Calvin Johnson runs the ball against Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Mark Barron. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions: Q&A with SideLion Report


Eddie Lacy runs for yards against Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Eddie Lacy runs for yards against Detroit Lions defensive end Willie Young. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

 

The Green Bay Packers prepare for a rematch this week against division rival the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. This game is huge, and that can’t be understated.

A Packers’ loss would mean going a game-and-a-half back in the division and possibly waving their 2013 playoff hopes goodbye. A win would put the Packers in the driver’s seat in the NFC North and put this team in a good position to make a run for the playoffs when they get Aaron Rodgers back in December.

This game is a “must-win” for Green Bay if there ever was one this season. But this victory won’t come easy. The Packers will be on the road, coming off a five-quarter bruiser against Minnesota, and on a short three-day week.

On top of this, the Packers will, yet again, have a different quarterback starting under center when they take the field.

But let’s be honest, while Matt Flynn is no Aaron Rodgers, right now, he gives Green Bay the best chance to win this week against Detroit.

He played admirably against Minnesota. He pulled the team out of a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter. He knows how to run this offense, and he’s smart with the football. Flynn at least gives the Packers a fighting chance to pull off the upset on Thanksgiving.

Regardless of who is playing under center for the Packers, Green Bay will have their fair share of challenges against Detroit. The Lions have hands-down the best receiver in all of football in Calvin Johnson. Despite his affinity for turning the ball over, Matthew Stafford can make some big-time throws, and Reggie Bush is a dynamic player coming out of the backfield.

This win won’t come easy for Green Bay. But do they have a legitimate shot? That’s the question burning on the minds of Packers Nation heading into this week.

To get a better understanding of what to expect from the Lions this week, we sat down with Zac Snyder, editor of SideLion Report. Zac had some interesting things to say about this week’s Packers-Lions matchup.

Enjoy his insight.

 

Packers vs. Lions Q&A with Zac Snyder

 

1) The Lions currently sit tied for first in the NFC North at 6-5, but they are also coming off a two-game losing streak. What do you expect from this Lions team in these final five weeks of the season? What do they need to do to secure the division title?

ZS: I’d like to say they will play up to their potential and win the division, but I’m not sure they can be trusted to do so right now. Over the last five games we’ll find out if the Lions are really contenders or if they are pretenders. They need to get out of their own way by playing mistake-free football to show themselves as contenders.

2) The last time these two teams met the Packers held a Calvin Johnson-less Detroit offense to only nine points. How will having Megatron back impact this contest? How can the Packers defense stop Johnson from taking over the game?

ZS: Having Calvin Johnson in the lineup obviously changes the way an opposing defense approaches the Lions offense because of the amount of attention he commands. You have to worry about giving him attention and still having him beat you because he can out-run and out-jump defenders, but the real benefit is opening up the field for other players. That means more room for Nate Burleson to get open and for Reggie Bush to run wild. All those things were missing in the first meeting.

3) Matthew Stafford has played a bit up and down this season. Give us your evaluation of his performance so far? What part of his game does he need to improve upon to make this Detroit team serious contenders?

ZS: Packers fans should be able to relate to what Lions fans are going through with Matthew Stafford because the elite quarterback I like to compare him to is Brett Favre. For all the great things Favre could do on a football field, it wasn’t always the way a coach would teach it, and that sometimes resulted in some maddening mistakes. Brett got to a point where the “gunslinger” in him was praised, whereas Stafford is still mostly chided for it. That may never change without playoff success.

To get there, Stafford has to be more consistent in the little things. Too often he lacks the touch on the simple throws that need to be a given. It’s really just the missed opportunities that are hurting him right now as Stafford isn’t to the point where he consistently makes defenses pay like Favre did during his career.

4) Give us your keys to the game for each team. What does Detroit need to do to win? What does Green Bay need to do?

ZS: I really think the key is the same for both teams and that is Lions’ turnovers. The Lions need to avoid them and the Packers need to force them. The Lions are the healthier team and should have an advantage playing at home. Over the last few weeks they have played down to their competition, allowing opponents to hang around or take control because of turnover problems. Stafford’s heroics against the Cowboys wouldn’t have been necessary without the big turnover margin, and it would have probably been a win over the Buccaneers last week if not for the five turnovers.

5) Give us your game prediction and any other final thoughts you’d like to leave with us.

ZS: The Lions know they have a turnover problem and need to take better care of the ball. That focus, combined with facing an opponent that is among the league’s worst at creating turnovers, should allow the Lions to play a more mistake-free game. Lions 30, Packers 20.

I would just like to thank Zac from the SideLion Report for taking the time this week to answer our questions. Make sure to check back in with us at Lombardi Ave 15 minutes prior to kickoff for our live game day chat.

Tags: Calvin Johnson Featured Green Bay Packers Matt Flynn Matthew Stafford Popular Reggie Bush