their receiving depth chart. Ryan Broyles (ACL) and Titus Young (knee) were each placed on season-ending injured reserve this week, leaving names like Mike Thomas (three catches since trade to Detroit), Brian Robiske (two games, zero catches in 2012) and Kassim Osgood (zero catches) behind Calvin Johnson Sunday night. In response to a dwindling number of receiving options, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford targeted Johnson a ridiculous 21 times against the Colts in Week 13.

The Packers can likely expect a similar onslaught of targets to Johnson Sunday night, regardless of whether he's bracket-covered or not. Considering the other receivers that will share the field with Johnson, there's really no reason why he should ever receive single coverage from Dom Capers' defense. The Packers need to make another receiver beat them Sunday night.

Barclay's chance

T.J. Lang (ankle) hasn't practiced this week, which makes it more and more likely undrafted rookie Don Barclay receives his first career start at right tackle Sunday night. While Barclay held up well after taking over for Lang against the Vikings Sunday, Lions defensive end Cliff Avril gave Lang everything he could handle back in Week 10. Avril is also enjoying the best three-game stretch of his season (four sacks and five other pressures since Nov. 18.).

Barclay should receive plenty of help against the Lions defensive end, likely in the form of a tight end or running back. But there will be times in which Barclay has to handle Avril one-on-one, especially on obvious passing downs. He'll need to win those opportunities as often as he did Sunday against Brian Robison. Another strong performance would have to put Barclay in the running to start at right tackle for the rest of the 2012 season.

Finding Pressure 

Somewhat surprisingly, the Packers were able to procure a consistent pass rush without Clay Matthews in the first meeting between these two teams. According to Pro Football Focus, Green Bay had 23 total quarterback disruptions and five sacks of Stafford. A number of the pressures directly resulted in wild throws from Stafford, including a pick-six from M.D. Jennings in the fourth quarter.

However, the Packers' pass rush has mostly dried up since. Still playing without Matthews, Green Bay recorded 18 total pressures in games against the Giants and Vikings. The Packers aren't likely to have Matthews (hamstring) Sunday night, so the pass rush will need to again find production from unlikely sources. Dezman Moses and Erik Walden have to be better at collapsing the pocket than they've been the last two weeks.

Key Matchup: Packers LG Evan Dietrich-Smith vs. Lions DT Nick Fairley

Fairley missed Thursday's practice with the same quadriceps injury he suffered late against the Colts, leaving the possibility he could be inactive Sunday night. The Packers are likely planning for him to play. If Fairley does, Dietrich-Smith needs to do a better job at keeping the former first-round pick out of Rodgers' lap.

In the first meeting, Fairley beat Dietrich-Smith countless times with power, speed and technique. Some of those issues can be fixed before Sunday night, some can't. Overall, it's simply not a great matchup physical-wise for the Packers. Dietrich-Smith must do his best to minimize the damage, because there's too many other matchup worries at other spots on the Lions defensive line for much help to be focused his way.

Prediction 

These two teams open the door wide for a potential shootout, especially with Matthews on the sidelines and the multitude of struggles Detroit had last Sunday handling Andrew Luck and the Colts. But the Packers are no longer winning games with a flashy, high-volume offense, and Sunday shouldn't be any different. If Green Bay does win, expect another ugly, grind-it-out contest. The blueprint for making things difficult on this offense is simply too well defined. The difference Sunday could come from another poor decision from Stafford against a Packers secondary that is continuing to get healthy.

Packers 23, Lions 20 (Season record: 7-5)

Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (42) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

Aaron has to get the ball out in under 8 seconds.

Bottom line.

ohenry78's picture

+1

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I was thinking 3-3.5.

Jack's picture

This may be a little radical, but what do you guys think of putting Davon House on CJ (with help over the top of course) instead of Tramon? Seems like it would be a better matchup physically

The poster formerly known as Bearmeat's picture

no.

PackerBacker's picture

A matchup physically doesn't exist in professional sports. Megatron is unlike anyone else. He's like Peterson. You just hope to minimize his overall effect and make sure no one else beats you also.

Jack's picture

Good point

MarkinMadison's picture

I think the Packers tried the "House is a better physical match-up" rationale against Hakeem Nicks and the Giants, and it failed miserably. Size only matters if you know how to put yourself in a position to win the battle in the first place.

Jamie's picture

That's misleading...terribly.

Hayward doesn't necessarily stop Nicks either.

News flash...even very good players get beat by better play on occasion. House has acquitted himself very well in 90% of the plays he's been involved in...even if the other player happened to make a play here and there.

Chad Toporski's picture

Technique can always trump size or speed.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Where's Cow? He needs to predict we lose by 12... Again. Worked out ok last week.

GBP 4 LIFE

Denver's picture

I thought it was fubar who said they would lose by 12. Or was it Cow? Hell, I can't remember...hard to keep those two Packer ray's of sunshine straight.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Maybe it was. If so, then he needs to get his ass on here and make another dumbass prediction.

My sincerest apologies Cow. I should've known it wasn't you. You spout a lot of dumb shit, but I am convinced you are not dumb... That's a compliment buddy!

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Oh, wait. I spoke too soon. I see you have the lions by 14 below. I recant my compliment.

cow42's picture

pretty sure i said 17-13 for last week's game.

i suck at math but...

anyhow...

Lions = megaton, stafford, and a bunch of "who the hell is that" guys.

bye the way... which "nobody do you guys have going off on the Packer D? you know it's coming. mike thomas seems like the logical choice but my money's on robiske. one of these yahoos is gonna get 60+ and a tuddy (and yes - that would constitute "going off" for one of these beer vendors).

Packers = crap-ass offensive line that completely prevents the talented skill guys from doing anything. it's like putting flat tires on a ferrari.

avril vs. barclay sacres the poop halfway outta' me - saturday/eds vs. suh/fairley finishes the job.
rodgers is gonna have a lap full of Lions all night.

actually, fitz - i like the score you predicted up above (3 - 3.5).

i'm gonna go with 24 - 10 Lions. just for the simple fact that they have megatron. 2,3, even 4 guys around him won't matter. all stafford's basically gotta do is throw it straight up in the air. who would you put $ on coming down with it? at least 2 times last game 81 was 5 yards behind the D and stafford just missed him... won't happen again.

Tommyboy's picture

With that logic, why wouldn't the Lions be undefeated? If it's as simple as just throwing it up in the air, who in the LEAGUE do you see stopping Megatron? They have at least 8 losses (one to the Pack, by the way) to suggest it isn't really that easy.

That said, I wasn't as impressed with Barclay as everyone else was. I'm not saying I thought he played terribly last week, but I thought he received a LOT of help. So, I'll go along with the Avril/Barclay matchup scaring me too.

This game is going to be played in a BIG friggen snow storm, which should limit both offenses. Since both offenses are pass-heavy, I'm going with the Pack in this one. Their run game at least showed a spark and they're at home. Oh, and they're just simply a better overall team.

cow42's picture

"Oh, and they’re just simply a better overall team."

i would agree if the Packers had the following players available...

bishop
smith
benson
starks
woodson
matthews
bulaga
neal
wilson
lang
nelson
perry

... but the don't.

the Lions and Packers, as they currently stand, are pretty even. in fact - it could be argued that the Lions will have more impact players available on Sunday...

suh
fairely
johnson
stafford
avril

vs.

rodgers
cobb

Tommyboy's picture

...well that seems odd. Starks, Benson, Lang, Bulaga, Neal, and Wilson are that big of difference makers? Yes, I forgot how high you were on our trench guys and running game.

From here on out, I'm going to predict losses every week just to make you happy, then when it happens, act like a prophet like you so you have a pal.

cow42's picture

tommyboy -

you are correct - none of those guys are difference makers.

matthews, a healthy jennings (which we don't have for this game), nelson, bishop are difference makers.

i think you may have mis-inturpeted my post.

the Packer team that takes the field on sunday won't be the A team... won't be the B team... probably is more like the C- team. because of that, it makes the game a match-up between two evenly talented teams. when the match-up is fairly even then you have to look at which team has more difference makers available.

right now the Lions have more difference makers available.

and that is why i think they will win.

there are only 3 possible outcomes...

1 - big win by Lions
2 - big win by Packers
3 - close game

*if it's a close game - who you takin', hansen or crosby?

*a big win by the Packers would mean big points scored... this version of the Packers has not shown the ability to put up big points.

so that means...

*the most likely scenario is a big win by the Lions (the team with more difference makers).

Tommyboy's picture

cow, your logic has consistently placed the Packers at 1-15 each year and on the outside looking in at the playoffs. The rosters of these two teams aren't that different when they met the first time. Who did you have in that one? Well, I can guess - you picked the Lions.

Now, here's my final prediction. I predict a Packers win, because they are the better team. You are what your record says you are. The Pack are 8-4 with one victory over the Lions already on their turf. The Lions are 4-8.

My other prediction is that if the Packers win, you'll come on here with a couple comments the next few days, maybe even one tongue-in-cheek joke about your pessimism. Then, another predicted loss for the following week.

If the Packers lose, you'll come on here waving your prediction around in people's faces like you're some sort of prophet.

Tell me I'm wrong.

cow42's picture

i'm also predicting a loss next week.

i just think that the Lions and Bears are too good to be swept this season. not by this Packer team... they're not talented enough.

by the way - the Packers' roster this game is most definitely different from the last time these 2 teams met.

Packers won a game that they would have lost if not for a pick 6 and stafford having, quite possibly, his worst game of the season.

take that game and remove...

nelson
wilson
neal
starks
lang

good luck with that.

Tommyboy's picture

cow - and young (and I think someone else, but I'm too lazy to look) for the Lions.

cow - here's the deal. we're all here to get away from the crap of every day life. Ultimately, football is as meaningless as the fact that my son's favorite color is "dark orange." It REALLY doesn't matter.

So, fans of the Packers come here to overanalyze everything and it works. And I would HOPE that most fans think the Packers are going to win...a LOT. Why? Because it's fun (and they happen to have a pretty good team, too). I hope somewhere there's a Raiders fan who thinks their team has a shot every week for every game the rest of this season. Why? Because it offers a moment away from reality. That's all football is really good for.

So, if people come on here and are overly optimistic, LET. THEM. BE. When I come on here to get away from the unbelievable stressors in my life (like pretty much everyone has) and I see your incessant whining, I tolerate it because I must. It makes my day just a little more wearing, but I tolerate it because I frankly don't have a choice (and yes, I could not read your comments, but if you're going to argue that you've missed the entire point of this post). And that's what you've become. An absolute obligation to everyone. Nothing more.

You can be cheeky and downright funny. That part, I love. But just to be perfectly clear, if you think you're performing some kind of service to educate the masses on Packers football, you've missed the mark....by at least 15 yards. You're the Blaine Gabbert of CheeseheadTV. Even if you were right, which you seldom are, what's your function? Sweet Christmas, WHAT IS YOUR FUNCTION?

Now go stand over there, hang your head, and say "d'oh."

packeraaron's picture

<em>You’re the Blaine Gabbert of CheeseheadTV.</em>

Can't stop laughing.

cow42's picture

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for fans that only see the sunny side.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for fans who get into the x's and o's of football.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for fans who enjoy the emotional side of the game.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for fans who have played football.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for fans that haven't played a lick.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for men.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for women.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for pessimistic fans.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for realistic fans.

i don't think cheeseheadtv is just for delusional fans.

I THINK CHEESEHEADTV IS FOR ALL TYPES OF PACKER FANS.

i don't tell people that they are wrong.
i just give my opinion.
my view.

i don't attack (although i may provoke).
i take a lot of abuse.

sometimes i'm right. sometimes i'm wrong. but my opinion is my opinion.

the thing i like most about this site is the differences in opinion. it would be boring if everyone agreed on everything.

"hey - those Packers are awesome! aren't they awesome?!" "hell yeah, they're awesome!" how 'bout them Packers? they sure are awesome!"

no thanks.

Tommyboy's picture

Point. Missed. I'm done.

Rocky70's picture

@ Tommy

Go ahead. Attack Cow42 at every opportunity.
You play the role of just 'another CHTV lackey' very well. Most know that all blogs are a club with 'house rules'. That's pretty much why they serve as a diversion ---- only.

Tommyboy's picture

You're either unable to get my point or unwilling. I never even hinted at a saying someone COULDN'T say something. It would be convenient for you if I had, but I didn't. My post was holding up a mirror only.

Don't worry, I promise to not to that again. I hope the irony isn't lost here...

cow42's picture

what? did you think that you were gonna write some big, long blog post and after reading it i was gonna think to myself... "you know what? tommyboy's right. even if i think that this Packer team has a lot of flaws, i'm not going to bring them up. all that would do is ruin everyone else's enjoyment. from here on out i'm going to agree with all the positive posters - just to make sure that everyone's happy."

whatever.

Tommyboy's picture

cow - no, to be fair - I know my post was a little silly. I thought I threw enough silly stuff in there to make that clear. I didn't. Anyway, keep doing what you're doing. I never suggested you COULDN'T. I'm suggesting that you're over-the-top pessimism takes away any credibility. It's also just annoying. But whatev', if that's who you want to be, then that's who you want to be.

One thing we can agree on is that Jarrett Bush will save this team (c'mon now, I'm trying to be a dork here. Let's have a beer and be done_).

cow42's picture

Go Packers.

packeraaron's picture

<em>i’m gonna go with 24 – 10 Lions. just for the simple fact that they have megatron</em>

Proof that cow is a robot whose memory is erased after every Packers victory.

woodson4president's picture

Lookin for Moses to have a breakout game here sooner or later.

GBPDan's picture

I'm hope fairley can't play Sunday, huge plus for our beat up line

steven's picture

Lol cow always picks the pack too loose im thinking 10-24 packers, cobb with big game

kennypayne's picture

Don't like this matchup. Suh and Fairley are playing quite well and our C and LG are not good. Pack has been scuffling for points and now we have no Jordy or Starks.

I sure hope the D comes up big to carry us and that the snow bothers the domers.

woodson4president's picture

Get James top ten play every week Jones the ball. Quick fn slants! Let's go pack!

woodson4president's picture

And if Casey wants to keep up with Jenkins for d rook of the year he better grab another one or two this Sunday!

Mojo's picture

I know Suh gets a lot of pub, but is he one of the most overrated players in the NFL? Consider last year he had just 0.29 sacks and around 2.5 tackles (including assisted) per 14 games played. This year he's just under a half a sack and a little over 2 tackles on average during 12 games played. Not bad for a d-lineman, but nothing, IMO, to match the hype. Watch, now that I've said this, he'll go off on the Pack this weekend.

FITZCORE 1252&#039;S EVO's picture

The lions don't win at Lambeau, it's been scientifically proven. They won't Sunday night. 31-20.

GBP 4 LIFE

Nononsense's picture

One player I want to get a look at in live action against the Lions is this RB DuJuan Harris. I just have a feeling this guy is gonna tear some shit up for us if they just let him play.

DuJuan Harris opens some eyes. That is my prediction.

Ruppert's picture

The only thing the Packers have to worry about tomorrow night is making sure ARod remembers to wear his nut cup.

Will's picture

If we can't get pressure on Stafford then I don't care how good our young secondary is - the pack are gonna have big problems.

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