So, here we go again … climbing out on the proverbial limb and publicly stating our predictions for today’s Packers games.
Well, maybe it’s not too far we have to climb for this particular game because we all pretty much agree – well, with the exception of one.
So, without further adieu, here’s how all the staffers see today’s Packers vs. Lions NFC North Division matchup:
Despite the loss of Clay Matthews, I expect the Packers to keep a very frustrated Lions team in check by weathering an initial emotional push from them to start the game.
If the Defense can do that, force some punts, I like Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers offense, which I think is made to excel on turf. Getting Jordy Nelson back will help free up spots in the Lions’ already-depleted secondary for Randall Cobb and James Jones to do damage.
However, it may take a couple of series to get the group back in rhythm. If John Kuhn is back from injury, it will be very interesting to see which running back they use in each situation and if the Alex Green/McCarthy love fest is still going strong.
Packers 31 Lions 17
The stat you’ve probably heard a lot this week is 5-1, Mike McCarthy’s record in games following the bye week. That sounds mightily impressive, but factor in that the combined record of those teams is 42-96 and suddenly it seems less so.
However, as the old cliché goes, you play who’s on your schedule, and the schedule makers have been kind to the McCarthy Packers. In addition to the mediocre post bye week opponents, Green Bay has been afforded five byes week 7 or later since the start of McCarthy’s tenure in 2006. With the 4-6 Detroit Lions slated as the Packers’ post-bye week opponent this season, that trend has fortunately continued.
After dropping four of its first six games, Detroit has somewhat righted the ship, scoring an average of 27.6 points over their last three games. To compound the issue, Green Bay has lost five starters over their own previous three games.
Detroit badly needs this game to stay relevant in the playoff hunt, and there are more than a few Lions who are not above taking cheap shots to help their cause.
The good news for the Packers is the Lions are absolutely decimated in the secondary.
Former Packer Pat Lee was signed this week to help cover for Louis Delmas, Amari Spievey, and Chris Houston, all of whom are questionable headed into Sunday. The Packers should get Jordy Nelson back this week, and all indications are he’s 100 percent this time. Combined with the fact Aaron Rodgers has been ripping through defenses since the Houston game, the prognosis isn’t looking very good for Detroit.
The Packers should win this one, but in order for this to be a complete victory Green Bay needs to come out of this one with all its important pieces intact.
Packers 31 – Lions 21
The Packers are 5-1 after the bye week under head coach Mike McCarthy, which bodes well for a Packers’ victory. The offense gets a healthy Jordy Nelson back to team up with emerging star Randall Cobb and James Jones.
The Packers should be able to take advantage of an improved Detroit secondary through the air; look for quarterback Aaron Rodgers to have a big day. The Packers must get a pass rush without Clay Matthews; if not, Matthew Stafford will be able to pick apart the Packers’ secondary.
Bold prediction: Jermichael Finley rejoins the team, mentally, and has his best game of the season. Packers roll in Detroit.
Packers 34, Lions 21
I thought this would be a no-brainer coming off of the bye, but the Lions have a team built to make late game comebacks.
Division games on the road are always tough and if the Packers let them hang around into the middle of the fourth quarter could spell trouble. I expect a heavy dose of Starks and Green in the first half and the bye week rest to make a difference.
Having Jordy Nelson back in the lineup will lead to at least one big play.
Packers 27 – Lions 20
The Packers will have a tough matchup Sunday against a Detroit team that needs to start turning their season around to get into playoff contention as this will be a tough matchup for the Packers on the road, especially since they won’t have Clay Matthews and Greg Jennings.
The Packers will have to do whatever they can to contain Detroit star Calvin Johnson as containing him could shut down the Detroit offense as the Packers should probably double team him with Tramon Williams and a safety.
The Packers offensive line will face a big challenge from the Detroit defensive line as Ndamukong Suh in company will look to limit how much time Aaron Rodgers has to throw.
However, the Lions’ secondary is not too strong as Randall Cobb’s speed could be used to make a big difference while Jordy Nelson should be good to go for the Packers.
The Packers have tons of injuries as they get ready to make their playoff push but remember the last time the Packers had all these injuries, they won the Super Bowl. The Lions will be a good challenge but the Packers will walk out of Detroit with a win.
Green Bay 31, Detroit 23
This is one of those games – division opponent, on the road, so much uncertainty because of injuries.
But for the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions is a team that should be dispatched with a solid offensive showing, defense that contains the Lions’ passing attack, and special teams that do everything right. And you know what? This Packers team, if they are going to be considered one of the favorites to make it into the Playoffs, must win these division games. The next seven weeks will be crucial in not only determining the winner of the NFC North, but which teams will make it into the tournament.
The Lions pose a significant threat because of their offensive weapons. The Stafford-to-Pettigrew and Stafford-to-Johnson connections have always caused the Packers headaches. To win, the Packers will have to minimize the damage and contain the Lions through the air. Without the passing pressure put on by Clay Matthews, it will be interesting to see if the Packers injury-depleted unit can do just that.
It all starts up front with the defensive line and the Packers have to stop the run first and then take advantage of the blitz packages that Dom Capers dials up to slow the Lions. Most importantly, the defense has got to get off the field on third down to provide more facetime for the Packers’ offense.
When the Packers have the ball, I think we’ll probably see a heavy dose of James Starks and Alex Green. My hope is that, in conjunction with Randall Cobb, Head Coach Mike McCarthy comes up with a rotation that plays to each of these players’ strengths. I can see the Packers running Starks between the tackles more and trying to get Green into the open field. Being even more creative with Cobb will also open things up for Rodgers and his weapons outside.
In the end, I feel that this McCarthy-coached team begins its run to the playoffs against the Lions. I feel the Lions will try to take advantage of the crowd energy at the beginning, but I feel the Packers are a much better team. Using all four quarters, I feel the Packers will win the battle along the line of scrimmage and through the air.
Packers 31 Lions 19
Several factors point to a Packers victory Sunday in Detroit.
Record in games after the bye (5-1) under McCarthy. Road dome winning percentage (.708) nearly as good as their home winning percentage (.714) under McCarthy. The need to set the tone for the stretch drive to the playoffs. Rodgers owning the NFL’s highest QB rating (117.0) all-tme indoors.
The Packers receivers have been talking about how much they like playing in domes for a while. Now it’s time to tear up the fast Ford Field track against a banged-up Lions secondary. The Packers injuries have been well documented. Quality depth won’t make us forget about Matthews, Woodson, Jennings, and the rest – but it should minimize the impact of their absence.
We think this game will come down to the quarterbacks and which one has better protection, which will open up the rest of their offensive game plans. Expect this one to be won in the trenches. In a dome. After a bye. By the Packers.
Wife and Facebook junkie Deneen sees this one ending up 35-21 Packers. Son and Black Ops II junkie John is going with 24-14 Packers. I see the Packers coming away with a 31-17 win.