Create Account

Or log in with Facebook


Log in

Or log in with Facebook

Packers vs. Lions: Five Questions to Ponder Ahead of Week 5

By Category

Packers vs. Lions: Five Questions to Ponder Ahead of Week 5

Entering just the fifth week of the 2013 season, the Green Bay Packers (1-2) already face the possibility of falling three games behind in the win column in the rough and tough NFC North.

The division leading Detroit Lions (3-1) have stormed out of the gates with three wins, including two victories in two tries inside the North. A third division game brings Detroit to Green Bay, where the Lions haven't won in over two decades and a span of 22 games.

The Chicago Bears (3-1) can also get a fourth win by defeating the unbeaten New Orleans Saints at home Sunday.

A three-loss Packers team would still be plenty capable of overcoming the three-win deficit, especially over a 12-game finish that features five more division games after Sunday. But the NFC North is once again proving to be one of the NFL's best divisions, and a home loss to the Lions would further complicate the Packers' quest of keeping the crown for a third straight year.

Here’s five important questions that the Packers need to answer against the Lions in Week 5:

1. Is Aaron Rodgers Ready to Bounce Back?

Rare is the game when a majority of blame for a loss can be placed on the shoulders of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. One such case came in Week 3, when Rodgers tossed two second-half picks and then failed to engineer a late scoring drive as Green Bay fell in Cincinnati. The Packers quarterback finished the contest with a very un-Rodgers-like passer rating of just 64.5, his worst since October 2010. A week of mental rest and the potential of Detroit being without starting cornerback Chris Houston should help fuel a bounce back performance for Rodgers, but the Lions haven't made things easy on him in recent meetings. Over two games against Detroit last season, Rodgers averaged just 204 passing yards and posted a passer rating of 94.3. The Lions have also improved significantly against the pass in 2013, and they currently rank fifth in the NFL in opposing passer rating at 69.4 (down 22.3 points from 2012). There's no tangible reason to worry about one of the game's best players, but this is still an important week for Rodgers.

2. Will Nick Perry Finally Show Up?

For the first two weeks, Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry could claim the containment of mobile quarterbacks as the overlying reason why his impact as a pass rusher had been scarce. No such excuse was available in Week 3, as the statuesque Andy Dalton offered little in terms of pocket mobility. Yet Perry was still a non factor against the Bengals because he couldn't beat powerful right tackle Andre Smith with bull rushes, which currently represents his only move as a rusher. The former first-rounder has been strong setting the edge to start 2013, but he clearly has a long ways to go as a pass rusher. The Packers desperately need him to be better Sunday, as Clay Matthews is dealing with a hamstring issue that could limit his effectiveness. The Lions have also been surprisingly effective in protecting Matthew Stafford, who has been the least sacked quarterback in the NFL this season. This is a game where Perry finally needs to make an impact rushing the passer. His first nine professional games have been underwhelming.

3. Can the Interior Offensive Line Hold Up?

Through three games, the Packers have successfully dealt with Justin Smith and Geno Atkins, two of the game's most dominant inside defenders. The two combined for five total pressures but no quarterback hits or sacks, and neither was a game-changing force in the running game. The Packers interior offensive line will get another stiff test Sunday. Ndamukong Suh is having the best start to a season in his four-year career, and he leads all defensive tackles with 28 total pressures. For context on that number, consider that the Packers defense as a whole has just 38 total pressures in three games this season. Dealing with Suh would be difficult enough on its own, but fellow first-round pick Nick Fairley is another defensive tackle capable of disruption against both the pass and run. Overall, the Lions duo combined for 15 total pressures over two games against Green Bay last season. A reshuffled line of Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith and T.J. Lang will have their hands full Sunday, and any failures in containing Suh and Fairley could have game-changing consequences.

4. Will the Packers Continue Winning on First Down?

The Packers are second in the NFL in first downs per game (23.0, trailing only Denver) in large part due to the offense's effectiveness on first down. Green Bay is averaging 7.26 yards on first down, which is best in the NFL and over a third of a yard more than the next best team. Also, only four offenses have a higher percentage of first-down plays covering four or more yards than the Packers' 53.5. Better production in the running game could help explain Green Bay's dominance in these situations, as the Packers are surprisingly second in the NFL in yards per carry (5.3) just a year after finishing a distant 22nd (3.9). Only the Philadelphia Eagles are averaging more yards per rush this season. The Lions will come into Sunday's as the NFL's best third down defense (10 of 47, 21.3 percent), which should put an increased emphasis on Green Bay winning on first down and setting up more manageable situations on third. If the Packers get behind the sticks against Detroit, the offense might have trouble staying on the field.

5. Is There an Answer for Calvin Johnson AND Reggie Bush?

Detroit made one of the more underrated moves of the offseason when it signed running back Reggie Bush to a $16 million deal. That money spent has already paid off handsomely, as Bush has accumulated 433 total yards (254 rushing, 179 receiving) this season despite missing the better part of six quarters due to injury. He's been a perfect fit for the Lions offense, and an ideal complement to all-world receiver Calvin Johnson. With teams dead set on taking away Johnson, Bush has made quick work of short-handed fronts in the running game and soft coverage underneath in the passing game. His presence has forced defensive coordinator to pick their poison in a way. One has to commit to taking away either Bush or Johnson, but no defense has successfully done both in a game this season. The Packers have been effective in stopping the run in 2013 (93.3 yards per game, 3.7 yards per rush), but Green Bay defense has also allowed opposing No. 1 receivers to catch 25 passes for 397 yards and three touchdowns this season. You also can't discount rookie Gio Bernard's 99 total yards (49 receiving) against the Packers in Week 3. It is difficult to envision Green Bay taking away both of the Lions' offensive weapons Sunday.

Prediction: Green Bay 34, Detroit 27 (2-1)

Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

  • Like Like
  • 0 points

Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jh9's picture

All five questions are good, but for me I want to see questions 2 & 3 answered most of all.

I, probably like most Packers fans, have been supportive and patient with Nick Perry since he was drafted. However, it's about time he makes a play that impacts the game and justifies his first round draft pick. One important play is all I ask. Is that too much?

If the O-line can keep AR upright all game and open up some running lanes, I'll be happy. I hate feeling like I must make a negative comment about them after a game. Please O-line, do your job well against the Lions and make all us naysayers shut up!

THEMichaelRose's picture

This will be a close one. I expect to win though. I think the Lions having even one man down in the secondary is all it will take. Then Detroit will get us back on Thanksgiving.

However, if the Packers do lose in a good effort, I'll probably take it more as a sign that the Lions have legitimately put it all together than the Packers are done for.

hayward4president's picture

I would like to see Datone show up again as well. He played well in Cinci.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I really think this game might be his launching game.. The one where he really turns it up. His ankle injury should be a lot better now.
I am kind of expecting him to have a big game.

PackerBacker's picture

I think they could take a little of the wind out of Suh and Fairly if they spend the first half crushing it in the run game. They need to stuff it down the Lions throat in the first half and slow down their D-line. Then they can open it up with Cobb and Finley in the second half when the Lions are giving Rodgers more time in the pocket. This could be a GREAT game for the Packers RB's.

I think you concentrate on stopping Bush and hitting hard (but cleanly) every time he gets the ball. It may mean letting Johnson get 100 - 125 yds, but I think you let that happen. It's like A Peterson. I'll give him 100 in every game. It's when he hits 150 - 175 that you start worrying about losing the game.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree for the most part..

To me one of the keys in winning this game is being able to run the ball as well as stop their run game.

Johnson is so good that he is going to get yards. But if they can hold him to 100 yards giver take, I think we win.

I think Bush is the key. Stopping him in the passing game. They don't really have any other options in the passing game so if they can hold him to less then 50 yards receiving that would be really big.

Idiot Fan's picture

Don't worry, AJ's got Bush covered in the pass game :).

(Although I should add that Hawk has looked a bit better in the pass game so far this year...)

Jamie's picture

He's lost weight, which has helped with his change of direction and hasn't seemed to negatively affect his play vs the run...if anything he's been quicker there too.

I may be the only one that remembers this, but Hawk put the beatdown on Bush in the run game his rookie year when NO came to GB. It almost seemed like Hawk had something to prove. Maybe he'll bring that Sunday as well.

hayward4president's picture

I was at Lambeau for that game! Only time I have ever been there....unfortunately we lost.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Also, I do agree with the running game.

I think this could be the first look we have of the Lacy/Franklin 1-2 punch..

If Lacy doesn't get the concussion on his first carry against the Redskins I think he runs for 150 yards. Same as last week.
But that might have been a blessing in disguise because it allowed Franklin to get on the field and he proved his worth.

I think we could see a huge game for the pair.

Tundraboy's picture

I had the same feeling and hope to see that and a game where no one gets hurt, Is that too much to ask for?

hayward4president's picture

Do what I do....put ur TV on NFL network ...look where it says to start Eddie Lacy in fantasy....then smile ear to freakin ear! Let's gooooo Eddiieeee!

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree for the most part with the 5 questions.

Rodgers played one of his worst games against Cincy. If he played slightly better they win. I think if he played up to his ability, they would have blown them out. In this game I feel the same way.

Perry hasn't had many plays, but I do question what his role is in the defense? Are the coaches having him rush the passer or more contain? I look at his stance for example, and he stands parallel to the line with his feet. Generally that technique is used for players dropping in coverage or playing the run 'setting the edge'. When you watch Mathews he usually stands with one leg back to get a better jump at the snap. I question this with Perry if that is what he is being directed to be doing or not. If he stands like Mathews and is able to get more of a jump at the snap, I think he would get more pressure. That's why I question how they are using him.

The trenches is where this game will be won, I believe. I expect to see a lot of run's, quick passes to not allow Suh and Fairley to impact the game. The Packers O-line has done well against Atkins, and Smith, but this will be another good test.

1st down is huge, but the Packers need to win on 3rd down. But that starts with 1st down and getting good yardage so it makes 3rd downs easier.

Johnson is the one where you hope to contain him. Bush is the x-factor. Have to find ways to not let him win the game.

Sven's picture

I think that a lot of what Perry does right now, especially in the Bengals game, is to set up Mathews. Parry's bulrush closes the pocket into the QBs face (provided he is right handed)this provides more opportunity for the blindside. I have noticed that Capers has also put Neal across from Perry, with Mathews in as an inside backer, then when the pocket slams closed and the QB pops out Mathews is there to catch him.

I hope Perry can be a force in his own right. He is a high pick to just be support for Mathews, but it is good to remember that Mathews took a little while to develop himself, and he is practically a superhero, at least he flies like one.

Stroh's picture

I don't think its just the Cincy game tho. Perry plays the strong side of the D which has the TE over him. He has to play the "power" OLB spot as compared to Matthews. Not unlike in Pitts when they had Harrison play the weak side and Woodley playing the strong side. The scheme allows the weak OLB, Matthews and Harrison, to do for freelance pass rush. The power side w/ Perry and Woodley have a lot more responsibilities (both coverage and setting the edge on run downs) and isn't allowed to just rush the QB freely very often. That along w/ the fact that Perry is learning to play standing up, which has a lot more visual cues for his responsibilities, instead of just focusing on the OT. Pitts used to give their OLB 3 years to learn before they were asked to start tells you how much different 34 OLB is from 43 DE. Perry is still adapting to playing in space not just rushing the QB.

Hope to start seeing more of Perry, Neal and Jones in the oppositions backfield later this year.

KurtMc's picture

I think we all agree Bush is the Key and don't rookie Gio beat us for cheap 1st downs. Stafford will throw the pick, just pressure him.

I also think either running at, or using Detroits aggressive pass rush aginst them will be a key. Aaron CAN NOT hold the ball and run around.

This D line is hungry and will be amped up, ready to prove something.

The play calling has to be better.

fish and crane's picture

four less turnovers than last game should do the trick

Bearmeat's picture

There's the difference right there. GB's D will force turnovers and Det's D won't.

GB should win. I'm betting by 7-10, with the over/under being 60.

Stroh's picture

I'll take the over. 30 pts a game is average or even slightly below for these teams. I believe Packers are at 32 ppg and Det at 31. Oddly enough after the Donkeys ridiculous scoring pace, the Packers at #2 are followed by Chicago, Detroit and Minn in scoring per game. The NFCN is #2,3,4 and 5 in scoring. Not exactly the "Black and Blue" division anymore!

Log in to comment, upload your game day photos and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.

Or log in with Facebook



"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"The Bears still suck!"