Packers Week 13: Five Key Matchups

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Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) defends the pass intended for Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81). Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers struggles on offense may be the most surprising storyline in the midst of their 1-4 November skid.

Fortunately for the Packers, November is now long gone, they’re still well in the division hunt, and Thursday night against an inconsistent Detroit Lions team could be the start of an important run of victories over the month of December.

Only three weeks ago, the Packers fell to the Lions 18-16 in Green Bay’s first home loss of the season–a game the Packers held the advantage in nearly every major statistical category besides penalties and time of possession. Despite this, Green Bay still came up short when they failed to convert on a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter.

On top of this, the Packers failed to get their ground game going, only managing 47 rushing yards with Eddie Lacy inactive due to injury.

Week ten’s contest against Detroit also marked Davante Adams‘ full return from an ankle injury he suffered early in the season. However, the second-year wideout struggled throughout the contest, only managing 79 yards receiving (7.9 avg) despite being targeted fourteen times in the game.

Adams struggles this season have been well documented, but it’s clear Green Bay still believes in him. After another rocky performance against Chicago Thanksgiving night, look for Adams to bounce back this week. Green Bay needs him to elevate his level of play if they want to get back to their old ways on offense.

That is why Adams kicks off my key player matchups to watch this Thursday as Green Bay looks to go 8-4 and stay in pace with the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) cannot reach a pass against Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (24). Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

1. Davante Adams vs. Nevin Lawson

Only a year ago, week thirteen was Adams coming-out party as an NFL wide receiver. Against a formidable New England defense, the rookie Packers receiver recorded six receptions for 121 yards, including one reception for 45 yards.

Adams was a key player in the Packers’ 26-21 victory over the eventual Super Bowl champions and showed he can be a big-play threat in Green Bay’s offense if teams favor their coverage toward Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

With Nelson out this season, the Packers have needed Adams to step up and emerge as a threat downfield. However, this role has not materialized over the first twelve weeks of the season.

Yes, you could blame the ankle injury. You could blame the lack of running game through the Packers 1-4 slump, or you could blame Nelson’s absence for not drawing the opponents attention in coverage.

However, despite the excuses, the opportunities have been there for Adams to make plays, but the second-year wideout hasn’t answered the call to this point.

In week ten, Adams let Lawson get his hands on him and disrupt his routes. He didn’t respond well to Lawson’s physical style of play, and Adams reverted to complaining to the officials instead of playing strong and boxing out the defensive back when the ball came his way.

Yes, there was plenty of contact on many of those passes, which should have warranted flags, but yet, Adams is stout at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds and needs to learn to use his size to get better body position on the 5-10, 185-pound Lawson.

Next: Lacy vs. Ngata