Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) finds an opening between Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant (52), cornerback Drayton Florence (31) and cornerback Pat Lee (27) at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Detroit comes in looking to break their 22-game losing streak in games played in Wisconsin. The Packers return from their early-season bye week with most, but not all, of their players healthy and with the knowledge that they need to push the streak to 23 wins in home games against the Lions to get to a barely respectable 2-2 record this season.
When these two teams play it’s difficult to put much stock in records, stats, or streaks. It’s all about which team wants it badly enough to go out and earn the W. The Lions have an improved running game with Reggie Bush. The Packers have been running the ball more effectively so far this season. The quarterbacks match up well, but Aaron Rodgers is not going to lose this game for the Packers, while Lions QB Matt Stafford has in the past, and might on Sunday, serve up a pick or two.
The Packers have the best top-to-bottom receiving group in the league. The Lions have Megatron – Calvin Johnson. I’ll take the group over that pesky deception any time.
Defensively the Lions have a stout D line and mobile LBs. Their defensive secondary has been hobbled by injuries and is vulnerable in pass defense. It’s not a good time for them to come up against Rodgers and the Packers receivers … but is there ever a good time?
The Packers D line is much improved against the run this season and will pressure Stafford, but the Green Bay secondary is banged up, too. The Packers LBs give them the edge in a straight matchup here.
The Packers get the majority of their injured players back for the game, but G Greg Van Roten, CB Casey Hayward, and RB James Starks will not be able to play. The Lions will be without the services of WR Nate Burleson and will likely be missing CB Chris Houston, LB Ashlee Palmer, and Calvin Johnson is hurting.
The Packers, even having played one less game than the Lions, have significantly better offensive averages except in time of possession so far this fairly young season. The Lions have better defensive averages than the Packers except in rushing yards allowed per game. But as I said at the outset … I don’t think records and stats mean much in a game between bitter rivals like these two teams.
One team will have to take the field and out-fast, out-hit, out-tackle, and just plain outperform the other team. Will it be the Packers who improve to 2-2, or the Lions who rise to 4-1?
I say the Packers will find a way.
Here are some things I’ll be looking for while I watch the game: